Need college dorm rooms ideas, freshman dorm room college necessities, and must-have items for college for life after homeschool or high school? Whether you need a dorm room check list for guys or dorm room essentials for girls, we have you covered with your college packing list essentials, college dorm hacks, tips for college move in day, and grad gifts for your new freshman and their first year of college!
WHAT YOUR KIDS NEED FOR COLLEGE DORM ROOMS
So, your homeschool graduates are ready to move into college dorms or residence halls, started packing for college, and the panic is starting to set in: What exactly does a student need for college dorm rooms, what are freshman year dorm room necessities / freshman year dorm room ideas, and how do students survive switching from homeschooling to college?
What Does Your Homeschool Grad Need for the College Dorm?
What does a college student need for a dorm room?
- Mattress pad and cover
- Bed Sheets (2 sets) that are specific to college dorm bed sizes (like twin XL, check the college or university dorm info!)
- Comforter / college bedding (bedroom essentials)
- Blankets (in addition to college dorm bedding)
- Pillows and pillowcases
- Desk lamp
- Towels / wash clothes
- Shower caddy and toiletries
- Laundry bag and laundry detergent (also, coins or money for laundry!)
- Extra alarm clock (phones and tablets fail sometimes)
- Ways to keep things safe in a dorm room (dorm room safe, security camera, etc.)
- Computer with extra chargers
- Cell phone and extra chargers
- Ear buds / headphones (ask your student for personal preferences on these)
- Small first aid kit
After that, you will add in other items specific to the school needs (like a quality backpack school supplies specific to their college classes) and living needs of your student and also freshman dorm room decor, so your list for freshman college dorm will vary. You don’t need to worry about fancy college dorm rooms. Just get your college dorm basics taken care of first, along with any pertinent personal items!
Keep scrolling for the full dorm room checklist / college packing list and what to bring to a college dorm (and what you don’t need for college dorms — perfect if you’re new to this and this is your first time and looking for a freshman dorm room list!). We’ve got you covered for the ultimate college packing list!
The hard thing about the college checklist for freshman is that you (and your college-bound grad) will want to pack EVERYTHING to make sure your grad is prepared for anything (especially if it’s the first child going to college) for their new home.
But, you can’t! There isn’t that much space, so you definitely need to pack light.
The things needed for college may be a lot different than you remember. Plus, dorm rooms are small and compact. And, you want to prevent the dreaded things I regret bringing to college list.
If you’re stressed about all that college stuff, things to buy for college freshmen, college essentials, and how to help transition from homeschool to college (or high school to college), we’re going to help you with this ultimate guide to dorm living and small space living.
(Here, breathe into this paper bag.)
Let’s take a look at how to pack for college move in day with a practical college packing list.
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What is not allowed in dorm rooms?
What is not allowed in dorm rooms will vary by school, so be sure to check the list of items you can’t use in the dorm before move in day. (See the school’s website.)
Sometimes, these items are banned from dorms, so be sure you ask for the college dorm room inspection checklist or before your family members gift them to your new college student.
The following items may not be allowed by universities or colleges…
What is not allowed in college dorms?
- Christmas or twinkle lights / string lights
- Extension cords (power strips are often OK)
- Hot plates
- Toaster ovens
- Heated blankets
- Air conditioners
- Space heaters
- Pets (including fish)
See our full list of dorm recommendations and what every college student needs for their dorm below! Keep scrolling!
How To Keep Things Safe In Dorm Room
What do college students need the most for school and their college dorm rooms?
College move in day is exciting and it’s easy to take a ton of stuff that your college student won’t needs, doesn’t use, or dorm room items that aren’t allowed by the college.
College must haves are going to be way different than things your graduate wants to bring to college.
What To Take For Freshman Dorm Room
There are two categories for a college packing list:
1. Things you need for college classes, and
2. Things for the college dorm rooms.
For your lists for college dorm rooms, there are things that a college freshman really needs to bring (sheets and pillowcases) and there are other things that they definitely need to leave at home (three boxes of video games).
