Since classes eat up all of your time and money in your first year at college, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you’re left with little to nothing to furnish your new dorm room.
But if you have any leftover funds to improve your living situation after you cover the basics, there’s a full checklist of luxury essentials that will significantly enhance your modestly sized dorm room.
We’ve highlighted some of the most overlooked essentials, as well as some of our favorite dorm room upgrades. Read on below to prepare yourself.
1. Big Joe Dorm Chair
Though you’ll probably be spending many nights out exploring your campus in your first year of college, you’ll still need somewhere to relax at your home base that isn’t your bed or desk.
The Big Joe Dorm Chair is the ideal option, as it combines the comfort of a lounge chair with the portability of a beanbag chair.
It is stain-resistant, water-resistant, and comes with handy pockets for stashing remotes, phones, and books.
Price: $29.88 (25 percent off MSRP)
2. Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Mini Fridge
If you’re lucky, you will get a dorm room that is close to your campus’ dining commons. But if you aren’t, you will want a mini fridge to help keep your hunger satiated.
Having a cold place to store food means easy access to fresh foods, leftovers, and cold drinks. And you can have it all while preserving your limited living space.
3. Bose QuietComfort 35
Every dorm hall floor has a noisy tenant or two, and there’s always a chance one will be your roommate. When you just can’t escape the noise, you need a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
The QuietComfort 35s from Bose are far from the cheapest headphones out there, but they are generally recognized as the best pair of noise cancelling headphones out there.
And when it comes to creating the right studying environment, you can’t spare any expenses. (Though if you had to, you could settle for the Cowin E-7s).
4. Qiaya LED Desk Lamp Alarm Clock
Any productive student needs both an alarm clock and a desk lamp. This Qiaya LED Desk Lamp Alarm Clock solves both problems, providing a bright LED lamp on a flexible gooseneck design as well as a digital clock and temparature display.
This nifty light fixture will help you stay up late doing homework without disturbing your roommate. It will also help you wake them up bright and early when you have to get up for your 8am lecture.
Price: $29.99 (55 percent off MSRP)
5. Handy Laundry Shower Tote
Until you see the layout of your new dorm hall, there is no telling how far you might have to trek to take a shower every morning.
But even if it’s only a short distance, you’ll want a shower tote to keep your shampoo, soap, toothbrush, razor and other toiletries in one place as you go back and forth.
The light and quick-drying design of this caddy allows it to be easily hung on the shower head as well. You can pretty much take this bag anywhere.
6. Black+Decker Toaster Oven
Another amenity you may not have easy access to is a proper kitchen. And even if you do, having a cooking appliance in your room is all the more convenient.
This Black+Decker Toaster Oven is an inexpensive option that will allow you to heat up all sorts of basic meals including sandwiches, pizzas, and frozen food.
Just be sure to check if cooking appliances are permitted in your dorm room before you order one, as many campuses do not allow these in dorm rooms for fire safety reasons.
Price: $30.00 (9 percent off MSRP)
7. Indian Wall Decor Hippie Tapestry
Bohemian tie-dyed fabric seems to be a staple of dorm living moreso than any other decoration. This is partially because they are an inexpensive and artful way to spice up your corner of the room, but their true value is not apparent at first sight.
These large cloth tapestries can actually be used as simple room dividers, which can be invaluable when you simply need a private space.
8. Desktop USB Charging Station
With all of the USB-chargeable gadgets you’ve accumulated, your laptop might not be able to charge everything. A USB charging station is the perfect solution, and can be a lifesaver when you’re hosting friends over before a night out.
Price: $19.99 (50 percent off MSRP)
9. Organize It All Underbed Chest
Unless the bed in your dorm room already has drawers underneath it, the area beneath your bed is flat out wasted.
However, a flat storage compartment like the Organize It All Underbed Chest will help you find an extra place for your shoes, extra sheets, or whatever you please.
