Back to school: The Freshman 15

What 15 items does your freshman need to gain for dorm living?We’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15”… those unwanted pounds that creep up during the first year of college. We have a different version of the Freshman 15 at 15 must have items you’ll want to gain for your college student’s first year.

1. Hooks and poster tape.
Let’s face it: dorm rooms are boring. Adding posters and pictures will not only liven it up, but make it feel a little more homey for your college student. Stock up on 3M poster tape and Command hooks– they’re great for hanging things and won’t damage the wall or their stuff when it all comes back down on move out day.

2. Bed risers and underbed storage boxes.
If your college student decides to forgo the loft style bed in their dorm room, be sure to get some bed risers and underbed storage boxes. The risers will lift the bed to create even more space underneath, and underbed storage boxes can hold lots of stuff. They’re perfect for storing things they may not need everyday: clothes that are out of season, towels, extra toiletry items, laundry supplies.

3. Laundry bag or basket.
Laundry happens, there’s no getting around this one. A simple bag works great and most fit nicely under the bed or in a closet. Bags are great for laundry day or taking laundry home- just cinch up the drawstring and they’re good to go. A laundry basket or hamper will be also easy to tote on wash day and is durable enough to last throughout their college years. A vented tall hamper with a lid can do double duty- hide dirty laundry and provide an extra storage space on top.

4. Bullet board.
Lists, reminders, to-do notes, receipts, fun momentos … there’s a lot of little things they’ll want to keep top-of-mind, and there’s no better place for all of it than a bullet board. This style uses not only push pins, but magnets too. And there are lots of fun magnets available today. Pick up some with clips or hooks to hold keys or a lanyard with their school ID. The square size is perfect for creating as much memo space as needed; one might be enough for a small wall, buy more to place side by side to fill the space over a desk.

5. Folding bookcase.
Even with so much reading and class materials online, they’ll still need a spot to store good old-fashioned books. The trouble is when the school year is over, how do you stash all that extra furniture they’ve accumulated and find a space for it until fall? A folding design is the answer- it does the job when needed and folds up neatly to save space when not in use.

6. Cord clips
Computers, printers, lamps, refrigerators… there is never a shortage of electrical cords in a small college dorm room. Cord clips, zippers, and plug huggers to corral them all will come in handy.

7. Bath Basket.
Unless your student is lucky enough to have a bathroom right in their dorm room, they will most likely be sharing a bathroom with another 10 to 20 other dorm mates, all heading down to the shower in the morning at precisely the same time. To make the trip in and out as quick as possible, have your student stow all of their bathroom essentials in a bath basket. Get one with holes on the side so bottles, soaps and brushes dry out between uses.

8. Supreme Crate.
The “milk crate” that some of us remember are still an essential for college life. And they’re still good for a variety of uses- stash books, snacks, dishes and more. Stack ‘em basket-style, or with the front open. Durable, versatile and affordable- all essential in first year supplies.

9. Cubes.
Modular cubes do double duty- they add a bit of style while also creating real shelf space. Choose a variety for a few pops of color. Some wire cubes are designed to be attached when stacked so there’s no worry about them toppling over. Smaller decorative cubes for the wall create a unique spot to display favorite photos or keepsakes without taking up valuable floor space.

10. Over the door racks.
Closet space is at a premium when you’re sharing a dorm room. The inside of a closet door makes a great space to hang shoes, caps, bags, jewelry, supplies and more. The best part? They can simply close the door to hide it from view when friends come over.

11. Storage containers, boxes and baskets.
Never underestimate the value of storage boxes! Larger plastic stackable containers are great for closets to keep shoes, purses, extra clothes that are out of season, etc. Pick up some smaller ones for personal items- make-up, CDs, school supplies- that can be stashed in a desk drawer. Open-front stacking organizer bins are great for saving space and keeping items they’ll use a lot close at hand: larger ones in the closet can hold shoes and accessories; smaller ones are perfect to keep snacks, change for the vending machine, school supplies, charger cords, jewelry, hair accessories, etc. on their desk. There are plenty of wicker and fabric baskets available, too, that keep things organized and look pretty enough to keep out on a desk or shelf.

12. LED Computer Light.
Dorm lighting is not always the best, but adding a big lamp is sometimes just not possible in a small dorm room. A USB powered light right at their computer will shed light right where they’ll need it without adding another cord to trip over.

13. Stacking drawers.
Like closet space for hanging clothes, drawer space can be scarce. Stacking drawers are perfect for a closet because they’re durable and completely customizable. Stack two or three big ones or three or four smaller ones to hold clothes, shoes, purses- whatever might normally end up in a heap on the closet floor.

14. Erasable labels.
Nothing saves time like having everything labeled, so supply your student with plenty of them. Label all those plastic boxes and drawers. Label food items so they don’t get mixed up with the roommate’s stuff. Label binders for each class so they can be found easily in a backpack, and folders to file away old papers to keep. Magnet labels are perfect for the new bullet board. And all of them are erasable- they can just re-write without having to remove them.

15. Drawer Organizers.
The right drawer organizers can cut down on clutter that has a tendency to just get stuffed in a drawer. The key is dividing and stacking- stackable jewelry organizers, interlocking drawer dividers, a drawer doubler tray, drawer bins, a sliding tray organizer, mini-sized plastic boxes- all easy ways to keep everything in its place and offer extra space in the process.

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