During my freshman year, I came to college not really knowing what to expect with my dorm. I wasn't sure if I was going to want files in my desk, throw pillows for my bed, bed risers,etc. I didn't even know if any of this stuff was going to be useful to me. So here are 10 things that I had to eventually buy during the school year because I desperately needed them!
Body Pillow (or a bunch of throw pillows)
When friends came over to my dorm, we always ended up hanging out on the bed. It's the most comfortable spot in the room, unless your back is up against a hard cement wall. I had a couple extra regular sized pillows and two smaller throw pillows in my room, and they were lifesavers. We held movie nights on my bed, and everyone got their own pillow to lean against the wall. This year I plan on buying a body pillow to have along with the other pillows just because I know that it will be useful. You will use them for when your back is aching and you want more support, to lay on when you're napping (naps are huge in college, who woulda thought!) and, well, anytime you're sitting, whether it be on a bed, a chair, or even the floor (and boy do you want one then.) Target has a bunch of cute pillows for cheap!
A Comfortable Desk Chair
Since I have a ton of back issues (hello scoliosis surgery circa 2009!) what I desperately need in my life is a good place to sit that supports my back. With dorms you either get stuck with the stiff wooden ones which just kill my back and butt within minutes, or you get plastic ones that in general just suck. My school had plastic ones with fabric on them, but there were so many large unidentifiable stains that I didn't even want to sit on it once. I went to Office Max, bought a cheap and comfortable chair and was satisfied (until it broke halfway through the year and then I sprung for a nice leather one that I adore). If you have any sort of back issue this is the #1 thing you should bring/buy for school, spring for a nicer one so it actually lasts through your 4 years though! The exact one I have is here, but if you want to keep looking you can find some more here.
This one is much more optional depending on where you go to school and how your city's public transportation is. If you are familiar with the nightmare that is Southern California's public transportation system, then you will understand why I felt the need to bring a car. If you're like me and are going to a school in a smallish town with not much to do around campus, and you don't have a cheap way to get around (train, bus, etc.) a car will be a lifesaver. I unfortunately did not have a car freshman year and I felt so trapped on campus. My only option of getting somewhere was bumming a ride from someone else (which will annoy your friends if you ask over and over and over) or taking an expensive taxi (which is the worst thing for a low-budget college student). With a car I can grab food when I want it, take a trip to the grocery store, mall, movie theatre, bookstore, etc. However, if you are going to school in a larger city which is likely to have better public transportation than the Los Angeles area, I wouldn't recommend bringing a car. In that situation, a car would likely lead to you getting stuck in traffic while your friends are already waiting for you because they took the train or subway. Stick to public transportation if it's simple and easy to use (plus it is more cost effective).
If you're anything like me, you get your fair share of colds during the year. From sore throats to sniffles, and more, medicine comes to the rescue! Bugs spread so quickly through dorms (last year everyone in my hall got both the flu and bronchitis!) and you don't want to be unprepared. Luckily my mom had thought of everything and packed me a huge first aid kit that included a bunch of different things including Advil cold and sinus, and cough syrup (that definitely came in handy when I got bronchitis!) You can't prepare for everything, especially things you need prescription for, but you can have a good base in case of emergency. I promise you that even if you don't need the medicine that you bring, you will know someone that will.
Water in southern California is absolutely disgusting. As a Bay Area native, my tap water is basically as clear as it gets, so making that switch was a nightmare for me. Buying a filtered water bottle or a large filter that you can keep in your mini-fridge will help you if you happen to be in a similar situation. Even if the water isn't that gross, it's not a bad idea to get one anyway.
Fan or Heater
If you have the ability to control the temperature in your dorm, by all means ignore this one. I, however, was stuck in a room where I was either sweating up a storm or freezing my butt off. I bought a nice fan-heater combo that kept my roommate and I cool during the spring and summer, but kept us super comfortable in the winter. Heaters can sometimes be on the list of prohibited items from your school, however if it doubles as a fan it shouldn't be a problem (it can be our little secret). Trust me this was a lifesaver for me and my roomie! It also serves as a way to block noise from other rooms which is super nice when people are being loud. This one is a great size for the dorm!
If you're going to have friends visiting for a weekend or maybe a friend comes knocking on your door at 2am saying she got locked out and needs a place to stay, having an extra bed is great. Either way, having one will make things easier when those things happen (and trust me, they will happen). Also, they make a good place for guests to sit when you lack actual chairs or if you want to gather on it and have a movie night.
A Weekender Bag
I can't remember how many times I either spent the weekend at a friend's house or went home and visited my family, and a good weekender bag was the number one thing that I needed. It doesn't have to be as big as a duffel bag, but it has to be bigger than a tote bag. As long as you can put your clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. into it, you should be good. I recommend one that can easily fit your clothes, laptop, and all the school books that you might need. I have this one and you can have it monogrammed! If you don't want to pay that much, this one is just as cute!
Ear Plugs/ Good Headphones
If someone in your hall is being loud and you're trying to study, ear plugs or plugging into headphones is the best way to solve the situation. You can't really do anything about noise if it isn't quiet hours, so unless you want to make the trek over to the library for some quiet time, just block it all out with some ear plugs. Also, these help if your roommate snores a lot or talks in their sleep (like I supposedly do, sorry Jacqueline!) Headphones are great for when you want to have a Netflix marathon, but your roommate has a huge test to study for. All in all, you'll make a good use out of both items. I've been using these Skullcandy earphones for years and they're so comfortable and block out sound really well!
Dorm rooms gather so much dust it's insane. I didn't know it was possible to go from clean to filthy in a week until I watched my desk get attacked by dust. Honestly, you don't want to live in a room where literally everything is covered in dust, so make sure to clean everything off every once in a while. You will be very surprised (and grossed out) to see how much the dirt and grime builds up in a short span of time, so please get a duster. I use these Swiffer dusters that pick up everything.
If you guys have any other suggestions for this list feel free to comment below! And if you have any questions for me send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you all are having a blast getting ready for back to school!