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The Only College Toolkit You’ll Need

Beautifully decorated and bright dorm room.

When I first arrived at Spring Arbor University, I had filled my car and my parents’ car to the brim. I had no idea what I needed so I bought everything and anything I thought I might need. After unpacking and setting my room up, I discovered there were still a lot of things I had not even thought of bringing that would’ve made my transition ten times easier. 

Now that I’m a senior, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two since my first semester. My room is far less crowded and I’ve narrowed down the essentials that you will need to make your living space the best it can be!

Below is my list of things that I believe are either essential, fun to have, or nonessential to your dorm room.

The Essentials

  • Desk Light or other lighting
    • This one is a key especially if you plan on lofting your beds. Having extra lighting around your desk is super helpful not just for yourself, but your roommate will thank you when they’re able to sleep without you needing to use the big room lights to look for something or finish that paper due at midnight. 
  • Storage Bins
    • Perfect for under your bed, or in the wardrobe. I usually have my winter coats, and extra bedding in them. 
  • Command Hooks
    • I use my command hooks for everything. I have one by my door for my keys, another couple for my hats, towels and I’ve started using them for pictures/ decorations too. 
  • Extension Cords & Power Strips
    • There’s nothing worse than having a lofted bed and your charger not reaching up there. Or if you have your desk in a place that isnt nearby to an outlet, you’ll definitely be wanting an extension cord for that. 
  • Laundry Hamper and Detergent
    • This one goes without saying but invest in a good-sized laundry hamper, and a bulk supply of detergent.
  • Shower Caddy & Flip Flops
    • I missed the memo when I first moved in and didn’t bring a shower caddy. I used a plastic bag my first week before eventually getting a caddy. I wouldn’t recommend the fabric ones as those can get gross really quickly, a plastic more structured one will do the job, and be a lot easier to wipe clean.
  • Mini Trash-Can
    • I used this a lot more than I thought I would. 
  • Mattress Pad
    • The beds are very firm, and most aren’t all that comfortable. A nice foam mattress pad will save your back. 

The Non-Essential Essentials

  • Mirror
    • I invested in a little desk mirror with lights for my desk and also a mirror that I could hang up with command hooks/ strips. There are mirrors in the bathrooms so it’s not an essential, however, having a full length one in my room was super helpful. 
  • Portable Fan
    • Most residential areas have air conditioning however, occasionally it might go out. If you’re someone that likes white noise, or just can’t sleep in a warm room, a portable fan is perfect.
  • TV
    • Having a TV is a great way to make new friends, have a movie night, or start watching a show with some people on your floor. A lot of people will also have a gaming set up, which makes for some fun nights. However, if you don’t have one, don’t worry, chances are at least one person on your floor will or you can always watch stuff on your laptop. 
  • Mini Fridge
    • Being able to store take out, soda, yogurt and other snacks in a mini fridge is very helpful for those mornings you don’t have time to grab breakfast, or a late night snack. Getting one with a freezer is also a game changer if you’re an ice cream lover. If you don’t get a mini fridge don’t worry, each residential area has a fridge/ freezer you can use. Just make sure you name what you put in there!
  • Camera
    • Your phone is great for capturing moments but, I found bringing a camera is such a fun way to keep memories of friends and events. I have my own digital camera, but lots of people also have polaroid, disposable and film cameras.
  • Couch/Bean Bag
    • If you’re someone that doesnt like studying at a desk, or maybe you like to read or just hang out with friends, then I would definitely recommend having some sort of other seating in your room. Especially if you have a TV, having extra seating makes having friends visit so much fun, and way more welcoming. I know lots of people that have floor cushions too!
  • Fun Decor
    • Starting at the blank cinder block walls, isn’t fun after a while. You can get cute decor off of amazon, target or really any kind of one-stop-shop. I would also recommend going to walmart or a pharmacy to print photos off. 

The Non-Essentials

  • A sewing kit
    • If sewing is not a hobby of yours, you can leave the sewing machine or kit at home. Someone on campus probably has one, and you will not need to be sewing things, unless you purposely rip up your clothes. 
  • A clothes steamer
    • This is something that I had freshman year, and used probably once, and left it in the closet for the rest of the year. If you have a lot of clothes that frequently need steamed, it might be a good idea, but otherwise, it’s just going to collect dust. 
  • Printer
    • There are printers quite literally everywhere on campus, where you can print everything for free! And, if you ever need to print with color, you can print in the library workroom for a small price.
  • Curtains
    • You won’t need the extra clutter of curtains as there are already some blinds. However, if you are someone who can’t sleep with any light what so ever, i’d recommend a sleeping mask.
  • Throw Pillows
    • One or two might look cute, but if you have a ton of throw pillows they are bound to end up on your floor every night and take up a lot of space.

One of the best things you can do is reach out to your roommate to see what style you both want the room to be and make a plan from there. 

Written by SAU Marketing student Bella Chirco.