The time has come to prepare your child for living in a dorm at college. There are many college dorm checklists available for reference. These lists can be extensive and overwhelming financially. What do you really need to buy? What can you skip?
Summer 2016 was my introduction to this fun and emotional time. I was so excited for my daughter to spread her wings, yet worried about her survival without me. The thought of her leaving our little nest would bring an instant tear to my eye. Naturally, I wanted her to have everything she would possibly need because I wouldn’t be there to care for her. Life as she knew it in her cozy protected bubble was about to burst. We hit the shops with three lists in hand; one from the University, one from Bed Bath & Beyond and one I printed online. We bought everything I thought she would need while she was apart from us. This wasn’t everything on the lists, but we did a pretty good job of checking most of the items off. Then fast forward nine months ahead to the day we arrived to move her back home for Summer and I saw things she never even opened! Some advice for this adventure would be:
When you start this quest begin with the list from the University or College your child will be attending. Check their website or references for the furnishings and features that are included in the room. Dorm options and furnishings can vary by residence halls.
Individual needs will vary by gender and lifestyle. Consider your child when looking at these lists. You know your child and can sensibly determine the needs that will apply to him/her.
Remember it is a small space you are moving them to. Talk with them about limiting the number of clothes they take with them. You can usually cut 25 to 50 percent of what they think they will need. College life is very simple.
Some dorms have community bathrooms and kitchens. Keep this in mind when considering what bathroom, kitchen or food items to purchase and pack. They may not need paper products or cleaning supplies depending on the facilities.
Consider sharing major purchases with their roommate. Items like mini refrigerators and microwaves can be expensive and bulky. You may want to share the costs.
Be sure to adhere to the campus list of unaccepted and unsafe items.
Definite Dorm checklist items to Buy
Organizational items, bins and containers– your child will need to be organized in this small space. Utilizing various closet organizers and under the bed storage containers will make living in the small space more comfortable.
Towels, Shower caddy and Shower shoes- Odds are you child will just use and wash one set of towels. Two sets really aren’t necessary. A shower caddy makes it easy to have all toiletries in one place with ease of transporting it. This item was highly valuable to my daughter! Shower shoes are a must if they share a community bathroom. Many bad things are spread in communal spaces. You don’t want your child getting a nasty case of athlete’s feet or worse!
Bedding- Sheet set, pillow, comforter and mattress pad. Most dorms have the irregular bed size Twin XL. Be sure to check the size. Twin XL mattresses are 5″ longer than the standard Twin mattress. Like towels, your child will likely only use and wash one set of sheets. Buying a second set may be a waste of money.
Laundry Items- Laundry bags with handles or the popup collapsible style function best. Baskets are too bulky and more difficult when flights of stairs are between the dorm room and the laundry room. Pod laundry detergent makes it very easy for your child to do laundry. One large container will likely last them the entire year.
Medicine and First Aid Kit- The small shared spaces of college life lend to many germs. Compound that with stress and little sleep and your child will likely have a fair share of colds etc. Some suggested items would be; Ibuprofen, Cold medicine, Airborne, Tums, Cough Drops, Imodium, Band-Aids, Hydrogen Peroxide, Neosporin, Anti-itch cream, Immune Booster such as EmergenC and vitamins. I also placed a small rock salt lamp in her dorm. They help clean the air and set a more relaxed environment for studies.
Small Microwave- Your child will have many uses for this in the dorm room. There are times when getting to the Student Union/food court will not be convenient or the facilities are closed.
3M Command Strips and Hooks- If your child wants to hang anything on the walls or decorate these are a must. The walls cannot be damaged and you will be billed if the walls need repainted. Caution them on hanging heavy items. They likely will not hold and may come crashing down in the night.
Computer and General School Supplies- They will gain better sense of what supplies they need after they start their classes. Printers and ink cartridges are convenient, but more of an amenity since there are many printers available for use on campus.
You may want to Skip these items on Dorm Checklists
Alarm Clock- Most kids rely on their phones these days.
Excessive Décor– This will likely be something they decide after they move in. If they join clubs or Greek life there will be many decorative items given to them which they will like to display. Less is more in the small space.
Mini Refrigerator- This will depend on your child’s habits. My daughter and her roommate used it very little and she feels it wasn’t necessary for them.
TV- These days with streaming and Netflix they can watch most anything on their computer. There will also be community spaces in the Residence Hall with television available.
Excessive Kitchen items and cleaning supplies- They likely won’t use many especially if you purchase a meal plan or they have cleaning services provided.
What items did you decide to skip? I’d like to hear, please post in the comments below.