Essential College Items That Every Student Should Buy

By Kailey Walters on October 16, 2018

Every college student needs at least a few key items to keep them satisfied and happy during the college years. (In most people’s experience, that probably means more than just a few.) College, after all, is a pretty trying time — not only are students encumbered by classes, studying, and other school-related responsibilities, but for some people, it may be their first time away from home, which can lead them to feel overwhelmed at times.

While no single item can keep someone completely happy or entirely dispel all of their problems and worries, there are some essential items that every college student should have. Ranging from the practical to the I-just-really-want-that-thing, the following list contains items that every student should be putting on their must-have list. Or, at least, saving on Amazon.


Dorm Room

Here are a few essential dorm room things you should be keeping an eye out for.

1. Bedding.

This one might seem a little self-explanatory, but you definitely don’t want to forget about your bedding! A huge part of the dorm room experience is being able to return to a comfortable space where you can relax and get a good night’s rest. Having the appropriate bedding can definitely enhance that experience.

It’s fine to bring bedding that you already own from home, but it may also be a good idea to check the size of the bed in your dorm room and buy new bedding that will fit, just in case. Even if you’re simply looking for a change and want to get new bedding, go for it! College is a time for experimentation, both in the little and big ways.

Also, it may be helpful to purchase an extra set of bedsheets just in case. If a friend happens to want to stay over and crash on your sofa, or you accidentally spill something on your bedsheets, it’s always nice to have a spare in those moments.

2. Storage stuff.

What better way to store all of your new college purchases than with handy storage containers? And what better way to keep all of your clothes and shoes neatly organized than with hangers, drawer organizers, and shoe racks?

If you’re searching for the perfect storage tools, look no further than Bed Bath and Beyond. Their website can produce a whole goldmine of essential items that you didn’t even realize you might need.

Storage stuff is particularly crucial when it comes to having a completed dorm room. Especially if you’re a stickler for keeping things neat and organized, having a storage method in your room is important for keeping your whole life in order (to an extent).

For instance, if you have stray belongings lying around and are not quite sure where to put them, toss them into a storage bin. It may be the lazy way out in the moment, but it sure prevents the underside of your bed from getting too crowded with random knick knacks here and there.

Most dorm rooms provide basic furniture items such as dresser drawers; however, if you find that you need more space for your clothes, purchasing an extra set of drawers or even a drawer organizer could be super helpful. It’s also a good idea to distinguish between clothes that can be folded and stored in a dresser versus clothes that need to be hung up in the closet. With that being said, clothes hangers are definitely a worthwhile investment.

If you own a lot of shoes, getting a shoe rack might not be a bad idea, either. Instead of tossing or kicking off your shoes into a random corner of your room when you come back, you can simply place your shoes onto the rack, which can be stored in one spot of your room without taking up too much space.

3. A fan.

If your dorm room doesn’t have air conditioning, a fan is definitely a necessary item. Especially if you go to school in a place that’s often muggy and hot, you should invest in a fan to keep yourself cool and comfortable in your dorm room. If you’re going for quality, getting a large standing fan is probably more worthwhile than buying a small desk fan.


4. Dry erase board.

An important part of staying on top of your responsibilities and tasks is being able to write them down somewhere. While you can certainly make to-do lists for yourself electronically, in your planner (if you have one), or even on random scraps of paper, using a dry erase board, for some people, might be the most beneficial. You can use the board to write up the day’s tasks, cross them off (or not) by the end of the day, and easily erase or add new things according to your schedule. Not only is a dry erase board super convenient and easily reusable, but it can also add a nice decorative touch to your living space.

5. A lamp.

In the case that your dorm room doesn’t have the best lighting, you may want to invest in a high-quality lamp that can brighten up your room well. What kind of lamp you go with is totally based on your preference and the rules of your particular dorm building set by your university. If you are allowed to have a large floor lamp, go for it — it could be a big help in brightening up your room. If a lamp of that size is not allowed, you can probably still opt for a smaller desk lamp that will nevertheless be very useful to you while you’re sitting at your desk doing homework or studying.

Essentially, don’t knock the power of a high-quality lamp — not only can it save you from straining your eyes in dim lighting, but it can also enhance the atmosphere of your room.

6. A mirror.

Sure, your bathroom will have a mirror, but it’s also nice to have your own mirror that you can use while getting ready for the day. Floor-length mirrors are often nice options because they allow you to check out your entire outfit, and as they are narrow, they can be easily hung or leaned up against doors and walls in convenient locations.

