The Ultimate List of Dorm Room Essentials for the 2018 Grad

The Ultimate List of Dorm Room Essentials for the 2018 Grad

The time has come, the walrus said — to ship your kids off to college. Lists about what to buy for your dorm room are all over the internet, but it’s time for an upgrade. It is 2018 after all, and these kids have been steeped in technology from the moment they entered the world. Here, a comprehensive list of dorm room essentials your college-bound kiddo will actually use.

The Curated Nomad Grove Multicolor Braided Rug

$73.99, Overstock

dorm room essentials: The Curated Nomad Grove Multicolor Braided Rug, Overstock

Trust me, you’re going to get sick of looking at the linoleum floor FAST. This bright braided rug is the perfect size to go in the middle of your dorm and break up the beige monotony. The braided texture offers cushy comfort without trapping grime and crumbs like a shag carpet would. Your cold feet will thank me come November.

Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Earbuds

$249.85, REI

dorm room essentials: Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Earbuds, REI

Headphones with wires are so 2014. These Bluetooth earbuds are the perfect companion for a high-intensity workout (if you ever make it to the gym), walking to class (if ever you make it out of bed), or drowning out your roommate (the most likely of all). These waterproof buds have a battery that will last for 4.5 hours and also come with a portable charging case for a total of 13.5 hours of power.

JBL Charge 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

$149.99, Best Buy

dorm room essentials: JBL Charge 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Best Buy

Available in a rainbow of colors, these waterproof speakers are just what you need to annoy all of your dorm neighbors. This speaker can play for a whopping 15 hours, charge your cellphone, and connect to three devices at a time for maximum sound quality. Actually, maybe you shouldn’t buy it.

Sport Berkey Water Bottle

$35, Berkey Filters

dorm room essentials: Sport Berkey Water Bottle, Berkey Filters

The water from the water fountain is going to taste bad. This is just a fact of life. But this Berkey water bottle comes with a powerful interior filter that will strain out not only the eggy taste but also nasty heavy metals and other junk you definitely don’t want swimming around in your stomach.

RAVPower Portable Charger

$19.99, Amazon

dorm room essentials: RAVPower Portable Charger, Amazon

Let’s face it: You’re probably not going to be spending less time on your phone in college than you do now. A portable charger is a necessity in today’s day and age, and this one can fully charge a phone twice before it has to be plugged in. As an added bonus, the LED lights on the side indicate how much charge is left. The catch Mom and Dad will love: You’ll have no excuse not to answer their calls — they’ll know your phone’s not dead.

Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Towel

$20.99, Amazon

dorm room essentials: Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Towel, Amazon

This microfiber towel won’t wreck your hair — it’s specifically formulated for delicate strands, and everyone’s hair is weaker after a shower (it’s science). As an added bonus, this one actually stays on your head and dries in a flash, meaning no gross mildew smell. Available in five colors.

Fully Automatic Wireless Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable

$149, Audio-Technica

dorm room essentials: Fully Automatic Wireless Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Audio-Technica

For the burgeoning hipster, this Bluetooth turntable is just the gadget for when the roommate doesn’t want to listen to another side of that scratched up Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP anymore. Vinyl is coming back in a big way, and this gorgeous turntable can connect to any Bluetooth device (be it speakers or headphones) without all the irritating cords and wires. Everything old really is new again.

Auxiwa Clip-On Selfie Ring Light

$11.99, Amazon

dorm room essentials: Auxiwa Clip-On Selfie Ring Light, Amazon

Life is too short to take a selfie in bad lighting. This clip-on halo light is rechargeable and guaranteed to make you look your flyest self. The light varies in intensity and purports to mimic soft studio lighting — definitely a step up from the Snapchat flash.

What Do You Meme Game


dorm room essentials: What Do You Meme Game

Games are fun, and don’t let anyone tell you different. This is essentially Cards Against Humanity but with an updated twist — the hottest memes for all the teens. Do yourself a favor and don’t let your parents open the box. It’s better this way.

The Poet Oak Letterboard

$65, Letterfolk

dorm room essentials: The Poet Oak Letterboard, Letterfolk

This cute felt board is all the rage now, and will be especially popular with the witty set. Whether it says Rise and Grind or Pass the PBR (just kidding!), this is a cute and creative way to spice up an ugly dorm room. Because they’re all ugly — don’t @ me.

Red Earth 6-Piece Hydrating Mask Set

$12, Madewell

dorm room essentials: Red Earth 6-Piece Hydrating Mask Set, Madewell

Your skin is going to feel tired and dull in college — a combination of too little sleep, too little water, and too much midnight snacking is no good for a complexion. This cute collection of sheet masks is here to help revitalize sad skin with lots of collagen and cooling gel. And, bonus: They’re all cruelty free.

Google Home Mini

$49, Google

dorm room essentials: Google Home Mini

What’s the weather? What’s the Pythagorean theorem? What are the irregular yo verbs in Spanish? What time is my Enviro Sci class? When is kickoff for the Bears game? Google Home can answer all of these questions and more. The mini size is perfect for a dorm room desk but contains all the power of the larger version.

Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone

$129.95, Apple

dorm room essentials: Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone, Apple

This sleek two-in-one charging dock will host both your iPhone and your Apple watch on one compact stand. In three colors, the stand is compatible with Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, Edition, Nike+, and Hermes.

