In the four years that I lived in a college dorm, I built up quite the collection of weird college dorm items that I got a lot of use out of. These items weren’t on any typical college packing list and helped me with a variety of tasks related to things like managing my chronic illness, organizing my dorm room, helping me with homework, or just helped with dorm life in general. While I didn’t necessarily bring all these items on day one of college move-in, I often found myself wondering why I didn’t think to bring some of them sooner and have since recommended them to a lot of my younger friends. Without further ado, here are ten weird items that I brought to college, and why they are awesome.
This was not a “day one” item for living in a college dorm, but it was a “day two” item, and I should have listened to my parents and bought this before moving into my first-year dorm. The reason I say this is because on the first morning I lived in a dorm, I opened my eyes and went to roll out of bed, forgetting that my bed was much higher off the ground than I had expected. After falling face first on the floor, my parents kindly went to Wal-Mart, purchased a toddler safety bedrail, and attached it to my bed later that day. I never rolled out of bed again, and I appreciated that the railing folded down so that I could easily make my bed or hide it during a video call.
DIY weighted blanket
A lot of people really love having a weighted blanket for college, but weighted blankets aggravated my chronic pain a lot, especially pain in my feet/legs. I still liked the idea of a weighted blanket, so I created my own weighted blanket alternative by stuffing a duvet cover with at least two Twin XL comforters that I had used in previous years of living in a dorm and found that this gave me the weight that I wanted without having me wake up in more pain than before.
Another great weighted blanket alternative that I have is the Ms. Bliss weighted blanket from Yogibo, which rests on my chest/shoulders. Yogibo gifted it to me after I had talked about their products in a post, and it’s great for migraines or nights where I can’t fall asleep.
One of my favorite items in my dorm is my desktop computer, which I use for virtual classes, blogging, and other side projects- I prefer using a larger keyboard, screen, and mouse when it comes to working on assignments for long periods of time. My HP Sprout computer has a non-traditional two monitor set-up, where the first monitor is a 24″ touch screen, and the second monitor is a 22″ TouchMat that sits on the surface of my desk. I also love that my computer has a built-in video magnifier, 3D scanner, and other accessibility tools, though many of my other friends prefer to stick with a traditional desktop computer or laptop docking station.
- How I Set Up My College Desk
- Why I Brought A Desktop Computer to College
- Ten Tech Skills Every College Student Needs For Virtual Classes
Contact paper for closet door
Besides having contact paper on my desk, I covered the closet door with contact paper when I lived in an apartment-style dorm and had my own bedroom. The contact paper I bought had a dry-erase surface and turned my closet doors into two giant vertical whiteboards that I could use to work out homework problems, write out blog ideas, or even just write my to-do list for the day. It worked out well since my closet was right next to my desk, so I could easily get up and move around while working on a problem, or reference what I had written down.
- Microsoft Whiteboard Accessibility For Visual Impairment
- How To Choose A Dorm And Pick College Housing
In the four years I lived on campus, my college dorm featured a variety of my favorite stuffed animals from home, as well as new plush that I would purchase in college. While I didn’t bring all my stuffed animals from home, I did bring several of my favorites including a small plush dog that I had gotten with one of my best friends in sixth grade.
Besides having the stuffed animals on my bed for me to sleep with, the stuffed animals in my dorm served a variety of other purposes. I would put a small stuffed animal on top of my computer to help me make eye contact during webcam conversations/interviews, have another stuffed animal on my desk so I could talk through coding issues to an inanimate object, and even used Pillow Pets to help keep me from bumping into furniture and hurting myself.
It’s worth noting that no one ever made fun of me for having the various stuffed animals, so students shouldn’t worry about bringing their favorite plush if they want to.
Various tools for pain management
A lot of students talk about packing a first aid kit for their college dorm, though many don’t think about tools for pain management that can help students manage short term pain or more long-term/chronic pain issues- as a result, many of my friends have come to my dorm asking if they could borrow some of my pain management tools. Since I live with a neurological condition that causes chronic pain in my head, neck, shoulders, back, and sometimes legs, I have tried out a lot of different pain management tools that have worked well for me, though I made sure to talk to my doctors before trying new things. Some of the most-borrowed pain management tools in my dorm include:
- Manual massage ball
- Back rest for desk chair
- Heat wrap (check with college to make sure this item is allowed)
- Massage hook
- Specialty pillows for back/neck/shoulders/etc
- Pain Management Tools I Love From Amazon
- Tips For Dealing With Back Pain In College
- Dealing With Broken Bones In College
- How To Handle Medical Emergencies In A Dorm
Remote controlled outlet
Have you ever gone to rest in bed and then realized you forgot to turn off the light, and then had to get back up to turn it off again? This was happening to me too often, so I decided to get a remote-controlled outlet and put the remote in the built-in pocket that came with my fitted sheet. Other items can be plugged into the remote-controlled outlet as well, though I would check dorm rules to see if there are any restrictions on what can be plugged into the wall.
Foldable platform cart/hand cart
I play the bass clarinet in the school pep band and thought that having a foldable platform cart/hand cart would help me with bringing my instrument to rehearsal. While it turns out that the cart wasn’t helpful for that (I had trouble storing the cart during rehearsal), it came in handy when I had to move heavy items, carry things from the mailroom, move to a new dorm, or similar tasks. My brother and friends also borrowed it frequently, and it fit perfectly underneath my bed so that it would stay out of the way. It also helped a lot during college move out, as we could get more items out of the dorm with the additional cart.
- Playing in GMU Green Machine Pep Band With Vision Impairment
- Ten Benefits of Having A Family Member at the Same College
- Tips For Living In Transitional/Emergency Housing In College
Amazon Echo Dot
Admittedly, having an Amazon Echo Dot isn’t that weird of an item in college, but I like to use my Amazon Echo Dot in a lot of unexpected ways that go beyond setting alarms, checking the weather, and rocking out to my favorite music. I’ve created custom Amazon Alexa skills for things like studying flashcards, learning to navigate my dorm, following along with audio workouts, and even listening to reading for my classes. I have several posts on how I use my Amazon Echo Dot linked below.
- Creating Custom Flashcards With Amazon Alexa
- How Amazon Alexa Can Help You Navigate Your Dorm
- Creating Custom Workouts With Amazon Alexa
- How Amazon Alexa Can Help With Online Learning
- How Amazon Alexa Can Help You Sleep
- How Amazon Alexa Can Help You Read
Cork trivets and Pinhooks
I love jewelry and typically wear the same few necklaces all the time, so it’s important to me that I can easily locate them and hang them up without tangling up all of the chains. For the last several years, I have stored all of my jewelry on cork trivets from Ikea that are attached to the wall with Command Strips. The necklaces themselves are on Pinhooks, which are hooks that are similar in design to pushpins and are perfect for hanging small items. I like this system so much that I use it to hang my necklaces now, even though I don’t live in a dorm.
List of ten weird things I brought to college
- Bed rail
- DIY weighted blanket
- Desktop computer
- Contact paper for closet door
- Stuffed animals
- Various tools for pain management
- Remote controlled outlet
- Foldable platform cart/hand cart
- Amazon Echo Dot
- Cork trivets and Pinhooks