As the City of Colleges welcomes the new and returning students to campus, parents and students alike wonder what is needed for their dorm room and on-campus apartments.

While the style and amenities may change among schools, the ten core essentials to the college experience are universal.


Unless you are thinking of creating an impromptu bohemian village in your dorm room, bedding is essential for a comfortable and personalized dorm room space. It’s the little things that make a dorm a home; bedding is the quickest and most potent of tactics to call the space your own. Check with your university and the residence hall you are staying in, bed size may vary.


Late night study sessions and the occasional midnight munchies will be satisfied with a mini-fridge. This inconspicuous appliance will become the final destination of collegiate hunger pains.


Toiletries are an essential in any environment, but don’t underestimate the vicious black Friday-esque mentality of first time college students and their parents on move-in day. Gather all bathroom essentials prior to the move to avoid a fight over the last bar of soap and the potential limb loss.

Non-perishable food items

There is a horror among the collegiate community, unbeknownst to the general public and pre-university attendees. The cafeteria is not open 24 hours a day. For those living off-campus or in an apartment with a full kitchen, avert your eyes; you need not torture yourself any further. For those living by the bell of the cafeteria, stock up on non-perishables, Easy Mac is coveted and Ramen is the buzzword. Don’t underestimate the reality of late-night cravings.

Cleaning supplies

The transition to adulthood has begun and it’s messy. Unless you bribe your friend with your last package of Ramen to clean your room, it’s on your shoulders now. On move-in day, assess what you will potentially need to clean on a weekly basis and make a list of what products will address these needs.

Dorm Décor

The next phase in dorm room chic living following bedding is dorm décor. Posters, pictures, place mats, and practically place lamps will transform a temporary living to a homestead for the new and returning college student. For the next nine to eighteen months, this is your home; you might as well make it yours.

Double-sided tape, sticky-tack, and command strips

While dorm décor may be the most fun part of this list, it is also the biggest pain if you are not prepared. Most dorm handbooks will not allow residents to post things to the wall unless they are secured with double-sided tape, which is easily removed, sticky-tack, or with command strips. Be familiar with your resident hall’s policies for hanging objects.


The struggle is real when downtime is concerned. College is known as a time to learn, broaden your horizons, enrich your academic prowess, and to be completely broke. Don’t fall into boredom so easily. Pack your dorm with entertainment essentials uniquely your own. If missing the newest episode of Witch of East End is not something you’re willing to part with, bring a television and a cable cord. Bring your favorite books if you are an avid reader. What brings you joy should be in your dorm room.

Open communication

Most everyone will have a roommate. One dorm room essential that cannot be forgotten is that communication is key to any relationship; especially with those you will see everyday. When you want Easy Mac and you find that one of your roommates has partaken in your personal collegiate communion, calm and college communication must be observed. Always remember that communication starts with listening and speaking starts with a breath. Take your time to respond, and don’t be quick to attack, maybe you ate it the night before in a all nighter induced daze.

Parent/Guardian’s number on speed dial

When your family leaves after move-in day, there seems to be an overture of "Let Freedom Ring" in the minds of many students. While this euphoric feeling of being away from home may last a few weeks when classes begin and new friendships are made, homesickness is a cruel mistress and some times our parents are the only voices we want to hear.