College Bound: 12 Dorm Must Haves

The class of 2017 has either just wrapped up in your hometown or will be wrapping up this week. As a mom navigating that last year of high school was a whirlwind. There were so many things, prom, dues, trips, applying to colleges, applying for scholarships and the BIG ONE GRADUATION DAY! My daughter graduated class of 2015 and is heading into her 3rd year of college. Its been an amazing journey and I am super proud of her. Aside from the graduation day, planning her party and & attending orientation, we had to start thinking about what she needed. Since she was my first and a first generation college student I had no clue of the little things that would come up that she would need. Living at home where your parents keep the basic necessities on hand definitely goes unnoticed until you get that 2 a.m. phone call from the 24 hour pharmacy asking you what should they get for a cold / upset stomach.

During my college bound series I will cover several topics. As a senior photographer I see many kids who are heading off to college for the first time and many stressed out parents. I also have 2 daughters in college currently. So, I know exactly how they feel. As a lot of parents are getting ready to send their kids off to college I want to help out where I can, especially since I had to wing it my first year as a college mom. I am providing a list of items you will definitely want to put on your grads wishlist. Trunk 7 Grad parties are even better when your guest know exactly what to buy. So create them a wish list at my favorite store Target. If you prefer Walmart and even Bed Bath & Beyond these are excellent choices as well.


Top 12 Must Haves for your new College Student:

  1. Emergency Kit - (1) Ibuprofen / Aspirin (2) Cold / Flu medicine (3) Band Aides (4) Pepto / Imodium AD for upset stomachs (5) For Girls: Feminine care kit

  2. Mini Fridge - most kids will want it just for snacks and some parents may think its not a necessary item. Especially when there is a community fridge. However, if your child needs to keep special medicine in the fridge this is a must. You don't want them having to leave their room looking for medicine. As for the late night snackers I would feel more comfortable knowing my food is safe and untampered with.
  3. Shower Caddy - especially when sharing bathrooms. If you live in a dorm that has two suites sharing a bathroom or a dorm with a community bathroom a shower caddy / bin is a must. You want to make it as easy as possible to have what you need and get in and out of the bathrooms as quickly as possible.
  4. A Rug and/or a Lounge Chair - like the saucer chair that folds up. The floors in the dorm room is usually tiled or wood and having a rug is going to make mornings a little warmer when stepping out the bed. If you are like my daughter you either prefer sitting on the floor and don't always want to be in your bed. So having that extra sitting space when not at your desk was super important. Or even when a couple friends come over, it's nice to have somewhere for them to sit.
  5. Extra storage drawers - So you know those plastic containers that are stacked like drawers. You can get them narrow or wide. Initially I thought she would need it for extra clothes storage but then I realized when we got to her dorm with all those snacks that she needed somewhere to keep her non-perishable snacks. Also a drawer for their extra supplies or even that emergency kit you get them.
  6. Lock - Most dorms provide a desk and/or dresser that has at least one drawer that has place to add a lock on to it. Be sure to bring a lock so you can lock up important docs (see #8) and any must have valuable item you take with you. In some cases that can be special medicine you are prescribed to take.
  7. If no drawer available then bring a small lock box that you can put in the bottom of your closet. It will serve the same purpose as #6.
  8. Birth Certificate / Social Security and Insurance Cards - I know your parents have kept these things for you forever but having your social security card and/or birth certificate is going to be important as well as your insurance cards. For most students going off to college can put you hours away from your home if not a full days drive. You do not want to be stuck waiting on your parents to send you a copy of documents. You can't reserve all of your doctors visits for when you are home. Unless you are less than 30 mins from home. I do however as the parent suggest having a copy of all of these documents along with their drivers license in your files at home.
  9. A fun but necessary item. If your child is like mine, they love Ramen noodles. Well a simple bowl may be ok for them to cook them in but who knew they had this amazing new thing called a Rapid Ramen Cooker.  This was a BIG WIN for us. It fits the noodles perfect, no hanging off the edge of the bowl no need to break them up (unless you prefer to, lol) it has handles on the side that make it easier to carry without burning the mess out of yourself. I am just going to say this. Parents if you have more kids still at home or if you like the occasional ramen noodle buy a couple.
  10. Dishes - They have the snacks, cereal & the ramen noodle cooker but what will they eat their food with. To save myself from having to constantly refill plastic forks and spoons, we opted for dollar tree $1 four piece fork and $1  four piece spoon sets. They definitely don't need to a full box set of heavy dishes. We purchased one plastic bowl & plate. One plastic cup and/or mug. I didn't initially think about these things but as we were putting away cereal it dawned on me that she needed something to eat it in. BTW - these are more items you will need to put in that plastic bin from #5.
  11. Basic cleaning supplies - while most dorms have a cleaning crew that come in to clean the bathrooms, even the ones in the suites. There will be messes that will have to be handled in between. Start with the basics and add on as you need more. Clorox wipes, small bottle of dish soap, paper towel, dish rag, hand broom/brush w/dustpan, trash bags and lord don't forget the air freshener.
  12. Cart/Basket with wheels - This is a nice to have and I wouldn't say its a necessity but having a daughter who lived in a high rise dorm. This would have been a nice item to have. It can make life so much easier when lugging groceries or even your laundry throughout the your dorm. Save a little strain on the back and get one. Some of them even fold up for easy storage.
12 College Dorm Room Essentials for First years Students jean B Photography