Getting your dorm set up for that first semester of college is exciting. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what decorations and creature comforts you’ll want, but before you break the bank on the fun items, invest in some of the practical things that will make your dorm experience better and more productive.
Most dorms are notorious for those old, flickering fluorescent fixtures. They’re pretty good for an operating room, but you’ll definitely want something different to make the space more cozy and a little more like home.
Traditional incandescent bulbs have that warm, yellow look that will feel homey for you, like the lamp beside a recliner back home. They’re a good option for reading lights and dimmer fixtures that create a relaxing mood as bedtime approaches. For the clean, focused light you’ll need for reading textbooks or working with your hands, LED lights will probably be your best choice. They’re very bright but use very little electricity, giving you a little boost to your green efforts.
Your dorm will have all the essential furniture, such as beds, dressers, and desks. What it will probably lack is anything beyond those basics, and because generations of clever college students (with the help of their engineering major friends) have found ways to raise and stack beds, you may have extra floor space for other items.
One great way to utilize this extra room is to get a fold-out sofa bed with a comfortable sofa mattress. During the day, it’s a comfortable place to read or snack. At night, it quickly becomes a crash pad for sorority bigs, visitors from other schools, or friends who are feuding with roommates.
Like the lighting, your dorm’s flooring will be very functional. It will tolerate scooting furniture, drippy shoes, and dragging backpacks very well. It will also give you a serious case of cold feet as you prepare for those 8am finals at Christmastime.
The easiest solution is to pick up some nice rugs. They’re easy to load for the move to campus, even serving as padding between fragile items. Then you can place rugs by your bed, sofa, and other high-traffic areas so that you can tolerate the cold, hard floor beneath. Just make sure to put a no-skid liner under them.
In this day of tablets and cell phones, you probably won’t forget to pack a few extension cords and power strips. What you might not think about is a battery backup power strip.
These devices differ from traditional power strips in that they have a battery on board that will keep your equipment powered up for a little while after an outage, giving you time to save work, log out, or otherwise make preparations for working after your computer runs out of its own battery.
Natural sunlight is great in your room, but there are times you want to exclude it. Whether you’re burning the midnight oil then sleeping in or just don’t have a class until 11am, there will be days that you don’t want the sun beaming in on you too early.
Some blackout blinds or even some removable window tint could be a lifesaver (or at least a sleepsaver), especially if your dorm windows face east.
Your roommates are not the only people who have access to your room. Maintenance personnel, security staff, other students, and even people from off campus could find a way to access your room.
That’s why it’s important to have a safe in your room. There are lots of compact models that can fit under furniture, giving you a secure location for cash, credit cards, jewelry, and other high-dollar items.
During college, food is almost as important as cash. That’s why you want to put it in a place where invaders won’t find it. We’re not talking about roommates, we’re talking pests.
Although most colleges do a great job controlling pests, there’s a first time for everything. Make sure your nonperishable foods are kept in airtight containers where insects and rodents can’t find them.
Your dorm room should feel like your room, so don’t hesitate to load up these essential items and give your space a personal, practical upgrade.