Ask A Connecticut Expert: Essentials When Dorm Shopping

July 23, 2013 8:00 AM

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You are so close to beginning the next chapter. High School is behind you and you have the opportunity to relocate and be on your own. You have thought about what classes you might take and have already Skyped with your new roommate. The discussion of who is bringing what may have also been decided. Now you have your checklist and are marking off what you have and what you will need. Back-to-school sales start at the beginning of the summer. Apart from the necessities like linens and toiletries, stationary supplies and a fan, you may or may not have thought of the following essential items. Local Resident Advisor Sara Dean recommends the following “forgettable” items to add to your dorm room list.

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Anti-theft Lockdown Safe

Nowadays everyone has a computer, cell phone, iPod dock and other expensive electronic equipment. At home, you never had to worry about locking your bedroom door every time you left. Well now you aren’t at home. There will be many strangers who frequent the dorms and you are also relying on your roommate to remember to lock the room. Use common sense to protect you electronics and valuables. You won’t have as much to worry about if you have a small lock box or safe. Make sure it is slash proof and can be locked to a stationary object. Then remember to lock all your valuables away.

Shower Caddy

Whether you live on a hall or in a suite, you won’t be storing your toiletries in the bathroom. A carry tote/bucket/basket/caddy will make life convenient for containing and transporting toothbrush and paste, shampoo and conditioner, soaps and lotions. A pair of flip flops is a good thing to wear in and out of the shower. Storage bins of all kinds are a necessity as space will be at a premium.

Outlet Strip

Bring an outlet strip that will accommodate your chargers and adapters without having to swap. There will be at best a few outlets in your dorm room and you will need to share them. An outlet strip will let you have power where you want it. They are inexpensive and can now be found in colors. Another good recommendation is an extension chord, as often the best furniture arrangement may not be cohesive with the room’s outlet scheme.

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Mini Fridge

Some schools have refrigerators and microwaves to rent or buy. Check your specific dorm’s rules on whether you can have a mini fridge and up to what size. Purchase a box of baking soda, open it and leave it in the fridge. It will absorb odors. When it is time to clean it out (each time before semester breaks), the baking soda can be used by adding a bit of water and making a paste to use for scrubbing.

Hanging Pocket

Your dorm room may have bunk beds. Elevating the bed and having your desk underneath is a great space saver. But, you won’t have an available night table. A hanging pocket is perfect to act as a night table if you end up sleeping on the top bunk. You can have your phone, alarm clock and box of tissues within easy reach.

Always carry a flashlight and have extra batteries on hand. If you find you have forgotten to buy an item or two, the college bookstore can be an easy option. It carries essential as well well non-essential items that include desk lamps, bathroom toiletries and rugs.

Photo Gallery: Must-Have School Supplies

Paula Moliver is a noted designer with a specialty in all things related to fiber. She spins and dyes her own yarn and is skilled in weaving and needle arts. She has been widely published in noted magazines including Arts & Crafts, Better Homes & Gardens and the Decorative Painter. Paula is a regular educator at New Pond Farm. She resides in Connecticut. Her work can be found at

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