What I Actually Used in My Freshman Dorm

As Freshman year came to a close and I was packing up my dorm for on campus storage, I realized that there was a lot of stuff I ended up not really using. If I had known what not to buy going into my first year of college, I would’ve been able to save a lot of money.

I know, as an incoming freshman, it’s easy to overdo it because you want to make sure you’re not missing anything. So, I put together a list of things that were staples in my dorm, stuff I didn’t use, and also cheaper alternatives I found later on so you can shop and decorate your dorm smarter.

What I Actually Used In My Freshman Dorm | lolaadewuya.com

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Dorm Must-Haves

Satin Pillowcase

Girl…I don’t know how you’ve been living if you don’t already have this. Satin pillowcases are the wave for your hair and skin. Since it has a silky texture to it, your hair just slides around on the pillow. This reduces the friction that causes breakage and also keeps hair from tangling. The satin also doesn’t absorb moisture like cotton so it won’t dry your hair or skin out. You’ll find that your skin has less wrinkles and even less irritation where you often get acne.

Pro Tip: Have you ever looked flawless after taking a nap? I do! These pillowcases are really nice for taking cat naps in the middle of the day without taking off your makeup. While I still don’t recommend diving face first into the pillow, I don’t have to worry about my whole look transferring onto it by the time I wake up.

Velvet Hangers

When I went to college, I upgraded from plastic hangers to these velvet hangers. They’re much thinner so you can hang a lot more clothes in those tiny closets. Also, the velvet fabric keeps your clothes from slipping off. They were so nice I brought them home to use during summer break instead of putting them in storage at school!

Storage Cart

A storage cart with multiple-tiers like this was great for storing things I needed to access regularly. I put makeup/toiletries, laundry supplies, and extra towels and sheets in the racks. You can also put it next to your bed and use it as a bedside table.

String Lights

String lights were the final touch of decor that really made my dorm feel like a retreat from the stress of college. It was all good vibes once the sun went down and I plugged in my lights. I had them on almost every night while I was relaxing after a long day. The two most popular lights I saw in dorms were Christmas ones or the globes.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Do. Not. Play. With. Your. Sleep. Honestly I should’ve put this item at the top. Putting something on top of that school-administered, beaten down mattress is the single best thing you can do for your body. A good 2-3inch memory foam topper will ensure that you’re sleeping comfortably all school year. The one night I had to sleep on my dorm’s bare mattress before getting on a flight home left my back and neck in bad shape for days after. Don’t play yourself like that for a whole year.

Terry Cloth/Plush Robe

Buying a robe turned out to be an unexpected dorm must-have. I am probably in my robe more often than I am in clothes now (I’m in my robe as I write this). It’s very convenient for getting to and from the shower, relaxing in your room, or covering up when walking around your residence hall. I got mine from PBteen but I found some cheaper alternatives at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. You just want something that feels like stepping into a warm blanket, and you’ll never want to step out again.


Pass These Up/Buy This Instead

PBteen Duvet Cover vs. Amazon Comforter

This is the one purchase I regret over anything else. I splurged on a PBteen duvet cover (it ended up being about $150) because I wanted to be bougie. It was all classy with its white trim, monogram, and 100% cotton threading. However, it ended up being one of the scratchiest and stiffest duvets me and my sensitive skin have ever had to sleep under. It never really softened up after a few washes either. It also collected (and displayed) lint like no other. I have terrible allergies so this was a nightmare because my dorm got pretty dusty.

By the time Spring term rolled around, I had had enough. I went sniffing around Amazon to see what dorm bedding they had and chose a simple reversible grey and blue comforter for only $26. It ended up going much better with my room decor, and it was a lot more comfortable to sleep in. I’m not sure what this all means, because I would expect a $150 duvet to be more luxurious. Maybe I’m just used to the cheaper things in life, but I would recommend paying close attention when you’re shopping. Try to feel the comforter before buying it to make sure it has the softness you like.

Flat Storage Bins vs. Tall Storage Bins

When you’re looking for bulk storage containers, opt for ones that are taller instead of longer and that hold 50+ quarts. This will be really important when it comes to storing your stuff on campus over breaks. Your school will probably charge you by the box/bin, so you want to be able to fit as much as you can into just one container.

Day Planner

This isn’t really a dorm item, but I wanted to include this because a lot of people (including me) will try to recommend that you use a planner in college. Physical planners are a great idea in theory but it definitely didn’t work for me in practice. Life moved so fast-pace in college that taking out my planner every 5 seconds to make sure I wasn’t missing a meeting or didn’t have an assignment due later wasn’t realistic. It ended up being more of a burden because I had to remember to take out my planner to see what the heck I was supposed to be remembering in the first place. I switched to the Calendar app because I’m always either on my phone or computer anyway. I got real time alerts and I could pull up the app quickly to see what was coming next.

That being said, if writing things out in a day planner is your cup of tea, I really recommend Ban.Do planners. They’re very aesthetically pleasing and one of the most functional agendas I’ve seen for their cost.


Still knee-deep in dorm packing lists from Pinterest? Let me know if you have any questions about what you should bring to college. I’m here to help!

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  • I completely agree about all of these! I only lived on campus my first year but the mattress topper was a lifesaver! I didn’t need a robe because I had my own bathroom in my room, but they’re so useful! And I for sure agree about the velvet material hangers! I still swear by them!

    • If I had nothing but a mattress topper and sheets in my dorm, I would honestly be content! They’re amazing. And I’m so jealous you had a private bathroom, it must have been nice to avoid the trauma of a communal bathroom, haha! I’m glad you could relate to some of my dorm experiences as a Freshman!

      Lots of Love,