Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.
Summer break is coming to an end, and for many people, that means back-to-school season is just gearing up. With all of the stress of buying books, paying for tuition and college itself, figuring out what you actually need to furnish a college dorm is just another added worry.
To help with the transition from summer to school, the TODAY Digital interns shared their must-haves for making college life a little easier. From a ramen cooker for those last-minute meals to an essential oil diffuser to keep your room smelling fresh, for years these products have been their favorites and hopefully they'll be your kid's too!
"Dorm rooms are all about maximizing your space, so bed risers are a must. However most don’t come with built in outlets! When your bed is so high off the ground, being able to plug your phone into these risers as opposed to the wall is super convenient." — Sari Kamp, TODAY Digital Editorial Intern
"Dorm rooms definitely don’t come with bedside tables, so this chic wood bedside shelf comes in handy when you need a place for your phone at night, your coffee in the morning and anything else you don’t want to share the bed with." — Kamp
"Dorm rooms typically come with a desk, a bed and not much else. If you don’t want your friends’ dirty pants on your clean(ish) bed, this chair is the way to go. It has followed me through three years of college and is still my favorite place for an afternoon nap." — Kamp
"With most colleges and universities starting classes in late August, it is bound to still be hot when you arrive. A fan is a must for keeping your room as cool as possible." — Kamp
"Saving money on food is a must for any college student, so when you’re down to that last ramen packet this microwavable/dishwasher safe rapid ramen cooker is a must-have." — Zach Devita, TODAY Digital Video Intern
"I don’t know where I’d be without my George Foreman grill. After a long day at school, I don’t want to wait for the oven to preheat, but I also don’t want my food to dry out in the microwave — the grill solves these problems. It heats up quickly, always gives my food a nice little crunch, and its nonstick coating makes cleaning up so much easier." — Majesty Henry, TODAY Digital Editorial Intern
"No matter what, the coffee in your dining hall will be bad. A coffee maker of some sort is a necessary appliance for any dorm room, whether you drink coffee or not. I used mine to make oatmeal just about every morning my freshman year, and for tea at night as well." — Kamp
"After being told not to use the tap water in my dorm to brush my teeth, I’ve had a strong aversion to tap water. Bottled water is extremely wasteful, but for a while it seemed like my only option. That is, until I found this water filter. It easily fits in my mini-fridge, keeps me hydrated, and helps me do my part in saving the environment by reducing my plastic waste!" — Henry
"Between late night Easy Mac, piles of laundry and the questionable banana sitting on your roommates desk, it’s easy for a dorm room to acquire a stink. Beat that with this easy to use essential oil diffuser. Choose mild scents like eucalyptus or chamomile, and your room will smell like a spa in no time." — Kamp
"Every college student misses home, and thanks to these candles every state in the U.S. gets its own unique smell so you can kiss that homesickness goodbye." — Devita
"Unless you are living in the fanciest dorm ever, you're going to have to use communal bathrooms. Avoid dropping your shampoo in the middle of the hallway while in your towel with a shower caddy. This one is great because the mesh makes sure everything dries off and doesn’t become moldy." — Kamp
"This toilet spray has helped me eliminate the possibility of any embarrassment when walking out of a stall. With over 20 scents made with natural ingredients, just one spritz before you ‘go’ and it’ll have the bathroom smelling great no matter what you choose." — Henry
"College bathrooms are among the grossest things on the planet — so it is extra important to keep your toothbrush out of harm's way. Investing in toothbrush protectors was one of the smartest things I have ever done, as I am a true germophobe. Especially if your school has communal bathrooms, this is the right move to make." — Jillian Ortiz, TODAY Digital Editorial Intern
"If you are anything like me, your desk will function more as a vanity than a desk. Avoid makeup breakage and look somewhat put together with this clear acrylic makeup organizer." — Kamp
"Between your hamper, rain boots and extra towels, your closet is going to be jam packed. Make the most of your space with these stackable shoe racks." — Kamp
"I was a very unorganized student when I started college. These sticky notes have helped me change that. I color code my notes with them, use them as bookmarks, and they’re a huge help when it comes to studying for exams and managing my schedule." — Henry
"This desk lamp offered a break from harsh fluorescent lighting, and the two outlets were a great way to plug in things like my phone or alarm clock. The storage spots are also great, and are a perfect place to store daily essentials or desk supplies." — Kerry Breen, TODAY Digital Editorial Intern
"A trash can with a lid SAVED me during my first few years of dorm living. I know, it seems simple. But after interning during the day and then going straight to my night classes, the last thing I wanted to do was walk down the hall to take the trash out. This little compact trash can saved my room from the lovely smells of my midnight snacking and let me wait at least until the weekend to clean my room." — Ortiz
"My closet freshman year had enough room for maybe 20 hangers. Make the most of your space with these multi-item hangers, perfect for jeans." — Kamp
"The dreaded freshmen 15 wrecked my favorite pair of jeans. I ordered this sewing kit to revive them, but now I use it for any other clothing mishaps. It comes with scissors, measuring tape, a magnifying glass — things I didn’t realize I needed until I had them!" — Henry
"Separating dirty clothes is the last thing anyone wants to do, and whether it’s your first time ever doing laundry or part of the routine this basket is here to help." — Devita
"First off — I don't care what anyone has to say: I am fully aware I am a 20-year-old pushing a granny cart around my dorm building, but my back isn't in pain carrying my laundry basket around everywhere. I can't tell you how many people in the elevator would tell me, 'That's so smart!' This was another great investment that I have had since my freshman year (I'm entering my junior year now) and you can detach the bag to use the cart as a hand-truck, too." — Ortiz
"Looking good on your first day is a must, but when you get up 5 minutes before class and notice the disastrous wrinkles in your outfit, a portable steamer is the hero you need." — Devita
"Another thing that seems so simple but yet so many people forget is an over-the-door rack! I keep so many things on it - from rain jackets and handbags to hats and towels, my over-the-door rack was one of the best things I have invested in during my college years. If your room has a bathroom in it, it can't hurt to invest in another to keep in there as well." — Ortiz
"I'm a big believer in multi-use storage options, and these are perfect. They come in a few neutral colors, so they can match pretty much any color scheme, and I love using them to store books and other bulky, heavy items. In my own dorm room, I used them for storage and to get a leg up on my way-too-raised dorm bed." — Breen
"This blue milk crate has been with me for over five years. It's great for move-in, since it's lightweight and the handles are comfortable to grip, but when it comes to storage I love using it for snacks. It fits neatly in most places, and the plastic material makes it easy to clean." — Breen
"Ensure your valuables are locked away and safe, with this affordable and light-weight master lock that lets the user set the combination." — Devita
"This isn't the exact same color as the one I used, but it's the same model and its function is the same. It was a great way to store a ton of things — especially stuff that I didn't use a lot, like spare bedding and bulky odds and ends — and it was a great way to consolidate things during move-in day.
You can use it for seating, for extra surface space, or a fun way to add a pop of color to your room. It's a dorm-room essential that's followed me throughout my life — after using it for all four years of college, it's now situated in my new apartment." — Breen
"College was my first time keeping track of important things like my social security card and passport, and I was terrified of losing them. This storage safe was a way to get a lot of peace of mind — it attaches to a bed leg, so nobody can just pick it up, and the generous interior leaves room for valuables like a laptop or jewelry." — Breen
Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.