Articles, College

Splurge or Save it For Later? What to Bring and to Not Bring to College

Moving into a dorm for college can feel overwhelming and exciting. You’ll probably see tons of lists and videos about what to bring and what not to bring, but I also wanted to make this list of smaller things that often aren’t talked about. These come from my own personal experience, so of course, don’t feel pressure to purchase or do anything on this list. 


  1. If you like coffee, a GOOD coffee maker. Doesn’t have to be top of the line, but I got a cheap one and it broke within three months. This will also save you money because you won’t have to make as many trips to your college’s closest coffee shop. 
  2. Curtains and an inexpensive rod. My college has dorms with larger windows that only have blinds and a lot of the dorms have open closets. I found these from Target. They add a pop of color and block out sunlight when I need to sleep.
  3. A mattress pad! Dorm beds are NOT the most comfortable, so something comfy to go on top is a GREAT investment.
  4. THIS ceramic egg maker! Not worth it if you don’t like/can’t eat eggs, but for those who can, this is a quick, affordable, and easy-to-clean breakfast option! (I’ve even put cheese, pieces of ham, and veggies I might have and it makes an amazing instant omelette).
  5. Plug-in air fresheners! This just helps make the place feel (and smell) more cozy and homey. Also, it’s really easy for dorms to smell (small rooms, lots of people, and lots of accumulated messes). I love the vanilla scented one, but you can choose whatever you like best! 
  6. A vacuum cleaner! Most dorms have carpet, so having a small vacuum is always nice (instead of having to borrow your friend’s like me and my roommate did for a while). 
  7. Nice earbuds. Whether you listen to music to study, are listening to your lectures, or want to drown out noise from your roommates, these are a must! 
  8. A water purifier. This is always handy for having cold and clean water in your dorm! Trust me, you’ll thank me for this one. Bonus points if you get some water flavoring if you get tired of the taste of plain water. 
  9. A good umbrella! College life usually involves a lot of walking around outside to get to classes. Therefore, something to protect you from the elements is a must. Bonus points if you find a heavy-duty umbrella that will last you all four years like mine.

Save it For Later

  1. Lots of wall art. While I love some fun decorations, I’d keep the wall art to a minimum of maybe one nice tapestry or picture. Command hooks don’t always hold up or keep paint from chipping. So, if you don’t want to have to constantly pick up fallen pictures or risk getting a fine, stay away from tons of things on the wall. 
    1. Tip: You can still decorate the room with art on your desk, the windowsill, tables, and through fun pillows on your bed! 
  2. Excessive amounts of shoes. I get it, I love shoes too. But, try to consolidate to something like this:
    1. A pair of sneakers to exercise in.
    2. One or two comfortable pairs to walk around campus in (that’ll match a lot of outfits). 
    3. If it’s warmer outside, a pair of sandals that, again, match almost anything and are comfortable (it’s a splurge, but my Birkenstocks have been my favorite sandal for this for a LONG time). 
    4. It’s it’s colder, a pair of boots (I usually have about two pairs, one black and one brown). 
    5. Maybe some rain boots if you get a lot of rain in your area. 
    6. A formal shoe/sandal for special occasions.
  3. Lots of books. I know, I know, I sound crazy. By no means am I against reading and education. BUT you’ll be reading A LOT while you’re at school (usually your textbooks and assigned reading). Those things can take up a lot of space on your desk and you probably won’t have as much time to read for leisure as you think. I’d take a few of your absolute favorites and then save the rest of the space on your desk for your assigned reading. 


Living in a dorm is a WONDERFUL experience, BUT a major hurdle is getting used to a smaller space. In essence, really analyze what you’re packing. Do you really need certain items? Is there something practical that might help you acclimate easier? You might even want to give it a week or two in the dorm and make further decisions about things you still need after that point.

Either way, you’ll be absolutely fine! I by no means had exactly what I needed when I started college and it turned out just fine!

Check out more college articles from GirlSpring contributors!


Skylar Summers is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She's passionate about empowering women through storytelling, writing, and creating visual media. To learn more about Skylar, visit her Instagram page @skylarsummers20 and watch her short films on her website (linked on her Instagram page)!

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