Dorm Room Dos and Don’ts | Highlander Blog

August 14, 2019

I’m sitting in my American Lit II class, watching the rain splatter against the pane. Today, we’re discussing Zora Neal Hurston, who, in all fairness, is one of the coolest people ever. She wrote in an age when women didn’t write; she wrote in an age where African-Americans weren’t respected as artists. Still, as the rain splats and wind howls outside the window, I find my mind wandering towards another future. I start to think about the place I’m going to be living once I graduate. I start daydreaming about…which blouses I ought to bring, and which should go into storage at my parents.

Yes, that’s my daydream. Most people think about the Bahamas in March; I think about the state of my closet and if I need to buy more tights. Planning is a part of my personality, as entrenched as my blue eyes or curly hair. Which is why moving to college was something I thought a lot about. I had no idea what to expect or what to bring. And it took about three semesters to learn.

So in case you’re like me, zoning out in your classes to wonder about your Houghton dorm room, or you just like to be prepared, here’s my unofficial guide for what to bring to college. This is not a comprehensive guide. I’m going to assume you already know about clothes and sheets and whatnot. Rather, this a guide for the things you might wonder about, or not even think to consider.

In other words, this is your hack to Houghton dorming.

What to Absolutely Bring

  • A WARM Coat. It gets cold here in the winter! Like, below freezing!
  • Rain-Friendly Footwear/Mud-Friendly Footwear/Snow-Friendly Footwear. Basically, pack good shoes.
  • Printer Paper. Houghton provides printers and ink, but not paper.
  • Hooks for Your Door/Walls. You’ll want the command strips you can safely peel off at the end of the semester. You pay for any paint you chip.
  • Band-Aids. Useful for paper cuts, and for all other sorts of minor maladies.
  • Any Desired Cooking Utensils. Dorms come with kitchens, but not cutlery.
  • Cleaning Supplies. Your room will get dirty. You’ll want more than water and paper towels to clean it.
  • A Fan. It can get pretty hot in September and May.
  • A Shower Caddy. Dorm showers are usually a bit of a trek from your room. It’s useful to have something else for carrying various shower accessories besides your towel.
  • Decorations That Will Make You Feel At Home. For me, this was my grandmother’s paintings, while for my roommates, it was plants. For our next-door neighbor, it was High School Musical posters. Whatever it is for you, bring something for rough days when you need a sense of familiarity.
  • A Laundry Basket and Detergent. Laundry is free, but it doesn’t come with detergent or transport.

Things That Might Be Useful

  • A Spare Set of Sheets. For that inevitable coffee spill in bed.
  • Masking Tape and a Sharpie. All food kept in community fridges is labeled. Post it notes fall off, and if it’s not labeled, it’s up for grabs.
  • A Mug. Tea drinking is big at Houghton, and events are often labeled BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug).
  • A Sturdy Book Bag. You will want something that can hold seven or eight books, for afternoons with back to back classes. Especially if you’re in Shen or Roth (further from the class buildings), it’s annoying to have to run back to your room to exchange class stuff.
  • An Extra Shelving Unit or Two. A standard double room comes with 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 chairs, and 2 closets. That’s it. Most people like to have a little bit more storage.
  • A Lamp. My roommate and I had vastly different sleep schedules; I would be up writing till one, and she would be in bed by nine. We made this work largely because we had some low-level lamps that allowed her to sleep and me to read at the same time. The overhead lighting of a dorm room has only one mode: bright.
  • An HDMI Cord. Dorm lounges have TVs, but usually no way to connect that TV to your laptop for Netflix parties. You’ll win some major friend points if you show up dangling the right cable.

What NOT to Bring to Your Dorm Room

  • Blue Sticky Tack. It’s contraband, and it stains your walls. White sticky tack, on the other hand, is just fine.
  • Appliances. You can have mini fridges and water kettles in your dorm room. Other than that, appliances have to live in the kitchen, and they’re usually not worth the bother.
  • Animals. Service animals and emotional support animals are allowed with permission, but other than that, Houghton dorms are people only.
  • Candles. They’re a fire hazard. Alas.