One of the best parts of preparing to head off to college? Shopping for dorm essentials! That said, the process of gathering everything you need before move-in can feel a bit overwhelming, so I’m here to help with a no-fail list of items to add to your list. You’ll thank me come fall when you’re prepared for any and every situation!


First things first, you’ll want to stock up on sleep supplies. Why not treat yourself to a new matching set of pajamas? It’s good to grab something that you won’t be embarrassed wearing in the hallway. After all, if you don’t have your own suite, you’ll need to journey over to the communal bathrooms to use the restroom and brush your teeth, and who knows who you might run into along the way! This striped set from TJMaxx is both timeless and comfy. 

You’ll also want to grab a pair of cozy slippers that you can slide on if you need to venture to the restroom in the middle of the night (or just during the middle of the day while you’re studying in your dorm room). This pair is also from TJMaxx and couldn’t be softer. 

Because you’ll most likely be sharing a room with at least one roommate, a sleep mask that blocks light is key. This leopard print eye mask is ultra cute and was under $5 at Marshall’s


Next up is everything for the shower. A pair of flip-flops is on every college student’s list (trust me, you don’t want to go barefoot in that communal shower!), so why not pick some that are stylish at the same time? This leopard pair from TJMaxx fits the bill perfectly. Be sure to pick up a couple of towels, too. You’ll want at least two large bath towels so that you aren’t scrambling on laundry day. TJMaxx has all sorts of affordable towels in all kinds of colors and patterns. 


What’s a dorm room without snacks? Given all the temptation there will be in the dining hall, it’s best to go healthy in your room. A bag of granola is a great pick—eat it by the handful or pour it into a cup of yogurt for a nutritious and filling breakfast or study snack. And don’t forget about tea and coffee! If you plan to bring a Keurig to campus, keep a box or two of your favorite K-cups on hand at all times. Tea is great for afternoons or evenings where you need a bit of a caffeine jolt but don’t want to totally kill your sleep schedule. Marshall’s is a great place to look for all of these snacktime essentials. I also grabbed a set of plastic food storage containers (perfect for stashing away leftover pizza or baked goods) and a sizable water bottle, which is excellent to have on hand!


Let’s face it, you’re going to college to learn, after all! Make writing your to-do list less of a bore by picking up a fun notepad like this one from Banner’s Hallmark Shop. Even if you mostly take notes digitally, there’s nothing like crossing a task off of a to-do list by hand to make you feel accomplished! 

And finally, I leave you with a playlist specially curated to help you while you pack or when you’re on the road on your way to campus. Jam along and have a great school year!

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Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and interior design enthusiast who currently lives in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared on websites including Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest Clever, Lonny, and MyDomaine. Additionally, Sarah’s own spaces have appeared on Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, Houzz, and Her Dupont Circle apartment was featured in both the spring 2019 print edition of Small Space Decorating and the January 2019 print edition of Washingtonian Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @sarahlyon9.