30 Things a New College Student Can't Live Without

By Adrienne McIlvaine
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There are a million things a student needs to prepare for college. Since college likely means living away from home for the very first time (and learning how to deal with a roommate, laundry, the works), here’s our guide to the 30 items a new college student can’t live without.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Mijiaer Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Unless you lucked out with a single dorm room, you’re going to have a roommate, which makes having a pair of noise-cancelling headphones essential. These Mijiaer Active Noise Cancelling Headphones deliver superior sound quality and a comfortable, adjustable fit at a fraction of the usual cost.

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The lightweight design makes them great for carrying around campus and features a built-in microphone for hands-free calling. A full charge lasts for almost 40 hours (they come with an included microUSB charger) and drops down to 20 hours in ANC mode. Cushioned earpads and a 90 degree swivel design ensure a perfect fit every time.

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Desert Vibes

Arfbear Cactus Tapestry

Dorm rooms are, by design, bland and boring affairs that feel nothing like home. This colorful, oversized Arfbear Cactus Tapestry is a great way to spruce things up and make a concrete, cookie-cutter room feel more personal. It can be easily fixed to the wall using a sturdy adhesive or wall hook, since drilling holes into dorm room surfaces is generally not a good idea.

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Measuring a generous 60 by 78 inches, the tapestry is made of a lightweight, machine-washable poly material and can also be used as a blanket, bed cover or beach coverup. The possibilities are endless.

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Get Cozy

Genteele Reversible Sherpa 50”x60” Blanket

After a stressful day of classes, there’s nothing better than curling up in bed with a cozy blanket and binging on Netflix. This Genteele Reversible Sherpa has super-soft Sherpa material on one side and velvety micro-cashmere on the other. You will feel twice as cozy, anytime of day.

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The lightweight plush material is machine washable and won’t fade, pill or shed on clothes and bedsheets. Its oversized design measures 50 by 60 inches and can double as a duvet cover or bedspread. And don’t worry about allergies or other irritants - it’s hypoallergenic, so you can rest easy.

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Keep It Clean

Mesh Pop-Up Laundry Hamper

College is often a rude awakening when it comes to laundry. This Mesh Pop-Up Laundry Hamper makes it easy to store and carry laundry. And thanks to its space-saving pop-up design, it won’t take up precious real estate in small dorm rooms.

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The hamper measures 24.5 by 14.5 by 14.5 inches, which is large enough to handle a week’s worth of clothes and towels. The handy pocket on the side is perfect for storing detergent, fabric softener and other laundry essentials. Shoulder-length carrying straps help navigate stairways and elevators with ease.

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So Fresh, So Clean

Okroo Shower Caddy Tote

Gone are the days of long showers in private bathrooms with ample space for toiletries. Dorm room bathrooms are typically shared, utilitarian affairs, so this stylish Okroo Shower Caddy Tote is the best way to keep all your bath essentials in one handy, portable place.

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Made of breathable mesh, this caddy has multiple exterior pockets for shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner and more. The main compartment is ideal for storing loofahs, sponges and washcloths - there is even a secret pocket for storing valuables like cellphones and jewelry! The stylish striped handles are durable and add a fun pop of color.

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The Secret Storage Solution

Home Solutions Premium Adjustable Bed Risers

You know those IKEA showrooms where they tell you you can live comfortably in a space the size of a postage stamp? They often involve a lofted bed in order to maximize storage, and since you probably can’t get away with that in a dorm these [productid asin="B01HU42Y5W

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"]Premium Adjustable Bed Risers[/productid] are the next best thing.

They’re simple to install and require no tools or assembly - just lift up the bedpost and slip the risers under the bed feet, which are made of a durable plastic material and have a recessed interior designed for a secure fit. They won’t scuff or scratch the floor and can be removed or readjusted in minutes.

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Stay Cool

PXTAI Mini Portable Desk Fan

Few dorms have central air or great ventilation systems, which means the air can quickly grow stale and stuffy. This Mini Portable Desk Fan from PXTAI keeps air circulating wherever you need it, thanks to a portable design and fully rotatable head.

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Just charge the fan using the included USB cable to enjoy the fan’s quietly powerful breeze for up to eight hours; the indicator light will tell you when it’s time to recharge. There’s a hook to hang the fan from above, and the base also functions as a clip-on attachment.

