It's that time of year when eager soon-to-be college freshmen start to think about outfitting their new digs... and it's also the time of year for endless, unthinkably long 'checklists' for your dorm room. But do you really need all that stuff? Here are five things you might find indispensable... and five 'essentials' you may not need at all.
6 Things You Probably Don't Need:
A shower tote
For some reason a shower tote is like, the #1 college accessory. But here's the truth: unless your dorm room is one of those ones with the bathroom down the hall, you don't need an adorable little container for all your shower stuff. If you're just sharing with your roommate or suitemates, one of those organizers that hangs over the showerhead will do just fine.
Chances are your dorm room isn't large enough to merit a big-screen TV. Save some cash and watch movies and TV on your laptop instead. Also, most dorms have TV lounges — a great way to get out of your room and meet people.
Tons of furniture
Sure, all those bookcases and lounge chairs and whatnot are tempting... but chances are they won't fit in your space. Check the dimensions of your new room, and the furniture that comes with it, to determine if there's room for any extras.
Even if your college roommate is your bestest friend from forever (and maybe especially then), trying to match bedding with your roommate is a bad idea. If you do, chances are you'll wind up with something that neither of you are really happy with, and then you'll be stuck with it when you inevitably go your separate ways (probably from all the pent-up resentment about not getting the comforter you really wanted).
Most colleges allow you to print for free at the campus lab — and not having a printer means never having to replace a dead cartridge the night before a big term paper is due.
A set of dishes
If you plan on eating ramen noodles and sandwiches in your dorm room, a plate and bowl will be good to have on hand. Anything else? Unless you're planning on hosting dinner parties, you probably won't use it. And only having one of each will mean dishes won't pile up — and your roommate will thank you.
And 6 Things That Might Really Come in Handy
Good for studying or reading when your roommate's already asleep, or just creating a cozy environment free from the harsh overhead glow of the fluorescent lights. You might want to bring two — one for your desk and one for beside the bed.
Some newer dorm rooms have carpet or even (gasp) hardwood flooring, but if you dorm is like many of the ones I remember, the flooring will be a cold (and probably ugly) tile. A rug is great for adding a little style and warmth. Just be sure to check with the dimensions of the room — and with your roommate — to make sure yours will fit.
A full-length mirror
For checking your look before you leave the room.
Over the door hooks, hooks that hang from the side of your shelves, sticky hooks that will pull of the wall later without creating any damage... hooks are your friends. Great for hanging towels or backpacks or that shirt that you wore once but that isn't really dirty enough for the laundry bag and would otherwise wind up on the floor.
Living in a dorm room means not being able to control the temperature of said room, and chances are that at at least some point during the year, said room will be freezing. Blankets are good to have.
A folding tray table
Yeah, yeah, I know I said no furniture. But a folding tray table (like this one) can be tremendously useful. Use it for board games, for snacking, as a laptop desk, what have you. When you're not using it, you can fold it up and tuck it between other pieces of furniture, almost like it's not even there.