24 things you absolutely need in your dorm room freshman year

It's your home for the next two semesters—make it awesome.

Credit: Studio 3B / Helix / Keurig / Pottery Barn / Lighting EVER
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Carley Knobloch is a Featured Contributor for Reviewed.com.

Leaving for college is a big deal on the path towards adulting—you’re not quite on your own yet, but you’re far from Mom and Dad’s watchful eye. If you’re moving out in pursuit of a higher education this September, we’ve rounded up the things you’ll need to survive dorm life.

1. This comfy sheet set

Isabella Rose Taylor All Eyes Sheet Set
Credit: Pottery Barn

First order of business: Make your dorm space feel homey and fun. This sheet set is super-soft 100% cotton percale and will help keep a watchful eye on your roommate (I may have made up that last part).

Isabella Rose Taylor All Eyes Sheet Set (XL Twin)—$39.99 from Pottery Barn Teen

2. These modern string lights

Lighting EVER Copper Wire String Lights
Credit: Lighting EVER

Do you need fairy string lights to adorn your bed? Nope. Throw them in your cart anyway—they’ll help you through those late-night study sessions with a relaxing, celestial glow.

Lighting EVER LED string lights—$9.99 on Amazon

3. Bed risers with built-in outlets you can actually reach

Studio 3B 4 Piece USB Bed Lift Set
Credit: Studio 3B

These bed risers serve double-duty—they raise your bed up so you can store your life underneath, and they bring outlets and USB ports out from the corner to where you need them.

Studio 3B 4-Piece USB Bed Lift Set—$38.53 on Amazon

4. This deluxe surge protector

Belkin SurgePlus 6 Outlet Wall Mount Surge Protector
Credit: Belkin

You and your roommate need to plug lots of things in. This space-saving surge protector sits on the wall, and turns two outlets into six plus two USB ports. Roommate battles averted.

Belkin SurgePlus 6-Outlet Wall Mount Surge Protector with USB Ports—$19.99 on Amazon

5. An alarm clock that doubles as a sound machine

Capello Digital Alarm Clock with Sound Machine
Credit: Capello

This multitasking alarm clock can wake both you and your dorm mate at different times, plus play white noise music for when the hall party doesn’t coordinate with your exam schedule.

Capello Digital Alarm Clock with Sound Machine—$28.49 at Target

6. This unique reminder board

ReadyWerks Felt Letter Board
Credit: ReadyWerks

For leaving motivational notes to yourself… Or just to remind your roommate to replace the drink they took.

ReadyWerks Letter Board—$44.95 on Amazon

7. This modern and stylish desk lamp

James Collection LED Task Lamp
Credit: Target

One classy brassy desk lamp to light your way to good grades? Add to cart.

James Collection LED Task Lamp—$29.99 at Target

8. Smart bulbs that fit your mood

GE Lighting C by GE LED Light
Credit: GE

These special bulbs change their color to help you focus or wind down—blue, bright white when you’re trying to master organic chemistry, and soft, warm white when you’re chatting with your floormates before bed.

C-Life / C-Sleep by GE Smart Bulb 4-Pack—$47 on Amazon

9. This colorful single-cup coffee brewer

Keurig K250 K Cup Pod Coffee Maker
Credit: Keurig

First order of business, get caffeinated. This Keurig unit won’t take up a ton of space, comes in fun colors, and brews your favorite K-Cup in minutes.

Keurig Single-Serve Pod Brewer in Turquoise—$129.99 on Amazon

10. This breakfast lover's new best friend

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Burrito Maker
Credit: Hamilton Beach

Add tortilla, eggs, and your favorite toppings, and this machine will fashion a breakfast of champions right in your room.

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Burrito Maker—$14.01 on Amazon

11. This customizable dorm mattress

Helix Mattress
Credit: Helix

Hiding in a small box is your custom-designed foam mattress, a major upgrade from the dorm-issued variety— and you’ve got 100 nights to make sure you love sleeping on it.

