In my experience, helping parents get their kids prepared for their college dorm room is both liberating and, well, depressing. The rooms are uninspiring, dated and small. But this of course is coming from an ancient dinosaur who appreciates her creature comforts. Ask any college student and they are so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about getting away from home they’d probably agree to live in a smelly closet; which is essentially what a dorm room is before I get a hold of it.

College is all about newfound freedom. It dog ears the high school years and catapults kids into a new chapter in their life. Most students are so focused on their curriculum they don’t realize that mom and dad are about to leave and it’s their responsibility to cook, clean and bathe within their new space. Luckily, I have cut out some of the guess work for the bigger must-have items to help keep you organized.

This is typically what I find in the basic dorm room when I arrive:

Average Dorm room


11 essentials I recommend for every college dorm room:


1) Bedding – I suggest these Target Options

2) Area Rug – I suggest Overstock or Ikea

3) Compact fridge – Heres a great one for $89 bucks

4) Microwave or hot plate- This one from Wayfair has been student approved

5) Coffee maker- I suggest this one from Target

6) Drapes – I suggest Ikea

7) Parson’s desk – I suggest this one from Target

8) Floor cushion or Bean Bag – I suggest these from Walmart

9) Cork Board- This one from Staples is great

10) Shower wrap – Target, see link below

11) Lamps- Pier one has some great options

12) Blanket – anywhere

13) Small Vacuum – Target has a great one that is small

Before and After:

dorm room essentials

Dorm room essentials

Not all colleges allow a microwave but most will allow a hot plate. A bean bag is inexpensive and provides the student a place to hang out and read in comfort. According to most college students having a compact fridge is essential. It allows them to keep water and soft drinks cool and store small food items. I’ve also had several girls tell me that a shower wrap is a must-have since most dorm facilities have showers located down the hall.

Drapes are something that can be purchased inexpensively and help control light. Many dorms however, will not allow you to attach things to the wall permanently, so I recommend command hooks. You will need to use them for everything – hanging artwork, cork boards, drapes and coat hooks. Buy a boat load – you’ll need them!

The ultimate goal is to try to add the comfort of home as much as possible. Bedding, a soft rug and lighting all help make a student feel at home and is easy to move at the end of the semester. As much as it is exciting it’s also strange the first few days. Help them create a cozy environment to make the transition easy, so they can focus on the more important things – their school work!