1. Big plastic bins: This is a must. Dorm rooms are limited in size, and as a result you’ll need to come up with some creative ways to store things that still gives you easy access to your stuff. Solution: Giant plastic bins for everything from shoes to books to video games. Slide them under your bed or tuck them in your closet. They’re a life saver.
2. Extra sheets and towels: It seems like guys need to be reminded of this more than girls, but here’s the rule for everyone: Always, always have extra towels and bed linens. College life is fast-paced and can make you forget to do chores like, well, laundry. So to keep yourself clean and keep your roommate from throwing you out, change your sheets regularly, and rotate in new bath towels on similar basis.
3. Mini fridge: Living on campus often means being at the mercy of the cafeteria or food court for meals and snacks, and the dining hall isn’t always an option if you’re looking for a quick bite or something late at night. Solve the problem by getting a mini fridge for your room. They fit easily into corner or under lofted beds, and you’ll never have to roam the city looking for munchies at 2 a.m. (unless you want to, that is).
4. Flash drive: Maybe your printer breaks. Maybe you forget to e-mail a document to yourself for later use. Maybe your laptop is on the fritz. Whatever the technological mishap, you can get aroun it with a portable flash drive. Small enough to fit on your keychain and loaded with storage space (2GB is a common amount), these portable hard drives are ideal for backing up papers or valuable documents for travel or transport.
5. Frames: You’re going to have a lot of posters. But while everyone else on your hall is battling over the same prints of Bob Marley and Gustav Klimt, you’ll be a step ahead by sporting genuine frames on your prints. Be sure to pick some up for regular photos, as well. They’re a cheap but nice decorating solution.
6. Mirror: A lot of dorm rooms don’t have mirrors, especially if you’re dependant upon the community showers down the hall. Invest in a tall mirror for your room and hang it inside your closet door.
7. Toaster: This is another great meal resource that students tend to overlook, but toasting bread or bagels (or, let’s be honest, Pop Tarts) for breakfast will help you get a solid start to the day.
8. Recharger for iPod/iPhone: If you’ve got an iPod or iPhone, chances are you’re familiar with the feeling of trying to check e-mail or send a text before that last red sliver of battery life disappears completely. There are tons of great devices out there to give you a battery charge on the go so you don’t have to deal with cables or worry about finding an outlet if you need to recharge your phone or music device. Pretty much an essential gadget for today’s students.
9. Dry erase board: Pin one up on the outside of your door for visitors to leave messages while you’re gone. It’s also a great way to leave quick notes for your roommate.
10. Throw pillows: Whether you’re relaxing on your bed or on the sofa you picked up at the thrift store, you’re going to want some extra pillowst. Pick up a few throw pillows for your room to add style and comfort.
11. Camp chair: You won’t have a lot of space for furniture in your dorm room, but you will want a place to sit and watch TV, listen to music, or have ready for a guest. That’s why camp chairs are such a great idea. They’re small but sturdy, and they fold up for easy storage in a closet or under a table. You can even get bigger ones that recline, which are ideal for mid-afternoon naps (a college tradition in their own right).
12. A big rack: Simple, cheap, and more versatile than you’d expect, a tall wire-frame rack set of shelves is a great way to save space and organize your belongings. Use it for your TV, books, even a microwave. The metal construction means you can knock it around and move it as necessary.
13. Desk fan: Buy a desk fan to keep cool in warm months or to help yourself from overheating if you’re roommate keeps the thermostat set too high. You can find them at most department and appliance stores.
14. Power strip: This seems obvious to some, but it’s still worth pointing out. A lot of dorms are older buildings and have limited electrical outlets, and even newer buildings can be stingy with places for plugs. Bring a couple of power strips with you to school to make sure you’ve got plenty of room to plug in all the electronics you’ll be packing.
15. Rug: Even if your dorm floor is carpeted, a rug adds a nice touch, is more comfortable to walk on, and can be used to stragetically cover stains.