As the national deadline to commit to a college quickly approaches, the next step in your college journey will be to start thinking about and purchasing items you need for your college dorm room! Living in the dorms at Berkeley all four years of college, this blog contains a list of items you should consider bringing to your college dorm.
First, we are going to start this blog off with some of the obvious items you need to bring to your college dorm.
1. Clothes: Make sure you are packing clothes that make sense for whatever weather and climate your college is located in. For me, I sort of packed incorrectly for college in Northern California, because I was under the assumption it would be 80+ degrees everyday. However, Northern California weather was not like that! So my freshman year, I definitely packed way too many “summer clothes.”
With packing clothes, you want to make sure that you do not overpack clothing pieces. Bring your staple items like long pants, short pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and fancy outfits. However, you do not need to bring six pairs of sweatpants. This was another mistake I made because I basically brought my entire at-home closet to college. With this, there is not enough space in your small college dorm to even fit that many clothes! I ended up bringing back home many of the clothes that I never wore at college. Make sure you bring clothes that you actually wear!
2. Backpack: You may use the same backpack you used for high school or you may purchase a new backpack for your college experience. My personal preference is to have a large backpack that has many compartments so that I can store a ton of items. For some classes, the professor instructed us to bring the textbook to each lecture, so then you would need a backpack large enough to carry your personal books and textbooks. Additionally, I would carry my notebooks, laptop, jacket, water bottle, pens, phone portable charger, and laptop charger around with me everyday.
3. Pillows/Sheets: Your dorm room will probably come furnished with a mattress and desk, but you will have to provide your own pillows and sheets. Make sure you are buying sheets that are the correct size for your dorm bed. You can look online at your university housing website to see what size the mattresses are at your college!
4. School Supplies: Not necessarily something you need to buy, but make sure you pack writing utensils and other school supplies (index cards, sticky notes, scissors, etc.) when moving to college. Even if you are not taking notes via pen/paper, some exams may require that you take the test with a number 2 pencil or a specific color pen. Other school supplies like index cards or sticky notes may be useful when studying for exams or writing reminders for yourself.
5. Laundry Detergent: When in college, you will have to do your own laundry! Many students purchase Tide Pods in order to wash their clothes. I found Tide Pods easy to use since you just stick one into the washing machine with your dirty clothes. For an alternative to Tide Pods, you could bring bottled laundry detergent as well.
6. Reusable Water Bottle: This is a must-have! You will be helping to save the environment plus a re-usable water bottle is great because you can refill it throughout the day and stay hydrated. Your campus will probably have many water bottle fill-up stations, so it will be easy to refill your bottle.
7. Shampoo/Conditioner/Bathroom Essentials: This is something you do not want to forget when packing! Bathroom essentials may include: razer, shaving cream, body wash, face wash, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and any other products you use when you shower or use the bathroom.
8. Towels: You should bring 2-3 shower towels. That way, once the towels are dirty, you do not have to do laundry right away, but can use your clean towels for showering. Additionally, you may want to purchase some hand and face towels for when you are washing your face in the communal bathrooms.
Now, I will talk about some more niche items that you should look into for your college dorm. From living in the dorms for four years, these items definitely helped improve my college living experience.
1. Extra Underwear and Socks: Doing laundry at college is time-consuming and sort of a hassle, since your laundry room may not be located on your dorm floor, but may be located in a separate building. A hack you can use to do laundry less often is to buy extra underwear and socks so that once those run out, then you will need to do your laundry.
2. Laptop vs Monitor: Most students only bring a laptop to college, but some students bring large monitors for their dorms. The dorm desks are not that big, so having a monitor and laptop would take up your entire desk space. Personally, I think only bringing a laptop to college is fine, because laptops are small and portable. On the other hand, I would say that only having a monitor is not going to work in college because then you are limited on where you can do your work. A laptop is a must so you can complete classwork in your dorm, in class, and at libraries!
3. Notebooks vs iPad: This is something else you should consider when gathering school supplies before starting college. I used notebooks throughout my time in college because I liked to hand-write all of my notes. Many of my peers would use their laptop or an iPad to take notes. This is a personal preference and up to you to decide. Nobody will judge you for taking notes on paper versus laptop/iPad. You should think about your learning style and how you would learn best. Take some time to get adjusted to college and see what note-taking strategies work for you.
