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Ask An OC Expert: Essentials When Dorm Shopping

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Moving away from home for college can be both exciting and daunting for many teenagers. The excitement of being independent can quickly be dampened by the challenges of living in a tiny dorm room with complete strangers. While the dorms may not offer all the personal space and luxuries of home, the key to surviving on-campus housing is preparation. Angelica Mondragon, a senior at Cal State Long Beach, offers five tips to students shopping for dorm room essentials.

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If you want to eat well, purchase a mini fridge.

A student's study schedule might not always coincide with cafeteria hours at the dorms. Mondragon says a dorm room-compatible refrigerator is perfect for storing leftovers, mom's care packages and midnight snacks. Even the little luxuries of the starving student will require refrigeration. Your stash of coffee creamer, ranch dressing and cheese wouldn't survive without the mini fridge.

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A mattress topper will help you reach REM sleep.

You not only will have to overcome those late-night parties and study sessions to achieve some shut-eye, but you'll also have to battle with your springy, extra-long twin bed. Mondragon recommends a comfortable mattress-topper to catch those Zs. She says the mattresses provided by campus housing are generally uncomfortable and dirty. A mattress topper can help you sleep better and prepare you for a full day of classes.

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Flip-flops are a must for the communal showers.

No one wants athlete's foot from the dorm showers. Walking barefoot in the communal bathrooms increases your risk of fungal infections as well as your exposure to vomit and other bodily fluids. Ask any veteran of on-campus housing and he or she will say that flip-flops are a must in the dorms. There's no need for name brands or fancy footwear. A cheap pair that will dry quickly will do the trick.

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Ear plugs and buds will make you a better student.

Snoring roommates, paper-thin dorm room walls and late-night revelers can all contribute to the dark circles under your eyes. The best way to sleep is to use ear plugs or ear buds. These items are also essential for studying and can help make you a better student.

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Invest in a reliable alarm clock.

Relieve yourself of the fear of oversleeping by investing in a good, reliable alarm clock. Since the advent of higher education, students have been known to sleep through important classes and early exams. You can now feel free to attend that fraternity party the night before your midterm so long as you remember to set that fancy alarm feature on your smart phone. An alarm clock might not ace your class for you, but it can certainly help you achieve a better work-life balance.

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Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on

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