Last year, I was in your shoes. I was eager to dorm shop and I spent hours and hours on Pinterest trying to figure out exactly how I wanted my dorm room to look. Of course, you don't realize how small a dorm room truly is until you get to school and try to fit all of your stuff inside of it.
Really all that you're going to truly need in your dorm room are the basics. Pillows, sheets, blankets, towels, school supplies, clothing, some extra storage, and some decorations to make yourself feel at home. If you're loading up more than two SUV's, you're bringing way too much stuff with you.
Keep in mind that you have half of a room that's definitely smaller than your room at home. You don't have room for much more than the provided furniture. Things that are really great to bring with you are bed risers, extra pillows, and some form of extra storage to put under your bed.
The thing is, dorms don't typically have a lot of space for your clothes so you're going to want to bring a few bins to house your clothing. Dorm beds aren't the most comfortable, so you have to make it like home. What I found worked best was a 3-inch mattress pad, a few fuzzy blankets, and an excessive amount of throw pillows. My bed was so comfortable I had to set two alarms so I would be up for class. There's nothing better than coming back to a cozy bed after a long day of class to watch Netflix, do homework, or take a much-needed nap.
Walking into stores that have college selections, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Target, can be a bit intimidating as someone who hasn't been to college yet. If you don't have siblings, you may feel rather confused as to what you need and what you don't need, but it really isn't all that much of a big deal. Pick out things that you know you'll like and you won't get tired of, and try to make your space feel like home. Definitely keep in mind the fact that a little goes a long way and you only have so much wall space and floor space in your room.
Some of my best advice for incoming freshmen when it comes to dorm shopping is to really make it your own space because at the end of a long day you're going to want to come back to a room that really feels like home. Make sure you have enough to get you through the year but also don't pack too much because you won't have any extra space in your dorm.
Make a list for yourself of what you think you'll need and compare it to a list you find in a store, ask your friends who have already begun college, and look up ideas on Pinterest. If you go in with an idea of what you want your dorm to look like then you'll have a really great start to your dorm room search.