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As a graduating high school senior, figuring out what to buy for my dorm was overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what I needed or what would fit, and I wanted to make my transition to dorm life as easy as possible. I’m a month into college now and these are five of my favorite things I bought for my dorm. 

1. String Lights/Sunset Lamp

These were two of the last things I bought and they’re an absolute game-changer. No one wants the “big light” on when the sun goes down and these lights are the perfect solution. They add some soft light and color to the room, and they create a really cozy environment. My roommate and I look forward to “lights time” every night!

2. Three-Drawer Plastic Bins

Our dorm room already had two three-drawer chests when I moved in, but that wasn’t cutting it. I got these plastic drawers from Target; they’re the perfect storage addition. I use the top two drawers for my light items like workout clothes and going-out tops and put my jeans in the bottom. They’re super spacious, plus they fit perfectly under my bed!

3. Mesh Laundry Bags

The laundry machines in dorm buildings are used by so many people that you have to grab your laundry exactly when it’s done. This can be stressful sometimes and it’s easier than you’d think to forget to grab something when you take your laundry out. I use these bags for any small items that could get lost in the washer or dryer. I was skeptical at first, but everything in these bags still gets completely clean! These bags keep everything together and I would have lost countless socks by now without them.

gray and white basket on floor right in front of mirror
Original photo by Grace Pellock

4. Room Spray

Dorm rooms are stuffy and have a pretty weird smell sometimes. You have dirty clothes and shoes in there, and you also don’t get a lot of fresh air. This room spray totally revives the space; everything smells clean, but the scent isn’t overpowering. I love to spray this when I leave in the mornings and before I go to bed at night to keep my room smelling and feeling fresh.

5. Slippers

I never used slippers at home and was really unsure about buying these, but you can’t walk around your dorm floor in just socks. These slippers are so soft and comfy, I’ve worn them literally every day since coming to school. I wear them around my dorm, floor, and even to the dining hall sometimes. They’re so much more convenient than ‘real’ shoes. You can just grab them, slip them on and go!

Packing for college can be stressful, but take it one step at a time. Find what makes you feel comfortable, relaxed, and at home, it’s your space!

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Ava Hampe

Illinois '27

Hi! I'm Ava, a freshman at UIUC studying Communication and Psychology. I'm from Chicago and love going on walks, listening to music, grabbing coffee, and spending time with family & friends!