Save vs. Splurge: Which Dorm Items Should You Buy?



Knowing what and what not to pack for your first year in the dorms can be challenging. With limited space in your car and your dorm room, it’s time to cut out the unnecessary stuff and splurge on the essentials. Here are items you can buy on the cheap (or leave behind altogether)—and items you should be willing to spend a few extra dollars on:


1.   Linens and Pillows

There is nothing worse than sleeping on old or low quality linens and pillows. Find a set of dorm bedding that make you feel like a queen or king, splurge on a pillow that will help you fall asleep faster, or select that comforter that will last you all four years. Your body and mind will thank you.

2.   Area Rug

For many college students, an area rug is more than just a sweet décor choice. It’s also a perfect way to keep out chilly drafts, a gathering place to study with friends, and a space divider between roommates. Spend a bit more on one that can withstand stains and heavy foot traffic if you plan to use yours for multiple years.

3.   Wall Art

Your dorm room won’t look like much of a home when you first walk in. White or beige walls, brown furniture, tile floors—your room will need your personal touch if you want it to feel like a space you would actually enjoy living in. Wall art, either DIY or bought, is a great bet. A favorite wall canvas or a motivational poster will certainly help you transition from home to dorm. Consider spending a few extra dollars to have your posters framed in order to maintain their quality throughout the year.

4.   Mattress Protectors

While colleges do their best to provide you with clean and gently-used mattresses, you can still splurge on an additional layer of protection. After all, you never know where that mattress has been in the past. A mattress topper that is waterproof and bedbug proof is an essential item to have. Buy one with memory foam or made out of feather down to help you fall asleep faster and fight against lumpy, uneven springs.


1.   Television

In years past, the major trend was to go in on a new television with your future roommate. However, new streaming technology has almost obliterated that need. Most college students now watch their favorite shows and movies online on a tablet or PC. Furthermore, many dorms have also outfitted their common spaces with big-screen TVs for students still wanting to watch the big game or host a movie night with their friends.

2.   Printer

While a personal laptop is one of the most essential items you will need to bring with you, the printer can stay at home. Use the convenient and affordable library printer instead. It will save you money on ink and can withstand all of those hundred-page research articles you will inevitably need to print out. However, if you still think a printer is a must-have, consider splitting the cost with a roommate or floormate.

3.   Alarm Clock, Camera, etc.

As a general rule of thumb, if your phone can do it, leave it at home. Bringing all of this extra stuff along with you will just be another item to pack, store, and worry about. Instead, invest in a smartphone that can do it all. As a side note, consider bringing an extra phone charger with you to college, so you can leave one in the dorm room and carry one with you in your backpack.

As you are packing for college, think about the essentials that are important to you. While you may not have much space to store your favorite shoe collection or to display your big screen TV, you should consider splurging on items that will make your space feel more like home.

Do you plan on saving vs. splurging for any of these products? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Katherine Carpenter

Katherine Carpenter

Hi I'm Katherine! I love DIY projects, especially ones that I can use to make my dorm room pop! My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, especially when it's on a cone. I love hanging out with my sorority sisters and giving back to the community. Always remember to live, laugh and love!