Updated: Jun 22, 2022
Do you have a child that will be starting college this fall? If so, you are probably in the middle of dorm room shopping, packing and envisioning your child living on their own. You might be thinking:
‘How do I make sure they have everything they need?'
‘What if their room becomes a dysfunctional mess?’
‘What if they forget to take care of their daily responsibilities?’
These are all completely natural things for parents to worry about!
But don't worry - I've got you covered! I've surveyed hundreds of college students who attend schools including Tufts University, Wesleyan University, Mitchell College and The University of Dayton to find the best dorm room gadgets and tools that college students just can't live without.
Parents, you can relax and have confidence that you've sent your child off to college with a few popular products to help them stay organized and focused this semester!
If you're worried about your student's time management and organization overall, my blog has a lot of articles and tools to help.
If your student needs more guidance with these skills during their semester, click below. This is what we do!
Basic wall calendars and sticky note reminders plastered everywhere can work for some students, but more adaptable, multipurpose products are available online that will make your child’s semester easier, more organized and are small enough to be packed into your car on move-in day.
Even better - these dorm products are identified as “must haves” by college freshmen through seniors who work with Fast Forward College Coaching!
Here they are- Top 5 Dorm Room items (found on Amazon)
1. You Need Power!
A favorite technology related product by the students I surveyed is a
Multiple purpose charging ports like these are extremely helpful for college students with busy schedules. Your child is going to be using a variety of personal technology devices including their cell phone, computer, headphones or Air pods, or even an apple watch if they have one. In order to use these devices daily it is imperative that they keep them charged every night.
Remembering to charge every one of your devices at the end of the day can be a challenge, especially at the end of a long day when your student would rather fall into bed and watch Tik Tok or YouTube instead of rummaging around on their floors looking for device chargers.
This is why this product is an easy solution. This charging stand has four charging ports all on the same surface for two phones or an ipad, Air pods, and an apple watch. No more tangling chargers and wires at the end of the night, yay! (Good news - the phone chargers are compatible with both Apple and Samsung products).
BONUS TIP: On page 22 of my book, Sharing the Transition to College: Words of Advice for Diverse Learners and Their Families, I recommend that families buy many, many charging cords for campus move-in. The brighter the color - the better! Students bring these cords across campus, to friend's rooms and white cords quite simply blend into the walls and get lost. Save yourself a panicked phone call from your student asking for more charging cords and buy a few extras now!
2. Desk Organizer (create a workspace Glow-up)
This second product is self-explanatory but it often doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This Desk Organizer has separate compartments to hold pencils, markers, stapler, and notebooks which can declutter your child's workspace and make materials easier to locate. This organizer which is available in both silver and black was highly rated by college students!
3. Bedside Shelf
After a year of virtual learning, our students have certainly not had a shortage of time spent in their bedrooms. But college dorms are notoriously small spaces and using every available inch is important. Students told me that they LOVED this product - a Bedside Shelf. It was strong enough to hold a water bottle, laptop or cell phone. Even students on the top bunk bed can use this handy product to create a shelf seemingly floating next to their bed. Available in many different colors - it's a win, win!
4. Mattress Topper
College mattresses haven't changed all that much over the last 50 years. Dorm room mattresses are still Twin XL (make sure your twin sheets are XL!), they still are encased in plastic and they are definitely uncomfortable! Do your new college student a favor (trust me, they will thank you later) and buy a mattress topper. Any style will do (eggcrate, soft, plush, etc.). I like this Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper. The average mattress topper thickness is between 2-4 inches. This one has very high ratings and over 20,000 reviews. Definitely worth checking out!
5. Work (and Relax) in Comfort
Last but not least, college students highly recommended this product for students who love to do schoolwork in the place where they are most comfortable - their bed. Just to preface, I’m not necessarily encouraging students to do their coursework in their bed because I know for some students it can be hard to be productive (or even awake) while laying in the place they usually relax or sleep.
The Lap Desk is similar to the breakfast in bed trays you’ve either owned or seen on tv but this one has been upgraded. The tray is more desk-like and sturdy enough to be a work space to take notes on or put your laptop on. It also has an indent at the top end of the desk to prop up a phone or tablet, a cup holder to hold your refreshments while you work, and a little pull-out compartment underneath where your student can keep pens, pencils, or their cell phone if they don’t want to be distracted.
A FEW MORE...
Stock Up on the Basics
College residence life policies vary so be sure to check with your child's particular school about this tip - but most colleges don't want students using nails or double sided tape to make holes in the walls to hang up posters, lights, or tapestries. The best tool to use are Command Hooks with strips. Buy as many as you can! If you're thinking about going to your local dollar store to buy hooks, stop right now. The dollar store hooks will fall off the wall before you're able to drive away and text 'I Love You.' Trust me - I've tried! The pack of 9 hooks pictured below is only about $9 - definitely worth it!
A Refrigerator That Encourages Scheduling (you heard it right!)
Products that are multipurpose will interest your child just as much as you’ll love buying them. This Mini Fridge with a dual purpose erase board is a great option if you have a little extra money in the college move-in budget.
If your child’s dorm room doesn’t already have a small refrigerator, a mini fridge is an important purchase so your student can have access to snacks, leftovers, and cold drinks at any time of day without having to leave their dorm or workspace. The added bonus to this product is the dry erase board on the door of the fridge. Encouraging your child to write reminders or appointments they may have on the outside is a great way to remind them of daily tasks each time they grab a snack out of the fridge. Practice those executive functioning skills!! A win, win!
If their dorm room already comes equipped with a mini refrigerator, another great product is this pack of Magnetic Calendars and To Do Lists. Your student can choose the size of the magnetic calendar they want to use and it comes with an assortment of colored dry erase markers.
A Book Filled with 55 Tips and Words of Advice for New College Students & Families
A great gift for your new college student to read during the final weeks of summer is the book, Sharing the Transition to College Workbook. Give yourself the gift of reassurance that your student is practicing all of the college readiness skills they need to be successful. Over 80 worksheets will give your student opportunities to practice skills such as time management, planning & scheduling, communicating with their roommate, talking to professors, self-advocacy, navigating learning supports, connecting to campus resources and more! With a 5 -star rating, this is gift both you and your student can enjoy!
Does your college student struggle with time and organization? Click below!
I'd love to talk with you to share more about my support for college students and how weekly meetings can help students with time management, organization, avoid procrastination and increase weekly productivity and structure.
-Jennifer Sullivan, owner of Fast Forward College Coaching and executive functioning coach