When my oldest went to college 2 years ago I was a mess! To avoid my own feelings I dove into planning his dorm room and getting him everything under the sun that he could possibly need. I may have mentioned that I do love to shop so this didn’t feel like a chore to me. I had visions of the two of us walking through the aisles of Target and IKEA picking out bedding and anything else he wanted. Ha! That was far from reality!
He dealt with his own feelings of nervousness about starting college by completely avoiding preparing. That left me to pick most everything out for him. So…I shopped while he avoided packing by working during the day, spending time with friends at night and even vacationing with his best friend’s family the week before moving into his dorm, not coming home until the day before he left (can you tell that made me sad?).
As you can imagine there are many lists out there and it can be overwhelming. Many will guide you to spend lots of money on unnecessary items your student won’t use. How do you know exactly what they will need? With the help of my son, we will share what you actually need that will help make a dorm room feel like home.
The summer after graduation I used our dining room for storing and sorting everything we purchased. It was a mess but it kept me busy!
You can find some great inexpensive comforter sets at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx. Remember how uncomfortable most mattresses are in college dorms? I was happy we also purchased a zippered mattress protector to cover the nasty mattress my son was given. Seriously you guys…. it was covered in stains…so gross! We then added a mattress pad cover and a memory foam mattress topper to help make that bed more comfortable. Yup…three layers before we even put his sheets on! Call me crazy but both of us are germaphobes. Ok, maybe he got it from me but whatever. We are who we are, am I right? Haha!
So anyway back to the bed…we added the sheets that we got from Target. He brought his pillows from home and a throw blanket a friend make him as a graduation gift. A bed rest pillow was very helpful for reading or working on homework on his bed.
I recently checked out some great displays in HomeGoods and TJ Maxx. Look at these…
This time of year you can find twin xl bed sheets in Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond. And if all else fails…Amazon!
Your student will also need towels. I’d recommend 2 bath towels, hand towels, wash clothes and a beach towel. Dorm rooms are small! There isn’t a lot of space for extra linens.
And speaking of small spaces…smart storage is great to add to the dorm room. If you are able to fit rolling drawers, baskets or shelving units…they can store school supplies, cleaning items, toiletries, shoes & clothing or even food & snacks. The Kallax shelf unit from Ikea with fabric bins worked great for him and didn’t take up too much space. A super inexpensive rolling drawer unit stored toiletries and fit perfectly under his sink. Here are some fun storage options I saw in HomeGoods!
Baskets and bins can be used for everyday necessities on counters, dressers or desks. How cute is that “dorm sweet dorm” box?
And look at these options for storage…especially for girls…so fun! Desk accessories like a pencil cup and paper sorter come in handy to keep your student’s desk space organized.
Bulletin or cork boards are great to display pictures or mementos. Don’t forget some decorations to personalize the space. My son only brought two framed pictures, the photobook and graduation memory book we gave him. Once he was moved in we ordered flags for his favorite football team and his new college from Amazon to hang in his room. Flags are a great option to hang because they are lightweight and can easily be tacked to the wall.
An area rug also helps make the cold dorm room floors cozy. And a chair, beanbag or even a futon if space allows is nice to have in the room for other seating options rather than people sitting on the bed. All of my kids have the Hang-A-Round chair from Pottery Barn Teen. They’ve had them for years and love them. My son loves his so much he didn’t want to bring it with him to school so we bought a cheaper knock-off version. Well…sometimes trying to save money doesn’t always work out…in this case, the chair broke within a month. But his grandparents bought him another PB Teen Hang-A-Round chair for his dorm room for his birthday in November so he didn’t have to wait too long.
First Aid Kit
Probably more for my peace of mind, I put together a first aid kit since I wouldn’t be there if he didn’t feel well. We tried to include things he may need if he got sick or hurt away from home like Advil, cold medicine, Neosporin, etc. I stored everything in a simple plastic shoe box.
We packed everything into our car…clothes, linens, school supplies, room decor, storage bins, cleaning supplies, toiletries and more!
We made it through the move-in day and we drove home with an empty car and tears rolling down our cheeks. It was a really hard adjustment for all of us…but we did it! Our son made it through his 1st year living in a dorm and really enjoyed all the friendships he made. He has helped me compile a complete college packing list – everything you actually need! He didn’t include any of those extra things I bought because I thought he’d need them and he really didn’t use them. But he did include a few items that he didn’t think he would need even though I said he would…like a Brita water pitcher (cases of bottled water are expensive and heavy to carry back to your dorm) and a fan (yup…those dorm rooms can get hot).
College Packing List – Everything you actually Need!
Click Here to Receive Your Printable List
- mattress protector, mattress pad, memory foam mattress topper, comforter/blanket, sheet set, pillows, throw blank, bed rest
- towels (bath, hand, washcloths), beach/pool towel, shower caddy, toiletries (shampoo & conditioner, soap/body wash, face wash, hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, deodorant), air freshener, flip-flops
- laundry basket/bag, hamper, laundry soap, stain remover, dryer sheets, garbage can, Clorox wipes, paper towels, trash bags, sponge & dish soap
- shorts, pants, shirts, sweatshirts, gym clothes, raincoat, socks, underwear, sneakers, shoes, hats, PJs, swimsuit, semi-formal outfit, jewelry, watch, sunglasses, coat, boots
- area rug, posters or flags, desk light, floor lamp, pictures of friends & family from home, bulletin/cork board, fan
- refillable water bottles/pitcher, plastic bowl & plate, utensils, storage containers, Ziploc bags, chip clips, granola bars, snacks, cereal, microwavable foods like mac&cheese, soup, etc.
- rolling drawers, shelving unit, storage bins, command hooks, over door hooks, hangers, shoe organizer
- laptop, backpack, pens & pencils, pencil cup, highlighters, notebooks & paper, post-its, calculator, calendar/planner
- extension cords, surge protector power strip, earbuds, headphones, chargers, flash drive, batteries
- umbrella, chair, beanbag or futon, overnight duffel bag
Good luck on move-in day…and don’t forget the tissues. Hugs to you friend!
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