First College Apartment Essentials

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It is time for you to move out of the dorm and into your very first college apartment.  This is a very exciting time, as it means one bathroom, a full kitchen and common area/living room for you and a couple of roommates. If your apartment is located on campus, most likely it will come fully furnished – beds, dressers, desks, closets, couches and chairs.  The rest of the apartment is up to you in terms of decorating and proper cooking essentials.  However, you don’t need to get overwhelmed.  Read on for tips on some of the essential items for your first college apartment.

  1. Bedroom

If you have already been living in the dorm, then the items that you need for your apartment bedroom shouldn’t be much different.  Keep in mind the size of your bed.  Often times, when upgrading from the dorm to an apartment, the size of the bed upgrades as well, from a twin to a full size mattress (usually they will still be extra-long).  This means you will need to get full bedding sheets and possibly a new comforter and mattress pad.  Otherwise, you can display your same old posters and photographs.  Bring your clothes drying rack, room organizers, full-length mirror, alarm clock, etc.

  1. Bathroom

The bathroom situation is one of the best parts about moving from the dorm room to an apartment.  You won’t need to cart your toiletries from your room to the bathroom – you can simply keep them in your bathroom now!  However, you will desire to keep these items organized, since you are most likely sharing the bathroom with one or two other people.  For the shower, you will want to invest in a caddy that can hold multiple bottles of shampoo, body wash, with extra hooks for body sponges, washcloths, and razors.  You may also want to invest in bath mats for the shower, to prevent slipping.  In addition to your own personal bath towels, you will need hand towels as well. Don’t forget hand soap!

  1. Kitchen

The best part about moving into your first college apartment is having access to your very own kitchen.  This is where you and your fellow apartment dwellers may want to go shopping together to invest in some essential cooking items.  Start with the basics here – you will need a couple of covered saucepans and an omelet pan.  You will also need proper cutlery, which includes a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a slicing knife.  Don’t forget oven mitts and potholders.  If you plan to do some baking, you will need measuring cups, measuring spoons, and mixing bowls. Other basic items include bowels and plates for eating with, storage containers for your leftovers, ice cube trays, dish soap and sponges.

  1. Living Room/Common Area

While most college apartments come equipped with couches and perhaps a coffee table, you may want to spruce up the place or accommodate guests with some additional seating or an extra comfortable armchair.  You also may need to bring your own TV stand and TV.  Table lamps or standing lamps will be a nice addition to your living room, as well as any extra decorative items.  This includes tapestries, posters, photographs, area rugs, and decorative throw pillows for the couch.

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Non-Perishable Food for the Dorm Room

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Whether you are preparing to move to the dorm for the first time or if you are returning to your college campus for another year of residence hall life, you are probably familiar with long hours of studying and pulling those famous all-nighters to write papers.  During these uncomfortable stretches of time, sleep deprivation interferes with your productivity and hunger pains can make it even more difficult to concentrate. After all, late nights, erratic schedules, and the stress that comes with trying to juggle it all can lead to some unhealthy eating habits. Stock up on nourishing snacking non-perishables that will give you the energy and brainpower you need to perform your best. Shop prepackaged healthy college care packages  from OCM or look below for recommended items to purchase!

  1. Fruit

Fruit is such an essential component of our diets, but it may be the last thing you think of when it comes to non-perishable options.  Fresh fruit does not have a very long shelf life, even when it is refrigerated.  Look for canned fruit, such as peaches and pineapples; just make sure to drain excess syrup. Plus, there are plenty of dried options, like raisins, mangos, pineapples, apple rings, and apricots.

  1. Trail Mix

The best part about trail mix is that the protein and (healthy) fat content will keep you satiated.  You can find many varieties of pre-made options, or you can make it yourself.  Mix together almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, raisins, or any of your favorite nut and dried fruit combination and keep it sealed in an airtight container.

  1. Granola Bars

Granola is a true go-to snack for any college student.  There are an infinite number of brands that create bars so, no matter what your preference or dietary restriction may be, there is sure to be an ideal option for you.  If you are gluten-free, vegan, allergic to peanuts, or looking to increase your protein content, you can carry a compact little package to nibble on when other options are limited. For the healthier options, look for options that contain less sugar additives, as these can cause you to crash later.

