College Freshman Planning Guide

Everything you need to know to get ready for frosh year!

When should I start college dorm shopping?

Start early in the summer so you’ll have enough time to plan the perfect dorm room, find the products you want and need, and take advantage of sales! You can always start pinning your dorm room ideas and inspiration as early as you feel inspired, to help you understand what you like.

I’m looking for inspiration to decorate my space. Where can I find ideas for my dorm room?

Dormify’s Design Plan is a great place to start! Based on your answers to a few questions, the experts at Dormify will give you personalized dorm design recommendations. You can also check out our collections for stylish bedding sets that are already perfectly coordinated to make dorm shopping easy. Looking for more inspiration? Dormify’s blog and Pinterest is a fantastic resource for dorm decor and more!

How do collections work?

Collections are stylish and customizable bedding sets that have been put together by Dormify to make dorm shopping quick and easy! They include a duvet cover or comforter set, a sheet set, and a selection of decorative pillows and throw blankets. After you find a collection that you like, click on “customize and add to cart.” Next, personalize your collection by choosing a comforter or duvet cover set, a sheet set, pillows, throw blankets, and bedding extras. Add the collection to your cart and you’re done! Collections require that you buy a comforter or duvet, a sheet set, at least one pillow and at least one throw blanket. Note that the base price is calculated by adding up the least expensive items from the required categories, so the final price of your customized collection may vary from the base price.

How can my roommate and I match without getting the same stuff?

Think of it as coordination instead of matching! Before going dorm shopping, talk to your roommate about how you want to decorate your room. Agree to a color scheme or a theme that you can use as a guide. Since your beds are the focal point of your dorm room, you can start by coordinating your bedding. Reversible twin xl bedding options are great, because you can have a cohesive look without being too matchy, if you each flip to a different side. We also suggest if you do two different looks, to bring in one color, whether it be an accent or a neutral, to anchor your looks together throughout your space. Even if everything in your dorm room doesn’t perfectly go along with your color scheme or theme, your space can still look cohesive if you tie together a few key elements. Not sure where to start? Check out Dormify’s trends section for some schemes to think about.

What do I do if my roommate doesn’t want to match with me, but I don’t want our room to look crazy?

If this is the case, don’t worry! When you’re dorm shopping, pick out a comforter or duvet cover that isn’t too bright or wild. This doesn’t mean you have to pick out boring bedding though! Stylish patterns such as chevron and ikat won’t overwhelm your dorm room, and aren’t dull either. It goes with almost any color, so you don’t have to worry about what bedding your roommate is bringing. Fun accent pillows and throws are a great way to add a little more color to your dorm room without clashing with your roommate.

How many cool throw pillows is too many cool throw pillows?

If you can’t sleep in it, then that might be too many. Otherwise, it’s no holds barred when it comes to decorating your bed. Some people prefer a simple look with just 1-2 accent pillows after their sham and pillowcase, but others like to have a lot to fall into on those tired afternoons. In addition to the pillow that you sleep on and a sham, we recommend from 2-5 throw pillows, depending on their size.

I’m confused about the difference between duvets, comforters, and coverlets. What’s the difference?

Duvets require a duvet cover and a duvet insert. You can swap out the cover whenever you want for a new look! Comforters come pre-stuffed and don’t require an insert. Coverlets are like quilts, and are lighter than duvets and comforters for warmer months. Check out our bedding guide for a breakdown of the different types of bedding!

What’s the difference between a twin and a twin XL?

Twin beds are 75” long, while twin XL beds are 80” long. Because of this, regular twin fitted sheets won’t fit on twin XL beds. The type of mattress that your dorm room will have depends on your college, so it’s best to play it safe and buy twin XL sheets! It will still fit on twin beds, so there’s no need to worry too much about the length of your mattress.

Do I have to get a special twin XL size duvet, or could a normal twin work?

If you have a twin XL bed, a normal twin duvet can be a bit short, so it’s recommended to buy a twin XL duvet cover and duvet insert.

Should I get more than one set of sheets and pillow cases?We recommend having two sets of sheets and pillow cases! Your schedule will probably be busy, so having two sets makes it so you don’t have to do laundry every time you want to change your sheets.

Is it easy to wash your comforters, duvets, throws, and rugs?

Yes! Comforters, duvets, duvet covers, and most throws are machine washable and very easy to wash and dry. We love duvet covers, because you don’t have to wash your duvet each time, and also can be sure that it’ll fit in a crammed dorm washing machine. Rugs need to be vacuumed every once in a while and can be easily spot cleaned with carpet cleaner. For a deeper clean, most rugs need to be professionally cleaned.

How do I organize all my clothes into the tiny closet space?

Your dorm room will most likely come standard with a closet and a dresser. The size of the closet will vary depending on which dorm you are in, so you might have a small closet or one twice that size. Check your college’s residence life website to be sure. Regardless of the size of your closet, use closet organizers to maximize your space. If you have a lot of hanging clothes, buy clothes hangers with hooks on the front. With these, you use the hook to hang an additional hanger, which can double the capacity of your closet! Hanging sweater organizers with shelves create a lot of space in your closet, too. Don’t forget about under the bed! Use under the bed storage boxes and shoe boxes to make even more space for your clothes.

What’s the best way to put pictures and posters up without damaging the walls?

Avoid having to pay for damage to your dorm room at the end of the year by using 3M Command Strips. These little lifesavers are strong (some of them can hold up to eight pounds!) and will come off clean and damage-free if you follow the directions. Use them around your dorm room to hang posters, pictures, decorations, jewelry, accessories, and more!