Helix Twin XL mattress—$700 from Helix Sleep

12. This fun, original shower caddy

Emily & Meritt Splish Splash Shower Caddy
Credit: Pottery Barn

Sharing a bathroom requires efficiency and portability. Tons of pockets for all your shower essentials plus a sturdy handle.

The Emily & Meritt Splish Splash Shower Caddy—$29 from Pottery Barn Teen

13. These animal-print flip flops

Havaianas Slim Animals Flip Flops
Credit: Havaianas

Because the shower floors… eww.

Havaianas Slim Animals Flip Flops—$28 from Zappos

14. This HD monitor for TV and studying

HP Pavilion 32 inch Monitor
Credit: HP

Save space and have killer movie nights with this massive 32” computer monitor that doubles as a television—2 HDMI ports make it easy to plug in your streaming media stick and video game console.

HP Pavilion 32-inch QHD Wide-Viewing Angle Display—$357.07

15. The best way to watch TV

Roku Streaming Stick
Credit: Roku

Lots of streaming power in a tiny package. Plug it into the back of any contemporary TV and watch blockbusters, TV shows and so much more, no box (or cable subscription) required.

Roku HD Streaming Stick—$47.80

16. This tablet that's also a laptop

Microsoft Surface Book
Credit: Microsoft

This is the Ferrari of college hybrids—a screaming fast 6th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, lots of storage space, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The 13.5” display works with Windows Ink pen, touch, and the click-in keyboard, making it convertible to any need. And the front and rear facing cameras make it easy to make video calls home to Mom.

Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base—$1,499

17. The best way to never lose your essential items

Tile Slim
Credit: Tile

Stick this guy in your wallet, on your laptop, or backpack, then geotrack it if it goes missing. Essential if your friends has a tendency to “borrow” things.

Tile Slim Tracker 4-Pack—$99.99

18. These glasses that are like a spa for your eyes

Foster Grant Eyezen Digital Glasses Square Eyeglasses
Credit: Foster Grant

All that researching papers and studying your typed notes can lead to headaches or blurred vision all thanks to those tired peepers. Use glasses like these that help make your eyes more comfortable in the face of digital strain, so they can live to read flashcards another day.

Foster Grant Eyezen Digital Glasses—$34.99

19. This old-school instant camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
Credit: Fujifilm

We all have smartphones in our pockets. So who can say why the charm of the instant camera, with its iconic square shape and retro style, has us all smitten. It’s a must-have for documenting college life.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Camera—$112.95

20. A notebook you can microwave and reuse

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook
Credit: Rocketbook

This is the last notebook you’ll ever need to buy. Fill it with study notes, then blast those notes to the Android or iOS app for safe-keeping. Then throw your notebook in the microwave and watch all your notes auto-magically disappear.

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook—$26.85

21. A notebook that digitized your notes for you

Wacom Bamboo Spark with Tablet Sleeve
Credit: Wacom

Another take on the “smart notebook” idea—this one uses real pen and paper, then with one push of the folio button sends your notes to your tablet (stored on the left) or to popular apps like Dropbox or Evernote.

Wacom Bamboo Spark—$59.99

22. This stylish overnight bag

Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffle Bag
Credit: Herschel Supply Co.

For weekend adventures away from the quad, a soft, lightweight weekender makes packing easy.

Herschel Duffel Bag—$84.99

23. This sleek backup battery

Mophie Powerstation XL External Battery
Credit: Mophie

Long days of classes on campus are no match for this backup battery, which can charge your smartphone, tablet or watch while you’re on the go. Two ports let you charge multiple devices at once.

Mophie Powerstation XL External Battery—$55.50

24. This statement patch

Madewell Lonesome Patch
Credit: Madewell

Adorn your jean jacket and wear around campus, because it’s all gonna be A-OK!

Madewell x ft. lonesome Patch—$40

Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.


Carley Knobloch is a lifestyle and technology expert on a mission to help people improve their relationship with technology one tap or swipe at a time. She’s a regular contributor to the Today Show and makes sure the HGTV Smart Home is full of cool tech every year. Carley has been featured in Real Simple, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Allure magazines. She lives in Los Angeles with her family and myriad connected devices.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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