Himalayan Salt Lamp With USB Adapter

$19.99, Bed Bath & Beyond

dorm room essentials: Himalayan Salt Lamp With USB Adapter, Bed Bath & Beyond

While the benefits of a Himalayan salt lamp (cleansing the air, purifying your body, paying your taxes) are still up for debate, there’s no denying that they are pretty and calming to look at. This one conveniently hooks into any USB port, meaning you won’t take up valuable outlet space. Switch it on for calming study vibes or mellow evenings.

Succulent Sampler

$18.95, Simply Succulents

dorm room essentials: Succulent Sampler, Simply Succulents

Even the most woeful gardener (me) can keep succulents alive, and the bright green will be a fresh addition to a stale room. Keep it on the windowsill and mist every so often. It’s basically a Zen garden. 

Moleskine Smart Writing Set

$199, Neiman Marcus

dorm room essentials: Moleskine Smart Writing Set, Neiman Marcus

The future is now: This Smart notebook connects to a Smart pen that transfers every brilliant word you write to your phone or computer. The dotted layout of the paper will keep even the messiest writer in check, and every freehand stroke will be recorded, so it will work for your doodles and diagrams too. The set includes the paper tablet, the Pen+ smartpen, a USB cable to recharge the smartpen, one pen tip, one ink refill, and a user manual.

AromaCube Fan Diffuser

$31.23, AromaTech

dorm room essentials: Aromacube Fan Diffuser, AromaTech

This minimalistic oil diffuser uses a heat-free, fan-based diffusion to scent your dorm air with whatever your heart desires (we recommend peppermint, citrus, or lavender to keep things smelling fresh and not cloying). The Cube runs for two hours before shutting off automatically, and, unlike a candle, won’t get you in trouble with your RA. Or burn your dorm down.

Leni Leaning Mirror

$139, Urban Outfitters

dorm room essentials: Leni Leaning Mirror, Urban Outfitters

This leaning full-length mirror has a number of benefits, but the fact that you don’t have to screw it into a wall or the door is most notable among them. The added space for purses or scarves is also a bonus, and the airy shape will help make your dorm room look less cramped.

Essenza Mini Nespresso Machine

$249, Nespresso

dorm room essentials: Essenza Mini Nespresso Machine, Nespresso

Keurig machines and their crappy, watery coffee are out. Sleek, European Nespresso machines with their flavor-packed coffee capsules are in. The Essenza version, the smallest of all the Nespresso machines, offers two different cup sizes and comes in three colors and two different shapes. Then all that’s left to do is pop in your choice of Nespresso pod and caffeinate.

Thermos Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler

$24.99, Thermos

dorm room essentials: Thermos Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler, Thermos

For the aforementioned Nespresso machine. This coffee mug is absolutely spill-proof (trust me, I own two) and keeps coffee hot for hours on end. It also holds 16 ounces, which is enough coffee to power anyone through a rough 8 a.m. class. Available in a rainbow of colors, get two — you’ll always need a backup.

East Urban Holli Zollinger Boho Tile Square Floor Pillow

$65.99, Wayfair 

dorm room essentials: East Urban Holli Zollinger Boho Tile Square Floor Pillow, Wayfair

The perfect solution to extra seating in a cramped dorm room, this cute neutral floor pillow can be stored against the wall or in the closet when not in use. Tufted and soft, it’s made for lounging (or meditating, if that’s your jam). Plus, the neutral colors make it easy to mix and patch with other prints and patterns.

Fujifilm InstaX Mini 9 Instant Film Camera

$69.99, Best Buy

dorm room essentials: Fujifilm InstaX Mini 9 Instant Film Camera, Best Buy

These cute cameras are like the Polaroids of yore, but in an array of colors. The excitement of printing out a picture on the spot is the same as it as ever was, and these little cameras benefit from an improved viewfinder and picture clarity. Perfect for hanging on those barren dorm room walls.

Lo and Sons Weekender Bag

$120, Lo and Sons

dorm room essentials: weekender bag, Lo and Sons

This sturdy weekender bag is the perfect for a quick trip home. The bottom unzips for flat storage and the top functions like a shoulder bag. A secret interior pocket can hold valuables (or phone chargers) and the top zips shut to make sure nothing rolls out. The ultra-lightweight canvas body can be shoved into the corner of a closet when not in use and stands up to spot cleaning.

Pebble Lattice Recycling Bags

$29, Boon Supply

dorm room essentials: Pebble Lattice Recycling Bags, Boon Supply

Just because you go off to college doesn’t mean you can quit recycling. These cool polywoven plastic containers help you separate paper and plastic or glass so that you can appropriately dispose of all your empty Arizona iced tea cans. As an added bonus, 50 percent of every purchase goes to the cause of your choice. Since you’re basically doing a good deed by shopping, go ahead and get the laundry bags too.


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Jessica Suss is a native Chicagoan residing in Washington, D.C. She is currently getting her master’s degree in secondary English education at the University of Maryland. She enjoys petting other people’s dogs and is faithful to Lou Malnati’s alone. Jessica is also a supporter of MAZON and No Kid Hungry