College Dorm

Splurge or Save: Dorm Room Edition

February 15, 2023
by Max Lewis, Cal Poly Student

That first move into a college dorm room is exciting, but preparing for it can be overwhelming. You’ve got a long shopping list, limited space, and a limited budget — what items are really worth the cost and what items should you try to save money on?

From the foundation for a good night’s sleep to the essentials for a functional study space, we’ve got valuable insights and recommendations to help college students make the most of their dorm room experience. With a little bit of careful planning and budgeting, students can create a comfortable, functional, and safe living space without breaking the bank. So, whether you’re a soon-to-be college student or a parent helping your child prepare for college, check out these tips:

5 Things to Splurge on:

1. Quality Bedding: A good night’s sleep is crucial for academic success and overall well-being. Investing in high-quality bedding such as sheets, comforters, pillows, and a mattress pad will help ensure a restful night’s sleep and a comfortable dorm room. Sleep is a critical element for good health, and should be the top priority on students’ dorm room shopping checklists.

2. Desk Accessories: A comfortable and functional study space is important for college students to be able to focus on their academics, so ergonomic desk accessories like a mouse, wrist rest, and footrest are essential. Without these items, you can develop posture issues, or even hand pain caused by Carpal Tunnel.

3. Noise-Canceling Headphones: Having a noisy roommate isn’t rare in college, which means that headphones that can effectively block out unwanted noise are a must. Soundproof headphones will allow you to get your work done in a more efficient manner, while simultaneously minimizing the distractions within your living space.

4.  Fan: Air flow can be limited in dorm rooms (especially old ones). And the Summer and Fall heat can be sweltering, especially in San Luis Obispo. Therefore, it’s imperative that you invest in a high-quality fan to ensure that you don’t overheat while trying to study, or even take a nap.

5. Quality Backpack: A quality backpack with proper padding and support can help distribute the weight of your books and school supplies, which reduces the risk of developing back, shoulder, and neck pain. You’ll be taking that backpack with you to class, dining halls, extracurricular activities, and study sessions with friends, so make sure that you purchase a backpack that can fulfill all your needs.

5 Things to Save On:

1. Cleaning Items: Cleaning items are useful and inexpensive college dorm room essentials that promote a healthy living environment and a positive mindset. A clean and tidy room can help reduce stress and make it easier to focus on studying and other academic endeavors. Additionally, many colleges and universities across the U.S. have strict rules regarding the cleanliness of dorm rooms, and failure to maintain a clean living space can result in relocation or some other form of penalty.

2. Shower Caddy: Shower caddies provide a cheap and convenient way to organize and transport bathroom essentials when heading to the communal bathrooms in dorms. They keep all the toiletries in one place, making it easier for college students to keep track of their belongings while reducing the risk of losing or misplacing items.

3. Laundry Hamper: Laundry hampers are key to storing dirty clothes and making it easy to hit the shared laundry facility. Laundry hampers come in various sizes and designs, allowing students to choose one that fits their space and storage needs. Stores such as Target and Walmart offer cheap and effective laundry hampers that are specifically designed for dorm rooms.

4. White Board: Whiteboards are cheap and endlessly useful for note-taking, brainstorming, and problem-solving. The visual aspect of a whiteboard can also help students better understand and retain information. Plus, students can utilize whiteboards for group study sessions, allowing multiple students to work together and share ideas in a collaborative space.

5. Power Strip Dorm rooms have limited electrical outlets, plus, you’re sharing that living space. Power strips are an inexpensive and efficient way to manage multiple electronic devices in one place. Additionally, power strips often have surge protection features to help protect sensitive electronics from power spikes and surges, providing an extra layer of protection for valuable devices.

As a college student, it’s important to strike a balance between spending money on essential items for your dorm room and being frugal. When it comes to comfort, health, and well-being, splurging on quality items like bedding, desk accessories, and more can go a long way. On the other hand, you can save money on other essentials like cleaning items, shower caddies, and laundry hampers. By making smart financial decisions and investing in the right dorm room essentials, you can create both a comfortable and functional living space while still being mindful of your budget.