How do I put up stuff on the wall like a string of hanging lights, tapestries, or dry erase boards without putting something like a nail in the wall?

3M makes many different kinds of Command Strips and Hooks that are perfect for hanging stuff like this without nails! To put up a string of hanging lights, use Command Clear Decorating Clips. They’re small and not noticeable, but are strong enough to hold up a string of hanging lights. For tapestries, use Command Hooks if there are tabs for hanging, or attach Command Picture Hanging Strips to the back of the tapestry and to the wall. Command Picture Hanging Strips are also great for dry erase boards, frames, corkboards, canvases, and more!

Do people still bring mini fridges? And TVs?

Yes! A mini fridge is a dorm room essential. Even though you’ll eat at the dining hall a lot, there will always be times when you’ll need a fridge to store your own food, drinks, and leftovers. TVs aren’t as necessary, but people still bring them to college. College students usually watch Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services on their laptops, but laptop screens can be small, so it’s nice to have a TV that you can plug an HDMI cord into to watch movies and shows on a bigger screen with louder speakers. If you bring a TV, you’ll also have access to cable programming that you can’t get on your laptop. If you choose not to bring a TV though, it’s not a big deal. You can always find a friend who has one! Also, don’t forget to coordinate with your roommate so you don’t end up with duplicates of these items in your dorm room.

Do I need to bring lamps or lighting stuff?

Most dorm rooms come standard with fluorescent lighting, so you don’t have to bring too much extra lighting. We recommend bringing at least a desk lamp, but it can be nice to have a lamp on your dresser too! White Christmas lights strung around the ceiling are also a stylish touch. What you bring really depends on whether you like the standard dorm room lighting or not.

What if there aren’t enough plugs in the room for all our electronics?

Two words: power strips (bonus points for cuteness). These are dorm room essentials, especially when both you and your roommate have so many things to plug in! They double as an extension cord too, which is convenient when you need your hair straightener to reach all the way to your mirror.

What do I do if my dorm doesn’t have AC?

If your dorm doesn’t have AC, fans are essential, especially if you live in an area with a lot of heat. Since your window will probably be open most of the time anyway, we recommend buying a window fan that helps rotate air throughout the dorm room. To find out if you need more fans, research the weather for your college! For example, if you are attending the University of Maryland where temperatures can reach the 80’s in September, you will need more than one fan for your room. Consider buying a mini fan to put next to your bed to keep you cool while you sleep! You’ll want to also check with your housing in particular to see if they offer them already, or forbid them.

If a dorm doesn’t have AC, does that mean it doesn’t have heat either?

No! Regardless of whether or not your dorm has AC, most dorms have heat, so don’t buy a heater. A lot of schools may ban space heaters so you don’t want to get in trouble. To be sure, check your college’s residence life website.

Since you sell shower curtains, does that mean I get to have my own shower curtain in college?

It depends on where you’re living! If you’re living in a traditional style dorm where you share a bathroom with your floor, your college will supply shower curtains. If you’re living in a suite style dorm, you’ll share a bathroom with a just a few people and your college might supply a shower curtain to these kinds of rooms (it depends on the school). But feel free to ditch the boring cream-colored school-supplied shower curtain for one of our printed and decorative shower curtains! Your bathroom is another opportunity to style your space.

Should I personalize toiletries so they don’t get confused with other people’s?

In a traditional dorm bathroom that you share with your floor, you will keep all of your toiletries in your dorm room and carry them to the bathroom in a shower caddy when you need to use them, so there’s no need to personalize them! If you have a suite and share a bathroom with only a few people, you might feel more comfortable leaving your toiletries in the bathroom. In this case, it could be helpful to write your name on your toiletries, but chances are your suitemates use different products than you, so it might not be necessary.

I’m considering joining a sorority! What’s the next step that I should take?

First, register for formal recruitment! You can find the link on your college’s Greek life website. Your college might have formal recruitment in the fall, the spring, or both. Figure out when recruitment happens, and you can register starting a few months in advance. Next, find out what you’ll need to wear for recruitment and start putting together outfits so you’re not in a rush to find what you need the night before! After you’ve joined a sorority, show your spirit in our exclusive line of Greek accessories!

How do I make sure I have everything I need?

Dormify’s college checklist is a great resource to use when you’re dorm shopping! It lists all of the dorm room essentials that you’ll need, from bedding to study supplies. In addition, check your college’s residence life website for other items you may need that are specific to your school, such as ethernet cords. That website will also list any items that you’re not allowed to have in your dorm such as space heaters and hotplates (again, this is specific to your school). Finally, don’t forget to check your classes’ syllabi for textbooks!

Can I see Dormify’s products in person?

Yes! You can host a trunk show, which is a shopping party for you and your friends. If you sign up, we’ll send you a box of samples that you can showcase at the event. There are other benefits for hosting a trunk show! You and your friends will receive 15% off coupons for all orders placed at the event, and you’ll get an initial $25 product credit and an additional product credit worth 10% of all sales made at the event. Check out our trunk show page for more details and to sign up!

After getting started with dorm shopping, I realized that I really love style and design! What can I do with this interest?

If you love style and design, apply to be a Style Advisor for Dormify! As a Style Advisor, you get to represent Dormify and act as a style consultant for college students who need help decorating their room. It’s a great opportunity to write for a blog and get involved with social media and events! Check out Dormify’s blog to see some of the things that our Style Advisors have done, and apply here.