The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | Must-haves for the dorm lifestyle

The dorm experience is a rite of passage for many freshmen at Universities across the country. With minimal space, which you might be sharing with a complete stranger, it’s important to know what items are necessary for success in your first year of living alone. 

As always, The Daily Illini has your back with a list of dorm essentials for any newcomers to the college dorm experience.


Microwave-fridge combo

Whether you bring your own or use the University’s rentable combo, a microwave and fridge will be extremely useful for your first dorm room.

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    Entering your freshman year of college, you might be looking after your own meals for the very first time. A microwave and fridge make it much easier to save your leftovers and enjoy them another day.

    Without a decent way to preserve and reheat your food, you’ll find yourself throwing away meals that could’ve otherwise saved you from paying for another meal later. 

    A fridge with plentiful storage space allows you to keep future meals and snacks — just make sure you’re staying within University Housing’s guidelines for furniture size.

    A helpful option is the combination microwave and fridge, which are available for rent from University Housing. You can easily split the cost with your roommate and won’t have to worry about getting rid of the appliances at the end of the year.


    Shower shoes

    Ah, communal bathrooms. Sharing is caring, but also a little gross when it comes to bathroom floors.

    Regardless of whether you’re living in a dorm with bathroom stalls or individual rooms, shower shoes are a must-have. Dorms are a place where diseases thrive and you don’t need to share any more germs than necessary.

    Additionally, shower shoes can double as something to slip on your feet for a quick trip down the hallway. If you’re just heading out to wash your dishes or re-fill a water bottle, you don’t necessarily need to lace up your sneakers, but you definitely don’t want to make the trip barefoot.

    Common choices for shower shoes include Crocs, slides or flip-flops. They don’t have to be cute – barely anyone will ever see you wearing them. Anything water-proof that you don’t mind getting a little dirty is a perfect choice.


    Power strips/surge protectors

    With the general lack of space and therefore outlets in a dorm room, a good power strip or surge protector with multiple outlets becomes absolutely necessary.

    With a multitude of devices to be charging every day, having a lot of available outlets is never a bad idea. Power strips and surge protectors – especially those with longer cords – can make plugging in your devices much easier, allowing you easier access to charge your phone, laptop and anything else you might have brought to school.

    Surge protectors, along with being convenient, can also help protect your devices from power surges that may damage them. Buying new electronics is expensive, so making a small extra purchase to protect your technology is never a bad idea.

    Getting a heavy duty power strip with a long cord can be especially useful if you plan on lofting your dorm bed. Outlets are not always within reach, and there’s no greater struggle than having to climb out of bed in the middle of the night to plug your phone in.


    A set of utensils/dishes

    There is nothing worse than finding out your friend down the hall has a box of cereal to share and you have absolutely nothing to eat it with.

    Don’t be that person who eats everything with their bare hands. Living in a dorm room doesn’t mean you have to be uncivilized! A set of plastic dishes and utensils can be incredibly useful for a year in the dorms.

    Dorms on campus provide a space for you to wash your dishes, so that your room doesn’t have to reek of whatever you ate for lunch three days ago. Picking up a small bottle of dish soap while dorm shopping and a sponge or two will be helpful for cleaning up throughout the year.

    Yes, many snacks can be eaten on the go or out of your pocket, but if you plan on making dorm mac-n-cheese or using the residence hall kitchens at all, some simple dishes like a cup and a plate can really come in handy.


    That weird hang-over-the-door pouch pocket thing

    You know what I’m talking about. It’s in every college move-in ad and it will be on display at Targets across the country come August. You may be tempted to overlook this item because it seems too basic and cliche, but don’t. In the dorms, storage is no joke.

    The dresser and cabinets provided beneath the bed in your dorm room might not be enough for your belongings, especially smaller things — sunscreen, makeup, snacks, what have you. 

    A small caddy to hang over the side of your bed or the top of your door isn’t just useful for storage, but for organization as well.

    This item is especially useful if you plan on having a high-loft bed. There are some necessities that you might want by your bedside — your phone, some water, chapstick — and it would just be too much of a pain to scramble down and grab it in the middle of the night.

    Seriously consider investing in your dorm room storage. It may look ugly and basic, but it could really come in handy during the coming year.


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    About the Contributor
    Maaike Niekerk, buzz Editor
    My name is Maaike Niekerk, and I am a sophomore majoring in English with minors in music and journalism. I began working with The Daily Illini during the fall semester of my freshman year as a buzz staff writer, and joined the editorial team last summer. I love bringing live event coverage to you from Champaign-Urbana’s vibrant music scene and sharing stories of local artists and musicians. Outside of The Daily Illini, you’ll find me performing at every football game with the Marching Illini or cycling with the 2024 Illini 4000 bike America team.
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