College is expensive and getting kids ready for school can be a strain on any budget. We have looked at the basics that are on each college checklist to see what every student needs, the items most teens cannot live without. Here is a look at a few extras. If your budget can stretch to it, here are the things that students love and use all year long.
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Our Favorite Dorm Extras to Add to Your Freshman’s College Checklist
1. Amazon Echo – Spot, Show and Dot
The Amazon Echo Spot is to college students what talking Elmo was to our kids – the electronic toy everyone wants. Your teen can ask “Alexa,” the virtual assistant, to set an alarm, play music, get the weather forecast, have a book read to them, order a pizza or an Uber, and so much more.
has just announced the next generation VA, Echo Show which has a touch screen and video camera so you can video chat with your college student via voice command.
Interested in just the basic functionality? The Echo Dot is well-priced and offers much of the same functionality as the more expensive models.
2. Extra Big Pillow
Dorm beds have no headboards so adding an extra pillow will create a little bit of luxury for your freshman. We love oversize pillows that our kids can use to lean against the wall when they sit in bed and study. These Reading Pillows look wonderfully soft and are durable, too.
The best type of bag for a college student is a duffel that can be folded and stashed away until they pack for fall break. This one is really durable and can last for all four years of college, and then some!
4. Phone Charging Cable
If you have a kid in college (or soon to be going) a long charger cord may be the single most useful gift you can give them. They can have their phone plugged in and charging overnight yet still close enough to their dorm bed to use as an alarm!
6. Safe or Lockbox
This is well worth the expense for any student but more so if your college kid wants to take a passport, valuable jewelry or has prescription medicines that they needs to keep secure. Check out this Portable Digital Safe With Cable for your freshman.
7. Clothes Steamer
If your kid is used to looking neat and prefers clothes that have been ironed, consider a steamer rather than an ironing board and iron since there is little room for these bulky items. We hear great things about this Mini Steamer with Travel Pouch and look at the adorable colors it comes in!
Roommates rarely go to sleep at the same time and, when your student is up late studying (we can hope!) turning the light down with this lamp’s dimmer switch will be greatly appreciated. This one also has a USB port, which is a super-useful feature.
9. Desk Fan
Unair-conditioned college dorm rooms are roasting hot during the first and last months of the school year and a desk fan can help when your kid is trying to finish a paper or study for a test. This one, the Vornado Personal Air Circulator caught our eye.
10. String of Lights
Did we already say how dreary dorm rooms are? IF your kid’s college allows it, consider these 100Ft String Lights to create a festive look with minimal expense and effort.
11. Tool Kit
Your freshman will be to go-to person on their hall with this tool kit. This one, a 39-Piece Tool Set with Plastic Toolbox Storage Case, is well-priced and has all the basics your kid will need for the next four years of dorm and apartment living.
This bottle is super popular on campus now. Say goodbye to plastic bottles forever!
13. Refrigerator Cart
There is nothing quite as filthy and disgusting as the floor of a college dorm room. Putting a refrigerator that holds food on that floor, well, yuck, just yuck. Here is the answer. This Mesh Compact Fridge Cart, by The Container Store, will be one piece your freshman can use for four years.
14. Storage Cubes
Creating storage space is the number one task on the college checklist for making a dorm room livable. Once your kid (and you) have purchased the big plastic bins, consider a Foldable Storage Cube/Ottoman, a stylish solution for storage and extra seating, too.
Wireless, waterproof, sweat proof, perfect for working out or just walking across campus.
16. Shower Speaker
One of our sons roomed with five other boys and shared a bathroom – yikes! They installed a speaker like this one, a Water Resistant Bluetooth Shower Speaker, and listened to the music from their phones while showering.
17. Phone Battery Charger
College students are on the go from morning (ok, late morning) to night and it’s easy to drain a phone’s battery. This Portable Charger with Emergency LED Flashlight is a lightweight and inexpensive charger to throw in a backpack to make sure your student can always keep a phone charged, which is the single best safety device to include on their college checklist.
18. Team Banner
Does your college student have a favorite team? Consider a lightweight banner or flag to stick on the dorm wall. This is a dorm decoration and an instant ice-breaker for the first few weeks to help them find kindred spirits. Any Houston Astros fans?
Cold and dirty dorm floors can be vastly improved with area rugs but make sure you select one that is durable and won’t show stains. Bed, Bath and Beyond offers many to pick from including this navy rug that comes in five others colors.
20. Lingerie Bag
Freshmen need to master the art of laundry in college and using Mesh Laundry Bags can be a practical and inexpensive way to take care of delicate undergarments and to keep track of matching pairs of socks.
21. Coat Tree
A Coat Tree is an incredibly versatile piece of furniture that uses little of the precious floor space in a college dorm. Jackets, bags, a robe, even a wet towel may have a spot up off the floor. This is another great product from The Container Store that my college daughter can’t live without.
22. Bed Shelf
College beds are often raised to weirdly elevated heights with no space to place a phone, glasses, or a bottle of water. This Bedside Shelf can serve as a very handy nightstand for your college freshman.
Freshman year is a great time to get a new backpack. This one, by the Herschel Supply Co. comes in loads of different colors and designs, holds a 15″ laptop and has waterproof zippers which will help keep things dry if your student gets caught in the rain – which they will.
24. Photo Collage
A photo collage was a huge hit for my freshman daughter who chose favorite pictures of her high school friends and family to create a montage that adhered to the wall next to her bed for all of freshman year. Most dorms don’t allow anything to be nailed into the wall so the adhesive application is ideal. Plus, if they save the backing, the poster can go with your student to the next dorm room or apartment.
25. A Stash of Cash
A stash of cash for a late night taxi or other emergency is a very good idea. Although kids are comfortable operating in a cashless world, there may be an emergency where they need cash for a cab or other crucial expense. Add a small stash of cash marked for emergencies to the college checklist and you will both be relieved.
26. Amazon Prime Student
This is one of our favorite college extras because it is FREE (first six months) and your college student can order whatever else they need with two-day FREE shipping plus a load of other great features. Here’s how to sign up Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students