4. Desk Light: Having a desk light is super important especially if you are living with roommates! When living with roommates, you all will probably have different schedules. At the beginning of the year, your Resident Assistant (RA) will probably make you complete a Roommate Agreement Form for your room. One of the items you and your roommates will have to agree upon is when you will turn the lights off. For example, you may have a roommate who goes to bed at 10 PM, so it would not be nice to keep the lights on in your room until 2 AM. Having a desk lamp is important, so if you want to continue studying in your dorm room once your roommate has gone to sleep, then you will not be in the dark. Additionally, you could move to a study lounge or go to the library once your roommates are sleeping, but that is more of a hassle when it is late at night.
Additionally, having a desk light is useful just in case your dorm lighting is terrible and you need the extra bit of light.
5. Laundry Hamper: Bringing a laundry hamper to college is very convenient because you have a place to store your dirty clothes. When doing your laundry, the laundry hamper makes it easy to transport all of your dirty items to the laundry room. Personally, I would say that a mesh laundry hamper is better than a plastic one because the mesh ones can squeeze into a place like your dorm closet. Otherwise, if you buy a plastic laundry basket, you may not have room for it in your dorm.
6. Mattress Pad/Topper: Your college will provide you a mattress in your dorm, but usually these mattresses are super thin and hard. To make the dorm-provided mattress a little better, you can purchase a mattress pad or mattress topper to put on top of your dorm mattress. This will hopefully provide you some more comfort rather than sleeping directly on the dorm mattress.
7. Extension Cords: You will probably have numerous items that you need to plug into the outlets in your dorm. However, there may not be a lot of outlets in your dorm room or the outlets may be in hard to reach places. Having an extension cord is useful so that you can plug in all of your electronics in an accessible location. My freshman dorm only had three outlets: one for each of my roommates and I. This meant that everyone only had two outlet plugs each, which isn't really enough space to plug in all of your chargers and a desk light.
8. Water Filter Pitcher: Having a water filter pitcher is useful if you do not have any water fountains on your dorm floor. For my freshman year, the only water fountain was in the main lobby of the building, so if you wanted to fill up your water bottle, you would have to go all the way downstairs to do so. Using a water filter pitcher, you can keep this in your dorm and easily refill your water without having to trek far away to do so.
9. Shower Caddy: A shower caddy is an item you can buy to easily carry all of your shower essentials. Even if your dorm bathroom has lockers to store your bathroom items, a shower caddy is useful so you can transport all of your items from the locker to the bathroom sink or shower. If your dorm does not have lockers, then a shower caddy is even more essential, so you can just carry the shower caddy to the bathroom to complete your business.
10. Shower Shoes: This is something you 100% need. I would see students walk in the bathroom and showers with no shoes on whatsoever, which is sort of gross. Even though the dorm bathrooms are cleaned, they are still public bathrooms so you should not want to step on the floor with bare feet. You can buy some cheap flip flops that you would wear when you shower, so that you are not stepping directly on the floor. You do not want to get toe fungus from the dorm bathroom floor!
11. Hangers: If your dorm has closets for you to use, then bringing hangers is a great way to organize your clothes. My freshman year, my dorm room only had two closets and one dresser, where I got the dresser. Since I did not need hangers, you may want to wait until you know what your dorm room looks like before you buy these.
12. Closet Organizer: Closet organizers are also a great way to separate your closet space. You can put items that can not hang on hangers in the closet organizer.
13. Makeup Mirror: If you do not want to do your makeup/contacts in the communal bathroom mirror, purchase a makeup mirror that you can keep in your room. This was great because I could sit at my dorm desk and do my makeup and contacts without people looking at me in the communal bathroom.
14. Fan/Heater: This depends on the weather at your college as some dorms do not have AC or heating systems. Additionally, some dorms do not have personalized AC/heating, where the temperature is the same throughout the entire building. In this case, you don’t have an option in your specific dorm room to make it hotter or colder. If that is the case for your college and it gets really hot in the summer and cold in the winter, then purchasing a mini fan or space heater could be helpful.
These are some main items that you should look into when you are packing and purchasing items to bring to your dorm room! In my next blog, I’ll follow my list up with some items that you should not bring to college!
Rachel is the Founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2020 where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.