The good news is your kid is going to college. The bad news is your kid is leaving for college. While there may be a long list of things they WANT to buy, here is a list of the things they NEED to buy, the real dorm essentials. We have cut to the basics, the must haves, and listed only the things that they will truly need to bring to college to have on day one.
Even here there is much to consider, see below. This isn’t 1983. College students can, free for six months, sign up with Amazon Prime for Students and get free delivery on anything else they find they cannot live without. Plenty of other stores offer free shipping if the shopping cart totals as little as $25, so resist joining the dorm shopping stampede.
If you are making a shopping list, here is what your freshman will need to bring to college :
1. Laundry hamper or bag
Your kid may not clean his room but he will clean his clothes so get a laundry bag, perhaps like this one: Pop-Up Collapsible Mesh Laundry Hamper. First, think about how much they will need to carry (are they a once a week launderer or a once a month!), how far they will have to carry (are the machines on the floor or in another building) and do they want an open basket to fling clothes in across the room?
2. Storage solutions
Dorm rooms are tiny and space at a premium. To create more room, shop for underbed storage containers to stash clothes and other items but, before buying, find out how much room there is to maximize this precious space. Buy Command Hooks for the wall to hang wet towels, necklaces, baseball caps and raincoats. Look for flat hangers that are indestructible and take up little room. Before you buy over the door hooks, which are incredibly useful, make sure you know the thickness of the door.
3. Mattress protector
An absolute dorm essential is a mattress protector. Dorm mattresses are old, well used…need we say more??? These zip-up covers come at every price point and some are designed specifically for kids with allergies. They need to be bought in size Twin XL and it will encase both the mattress and the mattress topper, to keep everything clean and in place. The really flimsy ones tear easily, but some of the better ones will get your kid through four years. Here’s one to consider that’s been recommended by Good Housekeeping that comes in a Twin XL size: AllerEase Bed Bug Allergy Protection Zippered Mattress Protector.
4. Mattress topper
College mattresses are thin, paper-thin, and can benefit from a mattress topper. From “egg crates,” to memory foam, to expensive featherbeds, they all do the job and help insure your kid will get a better night’s sleep.
5. Twin XL sheets (required for most dorm mattresses)
Many stores offer sheet bundles that include a comforter plus top sheet, bottom sheet and pillow case. These can all be bought as separates as well. There is a massive range in price and quality and this is an item of personal choice. Good quality will last, but it comes at a price.
While bed pillows are dorm essentials, many kids like having an extra pillow on their beds and these oversized square European pillow (also at every price) are ideal to lean up against the wall when they are reading, studying and watching Netflix on their laptops!
7. First aid kit
We suggest that parents find some sort of plastic container or heavy ziplock bag and put together a small medicine/first aid kit of what they know their kids will need. Kids get sick at 2am and it is nice to have cold or stomach remedies at hand. Make sure your kid knows what the dosage is for any meds they bring to college.
If you have old towels around the house that can do one more tour of duty in the college dorm, by all means, use them. If you are buying new towels for your off-to-college teen, consider monogram ones. These have less chance of getting lost in the bathroom, dorm room or laundry room and may even make it through four years.
9. Shower caddy
For students with a bathroom right near their bedroom, this item can be left off the list. But for anyone making a trek down the hall with shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant…they will need to bring a shower caddy to college. This one, Quick Dry Hanging Toiletry and Bath Organizer would work well for college kids sharing bath space.
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10. Surge protector with USB ports
This will protect expensive electronics from a power surge, provide more outlets than a typical dorm room, and avoid extension cords which are banned by many schools. This one, a Power Strip Surge Protector with a six-foot cord, has USB ports, too, which will definitely come in handy.
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