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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

I have spent the past almost two years living in a dorm room. It can be hard to know what items to bring to college. While it can be daunting to go from a room at home to a smaller shared place, there are some essentials that make dorm or apartment living a little easier and more comforting. 

  1. Portable fan 

The first object I found absolutely essential while living in my dorm is a portable fan. This was useful to me because my roommate and I liked our room to be different temperatures. She is always cold, and I am always warm. So, this is a great way to cool yourself down without altering the temperature of the whole room. Another great thing about portable fans is many of them can be charged and the battery lasts a while. My fan lasts 3-7 days depending on how long it’s on for. This fan is wonderful because it can be hooked onto the side of a bed, especially a loft bed. 

  1. Brita water filter

I truly do not know how anyone survives living in a dorm without a Brita. It has been one of the best purchases I have made for college. Having a Brita helps make sure the water you’re drinking is filtered. Along with that, it has helped me keep a more continuous supply of water throughout the week that I can drink or use for ramen or mac n cheese. I drink a lot of water throughout the week, so this tool has been helpful.

  1. Printer 

Now, I know this may not seem like an essential to some people, as colleges often give ways for students to print things if needed; also, many times paper copies of assignments are not needed and things are turned in online. Despite these things, having a printer in my dorm room has been super useful. Instead of having to find a printing location across campus and pay for each item I print, I have direct access to a printer. This item has been useful for study guides I’ve made, documents I need to print and fill out and the couple of occasions I have had to print something out for a class. I can print things in the comfort of my room and don’t have to worry if I’m running out of opportunities to print. Also, I can print anytime in the comfort of my dorm, and I don’t have to go find a specific printing station. You can always find more cheap, compact printers, you just have to do some research. 

  1. Desk shelves 

Considering that you only have so much space in your room to fit all your things, these desk shelves can help organize your things. They have really made my desk look more complete and organized. I keep books, journals, tissues, decorations and some school supplies on them. The shelves add a little personality to your room and desk while also keeping your items grouped together. 

  1. Bed pouch 

As I have lived in a dorm, I have lofted my bed to allow for more space underneath, thus the loss of a bedside table or space to put things that I may want to reach for at night. This bed pouch is easily attachable to my bed and allows me to have a space for things I want at arm’s length from me at night. I put a variety of random trinkets in there like gum, a sleep mask, chapstick, my water bottle and headphones. The pouch holds a lot, and it easily velcros to the side of the bed for convenience. 

  1. Storage ottoman

This storage ottoman can be used in so many ways and has been one of the most helpful things in my dorm. It can be used as a place to keep things, as a stool or as a chair. It holds a lot on the inside and can hold a lot of weight, so it is safe to stand or sit on. Considering I am short, this has been a great thing that I can use to reach stuff at the top of my closet. It also folds up for convenient travel!

  1. Laundry backpack 

My laundry room is all the way in the basement of my building, so it’s kind of far from my room. This laundry backpack helps me carry all my clothes, dryer sheets and detergent, while also keeping my hands free. If needed, I can carry other things in my hands and not worry about my laundry. This is also great for keeping your clothes safe while you transport them to and from the laundry space.

  1. Hair towel 

These hair towels are my final dorm life essential. They help dry your hair quicker. They are also lightweight and gentle. They are extremely soft and can hold a lot of hair. When you use them, they keep your hair secure while it’s drying. These are absolutely one of my favorite things I own. 

While living in a dorm room isn’t always the best situation, you can make the most of your space. Many of these items, or items related to them, can be found in a variety of stores. These are just a few of the many items that can make living in a dorm or apartment feel more like home.

Sarah Knowlton

Illinois State '24

Hi I'm Sarah! I am a junior at Illinois State and I am majoring in Human Development and Family Science! After I finish my bachelor's degree, I plan to get my master's degree in Human Development and Family Science as well. Besides writing, I like to read, watch TikToks, make art, and bake!