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Freshman Dorm Essentials You Can’t Live Without

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

It’s that time of year again: my feed is full of college commitment posts and excitement about the future is in the air. With all of this change comes the daunting task of decorating and stocking your future dorm! As a now-seasoned freshman, I want to share a few of my personal favorite dorm essentials that helped me get through my freshman year.

Bed Essentials

Arm Pillow

I definitely underestimated the necessity of an arm pillow. I used my arm pillow for movie nights with my roommates, doing homework in bed, and watching Netflix. I know, it doesn’t seem that different from a regular pillow—but trust me, it is. This is a major essential for any college student! 

Lap Desk

A continuation of the arm pillow, I used my lap desk probably every day to do school assignments. Whether I wanted to do homework in the comfort of my bed or needed somewhere for snacks and entertainment, my lap desk provided the perfect surface!

Barefoot dreams blanket

A comfy, soft blanket is more necessary than you’d think! I used my Barefoot Dreams blanket every day, and it is the best. I think the Barefoot Dreams blankets are worth the money, but any comfy blanket will do!

Sheet Suspenders

These seem kind of random, but they spared me a lot of labor this year. Sheet suspenders clip to the bottom of your sheets, adding extra tension. They keep your sheets in one place, which saves a lot of work when making your bed (especially if you’re on the top bunk, where making your bed is a daily struggle)!

Hanging Bedside Shelf

This one is especially important for all of my top bunk besties! My tray was the nightstand I couldn’t have. It was perfect for my water, phone, and any other bedtime essential I needed next to me. 

Desk Essentials

LED Mirror

My roommates and I all had this mirror, and every time people came over, they were in awe. It provides three settings of lighting, so whether you’re doing makeup or just want some warm lighting, this mirror has you covered! This mirror was one of the best dorm purchases I made, and it will definitely be coming with me for the rest of my college education.

Echo Dot

My Echo Dot was seriously my best friend this year! A speaker for your dorm room is a must, but I suggest going the extra step and getting an Alexa Echo Dot. It’s the perfect size for a desk, and is a great multipurpose dorm essential, plus, it was fun for my roommates and I to yell random questions, or tell Alexa to play songs!


Storage Ottomans

Dorm space is limited, so anything that can provide extra storage is key. These storage ottomans were the perfect addition to my room! They were able to store snacks, plastic bags, hair tools, you name it! They also doubled as a seat or step-stool when needed. Cute and functional!


You need slippers. Any type of slipper or sandal is essential. Going in and out of your dorm to go to the bathroom, lounges, or dining hall is that much easier when you can just easily slip your shoes right on! 

Extra Long Charger

Especially being in the top bunk, my 10-foot charger was something I couldn’t live without! You don’t even need to be in a top bunk to reap the benefits of an extra long charger — these are truly a game changer. 


This is more UCSB-specific, but also works for dorms in more humid places. DampRid absorbs excess moisture in the air, preventing mildew and mold. Because UCSB, and certain dorms in general, are especially prone to moisture, DampRid is a great addition to keep your dorm clean! I hung this in my closet at the beginning of the year, and it’s now just a bag of water — so it definitely works!

Fridge Cart

Last, but certainly not least, you need a fridge cart. Again, any item that can maximize space and storage in a dorm is massively helpful — and the fridge cart does just that! Not only does my fridge cart utilize vertical space we wouldn‘t be able to utilize otherwise, but it also adds so much more room to keep snacks and other “kitchen” essentials.

Altogether, these items made my freshman year so much more enjoyable! I cannot believe that I am soon leaving the room I called my first college home, but I know that I will look back fondly on this chapter of my college experience — and I’m sure getting some of these items will help ensure that you do the same one day. 

Eva is Her Campus at UCSB’s Editor in Chief, as well as a third year Communication major at UC Santa Barbara, where she writes about anything and everything she feels is exciting, fascinating, or entertaining. When she isn't writing for Her Campus, she is usually overthinking, working on one of her projects, or listening to Taylor Swift.