Dorm Room Essentials: Tech Every College Student Should Have

Make college slightly easier with these must-have gadgets

Getting through college isn’t easy, but having the right room essentials can help, especially the right technology tools. While there are countless tech gadgets you could bring with you, this list includes those items that will really help you stay on track every day…with both studying and relaxing (smartphones aren’t included since they’re a given).

Before making any purchases, check with the school to see what’s allowed. Also, if you’re able to communicate with your roomie in advance, talk about which items only one of you needs to bring to share.


College isn’t just for studying; it’s for discovering the world. As you make friends, attend parties and events, go on trips, or explore your college town, you’ll want to capture those special moments. Of course you can use your phone camera, but a “real” camera will allow you to capture better quality images and give you greater creative control. There are many features and factors to consider when buying a camera. One of them is how it feels in your hands, so be sure to visit a physical store before you make a final purchase.

college dorm room ideas
Nikon CoolPix A10.

Ethernet Cable or Wi-Fi Router

In college it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your studies. The last thing you need is a sluggish internet connection dragging you down. Even if your dorm has Wi-Fi, it may be slow, so you can use your own router to ramp up the speed. Or, you can get even faster speeds for less money by bringing an Ethernet cable and plugging your computer into the wall jack.

college dorm room ideas
Mediabridge Ethernet Cable (25 Feet).

Flash Drives

A flash drive is one of those things that’s invaluable to have, yet easy to forget. Bring one (or more) along to transfer files, create backups, or bring your work with you in case the internet access in your dorm gets too spotty. Flash drives are inexpensive, and with lots of whimsical designs available, like Doctor Who's TARDIS, they don’t have to be all work.

college dorm room ideas
Doctor Who TARDIS 16GB USB Memory Stick Key Chain.

Laptop Computer

It almost goes without saying that you need a great computer for your studies…and for fun. There are several factors you’ll want to take into consideration to ensure you get a computer that will last for your entire college experience. Since you’ll be using it constantly, and because “stuff happens” at school, you’ll want to make sure it’s as durable as possible. You’ll probably be using it in a wide variety of places, so make sure it’s easily portable. Of course, you need it to be powerful, and also secure. Finally, you’ll want to make sure it’s affordable. Do your research before you decide which one's right for you.

college dorm room ideas
Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4.

Music System

Music is an essential part of college life, and you’ll want to be able to play yours conveniently. If your dorm room is large enough, or if you’ll be living off campus this year, consider a small stereo system. You can also consider an MP3 player plus a docking station, or a docking station that accommodates your phone. Don’t forget headphones for those times when your roommates aren’t on board with your musical choices.

college dorm room ideas
Yamaha MCR-BO2OBL Micro Component System.

Noise-cancelling Headphones

Speaking of headphones, sometimes it’s you who will want to tune out others’ noise. In these cases you’ll be grateful to have a set of noise-cancelling headphones, which block out much of the noise around you. They’re well-known for use in airplanes, but they’re just as handy when you’re trying to get that paper written when everyone else in your dorm is in party mode. Before you buy you’ll want to think about comfort, weight, wired versus wireless, on-ear versus in-ear, and cost.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones.


While so much information is shared electronically, there will still be times that require you to produce printed materials. Your busy schedule won’t necessarily allow you to get to a print shop before you need to deliver them, and for these occasions you’ll want your own printer. Naturally you’ll want to make sure it’s the right size for your dorm room. You’ll also want to consider print quality, ink jet versus laser, whether or not you want to print photos, and cost. 

college dorm room ideas
HP Envy 5640.


When it’s time for those well-deserved study breaks, make sure you have a great TV to display all your entertainment. Just remember, “great” doesn’t have to mean “giant.” Make sure the TV you get is proportional to your space, whether that’s a dorm room, a bedroom in a group house, or a tiny apartment living room. Also, think about other ways your entertainment could be delivered. A powerful computer plus a high quality monitor could suit your needs just fine, as could a lower-end TV paired with a streaming device.

college dorm room ideas
VIZIO D32h-D1.


College life can be hectic, and your phone can help, but not if it’s stuffed down at the bottom of your backpack. A smartwatch is always available to you so it’s the perfect tool for things like getting reminders for to-do list items, staying on top of the news, and tracking your fitness. Oh, and since it's also a watch, you can make sure you’re getting to your classes on time. There are many models available, so be sure to do your research when choosing the right one for you.

college dorm room ideas
Apple Watch Series 3.

Surge Protector

With all the other items on this list, you’re going to need a lot of electrical power, and you’ll want to make sure to protect your devices from power spikes with a surge protector. The most affordable are also known as “power strips,” and they allow you to plug the strip into a wall outlet, then plug several devices into the strip.

APC 8-Outlet Surge Protector 2630
APC 8-Outlet Surge Protector 2630.