Dorm Room Essentials: The Definitive Guide

Dorm Room Essentials: The Definitive Guide

As a high school student living with your guardians at home, you can walk to the fridge to grab a Sprite or to the pantry to pig out on as many peanut butter crackers as you’d like without giving it a second thought. It’s a mystery where all this food comes from every so often, and the cupboards are stacked with new snacks and treats regularly. I hate to be the one who has to peel back the curtain and burst your bubble, but all this stuff gets there because your parents buy it for the house. I know, I know. I’ll pause for a second and let you gasp at this idea.

Have you collected yourself? Great, we can continue! Moving into the dorms at your dream school (which you could be admitted to with the help of Zinkerz and our college counseling team) means that you’re going to be living independently. You’ll have a roommate or two or six, but it’s your responsibility to ensure you have everything you need, from snacks and drinks to erasers and deodorant.

This may sound like a lot of responsibility, but don’t worry. Worrying is like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere. What you can do, however, is continue reading this blog and learn about the essentials that you should pack for move-in day.


Bathroom Essentials:

Here’s what colleges give you in regards to the bathrooms, especially if they’re communal: toilet, toilet paper, sinks, paper towels, and shower curtains. Now, go and look around the bathroom you use at home. Everything in there that isn’t on that list means you will have to supply it for yourself at school.


Do you want to wash your hair or shower in the bathroom? You’ll have to bring your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and maybe even a loofah. Are you suffering from halitosis in the morning? You’re responsible for bringing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other dental cleansers like mouthwash or floss. It would be best if you also got a razor and shaving cream, towels, ointment for unwanted pimples, hair care products, first-aid items like band-aids and gauze, and a blow dryer. These seem like basics, however, and they would be no-brainers for a student.


But, have you thought about how you’ll be able to transport all of these things to and from the bathroom and do so with organization and sensibility? The solution is going to be a shower caddy. This is a portable cubby in which you can store all your bathroom items. It’s a plastic, divided bucket for students to separate their conditioner from their shaving cream and their soap bar from their deodorant. With a handle in the middle, it can be easily carried between the bedroom and the bathroom without the fear of another student accidentally taking your supplies. The shower caddy is essential for a student to ward off unnecessary headaches in the bathroom.


This next essential will save a student’s life; the reasoning is gross: shower shoes. Flip-flops, slides, sandals, thongs, Crocs, whatever you want to call them—a specific pair of rubber footwear for the shower will protect your feet. Sharing showers with strangers is most likely not a high priority or a hobby for most of you. However, it’s a reality in most college dorms, which can house hundreds if not thousands of students. Because humans are animals, standing in pools of washed-off dirt and bacteria can cause problems such as athlete’s foot. Worrying about itchy and sore feet is no reason to pile on the stress when studying for a big chemistry exam or an economics presentation. Shower shoes are a foolproof essential to ensure that students can keep their feet safe. Lieutenant Dan would surely agree.


Desk and Academics:

On weekdays, especially if it’s too rainy or cold to walk to the library, a student’s desk is where they are likely to spend most of their time. Your desk will multitask between being the central location for studying and completing assignments and being a respite spot for relaxation: watching [insert your preferred streaming site here], taking captionless pictures of your forehead for Snapchat streaks, and getting to know your roommates and friends better.


When it comes to academics, it’s evident that each class is going to require some text – whether that be a textbook on atoms and molecules, a series of essays by Adam Smith, or a slew of Shakespeare’s plays – and these can typically be found on the class’s syllabus, in an email from the professor, or through the college’s bookstore. In addition to these readings, it would be wise for students to have their room equipped with the essentials for completing work. Particular laptops are invaluable if a student can afford one (some schools even recommend certain laptops and will repair them for free in the IT department). Beyond this technology, having pens and pencils, binders, extra notebooks, and office supplies like a stapler and Wite-Out will bail a student out of a jam when they need to get thoughts on paper or realize that the library closed an hour ago and they need to staple together a packet before their 8 a.m. class.


Memory is one of the more challenging aspects of college that applies to any assignment. There is no worse feeling than waking up on a Friday morning and thinking: “Oh, crud! That’s due today.” The easiest solution to avoid this problem is to make your deadlines visible. A whiteboard on the wall or desk, a calendar/planner, a series of index cards, or whatever method you want to use to make sure that you can see a deadline as soon as it is assigned is recommended so that, on the night before or the morning of the due date, all that has to be done is final checks for accuracy as opposed to a sloppy rush job on an assignment.


