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37 Inexpensive Essentials for Your Dorm Room

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So you’ve graduated from high school and you’re ready for the summer to wrap up so you can head off to college! Heck yes! It’s legitimately incredibly exciting. Of course, it’s also…kind of expensive. Tuition is a beast and you don’t want to make it even more expensive when you outfit your dorm room. To help you out we’ve put together a list of our favorite essentials that don’t cost too much but will still help you create the dorm room of your dreams. So now’s the time to have a bit of fun: go on the shopping spree that’s actually practical. You’re setting yourself up for the first stage of adult life, and you’re going to need all kinds of stuff, from storage to décor to the practical study tools that will get you through the next four years with flying colors. Get ready to make your dorm room the best place to hang out.

You will love our editor’s curated product picks! FYI: We are an Amazon affiliate partner and may get a share of the sale of your purchase (at no cost to you).

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Combine Folders and Notebooks into the Ultimate Study Tool

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You need folders and you need notebooks, so why not get both in one with this file folder notepad? You get wide-ruled writing space on the outside of each folder and 12 spaces to add in other papers and notes. It’s so easy to stay organized.

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Keep Your Meals on Track

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College is definitely a time when eating habits tend to change. Maybe you have a meal plan, but if you’re fending for yourself you’re going to need some help figuring out how to keep yourself fed. Grab this erasable meal planner that will stick to your mini-fridge and let you prep your meals in advance.

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Stock Up on All the Pens

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You can never have too many pens in college, so why not stock up all at once with this set of 96 glitter pens? This will be a big hit with anyone who likes to color code their notes and wants ALL the options.

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These Index Cards Use Tabs for Easy Organization

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I’m honestly offended that no one came up with this idea when I was in college: index cards with tabs. If you use index cards for notes or to lay out papers, this is the easiest way to keep yourself organized and easily find exactly what you’re looking for.

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You Don’t Want a Dorm without Napkins

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This might seem unrelated to dorm rooms, but chances are there are going to be spills and messes and you want something on hand to keep things clean. These high-quality napkins are my go-to: they are thick and luxurious and work way better than anything else I’ve used.

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This Caddy Is Great for Art or Study

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Keeping all your stuff organized is one of the true challenges of being a student but it doesn’t have to be. This caddy is great for art materials or study materials. I like to use it to keep all my pens and notebooks in one place.

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Use Push Pin Magnets to Decorate Your Dorm

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If you have anything metal in your room, you’re going to love having these push-pin magnets. They’ll hold just about anything and give a cute, classic vibe to your space.

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Show Off Your Creative Side

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If you’re a more artistic type, take your notes to the next level with this set of brush pens. You can draw or make the most amazing hand-lettered visuals.

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Get Stylish Storage

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Dorm rooms aren’t known for their spacious storage options, so you’ll want to bring some tools to help keep everything in its place. Try out these colorful storage boxes that stack nicely and add a lovely pattern to your room.

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These Tea Bags Are At The Top Of My Tea Pyramid

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If you’ve never tried loose leaf pyramid tea bags, you’re not living your best life. The pyramid tea bags have ample space for the leaves to unfurl offering better infusion and full flavor for each cup of hot tea. This turmeric ginger herbal tea is my personal favorite, but you can also try Vahdam’s Himalayan green tea or their assorted tea bag sampler if you’re feeling ambitious. It’s a perfect pick-me-up you can easily microwave in your dorm.

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These Aesthetic Boho Photos Make Me Feel Hip!

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This wall decor looks so expensive and chic, but it’s actually super affordable. I used to think I had to be a social media influencer to have this type of aesthetic but this boho photo collage kit has made my Pinterest dreams come true. They have tones of different themes to choose from too. It makes my dorm room feel so homey!

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A Dry Erase Board Is a Dorm Room Requirement

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Few things are more quintessentially college than a whiteboard hanging on the door. Use it to leave notes to your roommate, share your schedule, or leave cute doodles.

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Share Memories of Home

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A bulletin board is always a choice way to add a lot of personality to your room for a low price tag. This one comes in a sleek black that will really stand out, and let you show off photos, notes, to-do lists, and artwork.

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If You’re A Gamer, You Need This Poster

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I got this gamer poster for my brother and he loves it! It’s a list of all video game controllers from 1975 to 2020 and even comes with a picture frame to protect it. You can get it in a colored frame or unframed. Not a gamer? You can get this oak wood frame and protect any 12×16 picture you want!

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Keep Your Study Space Organized

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One of the most important spaces in your dorm room is your desk: you’re going to be doing a lot of studying after all. Keep it looking nice and neat with this desk organizer that has dedicated spaces for everything you’ll need.

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This Pen Pouch Does More

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One essential college item is a spacious pen pouch for all your pens, pencils, erasers, and goodies. This pouch gives that idea an upgrade because it features a combination lock. Store your phone or wallet without fear.

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Upgrade Uncomfortable Chairs

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Colleges are not exactly well known for having the most comfortable furniture, and most likely any chairs in your dorm room are likely to be a bit uncomfortable. The easiest way to improve it is with this seat cushion that is super portable and ultra cushy.

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You Won’t Survive College Without These Index Card Boxes

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There are two things that got me through college, 1) coffee and 2) index cards. There’s nothing quite like testing yourself with important vocabulary or notes on paper cards as opposed to virtual. I need to engage all of my senses, including tactile, to retain information, especially after midnight. But, they’re useless if I don’t have a way to store and organize them. I love this index card box holder set because it does just that. Plus, they’re durable, water resistant, and economical!

