The Bare Necessities (for a College Dorm)

The first semester of college is quickly approaching for soon-to-be college freshmen. Parents everywhere are fretting over sending their students off to college with the right college dorm essentials.

I read a post from a few parents the other day about their sons’ lack of concern for dorm shopping. The advice came from a seasoned parent: get the essentials and let them get what they need later. I thought that was excellent advice that all parents should follow. My daughter practically took her whole room to college with her; we realized quickly that a college dorm room did not provide adequate closet space for her shoes.

Never be fooled by the room you saw on the campus tour. Dorm rooms are small, bare and lacking even the bare necessities.

For those parents whose children are not “dorm shopping motivated” and for those other parents whose students can’t seem to sift through what is necessary and what should be left at home, this list of essentials from should help.


Twin sheets

Unfortunately college dorm twin beds are not standard size. You’re going to need XL sheets.

Comforter set

comforter set

Your student will spend a good deal of time on their dorm bed—studying, reading, and listening to music (dorm rooms are small). A nice, fluffy comforter is a necessity.

Egg crate foam mattress

egg crate mattressCollege dorm beds are not Sealy Posturpedic mattresses. You can save your student’s back and add some comfort by providing an egg crate mattress.

Bed risers

bed risers

If I could list one dorm essential item, especially for girls, it’s the bed risers. These wonderful dorm additions allow your student to raise the bed, providing added storage underneath.

Clip on lamp

clip on lamp

There will be late nights studying in bed, and often their roommate will be sleeping. A clip on light gives them the light they need without turning on the room lights.

Laundry Bag with printed instructions

laundry bag

Your student has likely been doing laundry at home with your instruction. When they go off to college they will be responsible for their own. This bag, with printed instructions, will be a lifesaver.

Shower caddy and shower shoes

shower caddyCollege dorms often share bathroom facilities; hence the need for a shower caddy to carry toiletries back and forth, and shower shoes to avoid all those nasty shower stall germs.



It goes without saying that your student will need towels. I suggest the oversized versions and while you’re at it, add a nice robe to the mix.

Underbed storage

underbed storageOnce you use the risers on the bed, you need storage boxes to store clothing, shoes, and any miscellaneous items that won’t fit in the small closet or drawers.

Bedside storage organizer

bedside storage caddyThis is a handy invention to help students keep all their items close by while they are reading and studying in bed.

Send your student off with these essentials and they should have the basic necessities to set up their new home. Once they are set with these, you can add the decor, any additional storage items, and of course, study materials.


Also read one of our most popular posts on college dorm life:

HS JacketWhat NOT to Bring to College 

Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer advises parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation at She is excited to share her knowledge with the readers of Smart College Visit.

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