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Breathe Deep

Pure Enrichment PureZone 3-in-1 HEPA Air Purifier

Sure, your dorm room was cleaned before you moved in, but how are you going to make sure it stays allergen and irritant free? This compact yet powerful [productid asin="B01JKDAN2M"]HEPA Air Purifier[/productid] filters out more than 99% of dust, pollen and mold spores for a fresher, cleaner room.

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The sleek control panel lets you choose from three settings (low, medium and high). Activate UVC-light mode to wipe out bacteria, germs and nasty viruses with an energy-efficient timer. An indicator light lets you know when it’s time to change the filter and the entire unit is backed by a five-year warranty.

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Live Out Loud

Anker SoundCore Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The days of lugging around cumbersome stereo equipment are over, thanks to portable Bluetooth speakers like the Anker SoundCore. It delivers clear, powerful sound in a compact design that goes from the dorms to the quad and beyond. This one features a weather-resistant coating and provides long-lasting playtime. One charge can last for up to 24 hours!

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The bass comes through evenly, thanks to an advanced digital signal processor that pumps up the volume without sacrificing clarity and intensity. An ultra-stable Bluetooth connection and extended range means you’ll never have to worry about the sound cutting out right at your favorite part.

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Stay Caffeinated

Chemex Classic Pour Over Coffeemaker

Some days, you wake up bright and early, ready to tackle the day. Other days, there’s barely enough time to brush your teeth before class, which makes having a coffee maker in your room, like this classic Chemex Classic, crucial.

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If you have a microwave, stick a toothpick in a mug of water and heat for 3-4 minutes; or heat up water in an electric tea kettle. Put the grounds in a filter, pour the hot water over the grounds and a few minutes later you’ve got a freshly brewed cup of coffee that’s better than anything in the dining hall.

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The Perfect Weekender

CAMTOP Weekender Travel Bag

Whether you’re going home for the weekend or taking a spontaneous road trip with friends, a roomy and stylish weekender bag is a college must-have. This canvas number from CAMTOP fits everything you need from clothes to toiletries with style. It can also be used as a gym bag or for extra storage.

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The sturdy canvas won’t tear or rip and features a zippered exterior pocket and solid copper hardware that won’t rust or wear. You can carry it using the adjustable shoulder strap or by the wrapped top handles. Multiple interior pockets keep everything from travel documents to phones handy and secure.

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Support Yourself

WOWMAX Triangular Support Pillow

For the student who does their best reading and studying in bed, this triangular support pillow will lessen strain on the neck and back for a better, more comfortable session. Plus, it doubles as a decorative headboard and comes in a variety of sizes for a perfect fit.

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The soft, corduroy cover is removable and machine washable - just throw it in the wash on the gentle cycle and dry on low heat. The wedge shape is ideal for reducing muscle strain and can also be used for leg support.

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Show Off Friends and Family

Mkono Hanging Photo Display

It can be hard being away from friends and family for the first time, so put loved ones on display with this Mkono Hanging Photo Display. It will instantly brighten up any room and comes with 25 wooden clips that create a custom work of art from treasured photos, concert tickets or anything else near and dear.

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The display is made with wooden dowels and cotton cord tassels that are so lightweight, all it needs to stay up is a push pin! Use the included clips to switch out photos often, or leave it bare for a minimalistic look. Either way, this is a stylish and functional addition to dorm decor.

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Brighten Up Your Space

Safavieh Round Area Rug

Simply put, dorm rooms are ugly. It can be hard to feel at home in a nondescript box that’s been the same for so many students who stayed before. One of the easiest ways to instantly and entirely transform that bland space is to add an area rug, like this one from Safavieh.

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The plush jute fiber adds warmth to any room (and feels great on your feet), while the stylish abstract pattern helps to break up the visual monotony. The rug measures three feet in diameter, making it the perfect accent rug for any size room.

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Ylife 33ft. LED String Lights

Dorm room lights can be harsh and unflattering, so soften the lighting scheme with these twinkling string LED lights from Ylife. They stay cool to the touch thanks to low voltage, so there won’t be any worries about setting the room on fire.

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The bulbs are affixed to a thin, flexible copper wire that can be molded to fit any room, so get creative! Try draping them around a dresser or outline the bed or mirror - 33 feet of lights means there’s no limit to what these lights can create.

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Sweet Dreams

BedStory Memory Foam Mattress Topper

There’s no getting around it - dorm beds are pretty rough. For the stiff, all-purpose mattress that feels more like a torture device than a comfy dream-chamber, a plush mattress topper, like this memory foam one from BedStory, will ensure a good night’s sleep.

