It seems like I can never go on Twitter anymore without seeing a post from a college-bound student raving over how excited they are to begin their college journey. From freshman orientation to dorm room shopping, the excitement is becoming extremely contagious. But with my first year having just ended a little over a month ago, I can’t help but feel extremely nostalgic as I watch these future freshmen make their own memories as they begin this amazing milestone in life. My first year taught me a lot about both myself and college, with one of those lessons being which ten items to delay purchasing until after dorm move-in.
Personally, dorm room shopping was both one the best experiences of my college prep, as well as the most time and money consuming. (I think all college students can agree with me there.) I was constantly shopping for the best deals on bed sets and decorations, figuring out how to color-coordinate my decorations, and trying to diagram how to best arrange my furniture with the few bits of information I could glean with the floor plan that I was provided. As enthusiastic as I was to begin my freshman year, I had already learned how different dorm rooms could be from my multiple campus tours, the 10 factors everyone should consider before choosing their college dorm, as well as what to what to look for on a campus tour.
Even with these experiences, I quickly learned even more about how different dorm rooms could be when I had to move three different times in my first semester. (We all love mold issues in the building…NOT!) At that point, with the number of dorms that I had lived in already at six (between regular college and summer classes), I have truly been exposed to how different dorm rooms can be and how influential that can be on what you bring to college.
These dorm variations are the reason why I have compiled a list of 10 items to delay purchasing until after dorm move-in. Some of these items are things that you may have to purchase in a different style or size due to the type of dorm room you have, while others are things that you may just want to wait and see if they will fit once you get there. Trust me: waiting to buy these ten items until after you move in can help save you a lot of money in the long run, as well as help you purchase products that you are much happier with.
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1. Laundry Basket
Having a laundry basket is a necessity in college, but I recommend not buying it until after dorm move-in so that you can see what the dorm room and the building is like.
For example, your dorm room may be tiny, so you need a small one that you could just slide under your bed; or perhaps the laundry room is on the other side of the building, so you decide to purchase one that has wheels on it.
If I could do my freshman year over again, waiting to purchase a laundry basket is something that I definitely would have waited to buy until after I had moved in. The laundry basket that I purchased *before* move-in was always too heavy with laundry to lift, so I had to drag it behind me. What made it even worse was that the laundry room was on the other side of the (huge) building. This made it slightly embarrassing since I had to struggle to drag it behind me as I went down hallways and through the lobby. Just so that I could do a load of laundry!
If I was to re-do my laundry basket purchase, I would have chosen a laundry basket with wheels, like this one from Amazon, which is just like the one I (now) have! Having this laundry basket with wheels would have made it so much easier on myself throughout the semester.
2. Mini fridge
A mini fridge is one of the most necessary essentials for living in the college dorms. Not only is it vital for storing food for throughout the week, but it helps save you money and meal swipes on the campus dining hall.
So…why am I putting it on this list to delay purchasing if it’s a college necessity?
Simple: mini fridges are hard to pack in your car, a hassle to deal with during move-in, and as a freshman student, you honestly don’t know what size mini fridge you may need.
Waiting to purchase a mini fridge until after dorm move-in gives you the chance to see what size would work best in your dorm room, what size/wattage requirements your building may have, if your roommate already brought one or (if not) if you can split the cost, etc.
When you do purchase one, I highly recommend this mini fridge from Amazon, which is similar to the one I had in my dorm and isn’t too big, which means that it’s easy to save floor space by putting it under your bed.
There are many reasons to wait on purchasing a microwave until after you move in, such as your roommate already having brought one or a microwave coming with the room. It’s also possible that there may be a nice microwave in a common kitchen or lounge area that is just steps down the hallway; sometimes, you just don’t know about these things until you get there.
Once you arrive on campus and see whether all (or none) of these apply and you do decide to purchase a microwave, I recommend this Danby microwave, which is perfect for any college dorm room because of it’s multiple settings and you can choose your preferred microwave size before you order it.
