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 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.
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10 Dorm Essentials to Put on Your List
First step is to read this post, Dorm Room Shopping: 50 Questions to Answer First, which will guide you through all the Q&As you want to discuss with your teen BEFORE you shop, with any insight you can gather from their college’s website tab on residence life.
Then start here, with the true basics.
There is no other residence that requires Twin XL sheets other than college dorms. We like these with a built-in pocket for a cell phone are pretty cute and practical.
These blue bags have achieved cult status in the Grown and Flown community and you do not need to shop at IKEA to buy them. They are lightweight, durable, and fold flat for easy storing. They are extremely useful for moving into and out of dorms and can be used as underbed storage for your teen.
You can bring towels from home or buy a new set for your teen. We think getting them in a unique color or having them monogrammed will help them keep up with their own towels in the communal laundry room. These terry towels by Fieldcrest from Target got high marks by the New York Times Wirecutter reviewers.
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 two USB ports, too, which will definitely come in handy.
This is another item that your teen can bring from home. However, we read about this one that is filled with shredded memory foam, will not get flat or lumpy, is hypoallergenic, protects against dust mites, and is machine washable. Dorm rooms get dusty and filthy so having a washable pillow with anti-allergen qualities is a big plus.
College mattresses are rock hard and your teen will be over-the-moon happy if you get them a mattress topper. From egg crates, to memory foam, to expensive featherbeds, they all do the job and will help your kid will get a better night’s sleep. We’ve read great things about this one, Natural Laytex Mattress Topper, that comes in several thicknesses and sizes beyond Twin XL.
Your teen may not clean their dorm room but they will (eventually) wash their clothes so get a laundry bag or hamper, 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 less frequent) 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?
8. 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, a sweatshirt.
Over the door hooks are also incredibly useful.
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.
We suggest that parents find some sort of plastic container and put together a small medicine/first aid kit of what they know their kids will need. Freshmen get sick at 2am and it is nice to have cold or stomach remedies at hand. Make sure they knows what the dosage is for any meds they bring to college. If you want to add to a starter kit of the basics, here is a small one.
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