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Made of two-inch thick, certified memory foam, this topper slowly conforms to the body and helps evenly distribute weight to relieve pressure on the back, knees and shoulders. A ventilated design helps regulate body temperature throughout the night and the infused aroma of lavender keeps you calm and relaxed. It comes with a machine-washable cover, too.

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Burn the Midnight Oil

LuminoLight Rechargeable Book Light

Living with a roommate means adapting to their schedule, so if it’s time to hit the books when they’re ready to hit the hay, keep everyone happy with this clip-on book light from LuminoLight.

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Its powerful LED light easily lights up a college textbook, while the flexible neck adjusts instantly to any position.

There’s never a need to worry about batteries with the LuminoLight, since it runs on a fully rechargeable, 1000MAH lithium ion one that can last for up to 60 hours on the lowest setting (there are four to choose from). It also comes with a microUSB charging cable.

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Stay Hydrated

AquaBliss 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher

It seems like such a simple thing, but staying hydrated isn’t always easy with that gross water fountain down the hall, or in dry, heated conditions like a dorm room. A handy trick is to keep a water pitcher on hand. This one from Aquabliss holds up to 10 cups of cool, clear filtered water.

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Made of BPA-free plastic, the Aquabliss features a powerful filter that removes chlorine, heavy metals, odors and other contaminants from your water for up to four months. Ditch the water bottles and reduce plastic waste by using this to refill reusable containers for hydration on the go.

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Protect Your Feet

Showaflops Women’s Antimicrobial Water Sandals

An unpleasant fact of college life is that taking a shower in the dorm bathroom is more like being at the gym than back home. Stay protected from germs and bacteria with these antimicrobial water sandals from Showaflops. They’re as stylish as they are practical with a trendy pyramid stud design and slip-resistant soles.

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Made of a soft and lightweight blend of EVA foam and rubber, these sandals fight mold, fungus and other harmful bacteria with antimicrobial layers built right in, and heart-shaped drainage holes in the soles mean improved airflow.

Throw them in a shower caddy to always have them on hand, or toss them in a duffel bag to bring to the gym.

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Work Anywhere, Anytime

RelaxTime Lap Desk

Trying to balance a computer or tablet on your lap can be awkward and even painful. Plus, restricted airflow can cause devices to overheat, potentially causing major damage to the fragile components inside. This ergonomically-designed lap desk from RelaxTime keeps the tablet or laptop safe and secure (and legs cool!) wherever you go.

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The flat hardtop surface has a soft wrist pad that doubles as a bumper to keep things in place, while the cushioned underpad conforms to the legs. The oversized slot at the top is perfect for holding phones and tablets. The entire thing weighs just over half a pound, so it’s easy to take for studying on-the-go.

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On-the-go Organization

Vancropak Water Resistant Laptop Backpack with USB Charger

Made of water-resistant canvas and packed with ingenious features like a built-in USB charger, this Vancropak backpack is designed with students’ needs in mind. It’s sturdy enough to handle all the books needed for a full day of classes, and stylish enough to keep long after graduating.

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Vancropak uses a lightweight but durable material for the exterior, and the wide padded shoulder straps help reduce strain on the neck, back and shoulders. The interior has multiple pockets for pens, phones and more with a laptop sleeve fits computers up to 15.6 inches. And the external USB port is perfect for recharging during a long day.

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Plug It In

AmazonBasics 3-Outlet Surge Protector with USB Ports

No need to make it flashy; the 3-outlet surge protector from AmazonBasics is a handy piece of hardware college students will use every day. It helps protect electronics from sudden power surges while adding additional outlets and USB ports for extra charging capacity.

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With its sleek profile, it can fit in even the smallest of spaces under a desk, bed or table. The indicator light turns on when its plugged in, and the unit is cETLus rated for safety. The two USB ports, 1.0A and 2.4A, offer fast, efficient charging of phones, tablets, cameras and more.

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Be Your Own Nurse

First Aid 299-Piece All-Purpose Kit

Save yourself a trip to the infirmary all the way across campus with this comprehensive first aid kit. From minor cuts and scrapes to burns and headaches, this lightweight and portable kit has everything you need to turn your dorm room into an impromptu doctor’s office.

