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Once your student has been given their move-in date and dorm/residence assignment, the process of handling what can be a stressful, labor-intensive and often expensive process begins. Traditionally, female students tend to take a full on decorating approach complete with wall décor, signs, pictures frames, string lights, desk accessories, and many other decorative items. Male students do not quite go that full in and often just want a comfortable bed, maybe a poster or two and perhaps a rug. It is quite humorous after each drop-off, whether it is for summer or fall, to see my friends postings on Facebook and Instagram, (because that is the social media that parents are most comfortable with), and see the obvious difference between a completed dorm room.
This may be one of those sticker price shock moments. According to the National Retail Federation, back to college spending averaged $969.88 in 2017. This is big business with college checklists resembling the lists usually reserved for wedding/bridal registries and baby shower registries. If you go by the many college dorm checklists, you will be faced with a list filled with items you may have never considered. Some, like gaming systems, seems a bit far-fetched. You are not looking to entertain your student for the next four years; just to set up a comfortable room where they can study, relax and feel a bit of that home feeling they left behind.
Break It Down
Let’s break this down with some tips for both genders:
If you have a student living in a dorm, the beds are not necessarily the most comfortable. You will want to get a mattress protector pad, mattress cover and for the best comfort, a memory foam mattress topper. Consider this an investment for this year minimally as they will be provided with a Twin XL mattress. Should they move into an apartment the following year, they will probably have a full or queen size mattress.
From there you will need a minimum of two sets of sheets (fitted) plus pillowcases. A lot of students do not use a flat sheet anymore. No one is saying that they need the top thread count but certainly try to get a set that will not pill after one wash. They will want to wash their sheets once a week minimally so two should be sufficient. Next, most will want a comforter or duvet cover. Throw in an extra blanket as the dorm rooms tend to be kept very cold.
A floor rug, if they have hard floors, is not a bad investment but check first to see if the room is carpeted. Not the Persian variety but just a rug that will cover some of the floors between the traditional two-bed dorm rooms. A 5’ x 7’ should be sufficient although you may consider a 7’ x 9’.
Another item that you may want to buy once you are in the room and set up is a blackout shade. Most dorm window coverings are basic plastic blinds. Depending on the direction their room faces, there is nothing worse than being woken to a bright sun shining in your eye particularly during daylight savings periods when the sun rises well before 7 am. Again, this tends to be a gender preference but some also will like to hang drapes. A word of caution, you are not supposed to put nails/holes in the walls except where otherwise allowed so plan accordingly.
Some of the newly designed dorms have walk-in closets which are amazing but for those old fashioned room setups, where there is no closet door, you will need to purchase curtain or panel, a tension curtain rod, and clip rings.
If your college student is planning on having a television in their room, you will need a coaxial cable. Extension cords are also a much-needed item. We would recommend using one that is both double and triple pronged.
Many students also like to have a mini refrigerator in their room. Some roommates may share the refrigerator so that will determine the size, but some may prefer their own. Many stores, such as Best Buy, will allow you to order it online and arrange to pick it up or have a family member or friend pick it up, at the store of your choosing.
Most dorm check-in processes allow you to use their hand truck. Many of the hand trucks/flatbed hand trucks are collapsible so bringing your own, if you have one, is highly
recommended as you may not be able to get your hands (no pun intended) on one. I left one for my daughter so she can use it to move out at the end of the semester.
Can You Bring It?
As for what you should not bring, we’ve got that information too. Read our What Not to Bring blog.