The Ultimate Guide to Dorm Room Living – All The Things I Wish I Knew Freshman Year

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This post goes over everything you need to know when moving into a dorm room. From the best dorm hacks to the best dorm products, we are telling you everything we wish we knew as freshman in college.

dorm rooms

So you're moving into your dorm room... How exciting! 

I know when I was planning to move into my college dorm room I was so excited to plan everything out but also thinking, "how am I going to make this dorm cute and comfy?!"

Moving your things from your room at home to a dorm can be overwhelming but these tips, tricks, products, and dorm room inspo will make your transition a breeze!

This post is all about the ultimate guide to moving into your dorm room.

Best Dorm Room Essentials

These are the products we couldn't live without in our dorm room. Like the things that are so good, we went and told everyone about it in the grade below us. 

We highly recommend getting at least a few of these dorm essentials for your own room...we promise they are life-changing.

1. Mattress Topper

A good mattress topper is essential for the dorms. The mattresses they give you are not comfortable at all. 

This is the exact mattress topper I used in my dorm room and literally made my bed more comfortable than my bed at home. And it lasts forever! I passed it down to my sister and she used it in the dorms too. Highly recommend. 

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2. Blackout Curtains

If you're a light sleeper and get woken up by the light easily like me, blackout curtains are definitely a college essential you need to get. Seriously, such a life saver for your sleep and sanity! 

I still use these to this day in my apartment so it's definitely worth the purchase. 

3. Extension Cord + Power Strip

Dorm rooms tend to not have many outlets and we usually have a lot of things that we need plugged it. Having a good power strip and extension cord so you can have everything you need plugged in is essential for dorm room living. 

4. HydroFlask

HydroFlasks are a godsend. They keep liquid cold for days. And I drink so much more water when I carry mine around.

I love these for day-to-day but they are also great for working out! There's nothing better than finishing a workout and having a water bottle with ice cold water ready for you.  

5. Mesh Shower Caddy

When shopping for a shower caddy, make sure to get a MESH one. I did not do this (I got a plastic one) when I lived in the dorms and it was awful.

Every time I would shower water would get stuck in the plastic grooves. I would go back to my dorm room, put the shower caddy on the ground, and five minutes later there would be a huge puddle on the ground. 

So basically, get a mesh shower caddy because water drains out of it way better and you won't be dragging a puddle of water into your dorm every time you shower.

6. Small Clip-On Fan 

A lot of dorms don't have air conditioning so in the warmer months your room can get realllyyyyy hot. Having a fan that can clip onto your bed is essential for trying to sleep at night. 

7. 10ft Chargers 

As I mentioned, dorm rooms tend to have very little outlets. Long chargers are essential for living in the dorm so you are able to lay in your bed on your phone when it's dead...which I know we are all guilty of! 

These are also just good for libraries and coffee shops when there's limited outlets and your phone dies unexpectedly. 

8. Towel Wrap 

If you're living in a dorm that has a communal bathroom, you will definitely want this. 

You are going to see all kinds of people in the hallway (boys and girls) when walking back and forth from the shower. A towel wrap has velcro so secure it on top so it you don't have to worry about it falling down!

I also like to wear it as I do my makeup and blow-dry my hair. A towel wrap will definitely be used a ton in the dorms. 

9. Shower Shoes 

Again, if you're going to be showering in a communal bathroom, shower shoes are a MUST. 

You really don't know what or who has been walking around the bathrooms and especially the showers. Protect your feet and keep them clean! 

10. Comfy Robe 

I lived in my comfy robe freshmen year and still do 4 years later lol. 

I love wearing mine after I shower and wind down for the night or get ready in the morning. It makes getting ready much more comfy and relaxing. 

11. Laundry Basket 

You're obviously going to need a laundry basket but one that makes it easier to maneuver around is essential. 

You're probably going to have to go to the basement or wherever your laundry room is so something with wheels or a handle makes it so much easier to drag around. 

12. Foldable Bins 

My closet had shelves at the top and I used three of these bins to create more storage in my closet (had to find as many storage spaces with all the clothes I packed!).

I used one of the bins for sweatshirts, one for feminine products and towels, and one for purses.

13. Storage Cubes 

I had this freshmen year and still use it in my college apartment. They are awesome for more storage but also could be used as a TV stand like I did! 

14. Mini Keurig

One thing college does not come with is sleep. Save some extra money by making your coffee in your dorm room. 

I love this mini Keurig because it doesn't take up a lot of space but gets the job done. 

15. Mini Fridge

If you have the room in your dorm, definitely get a mini fridge if you like to have your own snacks and drinks on hand! 

I always kept drinks, snacks and leftovers in mine and it definitely helped me from not eating out a ton.

Best Dorm Room Decorations of 2020

1. Add a Rug

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

Rugs are a great way to tie a room together and make it feel a bit more comfy. There are so many options for rugs so you can definitely go for one with some sort of pattern or keep it simple with a solid color! 

2. Subtle Hints of Color 

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

I love an all white room with subtle hints of color. It really makes it simple and classy but still with some added personality. I'm obsessed with the pale pink vibes in this room! 