4. A Full-Length Mirror
You may have looked at this one and yelled, “But Charlotte, I need a full-length mirror to help me get ready in the morning! I need to know what my outfit looks like! I need my #ootd selfies!”
Let me remind you that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy one…I’m just telling you to wait. Full-length mirrors are hard to pack when your car is already filled to the brim (believe me, I’ve been there), and it’s not like they’re expensive to purchase, so you don’t necessarily have to bring one you already have from home. Once you’ve moved in, it’s easier to see what you need and order it online so that you don’t have to worry about competing with the other students that are rushing to the store to buy dorm room mirrors.
Another reason I suggest waiting on this buy is because some rooms actually come with a full-length mirror. The first dorm that I lived in my freshman year was one of these rooms, and believe it or not, it was not stated in the description of the dorm that they came with full-length mirrors. This meant that I had unnecessarily brought one from home that I didn’t need and had no place to store.
If you do decide to buy your own full-length mirror, and are willing to put a little extra money into it, then I suggest this full-length mirror with storage (via Amazon). This mirror opens up to have a storage compartment for jewelry and other valuables, which can be secured with a set of keys. No more worrying about anybody trying to get to your valuables if you forgot to lock your room. 🙂
5. Bed Risers
Whenever you go dorm room shopping, one of the first things that you will see are bed risers, which promise to help raise up your bed to give you extra storage space underneath. While no college student in their sane mind would turn down the offer of extra storage space, I recommend waiting to buy these until after dorm move-in, simply because some bed frames are adjustable, meaning that you can adjust the height to however you prefer without the need of additional bed risers.
Since my dorm bed had one of these adjustable bed frames, it meant that the bed risers that I had bought were completely useless and ended up sitting in a tote in my closet for the rest of the school year. Those unused bed risers meant wasted money that I could have put towards my textbooks or tuition. (Or midnight snacks, who am I to judge?)
However, while some dorm beds do have these adjustable bed frames, there are many that don’t, which means that many students will decide to purchase bed risers.
If you do decide you’ll need bed risers after dorm move-in, I recommend checking out these Home-it adjustable bed risers from Amazon. With these, you have three different options on how tall you want your bed to rise, rather than being stuck with a one-size bed riser that may not make your bed as tall as you want it.
6. Desktop Organizers
A lot of ads promise to help make the most of what little space is available in dorm rooms, and a desktop organizer to place your pencils, pens, and bountiful other school supplies is often one of them. In fact, a desk organizer was one of the first purchases that I made when dorm room shopping, but once I actually moved in, it never even came out of the box.
Let me explain: When dorm room shopping, I often referred to pictures from my school’s housing website to understand what my dorm room would look like. As I would later learn, these pictures were not the most accurate and up-to-date as I would later learn, because not only did I have a full-length mirror included in my room that I was not expecting, but I also had a much nicer desk (with plenty of storage drawers) than what was shown in the pictures.
However, not all students will have this pleasant surprise and will end up needing some sort of dorm room organizer. Even if you do know what type of desk you will have, I still recommend waiting so that you can measure your desk and see how much room you have for your organizer, and therefore how big (or small) it needs to be when you are looking for ones to buy.
Recommended Desk Organizer:
After dorm move-in, if you decide that you will need a desk organizer, I suggest purchasing this Greenco desk organizer caddy. This caddy has several different compartments and even a small drawer, which makes it perfect for storing your pens, pencils, notebooks, and other supplies.
7. Additional Lighting
It’s probably not a surprise that dorm rooms often have terrible lighting. After all, isn’t that we see so many ads for dorm room lamps?
Even though you will most likely have to buy additional lighting, I still suggest waiting to make this purchase after you move-in to your dorm to better evaluate what kind of lamp you need. Does the entire room need light? Or just the area around your desk? What size should it be? Are some types of lamps not allowed? These are the kind of questions that you can only answer once you’ve moved in, which will help you make a better purchase for your money.