The first thing you’ll want to do is see what is allowed and what isn’t allowed in the dorm (every college has different rules).
The next thing you want to do is realize that you aren’t trying to recreate your house for them at college.
You’ll see many college dorm room essentials lists that tell you a ton of different things that your kid needs. In reality, you are trying to make a space for them where they are comfortable and they can accomplish what they need to at college.
So, really, what should a freshman bring to college dorm?
Here is the ultimate college dorm room essentials list for the new school year — the best college packing list for girls and the best college packing list for guys!
And, you’ll even find some unexpected things to bring to college that you never even thought about!
DON’T MISS OUR LIST OF BEST GIFTS FOR YOUR GRAD’S DORM ROOM AFTER THIS COLLEGE DORM ESSENTIALS LIST! KEEP SCROLLING!
Ultimate College Apartment Checklist / Dorm Room List: What do I need for my dorm room?
What are some dorm room essentials?
This is a great list for college students, but especially a college freshman dorm room essentials list!
Think of it as a basic college dorm supply list and help to create some of the coolest college dorm rooms for your young adult!
So, what to bring to college dorms and what are college apartment essentials for freshman?
DORM CHECKLIST (Dorm Supplies for Freshman College Dorm Room)
Basic things every college student needs for the dorm
Your dorm room shopping list should include:
- New, reliable laptop (they’re going to be using it A LOT, so you’ll need something that will hold up!)
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- Laptop lock
- Bluetooth speaker / smart speaker
- Dorm room security box
- Collapsable clothes hangers (to save room in small spaces)
- Over door drying/hanging rack (great place to store wet towels from the shower!)
- Laundry bag or laundry bag backpack (it’s easier to carry than a hamper or laundry basket) or our favorite hanging laundry bag
- Dorm underbed storage ideas (You must utilize college dorm under bed storage! Bed risers can help with creating enough space to use the under bed area, too!)
- Comforter and throw blanket (especially twin xl comforter sets for collegeor a twin xl bed in a bag for dorm–be sure to ask what size are college dorm beds because dorm room bedding is often a different size than your twin bed at home!)
- 2 sets sheets and pillow cases
- Bed bugs mattress cover (be sure to get the ones that zip completely over the mattress)
- Twin XL Memory foam mattress topper (dorm mattresses are **not** comfortable!)
- Comfortable pillow
- 2 sets of towels/washcloths
- Power strip
- Dorm dish set (try an awesome soup cup with a lid for noodles, soups, and more) – better than a whole bunch of different kitchen items / kitchen supplies)
- Small, battery operated alarm clock (yes, we know they have their phone, but they definitely need a backup!)
- Handheld can opener
- Hanging mirror
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Collapsable shower caddy (for easy storage when not in use) or one that hangs over the shower curtain if using a communal bathroom in student housing
- Bathrobe and slippers
- Shower flip flops
- Anything on their toiletries list
- Fun dorm decor to update the look of your room (student house rooms can be kinda blah)
What should you not bring to a college dorm?
What NOT to bring to college dorm rooms (things you don’t want to include for your dorm packing list):
- Anything on the banned dorm room items list. (Check with your specific college or university before shopping.)
- Valuables. This isn’t the time to bring Gram-Gram’s diamond wedding earrings or Uncle Robert’s family heirloom watch. Leave jewelry, extra cash, and other super expensive valuables at home.
- Dorm desk. Those are usually provided by the college. (Check first with your campus housing!)
- Out of season clothes. (If you’re wondering what clothes to bring to college, it’s best to leave those at a parent’s house / home base if you can and then switch them out as the seasons go.)
- More than one coat.
- A ton of shoes. (Remember: storage space is in short supply and taking up all the room is a great way to get off on the wrong foot with a roommate.)
- Television. (Use the laptop to save space!)
- All the knick knacks and stuffed animals from the at-home bedroom. (Pack one or two framed photos and one special item and leave the rest at home.)
- Big suitcases. (There will be nowhere to put them!)
- Books for pleasure reading. (There really isn’t that much time, especially in the first semester.)
