Dorm room must-haves for fall

Autumn is around the corner and for many American teens, that means the start of college. If you’re a freshman, chances are you’ll be spending at least one year living in a dorm. But dorm life doesn’t have to be all function and no form. You can make things more comfortable for yourself and your roommates with a few simple and inexpensive purchases.

1. Mini refrigerator

Many people assume miniature fridges are expensive, but most department stores carry budget models at reasonable prices. Another, more eco-friendly option is to check with the local recycling companies. You’ll be glad to have soda, sandwiches and junk food handy when you’ve missed the dining hall window.

2. A compact laserjet printer

You don’t need a full-fledged office printer with scanning and fax capability – just something to fire off papers and assignments without breaking the bank on toner. Many laptops and desktops now come with printers and small, inexpensive models are widely available. Check for photo-printing capabilities if you think you may want to use your printer for photos.

3. Satellite Internet

Wireless Internet, now widely available throughout the U.S., provides many college students with the mobility and flexibility they need. Using your laptop’s USB port, satellite Internet a high-speed signal – perfect for e-mailing, listening to music or even watching movies. This is a solution to consider when space is at a premium.

4. Coffee-maker

A compact coffee-maker with a built-in filter that you can wash daily is a good investment. Relatively inexpensive, these coffee makers are available at nearly all home goods stores. Some even come with single-cup brewing functions and mugs.

5. An all-purpose adjustable lamp

Sometimes your roommate needs to catch some Z’s while you’ve got to pull an all-nighter. A low wattage desk or bed lamp with a flexible neck provides light. You can get things done from your bed or at your desk without bothering others who are trying to sleep.

6. Plastic storage bins

Keep large, plastic bins under your bed to help maximize space. Use them to store out-of-season clothes or simple odds and ends that don’t fit elsewhere in the room. Plastic closet organizers are also a good idea for clothes you don’t want wrinkled and they save a ton of space in an otherwise cramped closet.

7. A large carpet

It’s probably not the first thing you’d think of, but a room carpet makes a space feel far less industrial. A decent carpet or rug helps bring color and warmth to a room, and also keeps bare feet off the not-so-spotless floors. If you’re like the majority of college students, you’re not going to take the time to mop every week, so it’s also helpful for keeping your digs clean.

Realistically, there are dozens of easy, low-cost ways to economize when space is at a premium. If possible, call your roommate and coordinate who will bring what on moving day so there are no conflicts. If you plan ahead and play it smart, you’ll be able to make your dorm room a place you don’t mind coming home to at night, and even enjoy living in.

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