Heading off to college has a way of wiping everyone’s slate clean. No one cares if you were voted coolest, funniest, or best-dressed in high school, but moving forward, they might care if you have a video projector, comfortable seating, extra snacks, or, according to Stanford University senior Amanda Tu, Lord Jones CBD gummies in your dorm room. The things you use to decorate your dorm room can help curb homesickness, break the ice with fellow students, host fun parties that attract lots of students or potential new friends or, if that’s not your thing, keep socializing to a minimum. When it comes to the latter, Reed College junior Zack Youcha advises against making video games a focal point in your room because they often attract lots of people and make it hard to kick them out. “I had a guy who would just walk into my place and play PS4 without asking all the time. It was awful,” Youcha tells us.
While some may think that the clean slate that comes hand in hand with going to college is a bad thing, we see it as a major positive. Your four (or more) years on campus present the enviable opportunity to reinvent yourself. To help you self-reinvent in style, we asked Tu, Youcha, and 20 more intimidatingly cool and design-minded students from 19 universities across the country (and across the pond) to tell us about all the statusy stuff to bring to school so that you’ll look like the big man — or woman — on campus. Read on for 33 things (excluding video games) that will help you make friends and influence people outside of the classroom, according to our cool college students — who, if you’re interested, come from Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Columbia, the University of South Carolina, Tulane, Haverford, Reed, George Washington University, Syracuse, Barnard, Boston College, Stanford, Eton/Imperial College London, Ohio State, Leeds University, Goldsmiths, Lehigh, Goddard College, and Philadelphia University.
Nearly every student we talked to agreed that the quickest way to zhuzh up a sterile dorm room is to add soft lighting. More than half of our cool students — 12, in total — say they use string lights to create mood lighting in their own rooms, or have seen some kind of string-light configuration (ranging from full curtains of twinkly fairy lights to remote-controlled, color-changing bulbs) in their friends’ dorms. Daniella Isabel Apodaca, a senior at Columbia University, told us she hangs slightly larger globe-shaped string lights like these “around my room every year.” In addition to softening the often unflattering standard dorm-room lighting, she says the bigger exposed bulbs solve another problem: “If you want to sleep or watch a movie, but your roommate needs some light, usually having just the string lights on provides a happy medium.”
Stella Vujic, a sophomore at Yale, told us these remote-controlled lights give her the flexibility to quickly change a dorm room’s vibe. “I know several people that have string lights that can change color around their room,” she says. If you’re going for something chill and relaxing, switch them to white or warm yellow, and if you’re “fixing to have a party,” switch them to blue or green.
In addition to string lights, Tu says that pink Himalayan-salt lamps are definitely a thing on her campus. “I’m hard-pressed to think of a single cool girl on campus who doesn’t have one in her room. The glow is super mellow, they’re not that expensive, and people have fun licking them when they are intoxicated.” When we followed-up on the lamps’ lickable appeal, Tu told us: “I think every single person I’ve talked to who owns or knows someone who owns a salt lamp has licked it once. It’s not a trend so much as the intuitive thing to do, I guess.”
Gunner Park, a junior at Cornell who spent his summer interning at HypeBeast, first discovered this design-y but still affordable alternative to your standard desk lamp in a friend’s room. He told us he was surprised that the sculptural piece — which would look just as nice in an adult apartment — didn’t cost a lot more than the more run-of-the-mill desk lamps you can buy.