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Charlie's Soap


Monday, May 30
Dorm room planning, or not quite a college mom blog

By now, most of you are painfully aware that I will have a kid going to college a year from this fall, and that I reserve the right to act as if I'm the only mom blogger in the history of ever to send a kid away to school.

In a fit of planning ahead (it's like I don't even know me, anymore!), Imma gonna shop the back to college sales in a few weeks at Target, Walmart and the like to pick up some odds and ends that are pretty standard college fare in order to spread the expenses out a little bit.

(Those of you who have been there, feel free to chuckle at my naivete)

But? It's been a year or twenty-five since I've been to college, and I'm not positive about the kinds of stuff that's actually used in a dorm room.

I know there's all manners of "dorm room essentials" lists out there, but I suspect much of that isn't "essential".

I made what I thought was a good list, but now I can't seem to find it anywhere.

However, I was thinking of going ahead and picking up stuff like those plastic drawers, lamps, a fan, plastic storage tubs, waste basket, surge protectors, etc.

What other things are standard college dorm stuff that I can go ahead and buy?

And, no I have no idea where I'm going to put this stuff, but one thing at a time, man.


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2:03 PM | Comments (21) |

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You may want to wait. What she needs is going to vary widely depending on what dorm she gets in to. Some college dorms have built in shelves. Some rooms you can barely fit the essentials, while some have lots of space. For example, I know UTC has everything from suite type dorms (some with full size beds and some with XL twins) with kitchens to standard dorms with a room mate. The college I'm at now only has traditional dorms. I would hate for you to spend money to buy something and not really need it.

I'll come back as I think of more things, but off the top of my head, I'd say here's what's new. Most dorm rooms either come with, or have a cheap option to rent, a combo microwave/refrigerator. I know! You don't have to heat up your soup in the popcorn popper anymore. All sheets are twin XL and now is the time to find them. If she wants flannel, you have to dig around a bit, but they're there. They make "stilts" for your dorm bed to raise it up higher so that you can get taller plastic storage tubs underneath the bed. (may not work in all dorm configurations). One kid's room came with one loft (which the roommate claimed), and the other kid's room came with beds built into the wall (that could be partially retracted into the wall - weird). There are cool mesh spring-loaded clothes hampers that stand up by themselves but fold down into a circle. That's all I can think of right now...

Posted by: amy324 | May 30, 2011 3:28 PM

I used to work in ResLife and dealt with a lot of parents asking questions - I agree with Sarah in that you may want to wait for a lot of things until you know where your daughter is going to school. A lot of things that Amy suggested are great, but it really depends - the first institution I worked at had traditional twin beds (you could only get an extra long if you met height requirements) and bed risers were not permitted.

I'd say focus on things that will have multiple purposes right now. Storage containers that can travel easily to the school, and set up to look cool in the room. Flip flops are always good, and if she is a community style bathroom hall, needed.

I completely get wanting to spread the cost, but I'd actually suggest putting aside a set amount of money a month and then buying everything once you know where she's going.

Extra long internet cable ... for both of my kids they had at least one dorm room where the internet plug was no where near the desk.

Long extension cord. Again, sometimes the outlets are no where near where you actually need to use them!

Posted by: dognutmom | May 30, 2011 3:42 PM

I would actually tell you to wait a bit as well. Most of that stuff goes on sale-deep sale! in September after the back to school stuff is over. You can go to the schools websites that she's interested in to get lists now so you'll have an idea.

Thoughts: xl sheets are a pretty good bet and you can sell them to a friend if you need a different size. She'll need towels no matter what, just like the extension cords, etc. Multi-purpose stuff is good. Also, if you're getting her a laptop and she wants a Mac, make sure you wait until she gets her college ID-Mac always gives a %off to college students, and often has other built-in incentives. My girl got a free printer AND a free ipod when we bought her a macbook for school, AND we got 20% off.

