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  • College Life
College Dorm Essentials

So you're moving into a Purdue residence hall? Cheers to independence! Choosing to live on campus with close neighbors is a valuable decision both academically and socially. You'll have so many special opportunities to make friends and study groups, and the convenience of having a walkable commute to campus is unbeatable. Your dorm room is probably your first home away from home. We'll let you handle the decor, and we'll cover the functional stuff to make sense of your new home. Move-in day will be a busy blur of emotions and moving boxes, but have confidence in knowing you have everything you need.


1. Air Purifier and Clip-on Fan

Older Purdue residence halls have a certain charm of the past—though the stuffiness is less charming.

Breathe easy with a HEPA filtered air purifier. These purifiers filter dust, smoke and pollen to improve indoor air quality.

A small fan you can clip to your bed will improve air circulation. Used together, your lungs will notice a big difference. Bring an extra purifier filter to switch out between school semesters.

2. Extension Cord and Surge Protector

First and foremost, check your residence hall's outlet policies or list of prohibited items.

Extension cords are useful for using hard-to-reach outlets, especially if you choose to loft your bed.

Surge protectors enable you to plug multiple electronics into one single outlet while protecting your devices from a high-voltage power surge. Note that surge protectors should never be plugged into extension cords.

3. Rug

Cold tile floors are awesome if you want your room to feel like a prison.

Rugs are a dorm necessity, not a dorm accessory. Unless you vow to never actually walk on your white fluffy rug—opt for a dark, low pile rug.  

A dark color rug will conceal dirt and buy you time between cleanings, and short fibers are easier to clean. College is an experience best spent not vacuuming every day.

Reminder to check your room dimensions if interested in a large rug!

4. Vacuum

A dirty floor means you're going places and making memories!

A cordless vacuum will help you clean up between those good times. Cordless vacuums are compact, relatively inexpensive and versatile for different surfaces.

Side note: Vacuums are available for borrowing at each residence hall front desk. Bring your own to skip the checkout process and spare yourself time and uncertainty. 

5. Shower Caddy and Shower Shoes

Keep these simple: plastic caddy and flip flops. Two of the cheapest items you might ever purchase for college.

A shower caddy makes trips to the bathroom less of a juggle. You'll want a plastic (versus mesh fabric) caddy because they're sturdy, easy to clean and dry faster.

Your shoes will protect against fungus and add slip-resistance in the shower.

Devote a small area of closet space to store your caddy and shoes atop a towel or shower mat.

6. Hamper, Portable Steamer and Drying Rack

Besides the actual soapy stuff, you'll need three laundry items.

First, your hamper should be easy to carry either with wheels or a handle. You'll probably be traveling via elevator and down the hall to the communal laundry room, so make it easy on yourself.

Second, a portable steamer will save you the hassle of using a heavy iron or the dryers. Wrinkles are the enemy of a polished outfit.

Third, a drying rack is kinder for your delicates and a lifesaver if you don't have access to the dryers. When you're not using the rack, keep it folded against a wall or under your bed. 

7. Over-the-Door Mirror and Shoe Rack

Don't limit your storage options to traditional solutions. Any space is fair game, and your door is no exception.

A full length over-the-door mirror is a space-saver since it doesn't take up any precious floor space.

For the interior closet door side, an over-the-door shoe rack keeps your shoes off the floor and out of the way. You'll want to maximize closet space for clothes, your hamper and other bulkier belongings.

8. Rolling Storage Cart

A rolling storage cart is great for keeping snacks organized and within reach. Like a pantry on wheels!

Besides hiding food or extra supplies, the shelves/drawers can be a catch-all for those little things you need but don't use often enough to warrant their own dedicated spot.

The cart can also be used as a makeshift nightstand or end table if you choose to not loft your bed. 

9. Microwave and Mini Fridge

For the times you're unable to swing by the dining hall or feel hungry after hours, you'll need these kitchen appliances.

Even if you're not much of a cook, a microwave can be used for reheating leftovers, making popcorn or heating up water for tea or coffee.

A mini fridge keeps your food, drinks and temperature-sensitive products cold and within arm's reach.

10. Plate, Fork, Bowl, Spoon

ONE of each. No more. You'll be washing your dishes as you use them, so there's no reason for backups!

Paper or single-use products should be used sparingly, if at all. Savvy students are conscious of their dorm waste.

Your RA (Resident Assistant) should communicate dish washing procedures, and communal floor bathrooms typically have a larger sink for that purpose.

11. Mattress Topper

In the name of comfort, get a mattress topper. Enough said.

12. Weekend Bag

Your school backpack should not double as an everything bag.

Whether you're going home for the weekend or just spending a couple nights at a friend's dorm, having a separate bag means you can take advantage of spontaneous opportunities. A weekend bag is also great for storing things you need but don't know where to store, like an extra pair of shoes or a blanket for movie nights.


Kudos to you for preparing your packing list early. With these essentials, you'll be prepared for all things freshman year and living on your own have to offer. Above all, don't forget to pack your sense of adventure! Embrace the college experience, and make the most of it.

The information and topics featured are for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice. All financial situations and circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. Seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, or legal counsel to obtain guidance specific to your needs.