Dorm Room 101: 21 essentials for college-bound students

Whether you’re a student preparing to leave home for the first time or an anxious parent not quite ready to let your baby leave, one thing’s for sure: You’ll want to be prepared on all fronts when it comes to furnishing that first dorm room or apartment.

Below you’ll find 20 useful items that will make any young person’s first living alone experience comfortable, convenient, and conducive to learning as much as possible during their freshman year and beyond. Whether it’s a necessary shower caddy for transporting basics to and from a shared bathroom or a piece of light-up art that reminds you to breathe, we’ve covered all your bases and suggested our favorite items for dressing up any new living space. Keep reading to start ticking items off your list so the transition can be as smooth as possible.

As always, you can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.

The Classic Scrumptious Pillow

It might be tempting to go cheap and buy under-filled, discount store pillows to stock your first home away from home, but do not–DO NOT–underestimate the need for a good night’s sleep while trying to study up for tomorrow’s big exam.

Honeydew’s Classic Scrumptious Pillow never flattens out and allows you to dial in your own preference on firmness for perfect customizable comfort. The ribbon that wraps the middle might look like a simple decoration, but it actually prevents the middle of the pillow from sagging so you’re supported all through the night.

Brooklinen Super-Plush Towel Move-In Bundle

Treat yourself or your new college student to the ultimate in luxury bath towels with Brooklinen’s Super-Plush Move-In bundle that provides everything needed to make shower time feel like stepping into an oasis. It’ll be much appreciated when these towels maintain their softness after months of use instead of getting scratchy and thin like lesser brands.

Wild Sage™ Velvet Segmented Bean Bag Chair in Iris

A bean bag chair is practically a rite of passage when shipping off to your first dorm experience. You can lounge in it while reading or studying, flop your backpack in it after a long day of classes, or have extra seating for your friends who stop by for a little evening socializing.

The classic bean bag chair can look a bit amateur though, so we’ve chosen a classier version for you that echoes the look of a seashell with the luscious iris velvet that will dress up any room.

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Lanna Ivory Sheepskin Throw

This plush throw is the perfect comfort item to snuggle up in when you’re feeling homesick that first year away. It can be used as a blanket, a luxe rug, or draped over a chair or your bed to dress up the place, and it’s made from ethically sourced and non toxic 100% New Zealand and Australian sheepskins.

Soundance Laptop Stand

Some days you’re going to feel like doing your homework from bed (or the bean bag chair above), and you’ll want to maintain an ergonomic posture for doing so to prevent feeling cramped up later on. Snag this under-$25 laptop stand to help you see your screen more clearly and relax while you type those term papers.

Malicious Women Co. Diffuse It! 4 oz Reed Diffuser -Gift Boxed

Candles are a lovely way to make your room smell great, but dorm rooms frequently ban them due to safety concerns. To help your space smell great, peaceful, or whatever else you’d like, we’d like to introduce you to Malicious Women, Co.’s Diffuse It! 4oz Reed Diffuser.

The flameless fragrance comes in a variety of hilarious scent names like “Diffuse The Drama” and “Diffuse The F*ckery,” which is the type of functional humor that becomes a conversation piece in a shared space. Despite providing several months’ worth of pleasant smells, these are currently on sale for just $20.

Simple Human Round Step Can

A small trash can is clearly a necessity, so why not get a cute, affordable one that comes in six different metals like rose gold, polished silver, and, as seen here, brass? Perfect for collecting the small junk piles that accumulate while you’re snacking through a study session.

Geode State Ornament

Going to school out of state? It’s safe to expect at least a tinge of homesickness from time to time. Show off your home state pride and feel grounded with one of these geode ornaments that will look beautiful hanging in a window.

Cork Board Bulletin Board, 2′ x 3′

Post notes, reminders, snapshots, cards, and anything else you can think of on this large bulletin board that allows students to create a fun and organized space for their thoughts and creativity. Make sure to grab a pack of cool, decorative thumb tacks, too, like these fun floral ones.

Breathe Neon Sign

Remind yourself to take a deep breath as you look up and see this blue neon sign hanging above your desk. It’s easy to set up and clean, too! Just plug it in, then unplug when it’s time to dust and wipe down with a bit of mild soap and water.

Varena Arched Wall Mirror

Ivy String Light Set

String these adorable fairy lights along the top of your bed or window to add a touch of no-maintenance greenery and warm up the space with some ambient lighting. You can even weave or tack them up around your mirror for a vanity to add instant glamour.

Adilette Shower Slides

You don’t want to deal with any gross fungal infections while you’re trying to walk from class to class, so stay safe with shower slides in communal spaces with these Adidas shower slides. They’re useful, but they also look great to throw on when you’re running late and don’t have time to lace up.

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MyFAK First Aid Kit

Accidents happen all the time, even to the most careful folks. That’s why having a first aid kit on hand is so necessary.

My Medic’s MyFAK kit comes with over 100 quality first-aid and trauma supplies to help you treat a burn, cut, scrape, sprain, bleeding, and almost anything else on the fly, all inside a compact case that weighs less than three pounds and takes up minimal space in your dorm room–a must for cramped quarters. All of the products are high quality, and the tear away panel on the back lets you access the supplies you need immediately to save time in emergencies.

Super Oat Mylk Concentrate

GOODMYLKCO. was created to fill a void in the market for plant-based dairy substitutes that didn’t use a laundry list of chemicals to achieve a realistic taste.

The Super Oat Mylk Concentrate is one of the most portable, delicious, and wholesome products in the line that makes 32 ounces of oat milk with just one small pouch. Use it as coffee creamer, to top your cereal, in smoothies, or just to drink, and trust that you’re ingesting only 100% organic, real food ingredients that taste delicious and use sustainable packaging to boot!

Simrishamn Lamp

Lighting is necessary, but there’s no reason it can’t be stylish, too. Give this fantastic IKEA desk lamp a whirl and enjoy the innovative and sleek design for just $40.

11″ x 15″ Rattan Basket with Handle Natural – Opalhouse™

Gone are the days of letting Mom handle the laundry once you’re out on your own, so college newcomers will need a portable hamper to help carry those dirty clothes to the laundromat with ease. Try this beautiful and sturdy rattan basket for easy transport to complete chores in style.

Recycled Ombre Classic Shower Caddy, Blush

You’ll need somewhere to stash your shower basics that’s easily carried from to and from your room, and Pottery Barn Teen offers a sustainable alternative with this shower caddy made from recycled materials in stylish pink ombre.

Frigidaire 0.3 cu. ft. 6-Can Retro Mini Fridge in Pink

Keep a small fridge on hand for stashing a few cans of soda or your leftovers for late night noshing in this adorable, compact Frigidaire. Not quite your style? We have a whole list of others over here.

Microfiber Solid Sheet Set

OCM Ultimate Room Collection – 50 Piece Twin XL Bedding and Bath Set

Feeling overwhelmed by all these choices? Plop down $599 and you can have all the choices made for you, inputting only your favorite color scheme, and have everything you need delivered in one perfect package. You’ll receive:

–all your bedclothes

–a first aid kit

–bath towels

–a hamper

–a bedside caddy

–hanging shoe organizer

–hanging garment organizer


–under-bed storage box

–dry-erase board

–throw rug

And so much more we had to stop listing it to keep this article readable. Click through and check out the deal of all deals that takes the guesswork out of, “Did we cover everything?” and alight to your new dorm in style.