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Everything You Need — and Want — for the Perfect Dorm Room

By Kate Strassel | Citizens Bank Staff

Things are starting to get real. You’ve chosen your school, put down your deposit, and bought the requisite sweatshirt (or two). The list of tasks you still need to complete before your first semester at college can be overwhelming, but shopping for dorm room essentials doesn’t need to be.

In fact, with a bit of planning, creativity, and our recommendations below, creating a killer dorm room that’s functional, personal, and doesn’t break the bank could be the easiest — and most fun — thing you’ll do all summer.

These are the items you’ll use day in and day out. They may not be exciting, but they’ll make your life much easier!

Space maximizers

Items that do double- or even triple-duty can also take up less space and can save you money.

  • Lamp/USB outlet/desk organizer
  • Mesh laundry hamper with pockets for holding detergent and dryer sheets
  • Bed risers with outlets

Photo by @dormlights on Instagram

Dorm-approved appliances

For those times you’re running late or don’t feel like venturing to the dining hall.

  • Small refrigerator with a built-in freezer
  • Single-serve coffee brewer
  • Electric kettle
  • Microwave
  • Hand-held vacuum


Keeping your stuff separate from your roommate’s belongings is key.

  • Shower caddy
  • Over-the-door hooks for hanging towels or bulky coats
  • Plastic drawers that fit under the bed
  • Multi-tiered clothes hangers to take advantage of closet space
  • Food storage containers for leftovers and transporting meals

Photo by @Kristin Wax on Pinterest


Living at home, you may have taken these items for granted.

  • Twin sheet sets (X-long to fit dorm beds), blanket, and comforter
  • Bath and hand towels — at least two sets
  • Snacks and bottled water
  • Power strip/surge protector, maybe even two
  • Laundry detergent pods to lighten the load to the laundry room
  • Cleaning wipes for glass and disinfecting wipes for other surfaces
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues

Here’s where your personality comes into play. (Tip: Check out thrift stores for inexpensive, one-of-a-kind items.)


Make your space — however small — feel like home.

  • Bed canopy or tapestry to create a private space
  • Throw pillows for extra ambiance and personalization
  • Plants
  • Photos (Tip: Create a collage of your favorite Instagram pics)
  • String lights and electric candles
  • Adhesive wall hooks (such as Command hooks) that won’t damage the walls

Photo by @stuff2college on Instagram


For late-night study sessions, rainy Sundays, and everything in between.

  • Warm blanket/throw
  • Floor cushions
  • Lap desk
  • Ear plugs
  • Portable fan
  • Sleep mask


  • Amazon Prime student membership (Tip: Start with the 6-month FREE trial!)
  • Wastebasket
  • Hot/cold travel mug

Entertainment & tech

  • Backlit e-book reader (such as a Kindle) — for those who like to read late at night
  • Small television — coordinate with your roommate
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • “Smart” faux headboard — features 3-prong plugs and USB ports
  • Mini projector

What to remember

Your dorm room is more than a place to sleep and study — it’s where you’ll learn to live with others and make memories that’ll last far beyond graduation. Having a comfortable and familiar space to return to after class or late nights in the library can help ease stress and homesickness.

Also, you won’t need to bring everything for your room. Coordinate with your roommates on items you’ll probably share, such as appliances or cleaning supplies. Once you get to know each other, you may even decide to decorate your room according to a theme or color scheme. There are endless ways to transform your dorm room to suit your needs and personality. Have fun with it!

More information

As a college student, you want to hang on to as much of your hard-earned money as possible. A Citizens Bank student checking account carries no monthly maintenance fee for students and young adults under 25.1 Open an account online or visit a branch today.

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