college dorm is a refuge from your childhood home, your sibling who steals your clothes — and your 8 a.m. chemistry lab. In a hurry (and you will be)? It's a five-minute walk (or a two-minute, coffee-fueled sprint) from all your classes and the dining hall, where you'll eat more pizza than you'll admit to your mom. It's the place you'll meet your best friends, right down the hall.
All other times, your dorm is a humble (re: horrifying) reminder you hate folding laundry, putting away said laundry and making your bed before that 8 a.m. chemistry lab. It's half the size of the room you grew up in — a glorified walk-in closet you live in with a person who has the weirdest sleeping habits, ever. It kind of smells like pizza, and you have no idea why.
Either way, your dorm room is, well, your dorm room. "A perfect college-friendly space is comfortable, unique and welcoming — a perfect combination of the personal and the functional," Amy Dimond, spokesperson for Sears and Kmart Home Fashion, tells Yahoo! Shopping. "You want to be able to have a few friends over in your room and offer them a place to sit down, and at the same time, you want it to feel like a cozy space that's all your own."
As fall nears, Yahoo! Shopping is breaking down everything you need to set up your dorm, which will likely already be furnished with the bare basics. (But you're on your own when it comes to your chemistry homework and your weird roommate.)
1. Alarm Clock
That 8 a.m. chemistry lab always comes way too soon after a night of studying — or whatever you're doing until 2 a.m — and a reliable alarm clock can make all the difference when it comes to making the grade.
You won't sleep through your lecture if you wake up on a high note — a musical note, that is. Set this iHome alarm clock ($66, Sears), which is compatible with your favorite Apple devices that play your favorite tunes, whether you want to awaken to Taylor Swift or a classic alarm sound. (And if you insist on hitting the snooze button, you can program a custom snooze time with this gadget.)
2. Comfortable Bedding
Speaking of snooze time: You'll want to be wide awake in the lecture hall (no matter how monotone that chemistry professor is), so consider a good night's rest an unspoken requirement on every syllabus you pick up on the first day of class.
Besides, "your bed ultimately is going to be your focal point in the room," RealSimple.com deputy editor Krissy Tiglias explains. Balance coziness and aesthetics with this statement-making floral bed set (also available in a blue-striped print and a red-and-black flannel pattern), which includes a comforter, a 3-piece sheet set and a sham ($25, Kmart).
Think machine-washable: Your (likely) twin XL-sized bed will function as a couch for all of your new friends to hang.
3. Desk Lamp
Study sessions — and a few harmless Facebook breaks — mean you'll be clocking in plenty of late nights, especially during finals' week. Invest in an extra lamp, so you can still hit the books if your roommate already hit the sack. Plus, extra light "can dramatically transform a room," Tiglias says. Snag this lamp with an iPod dock (cue the Mozart) and built-in compartments for school supplies ($69, PB Teen).
4. Multi-Tasking Furniture
Your biggest challenge (aside from those college-level classes): adjusting to small-space living, says Sabrina Soto, HGTV designer and Target style expert for Home. "Students may not realize how much space — personal and shared — they have at home," she says. "When they move into a dorm room, space is much more limited." Tiglias recommends looking for items that "multitask."
"One reliable way to make the most of your square footage is to consolidate belongings by selecting furniture that contains storage space," she says. Soto's pick: a storage ottoman ($17, Target), which acts as an extra chair (or a table top) in addition to the space under the lid.
5. Bed Risers
Still have more stuff? Take your dorm up a notch — with bed risers. This vertical solution maximizes your free space, so you can store away items like extra linen or winter clothes in flat bins. These adjustable risers add up to 8 extra inches of height ($14.99, Sears).
6. Closet Organizer
Your room may feel like a closet — but what about your actual wardrobe? All of your favorite fashions (even those high school football T-shirts) will fit in your dorm with the right arrangement, like this adjustable double organizer that attaches right to your closet's rod ($21, Target). It's "great for small closets with lots of stuff," Soto says.
7. Laundry Bag
Like that term paper — more like term papers — you'll procrastinate writing, your laundry can only be put off for so long before even the hoodie you wore yesterday, and the day before (and the day before), becomes unbearable, even by the standards of a morning class.
Choose a drawstring carrier with straps so you can lug it straight from your dorm to the laundry room, like this bag set emblazoned with the answers to all of your clothing questions, whether you're washing your whites, darks or saving it for Mom ($50, PB Teen).
8. Mini Fridge
"It's important to think practically about the things that'll make day-to-day life better," Tiglias says. For example, spring for "a mini fridge for storing drinks or milk for breakfast when you can't make it to the cafeteria."
Keep your study snacks on hand with this Emerson mini-fridge ($99.99, Target).
Bonus: It doubles as a dry-erase board, in case you need to remind your roommates not to eat all of your aforementioned study snacks.
9. Shower Tote
You learned how to share way back in your playground days, so consider communal bathrooms, used by your fellow dorm-dwellers on your floor, the ultimate test of everything you mastered in kindergarten. There's no room to stash your favorite body wash, so you'll need to bring everything with you when you hit the showers.
Use a caddy with handles or straps, so grabbing and going is as easy as shampooing and conditioning. This mesh bag will drain water when it gets wet, so your dorm can stay clean, too ($16, Kmart).
10. Wall Décor
It's college — not thirteenth grade. "While you don't need your full cheerleading uniform, it's great to have photos and memories from home to remind you of your loved ones," Dimond says.
Your walls are your blank canvas when it comes to making your dorm feel like home without hogging valuable storage space, so stock up on picture frames, pinboards and bulletin boards. Spruce up your favorite vintage photos (your prom portraits count, of course) with these vintage picture-frame decals, which peel and stick right onto your wall without causing damage ($50, PB Teen).
The best tips are on the Yahoo! Shopping Insider