  1. Boxed and Canned Goods

If you live in a suite and have access to a stove or even a microwave, this opens up an entire new avenue of food options.  Canned goods like soups, beans and chili have a very long shelf life. Additionally, rice and pastas can be whipped up in mere minutes.

  1. Grains

Non-perishable grains are very abundant and easy to come by.  If you have access to a microwave in your dorm, instant oatmeal is one option that comes in a wide variety of flavors.  For the healthier choice, go with the plain option and add a little peanut butter and honey (non-perishable) to your preferred taste.  Dry cereal or granolas offer some other great options, as you have so many kinds to choose from.  Crackers are an equally delicious option – look for whole grain or brown rice versions (for the gluten free folks).  Spread a little peanut butter and enjoy!

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Products to Disinfect a Dorm Bathroom

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Living in a college dorm presents many challenges, including limited space, laundry lugging, and shared bathrooms.  Sharing space with so many people also means sharing germs.  Bathrooms tend to be the top germ collectors in the dormitories, especially if there is one bathroom for the entire floor. Custodial staff may sanitize your bathroom regularly, or you may be required to clean your own bathroom if it is shared between fewer people.  If the task is in your hands, remember that when it comes to keeping your bathroom clean the key is to disinfect. Before you even begin scrubbing surfaces, you can take precautions such as having a shower caddy to keep your products safe and bath sandals to avoid treading barefoot on the floor. When it’s time to clean, read on for tips on where and how to keep these shared germs at a minimum.

  1. Stock up on essential cleaning supplies.

Before cleaning your bathroom, you want to be sure that you have the essential cleaning supplies to hit each surface thoroughly. The first and most important thing that you will need is an all-purpose bathroom cleaner that breaks through lime scale (a hard, chalky substance that builds up due to calcium deposits in water) and soap scum (which can build easily on shower curtains).  This can be used for all of the surfaces in your bathroom.  For the toilet bowl, you may be able to use this spray, but a cleaner specifically designed for toilet bowls is optimal. You will also need a toilet bowl brush.  This is a device with a long handle and bristles on the end to scrub away stains and bacteria. Additionally, you will need a small hand brush for scrubbing the tub.

  1. Cleaning the sink

When cleaning the sink, you first want to make sure you clear everything off this surface. Spray your disinfectant generously on the surface and wipe with paper towels.  Be sure to wipe the entire surface, including inside the sink, the faucet, the knobs, and that little area behind the faucet (you may need the toothbrush for this space).  When replacing the items back on the counter, be sure to wipe these items as well, especially the bottom of the soap dispenser that can be a breeding ground for soap scum and germs.

  1. Cleaning the toilet

While the toilet may not be everyone’s favorite area to clean, you want to make sure that you are thorough here.  Spray the surface of the toilet tank, the flush handle, the lid, the top and bottom of the seat, and the surface beneath the seat with your all-purpose cleaner.  A toothbrush will come in handy for some of the crevices between the toilet seat and the toilet tank.  When washing the toilet bowl, administer the toilet bowl cleaner and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Using your toilet bowl brush, scrub all areas of the bowl, especially towards the top, beneath the lip.  Once you have scrubbed thoroughly, simply flush, and your toilet bowl should sparkle!

  1. Cleaning the shower

This can be the most tedious of tasks, since this is the largest surface to disinfect.  Once again, clear all of your shampoos, body washes, and other shower items out of the shower so you can disinfect all corners of this space.  Spray the tub with your all-purpose cleaner.  If there is a lot of grime, you may need something more abrasive to cut through the layers of dirt.  Here you can use your smaller scrub brush for dirt and stain remover.  Spray walls with the same cleaner, and use a toothbrush to clean the grout.  To clean the curtain liner, simply throw in the washing machine with some bleach.

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Communal Dorm Bathroom Essentials

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When living in a college dorm, you learn a thing or two about efficiency. You learn how to simplify your belongings and maximize a given limited space. Another challenge of living in the dorm rooms is the communal bathrooms. Many dorms have one bathroom that is shared by the entire hallway or floor, and it can contain a few toilet and shower stalls. The challenge here is limited privacy and being forced to keep all of your toiletries with you at all times. Don’t get caught without the essential bathroom items that will help to make your communal experience as comfortable as possible.

  1. Shower Caddy

This is the most essential bathroom item to bring with you. You will need a shower caddy to transport all of your toiletries and shower goods with you to and from the bathroom. These caddies come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. The type of caddy you get is really a matter of personal preference. Your selection depends on how many things you will be bringing into the shower with you as well as your preferred level of organization. Pop-up caddies are one common choice, but you may want to look for a tote with more compartments if you want to keep your items in order.

  1. Bath Sandals

When living in the dorms you learn to share, but one thing that you do not want to share is a foot fungus. Showering barefoot is not recommended in communal bathrooms. Any cheap pair of flip-flops for showering will do here, but you can also look for bath sandals that have a non-slip feature and are designed specifically for this purpose.

  1. Bathrobe

A bathrobe is a good to have with you so you are not forced to wander the halls in nothing but a towel. This will give you a little more privacy and comfort, especially if your floors are co-ed. In addition to privacy and comfort, bathrobes are great for staying dry, and will allow you to finish performing your bathroom routine without the inconvenience of trying to hold up your towel. Cotton or terrycloth robes are your best options here. You can even find a terrycloth sarong that has an elastic band to will provide a reliable hold.

  1. Towels

This is an obvious statement, but you will need to bring towels with you into the shower. What may be less obvious to some is the different types of towels you will need. You will need a large towel to dry off after the shower. Ladies may want a medium-sized towel to wrap hair up. Smaller hand towels are good for cleaning jobs such as washing your face and hands or brushing your teeth. Plus, the smaller versions provide a convenience factor so you don’t need to lug larger items with you to the bathroom just to wash your face in the morning or before you go to bed. Look for a towel set that contains multiple towel sizes for your different bathroom activities.

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A Guide to College Diploma Frames

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You finished college and obtained a hard-earned degree – congratulations! This is a wonderful accomplishment of which you should be very proud, now you have a piece of paper that means the world. You’ll want to display your diploma with pride, and should take a few things into consideration first before purchasing a college diploma frame. After all, hanging up such an important document is more than just picking a frame and choosing a random spot on any wall. You’ll be able to dictate details like the color scheme and the specific kind of mat, so read on to make sure you make the right purchase for your wants and needs.

  1. Document Protection

Over the years, your diploma can become discolored, brittle or cracked. Look for a frame that will preserve your diploma and keep it like new for years to come. In particular, look for matting that has lignin-free materials, meaning that they won’t become acidic over time. For the glass of your frame, you may want to upgrade from standard versions to an option that offers document protection, including reflection control and conservation UV protection.

  1. Selecting the Mat

When it comes to the matting for your frame, you have a wide variety of colors and textures to choose from, especially if you choose a standard diploma display instead of school colors. When selecting the appropriate hue for your mat, think about where you will be hanging your diploma. If the room in which this will be hung has a particular color palette, you may want to stay within the parameters of that theme. However, you certainly don’t want the matting to be overly matched with the surroundings; in fact, the walls and the diploma display should contrast one another. For example, with light colored walls you will want to select a dark colored mat, and vice versa. If you have patterned wallpaper, you will want to select a solid color for your mat.

Another option to consider is whether or not you’d prefer to sport your school’s colors. OCM offers hundreds of university-specific college diploma frames for your buying pleasure. If you decide to go this route, be mindful of where you will be hanging your diploma to avoid clashing with the décor of the room.

  1. Frame Molding

When it comes to choosing the molding for your frame, choose the style that works best for your taste. There are many different types of finishes, which include mahogany, black, cherry, chestnut, and so on. You will also want to choose between a shine and a non-glossy look for your frame. Make sure that your molding compliments the color and style of your matting selection. For example, if you have a mat with a pattern, you may want to choose a simpler style of frame molding.

  1. Hanging your Frame

Now that you have chosen the frame and mat for your diploma, you are ready to hang it up and display it with pride. There is no “wrong way” to display your accomplishments, but we suggest hanging it where it will be easily visible. Make sure that there is proper light, and that it won’t get visually lost amongst other framed items like artwork or photos. Consider where it could provide you with the most inspiration. Perhaps, if hung in the bedroom, it can motivate you to face other challenges when first waking up; if hung in the study, it can remind you of how hard work pays off.

