Shop Til You Drop: Dorm Room Edition


We moved our oldest child into a dorm in August of last year. There were many emotions that day, but I felt prepared for his big move. During Christmas break, I started researching and reading about the best products, tips, and tricks for making a college move as easy as one can expect.

College choice and roommate compatibility are understandably more important than what brand mattress topper is on the bed, but dorm room comfort is important too. After all, your young adult will be spending lots of time there so he/she needs a home away from home.

Shop Til You Drop: Dorm Room Edition

In the end, we were pleased with how easy the process was and, most importantly, our son was happy with his room. Here are some tips and tricks I learned to prepare for move-in day:

1. Do not jump the gun (so to speak).

There are MANY websites with dorm room checklists, including Bed, Bath, and Beyond. However, the one that counts comes from the actual college your young adult is attending. Many times, there are items that are prohibited. Visit the college website or call the housing department. Our son’s college gave us a list of prohibited items.

2. Facebook and Facebook Marketplace can be your friend!

Many college students only stay in a dorm for one year. Most times they move into an apartment or sorority/fraternity house. I have seen expensive, custom-made bedding, headboards, and furniture at a fraction of the cost on Facebook Marketplace.

3. Hold off on large items.

A recliner in a dorm room sounds comfortable, but wait until move-in day is over. Most dorm rooms are exceedingly small. If there is space, always shop resale. We found a leather recliner for our son at a fraction of the price in a home resale store. Remember that college students can be rough with furniture. Spend wisely!

4. Not all computers are created equal!

Some majors require a PC type computer and some require an Apple computer. Check with the college or university.

5. Buy a quality mattress topper.

The mattress topper goes directly on top of the mattress. Most college dorms have thin mattresses, and a mattress topper can make all the difference. We bought one on, but Amazon and Kohl’s sell them as well.

6. IKEA bags are a must!

We bought eight….and we used eight! The bags are sometimes called “blue bags”, but the name is actually the FRAKTA bag. They are cheap but hold up well. We packed anything and everything in them. I know my son has brought home laundry for me when I see one of those bags! Literally, these are indispensable.

Must-have packing bag from IKEA.
Must-have packing bag from IKEA.

7. Find out what is already in the dorm room.

Some dorms come with a refrigerator and microwave. Some do not. They are all different so you want to plan accordingly.

8. Most dorm beds are twin (XL).

Some people prefer to buy full-size bedding for the dorm room, but sheets must be twin (XL) if that is the size of the bed. A full-size comforter will be a little too big. We just bought twin (XL) for everything.

9. Communicate with roommates.

Our son had never met his roommate. They talked about the room over the phone and I talked to the roommate’s mom several times. We decided that they would purchase all the bathroom necessities (their dorm room had a private bathroom) and that we would purchase the television.

10. Label everything!

I put wide tape with our son’s name and room number just in case something got away from us or someone was wanting to help us up to the room.

Label all the items!
Label all the items!

I could probably write about twenty more tips on shopping and moving into a dorm, but part of the fun is just learning and going through the process with your young adult.

Most important tip: stay positive for your college student.

Mom, father, Son at graduationHe/she may be feeling overwhelmed but will not want to show it. I smiled the whole time and waited until I got home to cry. It was hard, but I just wanted to make some positive and fun memories for him that day.

Grown and Flown is a website as well as a Facebook page that has a plethora of information about sending young adults to college. I find it to be very helpful!