Personally, I suggest getting this Limelights desk lamp, which is the same kind that I have! This desk lamp not only comes with an additional electrical outlet (which I absolutely love to use to charge my phone), but it also gives me a place to put my pencils, sticky notes, and other supplies. Even better, the lamp head is movable, which means that I can choose how close or far away I want the light to be, and I can even point it in other areas of my room!
8. Additional Seating
Living in a college dorm is great because you will always have your friends nearby; swinging by your room or a friend’s place for a quick study session or to just hang out between classes is easier than ever. However, finding a place to seat your friends can be quite difficult, especially since dorm rooms only come with one seat for each resident. Even at that, it’s often an uncomfortable desk chair!
So purchasing some extra seating, whether it be a butterfly chair, a futon, or an ottoman, is a great idea. But just like the other items on this list, it’s best to wait until after move-in to see how much room you have for these items. If you have plenty of extra space, then a futon is perfectly acceptable, but if you’re lacking this extra space, then you may prefer a butterfly chair, which can fold up for easy storage. or an ottoman that can slide underneath a bed when not in use.
If you decide to purchase a futon, this DHP Emily Futon from Amazon might be a great idea because of it’s split back, meaning that your guests can adjust how much they want to recline. It can also fold back all the way back to make a sleeping space.
If you’re looking for a butterfly chair, then I suggest this Mainstay butterfly chair (also from Amazon), which comes in 2 cute colors and is collapsible for easy storage.
If you’re looking for a storage ottoman (which I think are super great because they are easy to slide in and out of from underneath a bed), then I recommend this storage ottoman (also from Amazon). This ottoman not only has extra storage on the inside, but it also has two pockets on the outside, perfect for storing movie snacks or a TV remote.
9. Cubed Organizers or Bookshelves
I think we’ve all seen the ads for the cubed organizers and bookshelves for our dorm rooms, which imply that they will help us stay better organized and keep our room cleaner (i.e. without our textbooks thrown around everywhere). They really can be…if you have the space for them, that is.
Most college dorms are already cramped enough with the few pieces of furniture that they have, and sometimes it’s hard to get helpful items like this (which are practically necessities) to fit in the room. While it totally is possible by lofting your bed or re-arranging the furniture, it’s best to wait until after you move-in to see what size it should be and where you would put it.
If you do decide to buy a cubed organizer or a bookshelf after dorm move-in, I recommend purchasing ClosetMaid’s 6-cubed organizer. Cubed organizers are great because you can use them as a bookshelf, you can add storage bins for knick-knacks or clothing. You can also use it as a TV stand!
10. Bedside Caddy
Of all the things I wished I had waited to buy until after college move-in, this has to take first place because I hardly ever used it; the problem was that both my 1st and 2nd dorm rooms were so small that my desk was right beside my bed, so anything that would have gone in the caddy went on the desk instead. In the end, I re-purposed the caddy by putting it next to my mini fridge and using it as a place to store my paper plates and utensils.
However, I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t buy a bedside caddy, because I absolutely love bedside caddies, especially since they can be re-purposed for much more than a beside organizer (re: plates and utensils organizer); I’m just saying that you should wait to see if you will need one.
A caddy can be extremely useful if you have a much larger room, but they are most useful if you have a lofted/bunked bed. If you have a lofted or bunked bed, it can be almost impossible to get things off your desk, bedside table, or bookcase without constantly climbing down to get them, which makes a bedside caddy almost a necessity. So, if this situation describes you once you’ve moved-in to your dorm, I suggest purchasing this bedside caddy I found on Amazon, which has 2 different ways to hang it (to best fit however you’re using it) and plenty of storage space.
Dorm room shopping is so exciting, but it’s so easy to get lost in what you actually need when you have never lived an actual dorm room before. That’s why it is so important to wait to buy some items until after dorm move-in so that you can better evaluate what you need and what size/style it should be!
If you are looking for some more help in getting ready for college dorm move-in, be sure to check out my post 10 Items You Never Thought To Bring to College and A Tour of My Freshman Dorm Room and Suite!
Have any questions or comments? Or perhaps you want to share what you’ll be waiting to purchase until after dorm move-in? Let me know down below!