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. You will find these at Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and many department stores. Consider this an investment for the next year minimally as they will be provided with a Twin XL mattress and some, if lucky a full or queen size bed.
From there you will need a minimum of two sets of sheets (fitted and flat) plus pillow cases. 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 black out 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 is amazing but for those old fashioned room set ups, 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 allows 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?
You will need to check with allowable items but you may want to consider purchasing a small microwave as well. Another great item to have is an electric kettle. This heats water up in seconds and can be used not only for hot tea and instant coffee or hot chocolate but also most instant prepared foods.
A Brita water filtration system is also recommended over the more convenient plastic bottles. For one, plastic bottles do not have fluoride so unless your student is using a fluoride added toothpaste or mouth rinse, they do run the risk of cavities should they not have any fluoride.
One of her suite-mates bought a Keurig coffee maker. If you have a student who cannot live without hot coffee, this is a very convenient, but definitely more expensive, way to have coffee. There are countless Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts on campus and close by but having your student make their own is often more economical. Target and Walmart sell the bottles of Starbucks Iced Coffee which have six 8 oz. servings.
If your student is like mine, there just is not enough closet and drawer space to accommodate all of her clothes/shoes/dry goods/toiletries/medicines, etc. That is where the under-the- bed plastic drawer system comes in handy. The problem you may face is availability. Her roommate’s parents had to drive over 8 miles to a farther location to secure these drawers. Here are a few tips. Either bring them with you if your vehicle space allows or order ahead of time. Besides Target and Walmart which is where most will head, consider Office Depot, HomeGoods, Marshalls or Ross. We purchased ours at Office Depot so with the 20% off coupon I had, it was comparably priced.
Instead of a traditional iron and ironing board, consider using the now popular mini hand steamers. They are very easy to use and work just as well. Another great item, especially if your student needs a step stool to reach bed (some of them raise them or some are bunk beds) is a storage ottoman. Clearly, by its name, you can see it can be used for storage but it is a more decorative way for them to climb into bed. Walmart has a wide variety of colors for $16.88. Most of the stores were sold out when we got to campus, so we would recommend either bringing it with you (and store stuff in it) or ordering online.