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Dorm Room Closet Storage Options

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Finding ways to maximize the use of your living quarters’ limited space can prove to be quite a challenging. It may become all too tempting to simply stack random goods on top of one another, which can ultimately lead to ugly messes. Luckily, there are plenty of dorm essentials that will help you to stay organized and take full advantage of areas. The closet is a prime example of a storage unit you can further enhance.

  1. Hanging shelf organizer

This item is a terrific closet storage solution, as it strategically employs of the generous height of the cranny without consuming substantial horizontal space. You can use the hanging shelf organizer for clothing, towels, shoes, toiletries, and other goods. Be mindful of the intended use of the dangling shelves prior to making your purchase, as wider pockets can accommodate bulkier pieces but may be wasteful if used for smaller articles. Reversely, narrow organizers may be less accommodating than you’d prefer.

  1. Over the door hanger

If your closet has a door, use this nifty tool to sling towels, sweatshirts, belts, bathrobes, and even jewelry. Over the door hangers have five to six hooks and vary in size, so you are sure to find use for this item. Of course, this handy organizer is not limited to merely closet usage, as it can be very helpful in bathrooms.

  1. Multiple Tier Shirt Hanger

Hang six shirts neatly on one hanger with this fabulous space saver.  This dorm essential provides yet another option for utilizing the vertical space in your closet to keep it neat and organized.  Some of these hangers even have a convenient grip (made of gel or rubber) to prevent shirts from slipping off the hanger.  This space-saver will keep shirts off the closet floor and help you find a favorite shirt with ease.

  1. Multiple tier hanger for pants and skirts

How do you prevent professional pants and skirts from wrinkling? This dorm essential uses the concept of the multi-tiered shirt hanger, but is specifically meant for pants and skirts. These hangers also fold up, so packing them up and transporting them is quite convenient and takes up very little space. As you begin the process of attending interviews, you’ll be glad that you have the time-saving multiple tier hanger.

  1. Belt rack

This organizer suspends from your closet rod, and has multiple double-sided hooks that are fantastic for hanging belts, ties, and scarves. Some racks have up to 14 hooks, so you will never have to go fishing through drawers to find your favorite accessories.

  1. Over the door organizer

Rather than tossing your shoes on the closet floor or under your bed, keep them neatly organized and easily accessible with this over the door organizer. This item contains multiple pockets for storing shoes and hooks that allow it to hang right over the door without drilling holes. No more wasting time searching for that lost shoe, or leaving them on the floor for your roommate to trip over!

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Cleaning the Shower Curtain in a Dorm Room

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If you live in a college dorm, you may be familiar with the not-so-joyful experience of sharing a shower with your roommates and/or neighbors in your hallway.  The potential problem that surrounds this set up is the maintenance of the bathrooms and showers, particularly when it comes to cleanliness. While some individuals may live on floors that have janitorial staff take care of this problem, students that live in a suite will have this duty fall upon their own shoulders.

Naturally, the parts of the bathroom you rely upon to maintain personal hygiene should be given special attention; you probably remember to wipe your hanging shower caddy and the rim of the bathtub. However, the shower curtain is often overlooked when students clean the area. The neglect can lead to mold and mildew, which can take on either a pinkish-orange or graying-brown color. With a few simple steps, you can clear away the buildup to have your shower curtain like new.

  1. Cleaning your dorm shower curtain

First, you will need to remove the curtain liner from the hooks and place it into the washer machine. Throw two towels (preferably light colored or white) in the washer with your curtain liner. The purpose of using towels here is to protect the delicate plastic of the curtain, while simultaneously scrubbing away the dirt and mildew.  You will then add a mild detergent and one cup of baking soda to the washing machine and run it on the gentle cycle.  The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive to remove mildew and acts as a natural deodorizer.  A few drops of tea tree oil is also optional here for additional mildew removal.  Once the wash cycle is complete, you can simply re-hang your curtain allow it to dry, and throw the towels in the dryer.

