College means that your little baby is finally growing up! However, heading in as a freshman can be daunting (for parents and kids), especially if you’re trying to decide what to buy for the new dorm room.

Space in the dorm room is very limited. (Did we mention very?) So, your college freshman has to be super picky about what they bring. Here are the must-haves that will help you sort out the needs from the wants.

15 Dorm Room Ideas for College

Dorm Room Must-Have #1: Mattress Toppers

Mattresses are not great in dorm rooms — they’re thin and broken down and used by many. (And who knows the last time they have been replaced?) In short: they’re nothing like your kid is accustomed to at home. So, to make sure your kid gets a good night’s sleep, make sure they have a great mattress topper. (But, before you get the topper, protect your kid and your bedding with a waterproof mattress encasement that protects against fluids, mildew, mold and bed bugs.)

The best mattress toppers for comfort are down or memory foam. However, these are also the most expensive mattress toppers. (It might be worth it if you have a kid that takes special care of his or her stuff.) If budget is a concern, try doubling up on a “egg crate” mattress topper. It won’t last through multiple years, but it is cheaper.

TIP: If you add a down or thick memory foam topper, then bump up your sheets one size (like from a twin to a full) so that they will cover the topper and the mattress.

Dorm Room Must-Have #2: Coffee Maker

Chances are today that your little college kid is a coffee or hot tea drinker. So, it might be wise to invest in a really nice coffee maker (like a Keurig).

Investing in a nicer coffee maker for the dorm room will save money in the long run from multiple Starbucks runs each day and will help with late-night study sessions.

Also, have your student think about how they’re going to handle coffee moochers in the dorm. Put out a DONATION can to help cover coffee costs.

TIP: Send a monthly care package of a coffee variety sampler pack!

Dorm Room Must-Have #3: Hangers

Multifunction hangers
It seems silly, but one college study revealed that hangers were the number one thing that a new freshman wished they had more of when they moved in. Getting their clothes put away was one of the biggest (and most helpful) chores to getting the rest of the room put together. So be sure to buy in bulk packs!

TIP: Buy the multifunction hangers (like shown here) that have the ability to hang everything from coats to scarves without slipping off.

Dorm Room Must-Have #4: Wall tape and hooks.

Colleges frown (and often ban) students nailing things into their dorm room walls. That means your student will need to get creative when hanging up all those cool posters, signs, banners and calendars. Make sure that you have an alternative to hanging things up — like different sizes of removable wall hooks that can easily be removed after using without damaging the wall.

TIP: Removable adhesive putty works well for light things like posters and paper.

Dorm Room Must-Have #5: Ear plugs & Ear buds.

As you would expect, it gets loud in dorms. (Not to mention, there will be times when the roommate has to study or has people over when your student is trying to sleep.) So, send your student away with a load of earplugs to help combat the noise level when they’re ready for some ZZZZZZZs. It’s a cheap and easy fix for an ongoing problem they can do little about.

TIP: Secretly tuck an extra pair of noise isolating ear buds so your freshman has a backup.

Dorm Room Must-Have #6: Compact printer.

Most colleges (and students) will tell you not to worry about a printer because there are plenty on campus to use. However, there will be late-night printing (or when it’s super cold out) that your student won’t want to traipse across campus just to print something. Enter the wireless compact printer.

TIP: Just like the coffee maker, once others learn that your student has a printer they will get requests to use it all the time. So, be sure to set up a donation (or charging) system for other students so your kid isn’t stuck buying ink and paper all the time.

Dorm Room Must-Have #7: Dishes.

set of dorm room dishes Clearly there won’t be room for all the dishes, utensils and cookware that you would use in an apartment. However, your new student will need to have a small set of dishes that include at least one mug, plate, bowl, cup and a set of utensils.

And, be sure to get the unbreakable kind. (Trust us on this.)

TIP: Ask the roommate before moving in if he or she wants to split an entire set.

Dorm Room Must-Have #8: Battery-operated alarm clock.

Sure the kiddo will have an alarm on the phone or tablet, but it’s always good to have a backup, battery powered alarm clock that they can rely on even in power outages. If the batteries don’t come with the clock, be sure you pick up some batteries (and extras) before heading out!

TIP: Get a dual-purpose alarm with a USB, like the one shown here, that can also charge a cell phone if needed.


Dorm Room Must-Have #9: Under the bed storage.

UNDER BED DORM STORAGE Most dorm room beds are built to maximize space. This means you’re student will probably have bunk beds or twin beds that are built on taller frames so that the space under the bed can be utilized for storage.

Pick up one or two under bed storage units to hold sheets, towels or bulky items like sweaters.

TIP: Be sure to get under bed storage with a lid or top to keep out dust and critters.

Dorm Room Must-Have #10: Bulletin and message boards.

BUY BULLETIN BOARDS FOR COLLEGE DORM ROOMS Kids, no matter what age, still love to hang stuff on their wall. Grab some cork bulletin board that are easy to use for schedules, tickets and other cool stuff. And, bulletin boards don’t have to be plain and ugly (like when we were growing up). They have cool ones now that double as art when nothing is on them!

Also, a couple of erasable white boards will help visitors leave messages while the kiddo is out.

TIP: Don’t forget to include extra dry erase markers. They will definitely go missing frequently.

Dorm Room Must-Have #11: Emergency kit.

Your kid will say they don’t need one of these, but maybe it’s just something that you put together and ship to them later. Include regular first aid items like bandages and antiseptic wipes, but also include things that may come in handy during power outages like a waterproof flashlight with extra batteries.

Also, if the college is an area that often has inclement weather, think of including a ambient weather emergency radio. The one shown here is hand crank and includes the ability to charge phones, too.

TIP: Don’t include candles and matches in your emergency kit (for obvious reasons).

Dorm Room Must-Have #12: Shower caddy and towels.

Chances are, your kiddo will be (sadly) sharing a bathroom and shower facilities. You need to hook them up with an awesome shower caddy to lug or store their shower stuff. Also, don’t forget to throw in a couple of plush towels. (Just be sure to write their name on the tags.)

TIP: Monogrammed towels will deter others from permanently “borrowing” your kid’s towels.

Dorm Room Must-Have #13: Power strips.

There are so many things to plugin that your college kid will definitely need extra power strips.

TIP: Look for plugins that have multiple outlet types — those those for the computer and the smart phone.

Dorm Room Must-Have #14: Bottle & can opener.

BUY ALL IN ONE TOOL FOR COLLEGE DORMS A bottle and can opener will come in super handy in the dorm. Actually, you might just want to
make it one of these awesome all in one tools that come in handy for so many things.

Dorm Room Must-Have #15: Some things from home.

Don’t be afraid to tuck a few of your kid’s favorite things from home. He or she may act embarrassed when they unpack their favorite stuffed animal or that framed picture of all of you during that awful camping trip, but when they’re feeling overwhelmed they’ll be happy to have the stuff around. Just don’t expect them to admit it to you.

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