With all those dorm room packing lists, it’s easy to get lost in the frenzy. It’s also hard to write down a shopping list when you don’t know what you need yet! After four years in college, I’ve come up with a solid list of 15 college essentials that I couldn’t live without.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to purchase all of these for yourself. Many of these items (such as kitchen appliances) can be shared amongst your friends and roommates! I didn’t have a fridge, but my roommate and I shared!
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[Our Comprehensive Guide: The Ultimate College Dorm Room Essentials Packing List]
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Here are 15 college essentials that I couldn’t live without:
1. A phone pocket for my student ID
When you get to college, your student ID is one of the most important pieces of plastic in your life. You’ll need it to get into buildings, your dorm room, your gym, the library–practically anything on campus.
Most freshmen are going to keep their IDs on lanyards, but notice how the upperclassmen don’t? I hate to say this, but it’s because there are more “hip” ways to carry your ID around–on your phone!
Your phone is already on you ALL the time, so why not keep your ID on your phone? You don’t have to get a new phone case either–you can simply buy a set of stick-on pockets! I used these and they were SO convenient for my ID and whatever else I needed in the spur of the moment.
Get your stick-on pocket on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2NXBijc
Or a phone case with storage, if that’s more your thing: https://amzn.to/38x06Ik
2. A trusty pair of noise-cancelling headphones
If you’re someone who needs fewer distractions when studying, I highly recommend a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I have a Bose pair that I received as a gift, and they are one of my favorite things.
The library can get boring and repetitive, and having these headphones allowed me to still crack down on biochemistry in a noisy coffee shop. They’re quite pricey, but if you think it’ll help you concentrate and perform well in your classes, it’s quite worth the investment.
I also did a lot of flying since I went to college out-of-state. These are AMAZING on flights. You can drown out practically all background noise and really enjoy your music, movies, and podcasts on the plane. For me, this was one of the college essentials that I often used outside of campus.
Get it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Z5Dn35
3. This exact toothbrush holder
Okay. I know this isn’t the most exciting one, but this toothbrush holder has gotten me through SO much. The toilet in our room/suite/s shared bathroom didn’t have a lid, which meant that everything SPRAYED when it was flushed. It’s not that dramatic, but I got so much peace-of-mind knowing my toothbrush wasn’t in the splash zone.
It’s also super convenient to travel with, and you can stick it on the bathroom mirror so it’s out of the way! I kept it stuck on my mirror ALL year for 3 years, and it never fell. The pack came with two, so I gave one to my dad, who’s often on business trips!
Get it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Oe61ZH
4. Waterproof, portable speaker
Honestly, one of my favorite things. I have an old iHome one that’s the size of my palm (got it for Christmas from Marshalls one year) and it’s still going strong five years later!
It’s a life-changer in the shower, and you can pretty much bring it anywhere with you! I’ve taken mine all over the world by clipping it on my backpack.
Get it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3e71GBY
5. A re-usable water bottle
I went through quite a number of free re-usable plastic ones (they get grimy pretty fast) and metal ones (that taste quite metal-y) before settling down on a Swell water bottle.
It was a bit of an accident–I got a free one from my campus job, but ended up loving it! In my opinion, it’s a little on the smaller side, but it fits nicely in my backpack! Not just a college essential, but an essential for anyone.
A Swell or Hydro Flask is honestly SO nice. They’re quite hardy (I’ve dropped mine so many times) and you don’t get ANY weird flavors added to your water! They’re also super great for keeping drinks hot and cold. I once kept hot water in my Swell steaming after an entire night!
Get your Swell on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2BBU39z
Get your Hydro Flask on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3gzgmvm
6. Portable Charger
I didn’t know how much I appreciated my portable charger until it broke. The one I had was cheap and came with my alarm clock (which I never used, since I had my phone), and I never got around to investing in a new one. That left me with a lot of battery anxiety.
I highly recommend getting a solid portable charger! You’ll never want to be stuck with a dead phone, especially when you’re out hanging with friends or studying late in the library.
