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Preparing for Your Dorm

Andriana gives advice for preparing to move into your dorm!

Andriana gives advice for preparing to move into your dorm!

Hi everyone!

We are nearing the end of the school year, and this is a big time for high school seniors! Those of you graduating this year are not only celebrating a HUGE achievement (woohoo!!!), but also preparing for what comes next: college. Of course, this time isn’t all celebration and joy. I’m sure you have a to-do list as long as your arm to complete before you are ready for dorm life. I remember how stressful that was, so this week, I’ll offer some tips to hopefully make this process a *little bit* easier.

Tip #1: Start early!

Please please please do not wait until September 1st to prepare for move-in day on September 9th. There’s a lot to do, but your tasks will be much less daunting if you begin to tackle them early. When I was getting ready to move in, my parents and I made a list of things that we could do in Richmond, and things that had to wait until we arrived in Minnesota. (Because we were flying, we were a bit limited in what we could bring.)

My mom and I made a few trips to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick out the things I needed for my dorm. The store has a great program that gives discounts to incoming college freshmen, and we were able to make purchase in Richmond to pick up in Minnesota. This allowed us to buy items without worrying about transporting them while traveling, and saved us a lot of time when we arrived for move-in day.

Of course, there will be some things that you probably won’t be able to do until you’re closer to move-in day. We made many Target trips in the days leading up to moving in (even the day of), as there were certain items that didn’t make sense to buy early: hygiene products, dishes, soaps, detergent, etc. Since we’d gotten so much done beforehand, however, this wasn’t too stressful.

Tip #2: Figure out what you need!

Figuring out what you need for your dorm can be difficult, especially if you are the first to go off to college. Luckily, there are resources to help you know what to get. Carleton’s Office of Residential Life and Housing has a list of things that you should bring to college. In addition to the necessities, the list includes the items that the College provides. As such, this list is an extremely helpful resource while making purchases for your dorm room.

My personal amendments and additions to the list:

  • The beds are not super comfortable. A mattress pad is your friend!
  • Get a blanket in addition to your bed covering.
    • The heat went out once in my dorm, and it was late October. It was extremely cold, and I layered as many clothes and blankets as possible. Luckily, the heat was not out for too many days, but I was grateful for any extra warmth.
  • Get extras of your pharmaceutical products!
    • The Carleton Bookstore has some over the counter medications and hygiene products, but for anything particular, have back-ups handy. The closest pharmacy isn’t super convenient if you need something at the last minute.
  • Go for a collapsible laundry basket.
    • Most dorms don’t have a ton of storage space, and collapsible baskets are much easier to tuck away when not in use.
  • Get an extra caddy for hygiene products.
    • I kept a caddy for my toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, retainer, comb, etc. It was extremely helpful!
  • Get slippers with hard soles.
    • There are times when the fire alarm would go off in the middle of the night. You don’t have much time to put on shoes, and if it’s winter, flip-flops *probably* won’t be warm enough. Slippers are quick and easy to put on, and will keep your feet warm. I got a pair of slipper boots at Target for about $10, and they were perfect for the dorm.
  • Storage bins help a lot with organization.
    • These aren’t totally a necessity, but they are immensely helpful. Like I mentioned earlier, there isn’t much storage space in most of the dorms. Clear plastic bins that fit under your bed are really nice to have, and help you keep your things in order.


When you move to college, you need a lot of things. This can get to be pretty expensive! Luckily, there are lots of ways to make the move-in process more affordable.

  • Look for deals.
    • As I mentioned earlier, there are discounts available for incoming college students. Finding online deals can help make dorm shopping a little less expensive.
  • Check Facebook!
    • The Carleton Facebook pages could be very helpful while looking for dorm necessities. Both Overheard at Carleton and the parent group might be useful in finding objects that graduating students are giving away or selling at a cheaper price. If you’re looking for something in particular, don’t hesitate to post! You might find what you need.
  • Bring what you can from home.
    • Lots of things are easy to bring from home, especially if you’re driving. For example, you might be able to easily transport items such as such as blankets, bedding, and warm clothes. So don’t buy extras if you can avoid it! This alone will save money.

Tip #3: Figure out what you want!

In addition to the necessities, think about the things you can add to your dorm to make it feel more like home. The dorms feel pretty bare and impersonal when you first move in. Consider what you can add to make your room feel cozy.

Last year, I wrote about dorm life and mentioned the things I added to my dorm to make it my own. I brought photos of my family and friends, string lights and a desk lamp to avoid the harsh lighting, and a comfy pillow. If you have a favorite blanket from home, for example, bring it if you can! It will make the adjustment to your new living situation a little easier.

Of course, dorm living will likely be an adjustment, no matter what. But making your room feel as homey as possible will really help you feel comfy and cozy in your new space. So think about bringing not only the things you need, but the things you want for your new room.

One last thing…

Preparing to move in will make college feel more real to you. Enjoy the process of getting ready for move-in day! You are picking things for your new space, the first step to making campus feel like home. So one last tip: Try not to feel too stressed. Instead, celebrate—you are officially becoming part of the Carleton community!

Andriana is a sophomore at Carleton, where she is earning a major in English and a minor in Cross-Cultural Studies. Although she is spending the year at home in Richmond, VA, Andriana is already excited to return to Carleton in the fall. When she isn’t busy studying, Andriana can be found binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. Meet the other bloggers!