3. Headboard

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

If you want to really elevate your dorm room bed, adding a headboard is a great option. They are super easy to set up and seriously add so much to a room! 

dorm room essentials

4. Hang Lights

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

Hanging lights are a great way to make your dorm room feel a little homier. It's also a great way to add extra light to the room. 

5. Picture Wall

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

A picture wall is such a cute decoration option. It covers up the ugly dorm room walls and also displays your favorite pictures of friends and family from home. 

I love this one above because the pictures are all square and in line and it makes it look so put together! 

6. Hanging Shelves 

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

Use command hooks to hang these shelves to give the illusion of a floating shelf without drilling holes!

Add your favorite photos and nick nacks for a fun decoration. 

7. Add a Beanbag or Ottoman

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

Bean bags and ottomans are great way to add something extra to your dorm room but also provide more seating and / storage to your room. 

8. Plants 

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

If you love having greenery around or want to add a little color to a simple room, plants are a great way to add to your dorm! 

I love these hanging ones to add to your walls. It adds are really cute touch. 

9. Add Fun Accent Pillows

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

I would only buy three pillows (max) for your bed! Any more than that will drive you crazy.

Also, HomeGoods also has some really good pillows! 

10. Tapestry 

Recreate This Dorm Room Decor:

Tapestries are a great way to cover up an empty wall and add something fun to a dorm room. There are so many options - you could go cute decor or something funny like Kris Jenner! 

Best Dorm Room Hacks

1. Get a door stopper!

Having a door stopper is such a game changer. It makes you seem so much more inviting and people will be more likely to come and say hi if your door is open than if it was closed.

Trust me, get one of these and I promise you'll have people coming to your room all the time, especially the first few weeks in the dorm! 

2. Have a Bedside Caddy / Shelf

Having a shelf or caddy to put your stuff before you go to bed is so helpful especially if your bed is lofted! 

3. Long Bed Skirt to Cover Extra Storage

If you have a lot of stuff in a small dorm, you're likely going to have to loft your bed to use the space under for more storage. If that's the case, get a long bed skirt to cover up the storage and make your space look 10x neater. 

Copy This Dorm Room Hack:

4. Closet Curtain

dorm room
Copy This Dorm Room Hack: 

Another way to make your room like a lot neater is to cover your closet with a cute curtain. In a lot of dorms, the closets don't have doors over the closet so all your clothes are exposed. This can make your room look really messy. 

5. Noise Machine

if you have issues studying / sleeping around noise, a sound machine will seriously change your life. 

6. Raise Your Bed for More Storage

Recreate This Dorm Room Hack:

If you're anything like me, you plan on bringing a lottttt with you to college. Dorm rooms are small so you have to work with space as efficiently as possible. 

Raise your bed and use the space underneath for more storage space. 

7. Use Containers in Drawers to Organize Makeup 

dorm room hacks

Recreate This Dorm Room Hack:

I love keeping my makeup organized in containers. One way to keep it out of sight is utilizing your desk drawers and using separating containers like I did in the picture above. Such an easy way to keep everything organized! 

Best Gifts For Soon-to-Be College Students

1. AirPods Pro

AirPods are pretty much a college students best friend. I use mine every single day - walking to class, studying, doing laundry, working out, etc. you can use them doing pretty much anything. 

While they are definitely a pricier gift, they will be used throughout college and hopefully even longer. 

2. Planner

College comes with a lot more work than high school so it's important to stay as organized as possible. If your soon-to-be college student loves to stay organized AND cute, this planner is perfect. 

I love these too because you can customize them so it's more personalized as a gift. They will love this! 

3. Polaroid + Film

Polaroids are such a fun way to capture memories throughout college. My friends and I take ours everywhere and they are so much fun to look back on.

The pictures also make perfect decorations for dorm room walls or future apartments! 

4. Phone Wallet

If your graduate doesn't like to carry around a purse OR loses things way too easily, a phone wallet that sticks on the back of a phone case is perfect. 

I have one of these that I put my cards and ID in and haven't lost any of them since. It's super convenient! 

5. Lululemon Leggings

College students live in leggings and a sweatshirt. Lululemon is definitely on the more expensive side but they are the most comfortable leggings I've ever owned and will last them forever

6. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Every dorm room needs a good speaker! From listening to music while getting ready, or jamming out with all your friends before a night out, having a speaker is essential.

Waterproof is always a good idea too to make sure that it doesn't get ruined if something spills. You can also bring it in the shower! 

7. School Apparel

This is a fool proof graduation gift idea but I thought I'd add it anyway. 

College students can never have enough school apparel. I love Tailgate for cute / more trendy apparel that's also super soft! 

8. Amazon Prime Student Membership

dorm room

Amazon Prime Student is honestly the best gift a college student could receive. We order sooo much on Amazon and prime makes it even easier. 

9. Ugg Slippers

Ugg slippers are essential for the dorms. They keep you so warm and cozy and protect your feet from the nasty dorm floors. 

I've had these for years now and wear them every single day when I get home. They are the BEST.

10. Roku

If your graduate plans on bringing a TV to their dorm room, Roku is a great gift option. It's a streaming stick that allows you to access a ton of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, AmazonVideo, etc. 

If they won't have access to cable, this is a great way for them to still be able to watch their favorite shows and movies... and it's inexpensive! 

This post is the ultimate guide to living in the dorm rooms.
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