As the assistant director of communications for residence education and housing services at Michigan State University, it is Ashley Chaney’s job to make sure students completely understand what essentials are important to make their college dorm room everything they need it to be while living on campus. “It is their own little piece of campus while they are here,” Chaney said. Here is some tips she shared to make sure these essentials are on a student’s priority list when planning their dorm room space.

Photo Gallery: Must-Have School Supplies

Ashley Chaney
Michigan State University
Residence Education and Housing Services
Wilson Hall
219 Wilson Road, Suite G60
East Lansing, MI 48825
(517) 353-3780

As the assistant director of communications for residence housing at Michigan State University, Ashley Chaney has become an expert in dorm room essentials since it is her job to compile lists of essentials students will need to bring for their dorm room. Chaney said it is also important to make a student’s dorm room look unique and creative, saying they even had a contest they named “My Spartan space” for the best decorated. At, you can purchase just about anything imaginable to help you take the guess work out of decorating your dorm room. Take a look at Michigan State University’s website that describes campus life – It will give you a good idea of what to expect at most universities before you get there. Also check out MSU’s very own website where students can purchase dorm room supplies online at This website will also help to give you an idea about what purchases to make for your dorm room.

Before You Go Shopping

Be sure to check out your university’s website for more information about your dorm room that may even include a floor plan. Chaney said it is also very important for students to take the time to read through the dorm room check-list literature that is sent to you by the university before you start buying. Chaney said she once saw a family pulling up to the university with a U-Haul and said they obviously didn’t have the right idea. “Keep in mind, each dorm room accommodates two students so it is important how students maximize their space,” Chaney said.


The most important device to bring is a power strip so you can plug in all of the electronics you may want to bring such as a small TV, music device and your laptop. Chaney said one of the most common things she sees in dorm rooms are bed rests so students can lay back on them while working on their laptops. Purchasing a small refrigerator at about five cubic feet or less is important to keep drinks cold and to keep snacks that need refrigeration on hand. A small microwave would also be a great way to heat up pre-made foods. Purchase a small fan since air-conditioning is mostly cooler in common areas and not in dorm rooms.

Cleaning Supplies

Dorm rooms aren’t hotel rooms so nobody is going to magically appear in the afternoon to straighten up and clean your room. Chaney said bring a broom, dustpan, vacuum and a mop with cleaning supplies and don’t forget laundry detergent and fabric softener. You will also need a couple of small trash cans and a bucket for water.

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Travel on Campus

Most universities are like small cities and Michigan State University is no exception. Keeping that in mind, you might want to purchase a bike with a large basket and get a strong U lock. However, Chaney said some students prefer rollerblading. Also Chaney said don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes

Other Essentials

Picking out a clip-on light will help to minimize light in your dorm room and not disturb your roommate when you decide to stay up late and study. Chaney also said it is a good idea to purchase some items that will create your own dish space to wash your dishes. If you don’t already have one, make sure to bring a cell phone that also provides long distance service.

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As a news reporter for 25-years and an online writer for various publications, Rebecca Kelley is passionate about being a journalist. She currently resides in Michigan and writes exclusively for online publications. Her work can be found at


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