Dorm life can be fun and convenient for college students, but parents may approach it with mixed feelings. As the mother of two who has lived in dorms, I have learned some tips which make move-in easier and college life a bit more successful.
Tend to Technology First
Although colleges offer public computers for student use, we found that having a laptop and a printer is incredibly convenient. Today textbooks often come with software. Also, on moving day, we found out that our son’s dorm required students to have an ethernet cable because wireless was not available.
Buy a long cable so that it can reach all areas of the dorm room. We also learned as the semester progressed that a flash or jump drive was needed for transporting information and presentations. Finally, although the dorm had a phone system, having a personal cell phone was a much better option. In addition to tuition and housing, providing technology was the biggest expense we faced.
Plan Furniture and Accessories
Although all dorms are different, the ones our kids lived in came with two extra-long twin beds that could be stacked, two closets, two storage chests, two desks, two desk chairs, and a micro-fridge combination. A sink was in the dorm room with an attached bath or a community bath down the hall. So, dorm room furniture depends on the student’s preference.
A comfortable rolling desk chair can be inexpensive and double for seating when watching TV. Our kids both took a TV, and one replaced his stereo with an I-pod and speakers for his laptop. A used rug from home warmed up the cold tile floor. Rather than taking a bulletin board, we thumb-tacked the tops and bottoms of several strips of jute upholstery webbing vertically on the wall.
Then, he used clothespins to clip up pictures, notes, and papers he did not want to lose. For girls, a wide ribbon works and is prettier. Both ideas are cheap and effective! For extra storage, we bought inexpensive flat, plastic tubs with lids that could slide under the bed. A 22-pocket over-the-door organizer (purchased from stores like Wal-mart and Target) also provided visible storage with easy access. Finally, both of our students needed a desk or wall calendar to help keep up with assignments and activities.
Pack Personal Items
For the most part, personal items for a dorm are very similar to those you pack for a long vacation. In addition, extra-long sheets, towels, backpacks, and school and office supplies are a given. However, there are a few extra things you might want to consider.
A plastic laundry basket fits well in the bottom of a closet to hold dirty clothes. First aid kits are good but need to be supplemented with whatever your family uses for headaches, stomachaches, and sore throats. Most likely, your son or daughter will get sick living by so many others. (You might also want to check into getting him or her a meningitis shot.)
A sewing kit, or at least a needle, scissors, and thread, can save the day as can an extra automobile key, an umbrella, or a poncho. Finally, I would strongly suggest some type of shower shoes if your student will be experiencing the joys of a community shower. After hearing what our son found in the shower over the course of the year, I was especially glad that he showered in slip-on rubber flip flops.
One last comment – Sending a broom and cleaning supplies is a good idea. Who knows, they might actually get used!