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Ask A South Florida Expert: Essentials When Dorm Shopping

Although the size of dorm rooms hasn't changed much over the years, the ingenious ways in which students can make the most of their pea-sized space - and bring in many of the comforts of home - has soared to fantastic, new heights. And who better to give dorm-shopping advice than the students who live the dorm life? Two seniors from the University of Miami, Ivy Cooper, a Resident Assistant and Computer Science major, and Richard Taylor, a Student Leader and Psychobiology major, were happy to share these tips to help incoming dorm-room-bound freshmen maximize their space, improve their everyday routines and even help them get along with their roommate.Photo Gallery: Must-Have School Supplies
(Source: Blue Martini)

Ivy Cooper, Resident Assistant
Richard Taylor, Student Leader

University of Miami Housing and Residential Life
1211 Dickinson Drive, Room 153
Coral Gables, Fl 33146
(305) 284-4505

(Source: Playwright Irish Pub)

Beds and Bedding

A twin bed is provided but you'll need extra long twin sheets, pillows, a mattress pad and comforter. Darker colors or patterns hide stains. A simple set of bed risers can add valuable inches of space beneath the bed, perfect for hiding luggage. Or, companies like rent a 'bedloft' for the semester starting at $199. It's ideal for creating extra space as a twin bed is on the top and a futon is below. Additional accessories like a connected shelf can also be rented. Place your order online and the furniture can be waiting on campus or in your assigned room.

(Source: Blue Martini)

Mini Fridge & Microwave

Bring a small microwave and mini fridge or rent them from companies like Its Micro-Fridge-Freezer rents for $249. Taylor said he likes to keep his mini-fridge and microwave in his closet, using an extension cord, which frees up valuable living space. In addition, one of the latest items making an appearance is the Nutri-bullet. It takes up no space and you can create a meal in seconds. Try blending milk, chocolate powder, peanut butter, a banana and ice for breakfast on the go. It's also perfect for late-night hunger pangs, instead of pizza. You just have to rinse it out down the hall.

College Shower
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Shower & Bath

Shower shoes are a must, be it Crocs™ or some version of plastic flip-flops. You'll not only wear them to the shower, but you should keep them on while you're in the shower. Easy slip-on shoes are also perfect for running down the hall anytime when nature calls. Another handy tip? Purchase a shower caddy to carry all your bathroom items back and forth from the dorm room to the bathroom. Plastic-style caddies work best as canvas bags tend to stay wet. Taylor also suggests having a cup for your toothbrush.

Related: Best Sunglass Shops In Miami

(Source: Van Dyke Cafe)


There are lots of items students can purchase that can multi-task, saving on precious space. In addition to renting the half-bed/half-futon bedloft, you can inexpensively invest in one or two hanging shoe organizers or clothing cubbies as well as space-saving hangars. Since there isn't much drawer space, these hanging accessories are ideal. How about a laundry hamper that doubles as a cooler? No kidding. This ingenious multi-tasker is collapsible, has a leak-proof lining and stitched handles for easy mobility. You can find it in your favorite team colors at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

(Source: Van Dyke Cafe)

Technical Gadgets/Electronic

No need to pack a DVD player as most students just use their laptops. However, speakers rank high on the wish list. Many students are arriving equipped with TV connection cables for their laptops. Cooper says, "The connector cables allow [students] to stream movies and clips from the Internet to their laptop and then display them on a TV." Cooper also recommends bringing a floor lamp with multiple heads or a portable desk lamp. "That way you have light to read or study without disturbing your roommate."

Related: Best Places For Antiquing In Miami

Jill Martin is a family travel expert, appearing on numerous television and radio shows. She spent five years as the VISIT FLORIDA Family Insider, has penned children's books, and is the creator of Sunshine Brain Games – trivia cards about Florida. A Miami native, Jill resides in Redland. Her work can be found on

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