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From smart hangers to sunrise clocks, 23 dorm essentials to prepare them for college life

There’s back-to-school shopping to be done!
Illustration of people in there dorm room
TODAY Illustration / svetikd / Getty Images / Hatch / Klaus Vedfelt/ Getty Images / Amazon / Chic Geeks / Courtesy Sierra Hoeger / Courtesy Bella Druckman

Preparing for the college drop-off is an exciting — and possibly overwhelming — time for any parent and child. As students head back to campus life and new freshmen move to their semi-permanent homes, there are never-ending checklists parents have to go through to send their kids off prepared and ready to take over campus life.

That said, there’s shopping to be done! Whether your kid is going to a nearby college or venturing to an out-of-state university, there are must-haves every student needs in their dorm. There are plenty of great checklists for what college-bound students need, but here are other things worth considering before they start their adulting journey.

What do you actually need for college?

Aside from common student needs such as backpacks, books and electronics, most college students will need home goods and essentials to make the transition from their childhood abode easier. According to CollegeBoard's checklist, some important items they'll need to pack include:

  • Storage bins and organizers
  • Laundry supplies
  • Desk supplies like sticky notes, folders, pens, notebooks and a desk lamp
  • Everyday toiletries and accessories like a shower caddy and shower slides with grippy soles
  • Household and kitchen items like food storage containers, silverware, trash bags and plates

What should you not bring to a dorm?

While you might be tempted to pack your kid's favorite decor, there are some things that don't belong in a dorm. For starters, dorm rooms have limited space for furniture and personal belongings (and most already have big-ticket items like desks and bed frames), so it's important to limit their checklist to only the essentials.

College essentials and necessities to shop

Sabrent 4-Port USB 2.0 Data Hub with Individual LED

For dorms with limited outlets, this four-port USB charger delivers a simple solution. They can easily connect their devices and is thin enough to maximize work space.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack

Let's face it, college kids aren't always the cleanest. This three-pack of disinfecting wipes can at least help them protect themselves and their roommates from germs.

Cove Long Garment Hanger

This innovative hanger will improve your kid's organizational skills if they struggle with hanging their clothes. The smart hander is great to hang long maxi dresses, jumpsuits and matching sets while avoiding unnecessary creases or collecting dust from the floor of the closet.

Secret Dry Spray Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Keep their hygiene top level with this dry spray deodorant from Secret. This formula has a coconut-infused scent and is made with aluminum-free ingredients. Plus, this will keep them sweat-free for all their daily activities.

The Original Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper

Improve their movie nights or late night study sessions with this popcorn popper. The bowl is collapsible, comes in 11 different colors and currently has 20,000+ verified five-star ratings.

Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier

Dorm rooms can be pretty dry, so make sure to pack them up with this wireless, rechargeable humidifier. The Hey Dewy is portable enough to carry on their bag and offers up to an eight-hour mist.

Magic Bullet Blender

Magic's Bullet Blender is sure to make their breakfast time easier thanks to the fast and versatile design. They can blend, mix and chop their favorite foods in seconds. Also, this portable blender is a great way to fuel them up with something a little healthy during their busy class schedule.

Dirt Devil SimpliStik Plus Corded Stick Vacuum

Make cleaning time efficient (and practically effortless) with this corded stick vacuum that weighs only four pounds. The small appliance converts into a hand vacuum to tackle hard-to-reach areas and is very easy to store.

Hamilton Beach 1.7L Illuminated Glass Kettle

Sometimes college life is synonymous with copious amounts of coffee and soups. This glass kettle boils water quickly to make tea, hot chocolate and instant ramen easily.

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker with Timer

If they always forget their breakfast, make their life simple with this sandwich maker from Hamilton Beach. The two-in-one breakfast maker lets them prepare a fresh sandwich with the fixings of their choice. It can cook their meal in five minutes or less and is a convenient way to make their favorite sandwich recipe.

Megachef Electric Food Warming Tray

If they're limited on counter space, this warming tray will come in handy. The electric tray can fit multiple dishes and makes it easy to heat up family dinners and other meals for big parties.

Anecdote Candles Coffee Break

When they need a sweet escape, your kid will love this tongue-in-cheek candle that smells like a coffee break. The scent is infused with the warmth of vanilla, patchouli and cedarwood — it smells like "the joy of missing out".

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth with Straw Lid

A water bottle is the one accessory that college students carry with them wherever they go and it’s hard to beat the quality and durability of the Hydro Flask.

Sneaker Lab Shoe Wipes

Keeping white sneakers pristine takes some serious upkeep, but these handy, environmentally-friendly wipes make it easy. We love that they come in individual packets that are easy to stash in the pocket of a backpack.

All-in-One Toolkit

This handheld kit features 23 tools like a level, screwdriver, hammer and more, and retails for less than $30. Talk about compact and efficient!

Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker

The slim size of Keurig's K-Mini coffee maker — less than five inches wide — makes it perfect for apartment or dorm living.

Internet's Best Hanging Closet Organizer with Drawers

Space is a premium in dorm rooms or in apartments with roommates. These hanging drawers provide more storage and take up less space than a dresser.

Ikea Storage Bag

College move-in day is hectic, expect to be lugging things up and down stairs all day long. These bags store all of the essentials and can easily be stored flat and under a bed when not in use.

Pixel Eyewear Thera

Between online courses and writing papers, students will be spending even more time in front of their screens. Blue light glasses are a must for reducing eye strain and headaches. We love the well-made and stylish variety from Pixel Eyewear.

Chic Geeks Crimson Faux Crocodile MacBook Case

If your kid is taking a MacBook to school, it’s wise to invest in a sturdy, protective cover. You can’t beat the array of unique colors and designs from Chic Geeks.

Metal Garment Rack with Side Racks

Improve their small closet storage with this garment rack. This option comes with wooden shelves and sturdy side panels to hang accessories. Also, this works as a visual wardrobe to keep their outfits ready for the week.

Peach Skin Classic White Sheet Set

These sheets (with a 1,500 thread count) are incredibly soft! They are hypoallergenic, come in a dorm-friendly twin XL size (as well as standard bed sizes) and have 18-inch deep pockets, making them great for fitting over all the layers you can put on dorm beds.

Hatch Restore Personalized Sleep Solution

If your teen struggles with morning wake-up calls, this is the perfect solution for their snoozing issues. The sunrise alarm clock features different light modes to wake them up with a soothing soft glow. Also, it comes with relaxing noise to ease their mind before bedtime.