Some dorm necessities don’t change: The venerable shower tote hauls necessities on Colorado State University’s campus.
Some dorm necessities don't change: The venerable shower tote hauls necessities on Colorado State University's campus. (Photos by Leah Milli, The Denver Post)

Campus checklist: what students really need

Forget about matchy-matchy bed linens, electrical appliances, supplemental furniture and a 10-piece cookset. Your college student's basic needs are much simpler. Instead, buy renters insurance.

  • Bed linens in size twin extra-long (one set is sufficient, but two if your student is laundry-averse; dirty sheets are the main source of that funky dorm odor)
  • Pillow
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Hangers (slim-profile hangers work best; everybody has more clothing than the closet-organizing advertisements show)
  • Suitcase or storage bin (to store seasonal clothing, shoes, boots and equipment)
  • Surge protector with outlets and USB ports
  • Wall art (not actually necessary, but inevitable)
  • Water bottle, reusable cup, plate, utensil
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Spiral notebooks and pens (yes, even in the age of laptops)
  • Personal hygiene and care items in a caddy
  • Laundry soap
  • U-lock and cable for bicycle
  • Box fan (white noise to drown out noisy neighbors, relief when the room is overheated — but first, make sure fans are allowed)
  • Renter's insurance

What they might want

  • Extra bookcase or milk-box-type crates (for storage, depending on floor space)
  • Ethernet cable (for dedicated gamers; wireless Internet access is standard in dorm rooms)
  • Reusable food-storage containers for leftovers
  • TV (although your kid probably watches on the laptop anyway)
  • Risers to elevate your bed legs (improves storage capacity)

What they don't need

  • Cleaning equipment (residence halls have shared vacuums, mops, etc.)
  • Iron, ironing board (usually supplied in a residence hall)
  • Bed-bug barrier/ mattress cover
  • Candles (fire hazard, not allowed)
  • Curtains and window treatments (dorms usually require leaving in place the existing, fire-retardant window coverings)
  • Almost anything electrical except for an alarm clock (maybe; your student probably uses his phone for that), a computer and a hair-dryer or curler (space heaters, cooking appliances, halogen lamps and heaters all are considered fire hazards)
  • Paint in your favorite color (most on-campus residences allow painting only by maintenance staff via work orders)
  • Bean-bag chair (fire hazard)
  • Paper shredder