Niche Resources
Niche Resources
Niche Resources

What You Should—And Shouldn’t—Bring To College

Living in a dormitory is one of college’s most defining experiences. Those first few years on campus may be marked by cramped spaces and uncomfortable twin mattresses, but close quarters breed close friendships—and you’ll be comforted by the camaraderie that comes with knowing that all of your peers are experiencing the same things. Plus, dorm housing will offer you a taste of independent living. This might be your first chance to call a space your own, to decorate and clean and rest how you want.

So—besides bedding and your backpack—what should you bring to college? And what should you absolutely not bring? We’ve compiled a handy list to help you with things you might not have thought of otherwise—make sure to save this for your next Target run or online shopping spree.


A mattress cover and topper. The aforementioned twin XL mattresses aren’t going to feel like clouds. Get a cover to keep the surface clean, and get a foam topper or mattress pad to make sleeping more comfortable.

Shower shoes. Communal showers can be gross. Get cheap flip-flops and call it a day.

A bedside lamp and/or desk lamp. A small light that clips to your bed frame can be perfect for late-night conversations, while a desk lamp is essential for studying without eye strain.

Easy-to-rinse silverware, bowls, and cups. Don’t bring your finest fragile china. Sturdy plastic items are your best bet, as they might get dropped and dinged around. Small bowls, mugs, and eating utensils will be necessities for in-dorm meals. 

A mini-fridge. You’ll want to keep drinks and snacks cool in here—just make sure to check your university’s policies about dorm fridges! Many only allow certain pre-approved models; you can often rent a mini-fridge/microwave combo through the school.

A shower caddy. Don’t make multiple trips or keep both hands full with shampoo bottles—if you need to make the walk to a communal shower, a caddy is the best item in which to store your essentials.

Cleaning supplies. Stain removers, Magic Erasers, disinfecting wipes, toilet bowl cleaner (if you have a suite with a private bathroom)—all must-haves.

A foldable drying rack. Easy to store, and perfect for when all of the communal dryers are in use.

A long phone charger. A six-foot iPhone charger was one of my favorite dorm purchases, since my bed was situated far away from an outlet. 

5 Tips to Build Community in College


Cooking appliances. Sandwich presses, slow cookers, and the like are bulky and unnecessary for a small, shared space. Remember, the dining halls are there for a reason!

Too much decor. Of course you’ll want to make your room feel like home—just don’t go overboard. Light-up signage and intricate wall hangings are popular on Pinterest, but remember that anything you put up must also come down. And you’ll only live here for nine months at most before moving into a different room. 

Sports equipment. If you’re planning on joining a club or intramural sports team, you most likely will not need to provide your own equipment. University athletic programs and recreation centers can supply it all.

Your own printer. Most dorm buildings have printers in their lobbies for residents—and if they don’t, there will be plenty at the library and student center.

Too many books. You will have less time to read for pleasure than you think. 

An iron and ironing board. De-wrinkling clothing can easily be done by hanging items while showering, so don’t bring a large board that might take up too much space.

A TV. Setting this up might be a pain, and your dorm common area or student center definitely has one.

Too many clothes. You probably won’t wear all of it, and you probably don’t have the space to store it, either. Bring your fall clothes for the first few months of school, then switch it out for cold-weather clothes after Thanksgiving or winter break.


Bottom line: saving space is key, and bringing anything that’s already readily available for free isn’t wise. Cleanliness and convenience, though, are always important.

Keep an eye out for more dorm tips from us in the future!

Author: Julianna Chen

Julianna Chen is currently in her first year at Emory University, where she studies creative writing and Chinese. She is the managing editor of Lithium Magazine and a contributing writer for When not writing, she is watching a movie or eating a stroopwafel, sometimes both at the same time.