College Life: Dorm Splurges

I can hear it now. “Wait, Lauren! It’s only July!” you cry, snarling your fingers through your hair. “It’s not time to think about back-to-school stuff!”

Well, too bad. Wal-Mart already has their school supply aisles up and running, and there’s no time like the present to get started on dorm packing. I lived in the dorms for all four of my undergraduate years, and now I’m in an apartment (my second apartment, as it happens).

I learned a lot in those four years about what types of things to pack and bring, and what you can leave at home. This is a list of a few things I found to be essentials over the years I lived in the dorms. They’re usually on “recommended packing” lists, but I want you to know that these are the things you should splurge on.

  1. Several surge protectors. Your packing list may say you want to bring one, but trust me, most dorm rooms only have one or two outlets per person (mine had exactly three outlets: one behind my desk, one behind my roommate’s desk, and one behind the mini-fridge). You’ll want a surge protector (or two!) for each outlet. I bought the ones that had the USB cords already in them. Go ahead and spend some money on a nice one, because you’ll be using it for a long time. I’m still using mine six years later.
  2. Good towels. There’s nothing worse than having thin, ratty towels, or towels that won’t actually dry you off. Good towels will last you a long time, so go ahead and splurge on these. Get about four (because you should be changing your towels every three uses) and you won’t have to do laundry quite as often.
  3. Lofting your bed. I lofted my bed my junior and senior year of college, and let me tell you, I wish I’d shelled out that $163 to the loft company earlier. Usually, your school will send you some sort of pamphlet on bed lofting. It gives you so much more space, allowing you to put a chair or your desk underneath your bed for some extra lounge-space. 11856542_10207437645208842_8622437031696502594_oAs you can see, here I’ve put a small folding loveseat under my bed. (This is also the neatest my dorm room ever was, so don’t judge.) You’ll be amazed as how much better life is when you’re not constantly only sitting on your bed.
  4. A nice desk chair. And, by extension, a nice desk. Sometimes, your dorm won’t allow you to put the default chair/desk in storage, so make sure you can before you splurge on a desk chair. I still don’t own a nice desk chair (I’ve got a cheap one because I can’t afford a $200 chair at the moment, but I might ask for one for Christmas), but I want one. If you’re going to be sitting at your desk for hours at a time either studying, writing, or reading, you’re going to want to be comfortable while you’re there. All of my friends who had great desk chairs say it’s one of the best investments they ever made. You’re going to be using this for a long time, so might as well get a good one!
  5. A good mini-fridge. Again, make sure your dorm lets you bring your own mini-fridge (often, you’ll have to pay an energy fee each semester). This lets you keep your own food (at least a little) in your room, so you don’t have to go to the caf every day. The one I bought had a rack in the door just for soda cans (I could fit a whole 12-pack in there!), and the freezer worked really well. I bought mine on sale at Lowe’s. You can always find good deals if you shop clearance!
  6. A mattress pad. Those little plastic dorm mattresses are killer on your back. Get a nice memory foam mattress pad if you’re interested in sleeping like an angel on those terrible dorm beds. The one I had is nowhere near as nice as the one my sister has, but I still slept pretty good. Get one that won’t leave you with a backache.

Most, if not all, of these things you can use for future apartments, too, so make sure the quality is good enough that they last. Next week’s post will feature items you can get on the cheap, and the list after that will feature items that aren’t necessarily on a “recommended packing” list, but that you’ll want to have anyway.

What splurge recommendations do you have? Is there anything you bought for a lot that you wish you hadn’t paid so much for? Is there anything you bought cheaply that you wish you’d paid the extra money for the better quality? Let me know in the comments!

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