Kids Off To College? Here are 10 Dorm Room Essentials


Here’s the tissues mom. Your baby is off to college. That’s not why you’re crying, though. Oh, sure, you’ll miss your kid. You’re crying because you just received the bill for the first semester’s tuition (wait, that doesn’t include books?!) and you still haven’t even purchased all the goodies on that long list of, “Things your college student will absolutely die without in his or her dorm…and it will only cost you one year’s salary to fully outfit your child with everything on this list!” It really is quite the conundrum, isn’t it?

Listen, I don’t have kids in college, yet. But one day, I will have four kids in college and the thought makes me cringe like you don’t even understand (or maybe you do). However, despite my lack of college students, I did attend college and it hasn’t been that long considering I am only 31. Really, I still say that about high school, too, even though it’s been well over three years since I attended my high school reunion. But honestly, I can’t help you with the cost of tuition or books, but I can tell you that all the crap stuff on those internet lists of things your kid needs for his or her dorm is incorrect. Your kid needs things, sure, but not those things. Here are the 10 most essential items for any college student to have in his or her dorm.

**Tip – get to know your dorm roommate before you shop. If he or she already has anything on this list, you can hold off on making those purchase until the next year – you don’t need two of anything in your room if you’re willing to share with a new friend.

A great mattress

Your student is going to spend a lot of time in his or her bed in college, and not to sleep (or do that…good grief, parents). Your student is going to find that bed is the most comfortable place to study, the most private place to study and the most refreshing place to do homework. It’s quiet and there probably will not be people coming and going, so you will want to keep your student very comfortable in that bed.

Comfortable pillows

Your student will spend a lot of time propped up against those working on papers in bed, so make sure there are plenty of them and that they are comfortable. This is the place to do your work. I still do my work in bed sometimes, when my kids are napping and I have a fully equipped and gorgeous home office I could be using. There is just something so comfortable about my bed.

A good laptop

By good, I mean great. You need a great laptop. I still have not found one. I go through about two a year, and I still cannot find one that lasts me longer than that. My husband calls it operator error, but what does he know? He’s only a technological genius.

A microwave oven

Before you purchase this, make sure your student’s dorm does not include this on your list of prohibited items. Some dorms do, and others don’t. But really, if you’re going to break some rules, make it this one. Don’t say I told you that, though, since I don’t want to be responsible for getting you kicked out of your dorm.

A mini fridge

Again, this might be on the list of things your kid cannot bring in, but nothing is more important than ice cold beer water when your kid is in his or her dorm studying and getting work done. Trust me; I know this.

A handheld vacuum

If you don’t love to live in filth, get one. If your kid likes to live in filth, get one. Just get one, because these places can become a little disgusting and the thought of being inside a dorm without a vacuum makes me cringe.

A surge protector

This should probably be the number one thing that your student needs in the dorm room he or she will live in this year. This is going to come in handy when he or she (and the roommate) has to charge cell phones, iPods, laptops, iPads and everything in between.

Photos from home

Just because your kids cannot wait to get away from you, dad and the siblings does not mean he or she won’t miss you like crazy. Send some photos of you all doing some amazing things and let your student hang on to those memories. A photo album (try the ones you can make online at will be something your student is going to look at far more than you might imagine.

A toiletry bag – a really good one

The deal with dorms is that they do not come with master baths and high-end bathrooms. What many students forget is that they’ll be showering somewhere communal at the end of a hall and things that you might ordinarily leave in the bathroom will have to be carried back and forth with every shower. This means it’s time for you to invest in a really nice toiletry bag, since your student is going to use it at least twice a day, every single day, for the rest of the year (also take note that this issue right here is going to be the number one reason your student asks you to forgo that dorm for a private apartment next semester).

A coffee pot

Blah blah, list of prohibited items and whatnot. Okay, so since we have that out of the way, allow me to recommend a coffee pot. Here’s why; it’s a lot cheaper to by Starbucks K-Cups for a Keurig than it is to purchase three Starbucks coffees every single day of your kids’ college career. Trust me; I drink three a day now that I work from home and have my kids with me, and I’m not up all hours of the night studying and stressing about exams.

Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images


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