An alternative to the above is to occasionally soak your shower curtain in bleach water; if you choose this option, make sure to be conservative with the amount of chemicals used; to wear proper gloves; and to rinse the curtain thoroughly once the process is complete.

  1. Maintenance between washes

You should only need to wash your curtain every three months or so, as long as you keep up with these simple maintenance steps.  In order to minimize the buildup of mold, you will want to invest in a daily shower spray that you can spray onto the curtain and walls after each use.  Be sure to keep the shower curtain closed so that it can dry.  If you keep it open it will stay wet or damp, and remember that mold and mildew love this type of environment.  Be sure to clean your bathroom cleaning products as well – this includes sponges, scrub brushes and even toothbrushes that you may use to scrub those tiny spaces.

Remember, mold is not only unsightly, but it can also be harmful to your health. Breathing in the mildew on a regular basis can negatively impact your breathing. Therefore, safeguard your health and your bathroom’s appearance by regularly scrubbing away the grime.

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Healthy Care Packages for College Students

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When it comes to living the college dorm life, tight space and budgets can make the comforts of home that were once taken for granted seem like luxuries.  With the heavy workload being one of the many stressors for a college student, homesickness is not uncommon.  Providing students with a college care package is a great way to convey your love, and will certainly make the recipient’s day. Plus, these comprehensive purchases spare you the hassle that comes with gathering each individual component. Below are just a few care package options that will keep your student happy and healthy:

1. Gluten Free Baked Goods

Cases of gluten allergies and intolerances are appearing more frequently these days.  Luckily, colleges are increasingly rising to the challenge of providing options to those with this tricky dietary need. Still, options are undeniably limited, which can lead to frustration. Bake your loved one some delicious homemade cookies, brownies, or cupcakes using gluten free flour, or send a premade gluten free friendly gift package to your student.

2. Fruit and Nut Bars

For many college students, a significant amount of meals happen “on-the-go.” Fruit and nut bars give scholars something light enough to hurriedly store in a backpack, yet it’s much healthier than the chips and candy found in vending machines. Be sure to double check the list of ingredients on the label to ensure that these brands are safe for your student.  Kind Bars and Lara Bars are two great options here, along with these pre-made healthy care packages.

3. Vegan

Want to know a secret? Vegans aren’t the only ones who can appreciate these healthy care packages. However, for those students that steer clear of meat products, the dining possibilities might be a bit limited. Vegan care packages provide options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, guaranteeing that stomachs and taste buds will not go unsatisfied.

4. Wellness

The last thing anyone wants to do when sick is go grocery shopping. Sending a wellness college care package can help a student focus on recovery. These comprehensive packages bring soup, cereal, hot chocolate and other scrumptious foods, as well as health items like tissues, cough drops, thermometers and more. Some of the supplies included, like hand wipes and Lysol sprays, may even help your students to fend off future sickness.

5. Energy

Most college students skimp on sleep on a semi-regular basis, so snacks that give a natural energy boost will be put to good use. Many of the college care packages address this, with snacks like delicious Power and Clif bars, dried fruits and granola. While desserts certainly have their own upsides, sugar will lead to quick crashes if used as a main meal.

6. Stress relief

Stress happens to the best of us, and we each have our own ways of unwinding. Help your scholar relax with soothing teas and soups, found in many of our healthy college care packages. Especially delicious in the winter, these hot liquids will sooth throats and anxious hearts, as well as provide health benefits. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to prepare.

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Tips for Cleaning Mattress Pad in the Dorm Room

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The mattress you inherit for the year is not likely to be the most comfortable thing you’ve ever slept on.  One of the most crucial components of your bedding will be the mattress pad.  In addition to giving you extra cushioning and back support, it will also provide a barrier between you and the mattress, which may not be the newest or cleanest. In addition to washing your twin XL sheets (once a week, but no less than twice a month), it is recommended you clean your mattress pad from time to time. Obviously, the type of mattress pad you own will determine the cleaning process.  Here we will cover two types of mattress pads – the standard, plush cotton mattress pad and the specialty memory foam topper.

Plush Cotton Mattress Pad

These mattress protectors have plastic-backed pads to provide an extra layer of protection.  They also contain some type of water-resistant feature that can be damaged or compromised if washed incorrectly.  Before cleaning, check the tag for any specific cleaning instructions.  Most traditional mattress pads are safe to go into the washer and dryer.