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The soft zippered case contains almost 300 pieces of handy first aid items. There are regular bandages, gauze pads and first aid tape for cuts and puncture wounds; aspirin and ibuprofen for aches and pains; and cold packs for burns and swelling. Also included are alcohol wipes, a finger splint, blister pads and a pair of tweezers.

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No More Wrinkles

Essentials by Tracy Lynn Travel Steamer

Regularly ironing clothes is an unrealistic expectation, which is why this travel steamer is a dorm room essential. Instead of dealing with a bulky ironing table, just hang up the item, turn on the steamer and, a few minutes later, that shirt or dress looks like it came straight from the cleaners.

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Use either tap water or distilled water for this handy steamer, which heats up in less than a minute and has no attachments or cups to keep track of. It’s also leak-proof and has an automatic shut-off mechanism. Plus, the wide grip handle makes maneuvering around buttons, zippers and delicate details a breeze.

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Ditch the Cables

Fast Wireless Charger

Too many cables can make a desk or bedside area messy and cluttered, so charge devices wirelessly with this fast and efficient wireless charger. The round design doesn’t take up too much room and the charger is powerful enough to work even when the phone case is on!

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The charger offers a variety of different modes: there’s a standard 5W, a 7.5W mode compatible with iPhone 8 and up and a 10W fast charge mode for Samsung Galaxy phones 5 and up. Safety features include a temperature control to prevent overheating and a foreign object detector.

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The Bedside Helper


If there’s no room for a nightstand to keep a phone and other small items close to the bed, the Bedshelfie is the perfect solution. It quickly attaches to the bed frame with no tools or assembly required, and is strong enough to hold books, coffee cups, laptops and more within easy reach.

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Using a simple clamp system, the BedShelfie attaches within minutes and has plush felt covers to avoid damaging the bed frame. Beautiful natural bamboo and a chic minimal design add a touch of quiet elegance to even the dreariest of dorm rooms. The shelf also has a raised edge to prevent items from spilling and falling off, plus two slots for cables.

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No More Mess

DecoBros Desk Caddy

For anyone serious about studying, the first thing needed is a tidy desk. Constantly searching for highlighters or a pencil is a major distraction, which is why this desk caddy from DecoBros is a dorm must-have. Its compact design won’t take up much space even as it keeps everything needed within reach.

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Made of durable wire mesh, this desk caddy is an all-in-one organizer. There are compartments for pens, pencils and markers as well as sticky notes, scissors and more. If it’s important, there’s a space for it here. There’s even a removable tray perfect for holding thumbtacks and paper clips.

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Sleep in Style

AmazonBasics 5-Piece Bed-in-a-Bag

The right bed sheets, like the right mattress, can make all the difference in getting a good sleep; they should be cool and comfortable (and it doesn’t hurt if they’re stylish, too).

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This 5-piece bed-in-a-bag set from AmazonBasics

delivers classic style with contemporary comfort, and comes with everything you need for a good night’s sleep.

Designed to fit twin and twin XL beds, this set is made of soft poly material and is machine washable. Included are a comforter (66 by 90 inches); flat sheet (66 by 96 inches); fitted sheet (39 by 80 inches); pillow sham (20 by 26 inches); and pillowcase. Plus, its inexpensive enough to buy a second set for back-up!

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Write It Down

RoomMates Dry Erase Wall Calendar Decal

Sure, there’s a phone app to take notes, but when trying to coordinate schedules with a roommate or marking off that big game or test, it’s easier to go old-school with a dry erase wall calendar. It’s a breeze to change from month-to-month, and having a daily visual reminder means you’re less likely to forget important dates and events.

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The lightweight and flexible vinyl decal easily attaches to the wall with no adhesive or damaging hooks - just peel, stick and you’re done! Use colored dry erase markers to keep track of different schedules, or get multiple calendars to keep everything organized.

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A Dorm Bathroom Essential

Pinzon Terry Bathrobe

Along with those trusty shower sandals and toiletry tote, a cozy terry bathrobe is absolutely essential for dealing with dorm bathrooms. It’s the perfect pre and post-shower cover-up, and helps alleviate the awkwardness of navigating public spaces in your pajamas.

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This plush terry robe is as stylish as it is comfortable, with a wide shawl collar, rolled sleeves and two patch pockets in front. The all-cotton construction is super absorbent, dries quickly and is completely machine washable. The tie belt gives the knee-length robe a spa-like look and is removable too.

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