Preparing for your first year of college includes many different things. You not only worry about getting scholarships and leaving home but also how you are going to fit your whole life into a 9-by-11-foot room. Oh, and share that room with another person, too.
I remember the summer before my first year of college being filled with dorm hauls and move-in videos. Although these videos were fun to watch and got me excited for college, they also left me confused as most people have mixed reviews of what you need for your dorm room.
As I reflect on my freshman year, I think about all the things I used in my room constantly — but also the many belongings that made me think ‘Why did I even buy this?’
I plan to use my experience to suggest three items that you really need for your dorm — and three that you absolutely do not.
Things you DO need:
- A backrest pillow – I’m sure you have seen those pillows with the arms on them before — sometimes referred to as “husband pillows” — and maybe thought they seem unnecessary. However, this pillow saved my back this past year. At times, you will be hanging out in other people's rooms, and those dorm futons only fit so many people. You might end up sitting on the floor, and having this pillow is a lifesaver for those moments. Second, most dorm beds either don't have headboards, or they have gaps that your pillows can slip right through. Having this backrest pillow helped me keep my other pillows in place and saved me from a lot of back pain, as well.
- A fan – You will really want a fan in your room, no matter how small — trust me. Those dorm AC units are not reliable at all. At one point last year, my room was over 80 degrees every single day. Those small rooms can also get stuffy sometimes, so even having the fan simply for some air circulation is a lifesaver.
- Portable speaker – I think most people forget about this item. If you are anything like me, you might enjoy listening to music while doing tasks. I used my speaker in the shower while doing homework, and even just while cleaning the dorm. You will also be thankful to have a portable speaker if you plan to spend some nice days hammocking in Lakeshore or tanning at Memorial Union — both serotonin-boosting activities.
Things you DON’T need:
- Fancy Clothes – Unless you are a business major, you will likely not need a lot of fancy clothing on campus. It is good to have one or two professional outfits in case you have a job interview or another event of that nature, but you will probably be living in sweatshirts. In high school, I wore jeans and a nice shirt every day. So, obviously, that is the type of clothing I brought with me, not realizing how often I would be wearing leggings and hoodies. Take it from me, and bring comfy, casual clothes.
- Whiteboard calendar – I watched many videos that said you should invest in a whiteboard calendar to plan your month out in advance. Unless you are the type of person who has been writing out your schedule for years now and can stick to it, do not buy this item. Trust me, you will keep it up-to-date for the first few months, but you will eventually stop using it, and it will be stuck in November for the rest of the year.
- Multiple throw pillows – This one is not talked about enough. I brought about four throw pillows to put on my bed, and yes, it did look super cute. Well, at least for the first month when I actually put them back on my bed. Making your bed every day is already a challenge in itself, especially if your bed is lofted. Just buy one pillow — it will make your bed look more put together but also save you from pillows covering your floor.