10. AmazonBasics Security Safe
No matter who they are, your freshman roommate is generally going to be the first person you develop a trusting bond with at college.
But the friends they bring to your dorm won’t always be the same case. If you ever feel like you need some extra privacy, or just somewhere to store your extra cash and small electronics, a safe can provide major peace of mind.
11. AmazonBasics 5-Piece Bed-In-A-Bag
With admittedly more fun things to spend your college budget on, it can be easy to forget about the obvious necessities like an extra bed set.
This handy 5-piece Bed-In-A-Bag from Amazon has everything you need for a twin XL bed. It comes with a comforter, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a sham, and a pillowcase. And it all matches.
12. GOgroove BassPULSE Computer Speaker System
Whether you use a TV, a PC, or a laptop for entertainment, the onboard speakers aren’t going to cut it even for your tiny room.
2.1 computer speakers are a nice audio option, as they fit nicely on a desktop and don’t cost a lot for the sound they produce.
The GOgroove BassPULSE is an inexpensive option that combines crisp treble, punchy bass, and a vibrant LED display that pulses along with the music.
13. Targus Drifter II Backpack
When you first see the amount of textbooks you’ll have to lug around, you will understand why it is important to get a new backpack before you head off to college.
The Drifter II from Targus is a hefty option, offering ample zippered compartments, two side water bottle pockets, and a sleeve that holds 17-inch laptops.
14. Cartman 39-Piece Tool Set
Don’t count on being able to keep the rest of your college supplies in good shape if you don’t have a basic set of tools. This goes doubly if you plan on assembling any furniture or owning a bike.
Price: $18.99 (37 percent off MSRP)
15. Nintendo Switch
Not only will a Nintendo Switch help you de-stress after big tests, but this console’s modular controller system makes it one of the most fun and convenient multiplayer platforms to date.
You can use its portable screen to set up the game anywhere, allowing you to bond over a party game of Mario Kart 8 wherever the moment arises.
16. Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar
Yes, your phone calendar is easy enough to use to keep track of your many events and deadlines, but you will quickly find that small display filling up in an information overload.
A magnetic dry erase calendar will be much harder to ignore when you’re trying to decide if you should go out to party or finish your class readings.
You can also use this to convey messages to your roommate when he keeps leaving his alarm on.
Price: $15.97 (36 percent off MSRP)
17. Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum
So what if the stereotype is that college dorms are a filthy mess? You don’t have to be a statistic when you can easily pack along a nifty handheld vacuum like the Dirt Devil Scorpion.
This corded vacuum will cut through crumbs and debris without issue, and its handheld size allows you to clean tight spaces. This vacuum uses a filter instead of a bag, allowing for super quick cleanup.
18. Vornado AVH2 Plus Heater Fan
If you are traveling out of state for college, you may be entering a new climate zone that will leave you very uncomfortable at certain times of years.
The best way to be prepared for anything is with a heater that doubles as a cool air fan, like the Vornado AVH2.
The AVH2 has two heat settings, both of which can warm a small room over time. It also has a fan-only mode that will simply circulate the air in your room for a cooling effect.
Price: $60.99 (32 percent off MSRP)
19. Belkin 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector
Electrical outlets can be a scarce commodity when you give two students less than 400 square feet to live in. Thankfully, you can solve this problem easily with one seriously badass surge protector.
This 12-outlet surge protector from Belkin will keep your cables effectively managed, and protect your electronics from any rogue power surges.
This surge protector also comes in an 8-outlet style, and comes in a number of cord lengths.
Price: $18.95 and up
20. Amazon Prime Student Subscription
This last suggestion is a catch-all in case you forgot anything else you might need. While you’re making your new dorm room feel like home, you can take advantage of Amazon Student’s six month free trial.
After that, it’s only $49 per year, which is half the price of a normal Prime subscription. But whether you stick with it or not, you’ll be loving that free two-day shipping the first time a professor switches their book list on day one.
Price: $49.00 per year