The bags are packed and the move-in date is coming up fast. Now all that’s left before moving into the dorms and starting a new life at college is dorm-room shopping. Figuring out what to buy for your new room and what to pass on can easily become overwhelming or confusing. While some stuff varies by school or person, there are a few must haves for every dorm environment. Here are some essential items to put on that shopping list.
Before You Go Shopping
Figure out what your school provides: Always check your school’s housing website to see what is and isn’t provided in the dorm room. You don’t want to purchase something expensive that is already in the room or forget something you thought would be provided, like a mirror or desk chair.
Make a list: When you enter the “college” section of stores like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond, it can be too much to handle. Sit down and make a list of what exactly you need so you don’t end up purchasing useless items. President of the University of Colorado Resident Hall Association Rebecca Stephens said that people overloading on purchases is the biggest issue she sees around move-in time. “People bring stuff and then realize they don’t need it,” she said. Remember, you can always make more than one trip and it’s better to realize you forgot something than end up with too much.
What To Buy
Items that make your dorm feel personal: You’re going to be living in a tiny room for about nine months, so buy things to make it feel like yours. “Of course you want things that makes your room feel like home,” Stephens said. “Bring pictures and posters, just make sure they abide by housing policies.” In addition to pictures or posters, get some little trinkets or items in your favorite colors so the dorm room starts to feel more like a bedroom.
Extra furniture: You’ll realize shortly after moving into the dorms that everyone hangs out in each other’s rooms. Whether it’s a study group cramming for a midterm or all your floor mates getting together on a Friday night, you’ll be amazed at the number of people that can end up in one room. Usually schools just provide desk chairs (if that), and you don’t want to leave your guests standing. Stephens said that people often bring furniture from home like “their favorite comfy chair or a lot of people bring in a small loveseat or something.” If not, most places sell cheap and comfortable folding chairs or small, affordable couches so you and your friends will always have somewhere to sit.
Organizing bins: In dorm rooms, if there is one thing smaller than the square footage, it's the amount of storage space. To make sure all of your stuff fits and to prevent the room from feeling cramped, you need to organize. “One of the big things [to remember] is ways to organize stuff in your room,” Stephens said, “bring some of those square storage bins that can stack on top of each other and utilize height instead of floor space. Those are really great for anything." A lot of stores have a variety of bins that can stack, slide under the bed or even connect to create a make-shift dresser. It's amazing how quickly your stuff can accumulate, so having a place for everything that doesn't take up space is essential.
High-quality bedding: It’s pretty obvious that you will need bedding for your new bed (often twin extra-long), but choosing which bedding to get may not be so clear. A lot of schools provide a service where you can buy cheap bedding from them, and while that is an easy option, it’s often not the best option. You’ll be sleeping in the same bedding for almost a year, so you want to make sure that what you get is comfortable. Also, depending on where you go to school, you may be in for some cold winter nights, so make sure to buy a heavy comforter for winter as well as a lighter blanket that can be put on top or used alone in the fall and spring. In addition, dorm mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable. Your back will thank you later for investing in some kind of mattress padding.
Bathroom gear: In addition to shampoo, body wash, shaving cream, etc., there are a few bathroom items essential for dorm life. Make sure to get some kind of caddy that can carry all your toiletries to the bathroom and back. If you’re the kind of person that likes to change clothes in the bathroom showers, buy a cheap waterproof bag where you can store clothes so they dont get wet in the shower stall. Also, dorm showers are shared between a whole floor of people so they can get dirty very quickly. Pick up a pair of cheap rubber flip-flops that you can use in the shower to avoid getting dirt or something worse on your feet.
Isa Jones is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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