Congratulations to everyone who has graduated in the past few days, or will graduate soon! You made it! Now, it's time to start thinking of how you're going to decorate your dorm, what you'll need, and who your roommate will be. If you're like me, you're probably scouring Pinterest for dorm theme ideas and shopping lists, and repeatedly asking your class's Facebook groups about what you'll need. You want to be prepared, but also don't want to overpack.
This past year, I stayed in a traditional style dorm on my campus. This means I shared a room with one other girl, and shared a bathroom with about 20-30 more. Personally, I wanted my side of the room to match my roommate's as much as possible, so I waited to shop until I for sure knew who my roommate was. If you don't have any requests for a roommate at this point, make it your mission to make friends at orientation. It's likely that many other students don't know who they would want as their roommate and are trying to find one just like you. Take advantage of this. Orientation is there so you can not only get familiar with the school, but also find students who share your major and can hopefully become your lifelong friends.
My roommate and I had a pink, grey, and gold theme for our dorm, but you don't necessarily have to have a theme. I went into college thinking that your roommate's bed and decor had to match (and I do personally still like having a theme), but plenty of other dorms don't have matching beds/decor.
Also, once your room assignment is released (mine was released in July), email/text your roommate so you can get to know each other! You never know. That person may be within 30 minutes of where you live so you two can know who the other is way before move-in day. If not, it's best to at least text your roommate about things such as how the room will be set up and what rules/boundaries you would like to place.
Now that I've gotten completely off track, I will continue on with my topic of everything I needed in my freshman dorm.
1. Twin XL Bedding: Most importantly you will need a comforter and sheets. This is a no brainer, but it's definitely a requirement. Bedding can get very expensive, so I'd recommend looking on Amazon for a cheaper version of what you're envisioning. Also, if you'd like to match your roommate, talk with him/her about the bedding he/she bought. My roommate and I discussed a color palette, and somehow ended up being lucky enough to get the same comforter without even knowing it. Also, your school's Residence Life office will probably send you a catalog full of bedding. Look through this, and if you like something in it, discuss with your parents to see if it's in your price range.
2. Twin XL Mattress Pad: You may be thinking that you won't need a mattress pad, but I promise you, you do. Those beds are extremely hard and uncomfortable. If you value your sleep, invest in one. Mine was about $30 from Target. They aren't very expensive, but will be a lifesaver.
3. Twin XL Mattress Protector: The mattresses that come with your dorm have been used by a countless amount of students. There's no telling who or what has been on your mattress. To keep things more sanitary, get a mattress protector. I got one that also protected against bed bugs because things run rampant in these dorms. You're in extremely close quarters, so anything and everything that could possibly spread will spread. These covers will give you extra protection from any infestations.
4. Printer: These aren't mandatory, but will become a lifesaver. Your school will likely include printing money in your tuition, but that can run out quick, and if you finish a paper at midnight, it can be an inconvenience to try to find time to go to your library or student success center to print it. Having a printer in your dorm will keep this from happening. They're a bit of an investment, but so is your education. It can improve the quality of your work and make everything easier for you.
5. Shower Caddy: These aren't expensive at all (seriously - mine was $3), but will help you out so much if you live in a traditional style dorm. How else would you be able to carry all of your shower necessities to your bathroom and back? While on the topic of traditional dorm showers, get shower shoes! 20+ people use those bathrooms. They're honestly disgusting. To make it a bit less disgusting, get some form of shower shoes to protect your feet. I just got flip flops from Walmart, and at the time, they were $1 per pair (we got 3... and I honestly don't know where my other two pairs are). They'll keep you from having to touch that grimy floor.
6. A Lapdesk: You will probably get tired of sitting at your desk for countless hours, and when you do, you will want to move to a comfy chair or your bed. To be able to continue working on your laptop without it overheating, or continue to be able to write on a hard surface, get a lapdesk. TJ Maxx often has cute ones for about $15, but other places like Amazon may have them for cheaper.
7. Mini Fridge: These are an investment, but will make your life so much easier. I promise you, you will get tired of dining hall food. You can keep drinks, creamer, and fruits/vegetables in it so you can have a break from dropping money every single time you want to eat or drink. It's also a way to be able to have midnight snacks, even when your Student Union food court and dining hall are closed.
8. Various Decor: To make your dorm feel more homey, you'll likely want to have decorations around it. Some of my decor was bought, such as white fairy lights, throw pillows, and throw blankets, but most of it was DIY. I kept seeing tassel garland in stores and loved the way it looked, so I used this blogpost's instructions, and made it from twine, hot glue, and tissue paper. I made one for my roommate, and one for me. It's pictured in the above slideshow. As for wall decor, I looked around on YouTube and Pinterest for easy geometric paintings I could do. Compared to paintings in stores and on Etsy, buying canvases, paint brushes/sponges, and acrylic paint is much cheaper. I got so many compliments on the wall art I did, which made me happy since they were DIY.
9. Towels and washcloths: This is another no brainer, but you will need towels and washcloths (or shower puff). I had 5 (two grey, two pink, and one towel wrap that my roommate's mom bought for me) and would switch them out throughout the semester. It's a necessity even outside of a dorm, so of course it's one inside one.
10. Bedside Caddy: If you're like me, you're going to keep your bed lofted to save room in your dorm (even though it gets extremely frustrating having to climb up and down it every night). Because you're so high up, there's no way to have a nightstand to keep your phone, water, glasses, or whatever else you might need beside you. I'd recommend getting a bedside caddy to keep everything you need at hand. I also recommend getting a super long phone charger if you're wanting to charge your phone while in your lofted bed.
11. A Microwave & Keurig: These two go hand and hand because they aren't necessary, but are nice to have. If I'm not mistaken, I think most dorms have a microwave in the communal kitchen, but it's nice to have one in your dorm so you can make Ramen or whatever you want if you run out of meal swipes/dining dollars. Keurigs are also nice for when you want coffee right when you wake up, but don't want to drop $4 for a Starbucks every morning.
12. A Desk Lamp: There will likely be times that you wake up before or go to sleep after your roommate and need to keep the overhead lights off. If you need to do homework, it's nearly impossible to do in the dark. So, to make it where you can still study/do assignments while your roommate is sleeping, have a desk lamp. It will still give you the light you need, but will be dimmer than the overhead lights so your roommate can hopefully still get some shut-eye.