Ultimate List for College Dorm and Things To Buy for College Freshmen
If you need some ideas on what gifts for dorm rooms or the new graduate, get them something that will help them during their new college journey.
What are things to buy for college freshmen and freshman dorm gifts that they will really use?
You can’t go wrong with any of these dorm room gifts for a new grad heading to college!
Plus, it gives students some fun things to bring to college!
Ready for some college dorm inspiration? These will help in transitioning homeschooler or high schooler to their newly independent life!
College Dorm Ideas: Things To Buy For College Freshmen
Best College Dorm Gifts and College Freshman Gifts:
🔥Dorm Room Security Camera
Yep, you read that right—a security camera.
Unfortunately, dormitories are a revolving door of people coming in and out. (Remember, your student will be making a lot of new friends!)
It only takes one time for your kid (or their new roommate) to forget to lock the door and poof! the expensive things are gone.
So, a dorm room security camera is one way you can combat theft.
They’re fairly inexpensive and many are easy to setup.
And, they can be checked from the student’s phone when they are away from the room.
You may also want to consider a small safe lockbox like this to hold important documents, copy of birth certificate, and other items.
Dorm Room Oil Diffuser
College dorms always smell stale (to put it nicely), even if it’s a new dorm room.
To get rid of all that stinkiness that comes with a bunch of smelly young adults living together, your kid can use a diffuser.
Many diffusers are also humidifiers that help with dry air (that also occurs in dorms) and also come with oils that will help your student with stress during studying and exam week!
You just want to stay away from the big, bulky oil diffusers and instead go for the compact ones.
(Remember: Smaller is always better for dorm rooms! Be sure to check that these are allowed in your dorm!)
Your kid will need a vacuum for their dorm room.
(It’s something that many people forget about!)
However, it can’t be a big ole Dyson. (Where will they put it? Not to mention, some colleges ban vacuums in the dormitory, so be sure to check the dormitory banned items list!)
So, you’ll want to get them a handheld vacuum that they can tuck under the bed or hang on a wall.
Make sure you find a cordless, rechargeable vac like this one. [click here to see the info]
(It will make your college student’s life easier!)
Granted, it’s not a fun gift to open for your graduation, but—trust me—they’ll thank you once they’re settled into their dorm room and have a full understanding of how helpful it will be (no matter if you’re doing a college dorm checklist for guys or a college dorm checklist for freshman girl).
🔥Dorm Bed Shelf / Dorm Bedside Caddy
Your college student is going to spend a lot of time in their dorm room studying on the bed.
Anything that you can give them that will help organize their stuff and keep things handy, will be a big help!
And, if they have bunkbeds, you should definitely include a bed shelf on your dorm list!
We recommend this bestselling bed shelf/tray that clamps to the bed and can hold laptops, books, water bottle / drinks and more while your student is studying in bed!
Include a small, clamp-on light and they’ll have everything they need for late-night study sessions (that won’t disturb their roommates!).
Also check out the night caddy. It’s just enough shelf room for a drink, phone, and magazine.
(And, it even has a USB charger!)
This is also a cool bunk bed caddy if your student needs a lot of different pockets and compartments.
They may also enjoy having a reading pillow (with phone holder!) for support while studying and reading in the bed.
Dorm Room Fan
Dorm rooms can get hot, even if they have air conditioning (and some don’t have air conditioning—yikes!).
A great gift for your college freshman is a compact fan that they can use in the dorm room.
Again, you don’t want to go too big or get something bulky that takes up too much room.
We love this compact fan with a remote so your student can sit in bed and change the fan speeds without getting up.
Again, it doesn’t sound like a fun gift for your grad, but it’s something that they will appreciate and use consistently in their dorm room!
Dorm Desk Lamp
Every college dorm student will have a desk. This means they will need a super cool desk lamp as part of their dorm stuff—especially if they have a roommate and can’t have the overhead lights on during late night study sessions!
We love this desk lamp not only for its sleek, compact design, but also because you can use it as a charger.
