The transition from high school to college is rarely an easy one. With the Covid-19 crisis in full swing, it will be especially difficult for freshman this year. That’s why I compiled this list of things I never expected to need in my dorm room – so you can be prepared for whatever dorm life throws at you.
This list will also help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Going into my senior year at Grove City College, I will be sure to pack the following items to make this semester a good one.
#1: Thank You cards and stamps
One thing I didn’t expect to need was thank you cards, but when I needed to write some thank yous to scholarship donors, they weren’t there. I had left mine at home.
You may also need thank you cards to show appreciation for teachers who write recommendation letters or for interviews. You may even want to give one to a friend who helped you study, or a family member who provided support.
If you don’t have stamps, your thank you cards won’t get far. Unless you’re sending the letters to someone on campus. Stamps are such a small thing and such an easy thing to forget. Don’t be the one who has to track down the local post office to buy more stamps.
Wipes are a must, especially during a pandemic. I found out the hard way that I should have had some on hand in my dorm.
During fall break, we were permitted to leave our refrigerator plugged in. Both my roommate and I checked before we left that our refrigerator was still plugged in, and it was.
Whoever was in charge of checking our room must have unplugged it for whatever reason.
When I came back to my dorm after break, I opened my refrigerator to put away some food and was met with a horrific stench. Mold climbed the walls of the fridge. A pool of water sat stagnant at the bottom.
Disgusted, my first instinct was to visit the college store to figure out if they had wipes. The only wipes they had were for removing makeup.
I used soap. Lots and Lots of soap.
After that, I made sure the room was well-stocked with wipes for mold-related emergencies.
#3 First Aid supplies
So at Grove City College, there are these obnoxious desk chairs that are slanted at the bottom. As a result, the chair will shift suddenly to a different angle if you lean forward or back. I cannot tell you how many times I have bashed my knees off the desk because I accidentally leaned forward.
That’s what I get for trying to grab a pencil, or picking up a mug. Bloody knees.
That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. First thing is to make sure you have bandages of various sizes. Waterproof bandages too, in case you want to go swimming without exposing open wounds.
Pack enough bandages in case your roommate needs them too, and your friends, and your friends’ friends. I’ve given mine away on numerous occasions. Pack a couple in your backpack so you have them if you’re away from the dorm too.
If you use hydrogen peroxide, bring a bottle of that too, along with q-tips to dab it on in case the cut isn’t big enough to need to pour it on.
I used plenty of it, but my roommate’s friend used a decent amount of it too when she ripped the skin off her knees falling on a treadmill.
Make sure you get cream to treat burns, triple-antibiotic cream, and sunscreen.
Pack over-the-counter medicines such as Advil or Tylenol, allergy medicine if you have allergies, Pepto Bismol for stomach problems, cough drops, etc.
(Don’t forget any personal medicines you have to take, and keep them in their original prescription containers. Many colleges require them to be in their original container with medical information included.)
Add to that list a thermometer to check if you have a fever.
#4 Paper plates and cups
Maybe you’re super into buying what’s environmentally-friendly. That’s fine, but when finals hit, at least for me, that went out the window. I no longer had time to constantly clean dishes. I was always studying.
For times in the semester that are so busy that even completing basic tasks is too time consuming, I recommend having a set of paper plates, napkins, and cups.
Usually college dorms come with their own lighting, making a lamp unnecessary. I would list this under things that are not essential but are desirable.
The reason is that roommates often operate on different schedules. For example, my roommate stays up several hours later than I do each night.
Rather than keeping the room lights on or turning them off, my roommate uses a lamp near her bed that is dim enough that I can sleep. Yet she can study by it.
#6 List of common phone numbers
Most people don’t have phone numbers memorized anymore. I know of people who don’t even know their own phone number and will check their phone to figure it out when necessary.
A list (on paper) of important contacts is definitely useful.
I lose my phone constantly, and having a list of contacts helps if you need to use someone else’s phone.
#7 Gift Wrap
Friends have birthdays. Christmas draws near. Someone gets married.
All of these are great reasons to have gift wrap. Because it may not be available in your college store, or you may have to pay a ridiculous price for it.
Watches are great for testing environments. It’s best to have a watch with no special functions so teachers are okay with you wearing one during a test. If you’re like me, you want to know how much time has passed during testing.
Having a simple watch is the best way to tell time during a test, since looking up at the clock looks suspicious since you are looking up during a test repeatedly. The clock also may be in a position where you can’t see it from your location.
#9 Sewing Kit
I had to use a mini sewing kit on numerous occasions. One was when I had to fix an embarrassing hole in the armpit of my Newman Club t-shirt. I also had to mend a pair of pants, and various other articles of clothing.
I think this is especially important now because of the requirement at many colleges of wearing masks. Masks often need repaired after repeated use.
#10 Tide Pen
Tide pens are indispensable. I’ve used two up completely and plan on buying more this semester. They take out almost all stains with very little effort.
If you get one, try to carry it with you in your backpack, because you never know when you might need it.
Good luck with the fall semester! If you have any more suggestions for must-have but little thought of items needed in a dorm room, feel free to leave a comment.