Thursday, March 23, 2023

College essentials for your dorm, apartment or house

October 28, 2022
Design by Madison Echlin
Design by Madison Echlin —
Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

Between picking out classes, searching for roommates and juggling work, extracurriculars and academics, it’s easy for students to get caught up in the flurry of activity at the start of a school year.

Without fail, no matter how prepared you think you are, you will realize there are many things you are missing as you adapt to the college lifestyle. For students wondering about what exactly to get, here’s a guide to college essentials that will maximize your housing experiences.

For Your Dorm

1. Comforters

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial in college, but it can be hard to do in small dorm beds. Purchasing a great comforter can make sleeping a lot easier. Bedding can really make or break how welcoming your room is and a comforter will keep you warm while elevating decor.

2. Mirrors

For a lot of the suite-style dorm rooms, the only mirror available for students is mounted in the shared bathroom. 

International relations sophomore Rory McMahon said that having a full-length mirror can really come in handy.

“My roommate and I forgot (one),” McMahon said. “I didn’t realize how much I checked my outfit in a day, so not having one was kind of unfortunate … I’d check all the tiny mirrors above my table.”

3. String Lights 

Dorm lighting can be hard on the eyes, and an even bigger problem may arise when it’s time to sleep but your roommate(s) are still studying.

McMahon recommends fairy or string lights to help tackle this issue.

“It’s something I can’t live without,” McMahon said. “We use them about every day, I think it just makes the room really, really homey. Even people who have LEDs – just anything but the harsh lighting, honestly.” 

4. Mini Vacuums

College students don’t always have time to stay on top of cleaning, so when they do, it has to be quick and efficient.

Mini vacuums are your solution., as they don't take up a lot of storage space. 

“I think it’s the most helpful thing ever,” international relations sophomore Dhriti Marri said. “(For) two girls with long hair, it’s like the worst thing ever if you don’t have a vacuum.” 

Marri also said Swiffers are great, relatively inexpensive tools for cleaning dorm rooms. 

5. Storage Spaces and Organizers

One of the largest problems students run into with dorm living is the lack of space. 

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“You don’t really have a lot of space in your desk and stuff like that,” Marri said. “Bringing your own organizers and boxes, that’s really helpful.” 

Similarly, McMahon advised students to invest in rolling carts to store various bedside items, like hairdryers, nail kits, chargers and stationery.

“I bought some organizing drawers, multiple of those,” McMahon said. “Those really helped. I also have desk organizers … and a three-tier drawer for clothes. That really helps, just having that for extra clothes because you don’t have a lot of space.”

For Your Apartment or House

1. Lamps, Alternate Lighting

Much like residence halls, apartments or houses may come with harsh lighting, a lack of natural light or shoddy lights in certain spots, making lamps and bulbs a high priority.

“At my apartment, there aren’t any lights in the bedroom,” German language senior Nolan Rachocki said. “I needed to buy a lamp ASAP. I remember the day I moved in, I bought a small bedside lamp, and that (wasn’t) even enough, I ended up buying another lamp later on.” 

2. Television

For many students, moving from dorms to apartments or houses means gaining a communal room where you can gather with roommates and friends.

With this comes the possibility of movie nights, game-watching parties or just the general perusal of cable and news channels. But first, you’re going to need a TV.

Mounted or not, TVs are great sources of entertainment – just make sure your apartment lease either includes one or allows for its installation.

3. Desks

It may seem obvious, but desks are a definite must-buy. Similar to lights and TVs, your apartment or house may or may not come with desks, which are useful for both work and organization.

Rachocki said for him, a designated space where he could focus was essential.

“I am a person that can work in bed, but only on the computer,” Rachocki said. “But a desk is definitely required so I don’t do all my work in bed.” 

With the help of desk organizers, you can also keep your room clean and functional.

4. Silverware, Food and Cleaning Supplies

Without access to the dining halls, it falls on a lot of students to cook and do their own dishes. This can be a large shift for students to become used to. 

Applied engineering sciences junior Noel Vizzeswarapu emphasized the importance of good cooking utensils, as well as general food-related utilities.

Vizzeswarapu, who lived in a dorm before transitioning to an off-campus apartment, said the increased need for cooking supplies and silverware was the biggest change he’d noticed from living in a residence hall. 

In addition to plates, mugs, bowls, pans and cutlery, you’ll also need cleaning supplies. Don’t forget to have sponges, dish soap and surface cleaners on hand.

5. Posters, Paintings and Festive Decor

Setting up aesthetic decorations around your place will truly help make it your home away from home.

“I have a few posters, and then I just have a bunch of 4-by-6 printout pictures,” Rachocki said. “I like hanging them up all over my wall. I also have knickknacks here and there. I have this calendar where it has the date on it, and then you rip out the page every day.” 

For students looking for decorations to adorn their walls, specifically, MSU’s University Activities Board hosts poster sales throughout the year at the Union.

They sell posters and tapestries depicting various artists, albums, movies, books, quotes and artwork, and have something for nearly every aesthetic.

6. Air Conditioning and Space Heaters

Even if your house or apartment does come with air conditioning and heating, it’s nice to be prepared for Michigan’s erratic weather trends.

“(Our house) provides air conditioning, it just doesn’t work,” Biosystems engineering sophomore Ethan Hartwig said. “Technically, it has both (AC and heat), but it’s really bad.” 

Hartwig said he relies on extra fans and space heaters to even out the temperature when necessary. Student housing amenities are not always the most reliable, so make sure to come prepared for the worst.


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