It’s also on an angle that can be adjusted for maximum light wherever the student needs it.
🔥Electric Kettle for Dormitory Living
College students need something for those random early morning classes and the late-night study sessions.
Enter: the electric kettle — a best college dorm gift for freshman!
An electric kettle boils water for coffee or tea without a stove (or flame), so it’s perfect for a dorm room—meaning your student can have fresh coffee, tea, or hot water (for soups, noodles, etc.) whenever they want without just a coffee maker!
(We see—and remember—you Ramen noodles…)
To round out this gift, give a cool travel coffee mug and a tea or coffee gift pack so all your new freshman will need to do is just add water! Perfect gifts for dorm necessities!
Small Microwave for Dorms
In some schools, college students are allowed to have microwaves in their rooms.
If this is the case at your child’s school, YAY FOR THEM!
Microwaves can be lifesavers for busy students who are dashing from class-to-class, studying late, or even for when they are running low on cash and can’t afford to grab food at a restaurant or cafeteria.
Just be sure that you get a small, compact microwave and not a full size one like you would use at your house!
NOTE: Many college dorms will have meal plans or a dining hall in the building. If your college student is on a meal plan, they may/may not need a dorm microwave.
Small Dorm Room Refrigerator
If you need a microwave, you’re probably going to need a refrigerator.
Again, space it very limited in dorm rooms, so you’ll want to look for the most compact (but still usable) dorm room refrigerator available.
FYI: There are some that have a small freezer compartment area in the mini fridge, too, which will help with limited space.
If you get one with a freezer area, make sure it has a separate door for the freezer compartment.
The ones that share a door with the refrigerator do not freeze as well.
REMEMBER: You don’t need a super roomy refrigerator for a dorm room. You’re just looking for something the student can put some drinks in, store some yogurt, and maybe a small leftover container.
Your student may not need or want a refrigerator in their dorm room, so be sure to check their interest for one before you buy.
Also, if they have a roommate, check to make sure that they haven’t already purchased a refrigerator or a microwave and add duplicates to your move list.
What school supplies do I need for college?
When making a list of your college room ideas, buying all your new college room items, and doing your dorm shopping, don’t forget about school supplies for college! The basic college supply list will look a lot like high school school supplies.
Freshman College Supply list & College School Supplies List:
- Good backpack
- Notecards / index cards
Plus, anything else required by the student’s specific classes or on their specific college supplies list.
College Tech Essentials (for class and dorm use):
- Portable hard drive (for backing up–there’s nothing worse than losing all your work!)
- Quality, noise-canceling headphones for drowning out noise while sleeping and studying (make sure they have the right plug or adapter for their computer or tablet)
- Bluetooth speaker
- Flash drives (that may be required for many classes)
- Extra chargers and cords
- Portable charger (bonus for solar powered that you can use in while lounging outside!)
- QUALITY power strip (our favorite is this MOTHER OF ALL power strips with built in USB charger!)
- Handheld video game (we have this one and love how it turns from console to portable, handheld game!)
How much does the average college student spend on personal expenses?
While you’re here, you might also be wondering how much you need to help your kid each month and what do college students buy the most?
You know, how much do college students spend on personal expenses so that you know how much you will (or won’t need) to help them out.
What is a reasonable allowance for college student?
So, what is the average spending money for a college student and what do you need for college life spending and student essentials?
Let’s assume that the student’s tuition, rent, and books are covered (by you, a grant, scholarship, loan, whatever).
How much money more money does a college student need each month?
Of course, what your child spends at college will depend on their activities outside of classes and their personal needs and wants.
Some statistics put personal college expenses—you know, “spending money” beyond rent, tuition, books—starting at around $8,000 per year (and up), or about an extra $667 per month.
This includes things like:
- Travel (to/from home, etc.)
- Campus activities/other activities
So, you’ll need to help your freshman determine how they can save money, what to budget for, what they can count on from you, and if they need to also work.
Work with your student and check out college rules to make your ultimate college shopping list and packing list for college and their new living space! Good luck!
What would you add to the ultimate list of things for college students?