You know i'll have more to say on this topic!

we are in the midst of this little adventure right now. my daughter's college has a list of suggested items and we are going with that. also her roommate is a friend of hers and they plan to shop for decor together later in june

Posted by: Carolyn | May 30, 2011 4:43 PM


As someone who just last fall sent her first kid to college, I feel like I can give you some valuable advice here.

1. The college SHOULD have a list somewhere on their website (ours does) of things to get for the dorm room.

2. I agree with Sarah: you shouldn't buy anything yet. Here's a better idea: STOW AWAY MONEY LIKE SQUIRRELS STOW AWAY NUTS FOR THE WINTER. I guarantee that any estimate of how much you'll spend on "the little things" will be lower than the actual expenditure. It's easier to store money than all of that dorm room crap. Just sayin.

I love it when the advice is "Don't be on top of this. You have permission to wait." Works for me!

I got nothing on the subject matter, but you managed to fix your blog. Hooray!

Well... I had a comment all written up and then I got an error, so POOF... its gone. Something about pillow, couple of blankets, stocking up on socks & undies are some early purchases you can make.

I'm sleepy. I'll be back if the rest comes to me.

Heh.. I made soup and boiled hot dogs and chili in a coffee pot when I lived in the dorms. Good Times!

Posted by: Suzy | May 31, 2011 3:11 AM

Granted, it has been 24 years since I went for my first year of college, but I have to agree with those that say "wait". You need to see what is provided by the school first. And, with me and my roomie, we coordinated EVERYTHING, from color to style with accessories like lamps, plastic drawer thingies, comforters, etc. WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!

And, enjoy this final year before entering that next phase of life - goes for Busy Girl, too!

Posted by: Judy | May 31, 2011 7:17 AM

I was once told that I was not qualified to be called a Mommy Blogger because my kids were older than 5. I have never quite figured out what we are supposed to be called.

Does she know what dorm she will be living in yet? That often makes a difference about what to get... plus she will no doubt be put in touch with her roommate via fb... and then they can split the bit stuff.

Goood luck!

I was once told that I was not qualified to be called a Mommy Blogger because my kids were older than 5. I have never quite figured out what we are supposed to be called.

Does she know what dorm she will be living in yet? That often makes a difference about what to get... plus she will no doubt be put in touch with her roommate via fb... and then they can split the bit stuff.

Goood luck!

mini fridge!

Sorage containers that fit under or on top of things - the tv she cant live without and those pop-up hampers were spectacular.Can be carried right to the laundry and fit in most anywhere. The XL twin sheets are a must. The sharing expenses on the big items - not so good for us.... Undies and socks never ever too many - don't think about what happens to them you probably dont want to know.......

Posted by: addy | June 1, 2011 6:34 AM

liked uncrustables on fb

Posted by: addy | June 1, 2011 6:46 AM

sent 2 thru college - both boys tho. boys just move in; girls decorate.

wait for her room mate and then let them decide what they want. i do recommend the dorm sized refrigerators. even when my youngest had a 6 man apartment/dorm with 2 full size refrigerator.freezers in the kitchen he still used his dorm fridge in his room.
also lots of batteries and a flashlight. laundry hamper/bag.

Posted by: rob | June 1, 2011 1:35 PM

Will she be in a suite, with two rooms connected by a shared bathroom? Or will she have to walk down the hall to the bathroom? Because if it's a walk down the hall, you'll want one of those shower totes.

Otherwise I agree with the suggestion to wait until you can tour the dorm and see what the room comes with. My roommates and I always divided up who brought what.

Things like bedsheets, a laptop or desktop computer, and clothes are really the only dorm room essentials you really need to worry about for now. As others have said, it depends on what the room looks like. Many times it is easier to do your shopping in whatever town your child's school is in the day that they move in. That way you can be sure they have everything that they really do need. If they want something indulgent down the line, they will buy it themselves.!/TheParentShow

Busy mom, I wrote a blog post recently about my son leaving for college, when I read this I realized you and I are in the same boat I am just a year ahead.....check it out if u get a chance at It is the second post down and good luck :)

Posted by: Karen r | June 14, 2011 6:58 PM