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Hearing School Bells? 10 Dorm Room Essentials to Survive College

Dorm Room Essentials to Survive College

While people now attend college at higher rates than ever before, 20 percent of them don’t make it to graduation. Of course, there are many reasons a college student may not graduate. But one small way you can help ensure your success is by buying the right dorm room essentials. Why do dorm essentials make a difference? Your dorm is one of the places you’ll spend the most time in college. You’ll sleep, snack, and socialize in your dorm. And you may also find yourself tackling most of your class reading and assignments in that small space.

If your room is comfortable, welcoming, and stocked with what you need, you can more easily stay focused on your work. And if it’s conducive to rest and healthy habits, you’ll have more energy for your classes. The right living space can actually help move you toward school success.

But which dorm room essentials are worth the money? Since dorms are tiny, you don’t want to overflow yours with things you don’t really need. That’s why we’ve put together this list of college dorm essentials — read on to learn which college necessities you should have.

For Sleeping

While ideally, you’d sleep for a third of every 24-hour day, in college, that full eight hours may not always be realistic. You might find yourself cramming in two hours of sleep before a big exam, only to catch up with 12 hours of rest on the weekend. But however you manage it, you’ll get better sleep with these dorm essentials.

bedding for dorm rooms

Nice Bedding

There’s something about a set of high-quality sheets that will make you feel that much more independent. Adding a comforter that suits your style can also help an impersonal dorm room feel more like yours.

The style of bedding you choose is totally up to you. Opt for colors and patterns that you like, but keep in mind that white can easily collect stains. You can find matching bedding sets, but it’s smart to get more than one set of sheets to make laundry a little easier.

Cute Pillows

If you’re into decorating, take your bedding up a notch with some cute throw pillows. They’ll add a touch of style without costing a lot. Plus, piling up some fluffy pillows can help make a stiff dorm bed feel more comfortable.

mattress topper for dorm roomsMattress Topper

You can also fix up an uncomfortable dorm mattress with a plush mattress topper. Mattress toppers offer an affordable way to make it feel like you have a whole new mattress.

Not sure which mattress topper to buy? Why not one made specifically for dorms? The DormTopper is designed to meet the needs of college students, so it’s a level up from your average mattress topper.

It’s also made by hand with a comfortable, easy-to-clean bamboo fabric and soy foam. But if you buy it, be prepared to kick your friends out of your bed once they realize how much more comfortable yours is.

Alarm Clock

Unfortunately, sleep in college often comes with a side dose of needing to wake up early. You might have early-morning classes or study sessions that just can’t be avoided.

While your phone comes with its own alarm, using it alone can get dangerous. It’s all too easy to fall into the habit of scrolling through social media before you get out of bed, making it hard to get anywhere on time.

An old-fashioned alarm clock will help reduce the morning distractions of your phone. Plus, it will look super-cute on your nightstand.

Bedside Lamp

When you crawl into bed to read, check Instagram, study, or sleep, you might want softer light. Most dorms have harsh overhead light and not much else. With a bedside lamp, it’s easier to unwind and get ready for sleep.

For Showering

The next major thing you’ll need to learn to navigate in college is sharing your shower.

While you may have grown up sharing a bathroom with siblings or parents, college isn’t quite the same. In addition to sharing with your roommate, you might have a communal bathroom shared with strangers down the hall.

You’ll get used to it with time, but these dorm room essentials will make the transition easier.

towels for dorm room

Fluffy Towels

In college, you’ll need to bring your own towels. And let’s be real: if the school provided towels, would you really want to use them?

Since you’re buying your own, why not get a high-quality set of luxe, fluffy towels in your favorite color? For that matter, make it two sets, so you can still shower when one is dirty.

Shower Shoes

Rubber flip-flops or other shower-friendly shoes are a must in college. If you’re sharing a communal bathroom, the floor can get wet and grimy fast. A pair of easy waterproof shoes will get you in and out of the shower with no hassle.


Your favorite shampoo can quickly end up spilled (or worse, missing) in a shared bathroom. Plus, no one wants to be the person that fills a communal space with piles of stuff.

Instead, keep your shower essentials handy in a portable caddy. You can stash it in your closet when you’re not using it, and grab it whenever you need to shower or wash your face.

robe for college student


If you feel comfortable in it, a bathrobe is much easier than hauling your clothes to and from the shower. And again, you might as well aim for quality. There’s not much luxurious about a dorm, so add luxe touches where you can, such as with a nice bathrobe.

For Storage

One thing that dorm rooms don’t have much of space. Ideally, you won’t show up with a lot of stuff, to begin with. But even so, you can quickly start to run out of room in a dorm.

Luckily, you can maximize your storage options with a few creative solutions, like these college essentials.

Bed Risers

Under the bed is a primary space for dorm room storage. With a set of bed risers, you can maximize that space even more.

Some dorm beds are actually designed to be adjustable, so you won’t need to buy separate bed risers. But if your bed doesn’t have an adjustable height, bed risers are definitely the way to go. You can pack anything you want, from shoes to winter coats to nonperishable food, under your bed.

Rolling Drawers

If you store lots of stuff under your bed, you’ll also need an easy way to access it all. A set of rolling drawers at the proper height lets you pull everything out from under the bed and put it back with ease.

Hanging Organizers

The space on walls and behind doors is another key place to store things in a dorm. You can maximize your use of that space with some hanging organizers.

Of course, the over-the-door shoe organizer is a classic. But you can also get smaller hanging organizers for cabinets to help keep items like toiletries in place. Or, try a hanging organizer for your closet to maximize the space of a single hanger.

Laundry Basket

Don’t fall into the lazy trap of storing your dirty laundry in plastic bags (or on the floor). Instead, invest in a nice laundry hamper or basket.

You’ll likely want to keep it on the small side since you won’t have many clothes in your small dorm. Plus, you should make sure it’s easy to carry from your dorm to the laundry room and back.

storage bins for dorm room

Storage Bins

Shelves offer a great way to store stuff, but they can only hold so much. However, storage bins can maximize shelf space by letting you use the full vertical height between the shelves.

Even better, storage bins hide all of your clutter. You can have tons of things, but if they’re all contained in bins, your room will still look neat and tidy.

Self-Adhesive Hooks

To hang purses, coats, scarves, and other college essentials, try getting some sturdy self-adhesive wall hooks. You can hang them anywhere you’d like, to add a little more storage space. Plus, the hooks won’t damage the walls when you remove them.

Small Trash Can

No matter how tidy you are, you’ll still generate some trash in your room. It’s important to have a space to put it so your desk doesn’t pile up with used office supplies and food wrappers. Find a small or narrow trash can that you can easily tuck away in a corner.

We Have The Best Mattress Topper for Dorms on the Planet?

Living comfortably in a dorm is all about being prepared. Luckily, one of the best dorm room essentials, a mattress topper for dorms is available here.

Your dorm room plays a major role in your college life. It’s where you relax, study, hang out, and much more. So, set yourself up for success from the start by making sure you have the things you need for college, particularly to experience better sleep.

We started this list with the stuff you need for sleeping since that’s one of the most important things you’ll do in a dorm. When you want to get started on that shopping list, make sure to check out the DormTopper and other mattress accessories here!

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