Preparing for College: Dorm Room Necessities

By: CeCe Jacob
There are many steps when it comes to preparing your teen for independence in college. We’re here to help! This article – written by CeCe Jacob, CCA’s Alumni Relations Coordinator – will share necessary items for your teen’s first year in a college dorm.

Are you a parent of an upcoming graduate? Transitioning your teen from high school to higher education may feel like drinking out of a water hose. You’ve picked the school, chosen the major (hopefully), and now you’re deciding between on- or off-campus housing. But the next question will be: What necessities should your teen bring to college?

Room Organization and Decor
Whether your teen has a room to themselves or if it’s a shared space, their room will become a safe place that should reflect their own personal style!

I had one friend who had fake vines, twinkle lights, photos everywhere, and decorative pillows in her dorm room and another friend who stuck one poster up and never decorated again (that friend was me). It’s up to you and your teen to know what decor you’ll need to make it feel like home!

Here are a few items I recommend for basic essentials:

  • Mattress topper (College beds are typically 38” x 80”. I suggest checking with the college in advance!)
  • Bedding (bed sheets, pillows, and pillowcases)
  • Bedside and desk lamps
  • Surge protector
  • Closet organizer
  • Under-the-bed storage and storage bins
  • Laundry bag or rolling hamper
  • Laundry supplies (detergent, etc.)
  • Hanging organizer
  • Clothes hangers
  • Command hooks
  • Personal fan
  • Small toolkit
  • Trashcan
  • Cleaning supplies

Not all bathroom dorms are created equal. If you’re lucky, your teen will only share the bathroom with roommates or the room next door. More often, freshman dorms have floor bathrooms. Don’t worry, these recommendations should apply to most circumstances!

When packing, consider what bathroom products and supplies your teen uses. Even if they share these products and supplies with parents or siblings, your teen will need one of their own. Some examples might entail hair styling tools, cotton swabs, and toothpaste.

  • Shower caddy
  • Towels (bath, hand, face)
  • Shower shoes
  • Shower and bathroom supplies (soaps, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Bathrobe

Some dorms may have kitchen appliances available for residents. I suggest finding out what your dorm has available before making any big purchases. These items will keep your teen from buying every meal from the on-campus restaurants or dining hall/cafeteria.

  • Mini fridge
  • Microwave
  • Personal blender
  • Pot(s) and pan(s)
  • Cooking utensil set
  • Reusable and portable utensils
  • Microwave-safe plates, bowls, and mugs
  • Food storage containers
  • Water filter pitcher
  • Paper towels
  • Dish towel
  • Can opener
  • Reusable water bottle

It’s tempting, but your teen won’t need to bring their entire closet. They’ll need clothes to go to class and lounge in, go out with friends, and attend professional events such as career fairs. Help them pack their favorite clothes and items that can mix and match.

If you’re concerned about the weather changing, bring layers or jackets for cooler months. If your teen is going out of state, consider buying their heavy winter pieces in their new town!

  • Weather-appropriate clothing (Leave the winter boots home if it’s summer or early fall and they’re coming home before the weather changes.)
  • (1) Professional outfit (in case of presentations or networking opportunities)
  • Athletic wear
  • Raincoat, rain boots, and umbrella
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Iron or steamer
  • Weekender bag

College is all about flexibility. You’ll need to prepare your teen for anything to happen. Pouring rain on their walk to class, a snoring roommate, a bad cold when the weather changes, etc. Make sure your teen has what they need to face any obstacle and make the most of their college experience!

  • School supplies (laptop, notebooks, pens, index cards, and anything else required for the registered classes)
  • Backpack
  • Bicycle and helmet (I recommend, but it’s not required. If you’re on a big campus, you may only have 15 minutes to make it from one end of campus to the other to get to class on time. Encourage your teen to become familiar with the on-campus bus routes, which are often free for students.)
  • Bike lock (Bike theft is common on college campuses. The bike lock should go around the wheels too!)
  • Pepper spray keychain (important for walking at night!)
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • 10 ft phone charging cord
  • Earplugs (in case of loud roommates)
  • Sleep eye mask
  • First aid kit
  • Raid or any other bug spray (being unprepared for a cockroach encounter is not fun…)
  • Cold/pain medicine and tissues (don’t wait until your teen is sick to purchase these!)
  • I-9 Acceptable Documents (when looking for jobs)
  • Lightweight vacuum or handheld dustbuster

If you arm your teen with these essentials, they will surely be prepared for their first few weeks in their new home! As you continue preparing, remember we’re praying for you and your upcoming graduate as they embark on their newest journey!

Author Bio:
CeCe Jacob is the Alumni Relations Coordinator and Worship Leader for Calvary Christian Academy. She has a professional background in PR and marketing with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida. CeCe and her husband, Jamie, attend Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale where they are both passionate about discipling the next generation.

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