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These Shoe Boxes Give You More Space

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These shoe organizers are actually super handy for way more than just shoes. They’re super spacious and can hold all kinds of things, including scarves or jackets. They fit neatly under your bed or in the closet.

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It’s Essential to Stay Hydrated

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You’re bound to be busy during your college years, and one of the most important ways to keep your body going is by hydrating it well. This water bottle is great for the dorm room or to pop in your backpack and bring around campus.

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These Velvet Hangers Are the Best Option Around

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You’re likely to have to provide your own hangers for your dorm room, and the last thing you want is to be stuck with slippery, warped hangers for the next four years. Invest in these velvet hangers for good looks and hangers that will hold your clothes no matter what.

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This Bed Shelf Is Great for Loft Beds

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It’s super common to loft beds in a dorm room for more space, but it means that you can’t really use a bedside table. Solve that problem with this bed shelf that can hold your phone, a book, and any other little items you want at hand.

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You’ll Always Need More Outlets

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There’s no such thing as too many outlets, and especially if you’re sharing a room you’re both likely to have tons of devices to plug in. Give yourself more space with this power strip that includes three USB ports plus four normal outlets.

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This Sandwich Maker Upgrades Dorm Cooking

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It can be tough to cook in a dorm room, but one of the best gadgets to invest in is a sandwich toaster. It’s a super easy way to heat up your food and it will make you feel like you’re getting a nice treat when you use it.

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This Bath Caddy Is Great for Shared Showers

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Most dorms have shared showers, which means you need an easy way to bring all your shower items with you. This shower caddy has tons of space and hangs up easily so everything is right at hand, from shampoo to soap to face cleanser.

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It’s Always Smart to Have a First Aid Kit

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This might seem like the most boring thing to bring to college, but it’s definitely a good idea. Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand in case of scrapes, burns, or other small injuries. It’s the first step in being an adult.

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This Laptop Desk Lets You Study Anywhere

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You don’t want to spend all your time in your dorm room, do you? Invest in this lap desk so you can take your studying anywhere on campus. I particularly liked to use mine while taking advantage of the couches.

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This Light Is Also a Phone Charger

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I love items that have multiple purposes, so this dual light and charging port is one of my favorites. It doesn’t take up much space on your desk but gives off great light (and has three different brightness levels) and offers a USB charging port plus two normal outlets. It’s the best way to set up your desk.

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These Botanical Prints Bring Color to Your Dorm

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Are you ready to add some personality to your room? I absolutely love these botanical prints. They have a classy, timeless feel that will make your space stand out. The best part is they look good even without a frame, so you don’t have to spend a ton on nice decor.

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Don’t Forget Your Hamper

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Most dorm rooms require you to take your laundry down the hall or even across campus to get to the washer and dryer. One of the best investments you can make is in this laundry hamper with laundry bags that make it incredibly easy to cart your laundry around.

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This Basic Set of Dinnerware Is Essential

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You might not be eating in your dorm room very often, but it’s a good idea to have at least a couple of plates and bowls on hand for snacks and nights when you cook. This dinnerware set won’t break, it’s super easy to clean, and it stacks nicely so it doesn’t take up much space.

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You’ll Use a Lot of Double-Sided Tape

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Most dorms have pretty strict rules about not hammering or screwing anything into the walls, so you’re going to need to bring an alternative method for putting up your decor. This double-sided tape is the perfect solution, so grab a roll before you go.

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This Toolbox Has Everything You Could Need

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When you lived with your parents, chances are they had already built up a store of basic items like scissors, measuring tape, or a hammer. But now that you’re on your own you don’t have any of those. Buy this toolkit and you’ll have everything you could want.

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These String Lights Also Let You Show Off Photos

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String lights are always a fun choice to add to your dorm room, but I particularly love these ones because they come with clips to hang your photos so you get a beautiful display that truly lights up the room.

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Treat Yourself to the Fluffiest Towel

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Don’t forget your towel! You’re going to need at least one, and you can’t go wrong with this set that includes hand towels and washcloths. You’ll be grateful you got the set instead of just bringing a single random towel.

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This Door Stop Shows When You Want Visitors

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Do you want to make your dorm room a welcoming space? Here’s one little thing that can make a big difference: a door stop. Now you can leave your door open to show that you’re here for visitors.

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These Hooks Will Hold Anything

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I am seriously obsessed with these hooks: they’re the only thing I’ve ever seen that can hold basically anything. I’m talking power cords, your keys, a pencil, necklaces…you name it and these clever little gadgets can hold it.

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This Ramen Maker Is a Classic Part of Dorm Life

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We all know that ramen is an essential part of the dorm room diet, but you can make it just a touch fancier with this cooking set and chopsticks. It allows you to make the perfect bowl of ramen using only the microwave.

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Fight the Heat

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Let’s be real: dorms don’t always have the best cooling systems. In fact, some don’t have AC at all. You’re going to want to bring your own fan to help keep the temperature where you want it, and this mint one is super cute, too.

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Protect Your Feet

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Remember when we mentioned communal showers? You’re definitely going to want to invest in some shower slides to keep your feet clean from any nastiness that’s happening in there. Don’t think too much about it, just buy the shoes.

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Store Your Favorite Pieces in This Jewelry Box

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The final piece you’ll want to bring to college is a place to store your jewelry. You don’t want to bring anything too fancy, but this jewelry box is just the right size to show off your favorite pieces. Plus just look at that green velvet. Gorgeous.

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