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I flew to college my freshman year, so I figured I would buy most of my bulky items once I arrived, such as storage bins, an ottoman and a bedside table. That was a huge mistake, because by the time I got there, most stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and Kohls had been picked through, leaving super limited inventory. Decorating your freshman year dorm room is not something to take lightly; you will get homesick, so you want your room to be a comfort sanctuary. Plus, you’ll want to be savvy and only spend money on essentials that will last you into your sophomore year and beyond.

I did not spend time thinking about how I’d put my room together, and I totally regretted it. Buying individual items on a whim made my space less cohesive and pulled together, and I ended up wanting to completely start over the following year, which ultimately led to me spending more money than I needed to in the first place.

After this period of trial and error, I learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of what you need versus what you may want in the moment. It’s safe to assume your dorm probably won’t have much floor space, so maximizing what room you’ve got is absolutely key. Secondly, make sure to think about things that you’ll make use of for the foreseeable future and still fit in with your current atmospheric vibe. After all, you only get to be a freshman once.

Below, find my top picks for all the dorm essentials I found to be the most practical during my freshman year of college from Amazon.

Bedside Table with Charging Outlets 

You don’t want to lean over your bed to constantly grab your charger, therefore I’d recommend getting a bedside table with an outlet (which can also double as extra storage.) Sophomore year, I had one and it was an absolute game changer. 

YAHARBO White Nightstand with Charging Station

Clothes Drawer Organizer

This is super helpful for keeping your clothes organized in the drawers/dressers the college provides you. 

Criusia Underwear Drawer Organizer

Clothes Drying Rack 

Not everyone thinks this is a necessity, but my roommate and I shared mine all the time. We hung anything that couldn’t go in the dryer on this. Make sure to get a tall one that does not take up much floor space.

Amazon Basics Foldable Laundry Rack

Laundry Hamper 

When it comes to laundry hampers, get one that is easy to carry. Sophomore year, I was on the fourth floor with no elevator, and that make carrying my bag up and down such a hassle. I’ve seen backpack ones and rollie ones, but you can also just carry a normal hamper if it is not too big. Do not get a see through bag!

TOTANKI 25" Rolling Slim Laundry Basket

Shower Caddy 

If you’re sharing a floor bathroom, a shower caddy can really make bringing your essentials back and forth a breeze. I kept my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash and razor in mine. 

mDesign Plastic Shower Caddy

Shower Shoes 

The showers can get kinda gross, so I highly advise getting a pair of shower shoes. I used crocs as mine, since lip flops were too exposed to the floor for me.

Crocs Unisex-Adult Classic Clogs

Lighted Makeup Mirror  

You will need this because the overhead lighting is atrocious.

BWLLNI Lighted Makeup Mirror

Desk Organizer 

Organize the inside of your desk so you don’t lose important things for school. Most classes are entirely electronic but you will get occasional handouts or need to keep copies of your resume, so you want the inside of your desk and the top of your desk to be organized at all times.

Acrylic Office Desk Organizer with Drawer

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