A makeup mirror is also not a bad idea, especially if you find it difficult to scrutinize your face in the mirrors in the shared bathroom.

7. Command hooks.

If you’re into decorating your dorm room, command hooks are definitely essential. Especially if you’re hanging up pictures or putting hooks on the walls and door (so that you can hang up your bags, jackets, towel, etc.), command hooks are extremely useful.

infographic, cleaning supplies, school supplies

Infographic by Kailey Walters


1. The basics.

Another super important aspect of college dorm life is dealing with the bathroom. Depending on the type of dorm you live in, you may either share a bathroom in a suite with several other people or you could be using a communal bathroom along with everyone else on your floor.

Yet, no matter the situation, it’s always important to have a few bathroom essentials such as your basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, etc.), a towel, shampoo, perhaps conditioner, and soap. If you wear contact lenses, don’t forget to buy extra solution and lens cases.

What’s more, a shower caddy very much comes in handy when it comes to constantly carting your stuff back and forth from your room to the bathroom. Shower caddies are pretty inexpensive — you can get them from a local Target or any other store that sells bathroom essentials — and they’re quite useful.

2. Extra toiletries.

Running out of toiletries, when it happens, is a pretty terrible feeling. Imagine not having enough toilet paper right when you need it or not having any more soap or shampoo to take a shower with.

To prevent these unfortunate situations from happening, spend the necessary time and money to buy extra toiletries — which can include everything from toilet paper to toothpaste to face lotion. Making sure you have these essentials really does not require a great deal of extra effort, as you can usually buy these supplies in bulk from most stores, and it’ll save you a lot of hassle later on. You’ll definitely want to thank yourself for thinking ahead!


1. Bowls, plates, cups, and silverware.

If your dorm room or building happens to have a kitchen space, you may want to bring along some eating utensils. Maybe you won’t be spending a lot of time cooking for yourself, especially if you have purchased a meal plan with your school and have limited access to supermarkets anyway, but it’s nice to have some kitchen supplies just in case. For example, if you eat out somewhere and have leftover food that you take back, having an extra bowl and fork in your room is certainly convenient for when you’re craving those leftovers.

Having a mug or cup is also a good idea if you like to drink tea or coffee. Which brings us to our next point…

2. A coffeemaker.

If your dorm building allows one, a coffeemaker is a very useful appliance and a worthwhile investment for those who do drink coffee regularly. Instead of constantly running to the dining hall to buy yet another cup of mediocre coffee, you can make some exactly the way you like it. Buying just a small coffeemaker would probably suffice, as it won’t take up a lot of space in your room or kitchen.

Cleaning supplies

1. A vacuum cleaner.

Some dorm buildings might provide vacuum cleaners that residents can borrow, and some might not. To be on the safe side, and to be able to vacuum your space whenever you feel the urge, purchase your own vacuum cleaner and store it somewhere in your room such as in your closet. Who knows … having it there might just remind you to vacuum your floor more often, too!

2. Cleaning wipes.

Using cleaning or disinfectant wipes is definitely a great idea to keep your room sanitized. They come in large packs usually and are very versatile when it comes to cleaning your space. You can use the wipes on doorknobs, your desk, your furniture, the bottoms of your dresser drawers … any surface that seems like it could use a little sanitization!

School Supplies

1. A planner.

An essential part of keeping up with your academic life as a college student is making sure you have all your assignments and school responsibilities organized. While there are many ways of doing so, and everyone develops their own method, a planner is definitely a great place to start. Not only does it include a space for you to keep track of all your tasks for the week, but it also includes a calendar of all the months during the academic year so you can keep track of the bigger picture.

If you’re not entirely comfortable with using a physical planner, you might be more accustomed to using an electronic version, such as Google calendar or a reminders app on your phone. Whatever happens to work for you, and helps you stay the most efficient and organized, take advantage and go with it!

2. Plenty of writing utensils and other school supplies.

When the school year rolls around, it’s always necessary to stock up on school supplies such as pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, notebooks, and the like. Having a surplus of these school supplies is also very useful in case you ever run out and need some right away. (Plus, it’s usually much too easy to lose a number of pens and pencils throughout the semester, so having extras laying around certainly comes in handy!)

With so many things to buy, making college purchases can seem a bit overwhelming at times. But don’t get discouraged — all of these essential items add up to one enjoyable and memorable college experience!

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