Ask An Expert: Dorm Shopping Essentials

July 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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In the fall, Lamar University student Ashleigh Ray will be entering into her second year as a college student. Already a veteran at how to create space from almost nothing, Ashleigh Ray gives her top tips as to what five dorm items proved to be most helpful to her during her first year. Ray confesses that the majority of her items were easily found at her local Target store, however other megastores such as WalMart, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Marshalls Home Goods also proved to be extremely useful. As she gets ready to enter into her second year at Lamar University, Ray still believes that she will have to rely heavily on her top five items in order to make it through another year in the dorms.

Buy A Comfortable Throw Blanket

A soft throw blanket is essential for college newcomers when shopping for dorm essentials. For those cold nights when pulling an all-night study session to wrapping up while watching a movie, the classic throw blanket is a key item to purchase for all of the unexpected happenings of dorm life. While it can be decorative in nature and provide extra flair to a bed or couch, the throw blanket is multi-faceted in its use. Most importantly, for the college student who hates making his or her bed, a throw blanket is perfect for those who refuse to pull back the comforter for fear of having to remake the bed.

Invest In A Functional Desk Lamp

The desk lamp is often an item that is overlooked or underrated in terms of the hierarchy of what is essential for the dorm room. This item, either in mod or classic shape and design, has proven to be one of the more important purchases for a dorm room. For those countless hours of reading or late nights memorizing note cards, the desk lamp is there to shed light in more ways than one. Purchasing this item can also be helpful for those roommates whose sleeping schedules are not aligned. Instead of forcing your roommate to hide his or her head under the covers while you study with the overhead light on, having your own desk lamp will help to further create a level of comfort between you and your roommate.

Related: College Student Prep: Must-Have Items For Every Dorm Room

Large Throw Pillows Are Necessary And Multi-Functional

College is not all work and no play. Small intimate gatherings and entertainment activities between roommates and friends are some of the heartfelt moments of college life. When starting out in the dorms, space is limited and furniture is few. This is where having a set of large throw pillows can come in handy. Not only are they decorative for the bed or couch, these pillows are functional in the smaller dorms for guests to sit when space and furniture is limited. As many freshmen dorms are scarce with most furniture items, having a set of sturdy throw pillows will be a comfortable option when friends come by to hang out.

Related: Tips For Incoming Freshman: Things To Know

Never Underestimate The Concept of Closet Organization

An organized closet will be one of the many keys to survival in the dorms. If you are used to a comfortable and spacious walk-in closet with built-in shelves, you may be in for a shock at what lies ahead. To reduce the stress involved in trying to cram all of your clothes and shoes into the tightest of spaces, it is highly suggested that closet organization tools such as a shoe rack, plastic shelving and a closet jewelry organizer get purchased. Maximizing your space, especially for your closet, will be difficult but if you invest in the appropriate tools it can essentially make dorm life much easier.

Stackable Shelves Are A Must

Stackable shelves will be the ultimate lifesaver for anyone living in the dorms. For all of the little knick-knack items such as picture frames, textbooks, an iPod player, etc., having stackable shelves will allow for a more organized space. With most shelving, you can adjust the shelves to how high you would like for it to go—so as you gain more items throughout your first year, you can continue adding shelving to accommodate these new additions. Choosing plastic shelving is easy for both set up and tear down and only takes a matter of minutes to assemble.

Leah Frazier is a freelance writer covering all things Dallas. Her work can be found on