Dorm Items -- What You Can & Can't Live Without

Hi again!

For this post, I want to kind of continue what my first post was about...

(which you can read here -> Foster Harper: Why You Would LOVE (or Be Wary) to Live Here )

... and talk about what items are "necessities" to have in your room, and what some really convenient things are to have, but also aren't necessities. I'll also touch on what things you think you'll need but will really never use. Keep in mind that this is based off of living in Foster, and that I have no idea how much this will apply to other dorms!


  • A step stool of some sort. I'm 5'1", so everything is a reach for me. In Foster, we have cabin space above our closets, and I wouldn't be able to make use of the space without a step stool. Even my roommate, who is 5'7", can't reach them. So I would highly recommend that. Megan (my roommate) has the top bunk, so she uses the stool to get into bed too. I use it to clean the windows in our room, and we used it to put up Halloween decorations too... It's been our best friend so far this year!
  • Paper towels and Kleenex. You will make messes, and you will get sick.
  • Plastic eating utensils and paper plates. There will be times when you order takeout or eat groceries instead of going down to the dining hall. There have been times where I've had to run down to Gresh to grab a fork or spoon because we didn't have any clean. (Megan brought down actual dishes, but it's a total pain in the butt to wash them in the bathroom. Highly DO NOT recommend-- stick to the disposable stuff.)
  • A fan. I personally like to sleep in a really cold room. How well the A/C units work is hit and miss. Also, after two 50 degree days, Foster turns the heat on. So I would definitely suggest getting a fan.
  • A vacuum and cleaning supplies. Your room will get dirty much quicker than you would think, especially with two people living in such a small space. In our room, we have Clorox disinfectant wipes and Windex Multi-Surface cleaner. Those two pretty much get the job done. Having cleaning supplies (and actually using them) helps to prevent you from getting sick as well. I got sick about a month in, and it's awful. CLEAN YOUR ROOMS.
  • A laundry hamper and laundry detergent. Don't be the person to just make a dirty clothes pile. You also wouldn't have any way to take them downstairs to the laundry room...
  • A three drawer plastic storage thing. I know you know what I'm trying to say here. I have one for my underclothes and socks. Megan has three for various things. She keeps them in her closet.
  • EXTENSION CORDS AND OUTLET PORTS. This might actually be the most important thing. There are three (I think) outlets in your room. Two are hidden behind the desks, and the other is behind the bed. You will 100%, absolutely need both extension cords and outlet ports. We have four or five outlet strips and probably two extension cords. They're extremely important. Just trust me.

Convenient Items to Have:

  • A TV. If you have people over, or you don't feel like going out, or you just really want to have a Friends marathon, you'll be happy you brought a TV. While it's a nice thing to have, we also don't use it a ton. I usually only watch TV on the weekends or occasionally on weekdays when I don't have a ton of homework.
  • Lights/lamps. You definitely don't need them because there's an overhead light and desk lights, but they're fluorescent and very bright at 8:00 AM or 1:00 AM. I have a desk lamp and three strands of string lights around my bed. String lights are nice late at night because they're dim.
  • Extra blankets and pillows. I love sleeping with tons of both. I have three regular pillows, a body pillow (which I would definitely recommend because the beds are against cold, hard cinder brick walls), and two "decorative" pillows. I have a comforter and three fuzzy blankets. Bring them. They remind you of home.
  • Slippers. I didn't think of this one until I was about two weeks in. These are EXTREMELY convenient for when you're going to the bathroom for some reason other than showering (for which you would wear shower shoes which are totally and completely necessary. Add that to the above list.)
  • A robe or towel wrap (more for if you're a girl). Sure you can just use a normal towel, but it's kind of challenging to hold your towel to you while carrying a shower caddy and trying to unlock your door. A robe is nice to have when it gets cold, too.
  • Headphones. There will be times when you may want to listen to music, but your roommate is doing homework or watching TV. There will also be times when both you and your roommate need to listen to separate WebWork (for finite) videos. They come in handy.
  • A printer. Yes, you have hundreds of free papers to print at any university printer, but here's the thing: the printer that's in the Foster Quad only works half of the time. I'm sure that McNutt and Briscoe have printers, but the only printer I've used successfully was one at the Wells Library. Also, you may be a procrastinator and finish your paper at one in the morning the day that it's due. You're going to have to go to a different building to print that paper. It's just really convenient to have one in your room.
  • A small trash can. The room comes with one, but they fill up QUICK. We have 3 in our room. Also, buy little trash bags. Extremely handy.

Things You Think You'll Need, but You Don't:

  • Unless you have an extreme amount of stuff, don't bring under-bed storage bins. I brought two and they're currently empty. The closets are huge, so if you're worried about where you're going to put your clothes and shoes, don't be.
  • A Keurig. Megan brought one, and neither of us use it very much. I don't like coffee, but I occasionally use it for tea. You can get coffee at any of the dining halls or C-Stores. The Keurig honestly just takes up space. So unless you're a huge coffee drinker who needs their fix at two AM, I would skip the Keurig.
  • A desk lamp. There's an overhead light fixture on every desk.
  • A full length mirror. There's one attached to the closet. However, if you're a girl, you may want to bring one, or a mirror of some sort, anyway. For doing hair and makeup and all that.
  • Desk organizers. They're nice to have, but the desks have drawers for storing desk items.

I think that covers pretty much everything! This is just my take on what's important to have and what's not important to have, and like I said, it's based off of living in Foster. It could be different for different people and different dorms! It's also coming from a girl's perspective, so forgive me, boys.

In the spirit of fall and October and Halloween, here are some pictures of the most recent football game (home against North Texas which we WON) and our decorated dorm room. Thanks for reading! (:

About The Author
Alyssa ModosEnglish Major, Future Book Editor, Class of 2018, Fort Wayne, IN

I'm an English major and Marketing minor with the dream of working for a Big Five publisher in the Big Apple.

I'm obsessed with my cat, I'm newly addicted to pineapple, and I like to go running for fun. When I'm not at the gym, you can find me buried under blankets in bed watching The Walking Dead. Every Friday is Pizza Friday at my place; it's my own little "slice" (heh heh) of IU Traditions and Spirit.

Follow me around online and through social media to get to know IU and how amazing it is. You'll get to know me, too -- I'm a pretty cool person, just throwing that out there. (:

Be sure to check me out on Spoon University (where I write about delicious, life-changing food) and The Odyssey (where I write about a little bit of everything).