Tech Tips

Better Dorm Living through Tech

A little homesickness while at college is expected, but sometimes it isn’t even about missing Mom and Dad. Sometimes it’s about missing the creature comforts of home, like perpetually stocked refrigerator, the bathroom privacy, and the clothes that always seemed to launder themselves.

The following is a list of stuff that can help you replicate those comforts of home (albeit in a downsized way). Before you get started, though, you’ll want to check your campus’s housing regulations to learn which appliances are allowed.

  1. Mini Fridge. A dorm room staple since time immemorial, the mini fridge isn’t just for stashing beer—it’s also the only place to keep leftover pizza and to-go snacks like yogurt and beef jerky, for when you’ve just woken up and realized you have four minutes to make it to Poli-Sci 101.
  2. Microwave. College life is all about late nights, whether studying, partying, or just hanging out with new friends. With that in mind, it can’t hurt to have a way of quickly heating soup or popping popcorn after the cafeteria closes.
  3. Vacuum cleaner (or cordless mini-vacuum). This is an appliance that might seem pointless on Day One, when your dorm room floor is spotless, but gains a vital importance as your roommate’s love of Cheetos becomes a full-blown addiction. That said, if your room is so small that even a lightweight vacuum cleaner might feel like furniture, try a cordless mini-vac such as a DustBuster. Just remember to keep it charged.
  4. Coffee maker. It doesn’t matter what time your classes start, you’re going to need coffee. Many college campuses have small cafes here and there, but a daily $4.99 skinny vanilla latte at Brewed Awakenings (or whatever it’s called) could leave you broke weeks before the semester finishes. Best to invest in a reliable coffee maker with an automatic shut-off feature and a sleeve of to-go cups.
  5. Portable air conditioner/space heater. Many dorms do not have central air conditioning or central heating, rendering rooms intolerably hot or unbearably cold for long stretches. Portable air conditioners beat window units for two reasons: first, window units are usually prohibited; and second, portable air conditioners can be taken from room to room. Hence the “portable.”By the same token, space heaters, if allowed, can be a godsend. Just be sure to pick one made within the last five years and that has an automatic shut-off feature if knocked over. Leave “Ole Sparky” in Grandma’s attic, where it belongs.
  6. Surge protector with overload protection. Is there any more prevalent campus horror story than the one about the 25-page term paper being lost forever to a random power surge? Don’t be a victim—get yourself a surge protector for your laptop and peripherals. After all, some professors don’t take kindly to tech-based excuses, and as difficult as dorm life might be, you don’t want to be asked to leave before your time.

More help for creating the best dorm room ever: