(Orientation Issue) Fifteen things to definitely bring to your dorm

Cameron Gorman

Going off to college and living in a dorm for the first time is a new and often difficult situation for freshman. Especially when it comes to trying to anticipate what to bring. But it’s not just freshmen who feel this way—it can be easy for anyone to forget important items at the start of a new semester.

“I think it’s the little things,” said Laura Bergstrom, an RA in Manchester Hall. “You always want to overpack as opposed to underpack.”

But what exactly should you bring and how much of your things should you take from home? The answer is different for everyone.

“I’d say that less is probably more,” said Rebecca Clark, a senior human development and family studies major. “Pack what you think you need and not more.”

Although opinions may vary, there are a few undisputed basics that everyone should make sure to check off their lists when making the move:

1. Clothes for all seasons

You may be tempted to bring only short sleeves and shorts for summer, or sweaters and jeans for winter, but you should consider bringing a mix of both. Ohio’s temperamental weather means it can be snowing one day and 70 degrees the next. Plus, you never really know when you’re going to enter a lecture hall that is heated or cooled beyond your comfort level. Better to be prepared than frozen.

“Bring all types of clothes for every semester because you never know the weather here,” said Tracey Davison, a junior psychology major.

2. Batteries

Most things are powered by electricity now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring extra batteries. Things like lamps, calculators and room decorations are all prone to dying at the worst possible minute. Most college-level math classes are impossible to take on without a graphing calculator so make sure you bring an extra pack or two of double and triple As.

3.  Twin-sized, extra-long bedding and a mattress pad

This one may seem obvious, but you may be surprised just how many people come to the dorms with the wrong-sized bedding.

You’ll need an extra long set of twin sheets to cover your bed.

“And (bring) extra blankets,” Davison said.

Secondly—and perhaps most importantly—make sure to purchase a mattress pad. You can find them at nearly any store with a college or bedding section. The job of a mattress pad is to cushion your bed a little more and put a barrier between you and the reused dorm mattress. And trust me, you’re going to want all that extra comfort after pulling your first all-nighter. If you can find one with a little extra plushness, go for it. You’ll be so tired at the end of the day that you want to make sure your bed is an extra comfortable oasis.

4. String lights

If you’ve read the housing rules, you probably already know about the wide restrictions on lighting. No halogen lamps, no candles and nothing that can cause a fire hazard. Coming from home, it can be difficult to adjust to the harsh fluorescent lighting of your dorm room- very bright or dark, nothing in between. String lights can provide a good middle ground, creating a softer glow of lighting for night and can also make your room feel more comfortable. Drape a strand around your bed or hang them on the wall and you’ll feel more at home.

5. A laundry bag or basket

Whether you live close enough to home to haul your laundry back every weekend or you use your dorm building’s laundry room, it’s a good idea to have something to carry all those clothes in. Drawstring laundry bags can be a great alternative to a heavy plastic basket; they’re easier to carry and won’t break in the back of your car. Make sure you also bring along some Tide Pods or other type of detergent, too.

6. Shower shoes / shower caddy

While you may not have needed shoes for your shower at home, you’ll definitely want them in a dorm. The showers, although in private pods, are shared by everyone on your floor. This makes protecting your feet a priority. Whether you wear flip-flops, plastic sandals or Crocs (admit it, we all own a pair), anything works, as long as it can be worn in water and won’t retain it.

A shower caddy isn’t a necessity, but it can be nice for keeping all your items together in the shower. Since you can’t leave your soap and shampoo in the bathroom like you can at home, having a caddy can make carrying all your products a bit easier. As with shoes, look for one with a mesh bottom or holes made for water drainage.

7. Command strips/hooks

Want to hang posters and other decorations (like string lights, bulletin boards, mirrors and clocks) on your dorm walls without hammering a nail into the wall or risking damaging it with a permanent feature? Command strips and hooks can be applied safely on your dorm walls and removed damage-free at the end of the year. They can be purchased at nearly any drugstore or supermarket and used to hang posters or photos in strip form, or accessories and heavier decorations in hook form.

8. Paper plates and towels

Even though you’ll be eating most of your meals outside of your dorm, you’ll still want to make sure you have some backup items for midnight cravings. Otherwise, you’ll be wiping Cheetos on your sheets in the middle of the night. Paper towels are good for accidental spills in your room and plates can be a lifesaver when you need to eat in.

9. Drawer or accessory organizers

You’ll get plenty of drawer and closet space in any residence hall you’re assigned to, but it’s easy to let those drawers and closets fall into disorder when you’re hurrying in and out of your room.

“I definitely needed more storage units,” Bergstrom said.

Inside your closet, try getting some stackable shelves for the area beneath where you hang your clothes—they can be great for shoes or folded clothing. Hanging organizers for the inside of your closet doors can hold accessories, jewelry, workout gear or other small items. When it comes to pull-out drawers, organizers can help to separate your makeup, personal items or toiletries.

10. A little bit of “Munchies”

It’s always a good idea to have a bit of extra food in your dorm room for those days when you don’t have the time to go out for it, or have an early class. Non-perishable foods are best: a steady dose of ramen, oatmeal or granola bars—anything you can make easily in the microwave or grab in a hurry. However, it’s important to bring only a small amount, as you’ll most likely buy most of your meals around campus.

Bergstrom can attest to this: “Freshman year you have your meal plan,” she said. “(So) don’t buy a huge box of ramen, which is what I did.”

11. Water Bottle

It goes without saying that drinking enough water is important- it can make you feel better, relieve fatigue, and boost your mood (According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information). Having a reusable water bottle with you lets you bring the benefits of water with you to the gym, class and everywhere in between. Not to mention, you’ll be reducing your consumption of plastic bottles.

12. A power strip

When you have a laptop, a phone charger, a tablet and a dozen other devices, it can be a challenge to find the outlet space to make sure everything is charged. A power strip can be a good remedy, creating more electrical flexibility in your limited space.

13. Small fan

Although most of the dorm buildings are air-conditioned, a small table fan can help make sure you never have to rely on the building temperature to keep you comfortable. In addition, if you like to sleep in a cooler environment, it can keep you chilled without bothering your roommate. Fans, which commonly come in small sizes, can conveniently sit on top of a desk or lofted bed area.

14. First Aid Kit

You might not always have time—or the means—to make a trip to the drugstore for medical supplies in an emergency, especially late at night or without access to a car. It’s a good idea to keep a first aid kit in your room for small accidents, like razor nicks and bumps or unforeseen emergencies. Bandages, antibacterial spray, antacids, hydrogen peroxide and burn cream are just a few of the things you can pack in a kit to take with you just to be safe.

15. Backup chargers

Your cell phone is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of your day—for better or for worse—and being stuck with a dead battery could spell disaster. Make sure to bring backup chargers for your electronics to ensure that they’re always ready when you are.

Bergstrom also uses them for convenient placement. “I keep a charger by my bed, by my desk and in my bookbag,” she said.

Packing is important and necessary, but while doing so, it’s important not to forget perhaps the most crucial piece of advice offered to freshman—relax.

“I remember when I was first moving in, it was really stressful for me,” said Allison Chaya, a sophomore early childhood education major. “Don’t panic; everything’s going to be fine.You’ll have fun here. You’ll be okay.”