Get it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Z9hn7z
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7. Shower shoes
Nothing fancy here. I had a cute pair of pineapple flip-flops that I wore for showering and it lasted me all four years. Don’t think try to think about all the gross stuff on a shower floor–it’s disgusting! You’ll be left prone to foot infections or whatever a public shower floor brings with it.
This is where cheap shower shoes come in!
I got mine for $0.50 in China, but you can honestly pick up this college essential at almost any discount store. I’ve gotten American Eagle flip-flops for $2 at Marshalls before!
I know I already mentioned noise-cancelling headphones, but those are huge. A lightweight pair of earbuds are much more convenient for heading to class and working out.
Personally, I never had airpods in college (just used my trusty earpods), but having wireless earbuds really make a difference when you’re working out or taking a walk around the city! I once got my earpods tangled on a metal post when I was walking by myself through Times Square in NYC. Not fun.
Definitely not a huge deal whether they’re wireless or not (mine weren’t, haha), but it was just nice having a small pair of earbuds to stash in my backpack!
Get it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OeaxY9
Everyone has different organization habits, but I’ve always loved writing my goals down. I had a physical planner that I used! In high school, I liked my weekly planners, but in college (with so many classes and exam dates), I loved a monthly layout. That way, I could see what was happening within an entire month’s span.
My absolute favorite planners are by Inkwell Press. They have Yearly and Monthly, Goals, Mission Boards, Habit Trackers, Monthly Plans, and extra note-taking space! You can also get planners that have both weekly AND monthly plans.
No matter what app or planner you use, having a scheduler should be part of everyone’s college essentials.
Get this planner on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2O2nxQg
I’ve had the same journal since graduation (mostly because I don’t write in it every day), and it’s been a little “house” for my mind. It’s where I go when I need to take a break and hash out my thoughts. I took it with me when I studied abroad, and wrote in it whenever I traveled to a new city or country! It’s like a mini tracker for your life(:
This isn’t necessarily a college essential, but it was definitely something that helped my mental health.
Get one on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/31NIuGV
11. My NutriBullet blender
I used this every. Single. Day.
Smoothies were a way for me to get my daily servings of fruits and veggies! It’s hard to keep a perfectly healthy diet (the freshman 15 is real) in college, but smoothies were a stable in my diet.
My smoothie recipe:
- 1 banana
- 4-5 strawberries
- spinach (lots of this! you can’t taste it!)
- almond milk
- chia seeds
Get a NutriBullet on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Diktxt
I had a serious coffee addiction, and I was quite the coffee snob. The Aeropress makes some of the BEST coffee you’ll ever have. AND it’s small and portable! I was happily drinking this black, with some ice cubes from the dorm servery.
You can also use this to make cold brew!
Get one on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3f6SIG8
13. Hot water kettle
If you’re gonna want to use your Aeropress, you’ll have to have a hot water kettle. I brought an old one from home, and my entire suite shared it! It was also great for making tea, and the occasional instant ramen bowl.
Get one on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3iCGKGj
14. My dimmable lamp
This was one of my favorite things. I needed a good light in order to study without getting headaches, and with the amount of time I spent with my books as a pre-med student, this lamp did not fail me. Definitely one of my bigger college essentials when it came to studying!
It has settings for studying, and you can even dim it for casual reading or a little light during movie nights! The head is moveable, so you can turn it to the angle that suits you best. There’s a USB port to charge your phone, too!
Get one on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OevUZn
15. Mini fridge
I didn’t have one of my own, but my roomie and suitemates did! Honestly, with such busy schedules in college, a fridge saved us. We were able to stash away meals for later and store late-night study snacks. It was pretty much a college essential for all of us. You might even be able to pick one up from older students who are graduating. If you’re able to get a fridge, it will make your life SO much easier!
Get one on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3iBNWma
I hope you found this list helpful! These were the college essentials that I used pretty much every single day. College essentials are different for everyone, but I just thought I’d share a bit of what made my life easier. Good luck!
Comprehensive Guide: The Ultimate Dorm Room Essentials Packing List