School will start before you know it, and that means college-bound students are preparing to move out of the nest on their own. Here’s how to make sure your student has all the necessities, without breaking your budget.
Check the List
If this year is your child’s first time living on campus, he or she has probably already received a packet or email detailing the list of items to bring when moving into the dorms. Make sure you get a copy of that list so you both get a good idea of where to start and what items are needed.
Tip: While most schools allow mini-fridges, only some allow items like halogen lights, hot plates, microwaves, toaster ovens, Foreman grills, or other potential fire hazards. Make sure you check the school’s policies on all these items before you make a purchase. The “DON’T BRING” items should be on the same list as the “DO BRING”.
Before you rush out and buy all the college “must have” items the stores are trying to sell you this month, take stock of what you already have available. Your student doesn’t need to take all brand new stuff to school- just things that are in good condition. Thinking outside the box can save you a lot of money. For example:
- See if you can find out what the dimensions of the “Extra Long Twin” mattress for which you need to buy sheets. Some regular sheets meant for thicker mattresses will fit them just fine.
- Pass on your slightly used appliances like blenders, microwaves, etc. to your student. Sometimes friends and relatives will offer to do the same.
- Find out what is included at the dorm. Your student may not need to bring a blender if there is one in the common room or a TV if his or her roommate is bringing one.
There are several things to think about when buying those must-have items for a college dorm:
- Quality. Is this item something your student will use daily (like sheets, a computer, etc.). If so, you will want to do some research and make sure you get good quality items for the best price. If your student will throw the item away at year’s end (like those flip flops they recommend for the shower) there’s no need to spend a lot.
- Quantity. Think about your student’s current daily uses of items around the house. The school’s list may suggest bringing two sets of sheets and towels, but will your student really use both? It might be better to simply wait until one set wears out before buying a second. (And you can buy your student’s sheets and comforter sets a lot cheaper at the Back to School sales at stores such as Target and Wal-Mart than buying the sets you will get solicited for through the college.)
- Necessity. Stores will try to sell you everything from fluffy rugs to armchair-style bed pillows, claiming your student will need every little comfort. When you’re out shopping, think about what items your child will definitely need, and consider purchasing any non-essential items at school instead of trying to guess what is needed beforehand. Not only do these potentially unnecessary extra things add up quickly in costs, but they also can fill up the limited space in your child’s dorm room.
Good luck, and remember, enjoy these last few weeks with your student. The upcoming college experience is going to be a big adventure for both of you!
All the best,