As a single mom who has sent one child to college and is preparing to send another, I’d like to offer up a little advice for those of you who are staring at the online Target catalog wondering what to get first. Here are 5 things your undergrad must have to to start off their life in the dorms with comfort and ease:
2. Closet organizer/storage boxes
3. Desk or clip-on lamp
4. Boxed, bagged, or canned snacks
5. Instant Water Boiler or coffeemaker
Fortunately, stores like Target and Wal Mart have sections dedicated to dorm living. For bedding, look for “bed-in-a-bag” deals for twin beds (dorm beds are usually twin-size bunks). You can look online for coupons, especially if you’re planning to order online– there are tons of coupon sites that provide “free shipping” coupons for you to use. RetailMeNot has a free shipping coupon for Kohls, where you’re likely to find a good bed set and towels, and coupons for a number of other sites like Macys and Forever 21 if your student needs new clothes to be sent off with! The closet organizer will help keep everything compact and helps with sharing the space with a dormmate, and small fabric or plastic storage boxes can be stacked on the bottom of the closet, the top of the closet, or beneath the bed with things like jewelry, photos, supplies, snacks, etc. If the room has a desk, a small desk lamp is necessary for late-night reading and homework, or a clip-on lamp to clip onto the bed frame (and maybe a little lap desk!).
As far as snacks go, it doesn’t hurt to have a box of whole grain crackers, a jar of peanutbutter, dried fruit or dehydrated veggies on hand. Sometimes, the dorms are an annoying trek from the cafeteria or on-campus convenience stores, so it’s best to have a few things to munch on for late-night studying or when there’s no time to stand in line for food. The coffeemaker and water-boiler for tea or an emergency Ramen are also handy!
My advice is to make a checklist for the things that are absolutely vital (such as the things I’ve listed), and for the things that might be too big to transport if your child is going to school out of state, make a separate list of things for your child to buy once he or she gets to school, along with a check or some money that you’ve worked out in your back-to-school budget. As with anything, there are a ton of online resources for dorm decorating ideas and great sales, so leave time to plan!
Good luck to you and your new student!