Another overlooked aspect of a college dorm is power outlets. It may sound silly, but you’ll want to message friends and FaceTime family members throughout the day. Meanwhile, your speaker is dead, your laptop is only on 10%, the lamp will provide extra light, and the fridge you rented has to stay plugged in out of fear of having your Hot Pockets go bad. Typically, outlets will be behind a student’s desk and at the back of the room, and there aren’t enough slots to charge everything when needed. To combat this, we at Zinkerz recommend purchasing a power strip with 3-6 additional outlets for all of your electronics. You don’t want to resort to Googling “5×5” because your calculator died. Extension cords are not allowed at most schools, as they can be a fire hazard, but power strips are more than welcome to allow students to remain prepared for their work and social lives.


Our final essential for the dorm room desk is to do with a personal aspect. Your roommate at college, especially freshman year, will most likely be a stranger. He/she/they may be from the same country as you, or they could come from four time zones away. A cheat code for starting conversations with this new soon-to-be-friend is to talk about what’s around you: the subjects you’re studying, your hometowns, the weather, etc. However, one item that could be an even better catalyst is a conversation piece for your desk. At school, I had a figurine of Shrek climbing Big Ben and a bobblehead of myself playing golf on my desk. This invited my roommates and new friends to say, “who’s that playing golf? Oh, you like golf?…” Then a *bang* friendship was created. Maybe yours is a baseball glove, a Jane Austen book, or a stuffed animal version of Liam Neeson. Whatever it is, it will stand to remind you of home, of yourself, and swiftly create a conversation.


The Dorm Room:

If you’ve been able to stay in a college dorm during camp, tour campuses, or have seen the 2006 movie Accepted, starring Justin Long and Blake Lively; then you know that a basic college dorm room is pretty bland. The walls are undecorated and painted a faint yellow, while the wooden desks are next to green and flat mattresses. The colleges must provide the basics for thousands and thousands of kids so that the rooms won’t come with brand-new Tempur-Pedic mattresses.


These blank canvases of walls and beds are your opportunity to express your personality. You can bring your sheets with all of the EPL team logos or the faces of a dozen dog breeds. However, what is going to help is a mattress pad. This fortification of foam is meant to go right on top of the mattress and add a cushion for a student to fall asleep comfortably. Another note is that these mattresses are not brand new. No, George Washington and Hernando Cortes didn’t sleep on them, but we don’t know who was in the room beforehand. So, we at Zinkerz also recommend purchasing a mattress cover. This is essentially a sanitary cover that goes over the entire mattress and works to keep the mattress pad in place. The best part is that these essentials can be used all four years of school and beyond. Speaking as a Bostonian, I can say, with confidence, that New York City is a disgusting cesspool. So, when you get an internship to be the CEO of JP Morgan, and you need to get an apartment in NYC, this cover and pad can continue to keep you safe and dreaming sweetly.


For the walls: this is where you can build on the conversation piece from your desk and make your side of the room your own. One of the most common reasons roommates argue is organization and territorial disputes. If you have half of the room, keep your stuff to your side, and don’t encroach on your roommate’s space. Clothes are the number one culprit of this crime, so a hamper will be another essential for organizing dirty clothes and keeping everyone happy. Love animals? Hang up a poster of elephants in the savanna. Trying to make other people laugh? Maybe a witty poster of a meme or a comedy movie poster can get this point across. The room is yours for the year; your decorations can display what matters to you and make you feel more comfortable and happy throughout the week.


In addition to posters and banners around the room, you want to be able to pay homage to the people that raised, supported, and loved you. The first week, especially, will be difficult in a new place. A string of photos from home—of friends, family, landmarks, celebrations, memories, and hope—will be sure to turn that frown upside down, remind you of your goals, and maybe even convince you to call your mom when you get a chance. She’d love to hear from you.


Finally, we mentioned lamps earlier in this blog. I don’t want to accidentally insinuate that there will be chandeliers in the dorm room or that the walls will be lit up like Fenway Park during a night game. Bring a lamp to college. The dorm will most likely have an overhead light for the room, but what if you’re working on the finishing touches for a psychology essay and your roommate has a class in the morning? It would be rude to keep that light on and worsen their sleep. Instead, bring a desk lamp or a free-standing lamp to your side of the room to personally control the light when you need it.


In conclusion, college is a place to learn, grow, and make friends before adventuring into the phase of life we call “adulthood.” No matter what, you will have a phenomenal time and be able to look back at these years fondly and with laughter. However, they can be made even better if you are equipped for daily life and have a comfortable environment. You’ll enjoy college even more with the essentials we’ve listed in these paragraphs.


Unsure of where you want to go to college or confused about a part of the process or how to go about the application? Look no further than Zinkerz! Our college counseling team comprises experts who have been tried and tested in the college application process. We’ve helped thousands of students get accepted to their top schools. Schedule a free consultation to make the college application a breeze at

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