  1. Fill the washing machine with warm water and add the appropriate amount of laundry detergent.
  2. Place the mattress pad into the washer along with other linens of similar colors.  Run this through a normal wash cycle, but you may want to run it through the rinse cycle twice to be sure that no detergent remains.
  3. If your mattress pad does have the water-resistant feature without the additional plastic backing, avoid using fabric softener here, as it will damage the coating.
  4. You can place your mattress pad into the dryer along with the other linens and set the dryer on low to medium heat.  To keep the pad from getting clumpy, place a tennis ball in a sock and throw it in the dryer with your pad.  This will help to “fluff” the pad by distributing the filler evenly.
  5. Once dry, place back on your bed.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This is one of the most popular and comfortable mattress toppers you can go with.  Unfortunately, spillage and dirt are slightly trickier to remove than your traditional mattress pad.  But do not be discouraged – you can still clean memory foam efficiently on your own.

  1. Take the pad off the bed and place on a hard surface in a ventilated room or near a window.  You may want to place something beneath the pad such as a tarp to avoid getting water on the floor.
  2. Remove dust and debris from the pad with a hose attachment from a vacuum.
  3. Next you will need to spot clean your mattress pad.  You can do this by mixing a small amount of mild detergent with warm water and applying the solution with a clean cloth.  Simply dab at the areas that need cleaning.
  4. Fill a spray bottle with one part laundry detergent and two parts warm water.  Spray the solution generously on the surface of the mattress pad, however you do not want to completely soak it.  Allow this solution to sit for a couple of hours.
  5. To remove the detergent, dab the foam with a clean, damp, cotton cloth.
  6. Flip the pad and repeat steps four and five.
  7. Lay the foam pad flat to dry for at least 24 hours.

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Dorm Room Bedding Accessories

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Your bed in your dorm room serves many functions in addition to being a vehicle for sleeping. After all, due to limited space and overall convenience, your bed may turn into the main place you sit, study, watch movies and overall hangout. To make sure that the mattress is up to the task, equip it with more than merely twin xl sheets and pillows.

  1. Mattress Pad

One of the most important items on your list will be a mattress pad for your bed.  These come in a variety of thicknesses and textures, so choose the one that best suits your personal preference.  You may want to look for a memory foam pad, or perhaps you are interested in a fitted sheet with down or alternative padding.  Just remember to look for the appropriate size – the majority of dorm beds will be Twin XL.

  1. Armchair Pillows

The wonderful thing about these pillows is that, due to the distinct shape, they give your upper body the illusion of being in a big comfortable armchair. These pillows come in all different colors and styles, so you will be sure to find one that matches overall palette of your bed.  Armchair pillows are perfect for those late nights with lots of reading or studying to do.

  1. Clip Lamp

If your bed will be serving as a makeshift desk from time to time, then you will need the proper lighting.  Clip lamps will attach right to your bedframe and should have an adjustable neck so that you can bend and turn it until it is in the perfect position.  These lamps are relatively inexpensive and come in many different colors.

  1. Lap Desk

Lap desks are yet another helpful accessory when using your bed as a study area.  These portable, small-sized desk surfaces have a cushioned bottom so they can rest comfortably on your lap while you do work.  Some lap desks even have a built in fan to plug into your laptop for preventing overheating.

  1. Bed Post Shelf

The bedpost shelf serves as a terrific makeshift nightstand, as most dorm rooms are not furnished with nightstands.  These small shelves are ideal for lofted or bunk beds since nightstands are not accessible at these heights.  Simply attach the shelf to your bedpost and use it for electronic devices, your alarm clock, reading glasses, or anything else you can think of.

  1. Decorative Pillows and Blankets

If you have a twin bed, then you will not want to overcrowd the space with too many pillows. But decorating with a couple of throw pillows is a great way to add some extra cushioning and comfort, while at the same time providing an opportunity to get more creative with the décor of your room.  Throw blankets are convenient for staying warm and cozy while studying without having to tuck yourself into your bed entirely.  They also add some decorative flair to your bedding.

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