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Moving away from home for the first time can leave a pit in your stomach, but don’t let that stop you from taking the first step toward adulting. One trick is to make your college dorm room feel cozy and to fill it with some of the comforts from home.

Lessons Learned

After sending two kids to college, I have a good sense of what you’ll actually need and use in your dorm room. When our daughter went to school, we loaded the car with an excessive number of toiletries, a first aid kit, an ironing board/iron, and her entire wardrobe. By the end of her first year, she barely touched the two-year supply of shampoo and toothpaste, never ironed her clothes, and only wore about half of the clothes and shoes jammed into her tiny dorm-room closet.

A few years later, our son took less “stuff” to school, but never used the plates, cups, and silverware we had purchased for him. Instead, he used paper plates, drank from a water bottle, and used plastic silverware. The real frustration came when driving him home after his freshman year and seeing his printer in the original box. He never used it because there were so many free printers on campus.

Let’s explore some of the “must halves” for life on campus. 

Bed and Bath Necessities

Even on a strict budget, there are some items you really need for your dorm room. Your college will supply a bed, desk, and chair, but the rest is up to you. Stock up on the following items for the bed and bath.

  • Comforter, sheets, pillows, and mattress pad
  • Towels, and shower flip-flops
  • Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and razor/blades
  • Shower caddy to carry items to the shower

Shared Items

Contact your roommate before buying any of the following items because it only makes sense to divide them up and share.

  • Microwave
  • 2 Cu Ft refrigerator/freezer – any smaller is just too small
  • Television, optional sound bar & game system
  • Futon
  • Full- length mirror
  • Fan
  • Plastic cups, paper plates and bowls, and plastic silverware

Personalize Your Space

Now comes the fun part – add some personality to your space to make your room feel more like home. Consider discussing a color theme with your roommate, but don’t be limited by this. If your roommate loves red, but you prefer orange, use both colors in the room.

  • Area rug
  • Decorative pillows and throw blanket for the futon
  • Curtains
  • Poster art for the walls

You won’t have much room for storage, so your athletic equipment (tennis racket, baseball glove, frisbee, football/volleyball) can be used as accessories for your room. Put them “on display” so you can easily grab them as you hit the court or field.

Leaving home to attend college will seem less traumatic when you take pieces of home with you, and when you decorate your space to make your dorm room feel like a home away from home.