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DawnM

Packing for college dorm/apt life

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Ok, I have been looking at lists online, specifically this one:

 

https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist

 

However, I am curious to hear from you all:

 

1. What are some things your child wished he/she had taken but didn't the first go-around?
 

2. What are some things your child took that weren't necessary and he/she ditched later on?

 

3. What would your child consider essential that may not be so common or on a list?

 

4. Any other advice.  

 

Some of you might think I am obsessing, and I am a little.  If I could explain my college first day experience you would understand.  I don't have time to type it all out right now, but the short version.....I flew in from Africa.  My uncle picked me up at the airport, dropped me off in front of my dorm at noon (it didn't open until 2pm) and I sat on my trunk (with EVERYTHING I OWNED!)  for 2 hours watching as people drove up in trucks and U-Hauls.  I still remember being wide eyed and feeling lost.

 

PS:  And yes, I know there is Amazon and all sorts of things if you forgot something.....just still trying to prep

 

 

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See what the university allows. Calvin is only allowed to pin things to the supplied pin board. No other things on walls, including BluTak.

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My dd has a little travel iron that she only needs on special occasions, but she is glad she has it.  (She just uses a towel on the floor to iron things on).  She brought a fan the first year when her dorm wasn't air-conditioned, but from the second year on, she has had ac and the fan was just in the way.  She ended up not needing all the blankets we sent, because in the winter the school keeps the dorms way too warm, even though there is a thermostat in each room.  She prefers a slicker with a hood rather than an umbrella.  She doesn't need a TV or DVD player.  Anything she or her roommates want to watch, they can do so on their computers.  For under the bed storage, she has some soft cloth ones that fold up small when unused but can hold a lot.  She also got this little cart from IKEA which she uses for so many things:

 

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20271892/

 

Oh, she has a little cutting board (a small, plastic one) that she uses all the time.  Perfect for cutting cheese, bread, fruit, etc.  And a good  knife. I don't know if your ds will be living in a dorm with a kitchen, but even when my dd lived in a traditional dorm room with no kitchen, she'd make coffee or eat cereal and need to wash dishes.  She only got to cleaning dishes every other day, so I got her a plastic dish tub that she could store dirty dishes in, and then she could also easily carry it to the washroom when she was ready to clean them.  So she also needed a small bottle of dish soap and a sponge.

 

 

 

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I have a minimalist DS, and after a bit of overpacking (due to me and my worries  :tongue_smilie: ) for the first semester, for the remaining semesters, we streamlined to what he really used -- pretty much bedding/towels, clothes, electronics, and personal hygiene items. The nice thing is -- Amazon Prime! Seriously, you can go very bare bones, and your student can get things is needed missing sent quickly. And, if your DS's school is close to a Target or Walmart or other, students without cars (my DS) jump in with dorm mates with cars and do "town runs" to get supplies, go for hair cuts, etc.

 

Also, sending a care package every so often with favorite treats, or a clothing item they need, etc. is fun, too.

 

Some items that are useful that you might not think of:

- bathroom rug or an old towel for stepping out of the shower onto it

- shower shoes

- sturdy collapsible laundry bag with handles

- laundry supplies (the all-in-one packets that they throw one in with a load is really helpful for no mess and no measuring detergent) 

- 2 rolls of quarters for laundry machines (although, some dorms run on debit cards now)

- an extension cord; ethernet cable

- way of locking up/securing medications and electronics

- if microwaving in the room: package each of paper plates, napkins, disposable utensils (I sent a small tub and kitchenware like J-Rap did above, but he never used them)

- possibly a night stand or something like a 3-drawer storage cart for storing small items

- a bag of desk/school supplies -- a roll of tape, stapler, pens/pencils, notebooks, etc. (DS only used the tape 1-2 times and the stapler not at all)

 

Things DS needed partway through (we bought on Amazon and had them shipped to him):

- sleep earplugs (his second year he ended up with a snoring roommate)

- a seat cushion (for the provided hard plastic chair that went with his desk in his room)

 

 

Things you might not need to buy (we didn't do any of these, but saw DS's roommates bring in these items that never got used):

- computer printer (DS's school had everything turned in electronically, so no need for a printer; if your DS won't have to print very much, find out where the printers are on campus and he can pay as he goes for printing)

- TV (students tend to do gaming and stream movies on their laptops)

- furniture

 

 

Will your DS have a roommate? They can work out together what is needed for bigger/jointly shared items:

- mini-fridge and microwave (can be rented from a vendor rather than buying/transporting)

- stick vacuum cleaner

- kitchen-size garbage can and bags

- bathroom supplies (toilet paper) / cleaning supplies

Edited by Lori D.

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My son is a minimalist too.  He can put things up on the wall as long as he can remove it without damage.

 

He will have a roommate or 3 (depending on the type of dorm he is in, he hasn't been assigned yet but is requesting an apt. style where he will have his own bedroom, very small, but will share a bathroom, living room, and kitchen.)

 

He knows if he gets the apt style he will have to bring stuff to split with the roommates (apparently they come without anything and you have to work it out who brings what but since he is coming mid-year, I assume he will just have to bring what isn't there already, which is fine.)

 

Thank you!

 

I asked how high the beds can be raised and they said, "It depends on the dorm" so I guess we need to wait to buy under the bed drawers or storage.  We should know in enough time to buy though.

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I have found that it varies so widely from school, particular dorm, and student that it is almost impossible to generalize.  DD has lived in 3 different dorms on her college campus (not counting the semester she did study abroad); each dorm configuration was different; one she could put storage units under the bed, the next she could not; one she needed a shower curtain; she can't have any extension cords; she can't use any nails; she can have a fairly large dorm refrigerator.  She has her own printer because she would have to walk across campus to print something (and she writes lots of papers)

 

DS is at another school and can use nails but cannot use any 3M adhesive materials.  All dorm rooms come with a mcirowave/fridge combo--students cannot bring their own.  He can loft his bed high enough that he can put furniture underneath.  He has a printer in the common area of his dorm he can use.  

 

 

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I have found that it varies so widely from school, particular dorm, and student that it is almost impossible to generalize.  DD has lived in 3 different dorms on her college campus (not counting the semester she did study abroad); each dorm configuration was different; one she could put storage units under the bed, the next she could not; one she needed a shower curtain; she can't have any extension cords; she can't use any nails; she can have a fairly large dorm refrigerator.  She has her own printer because she would have to walk across campus to print something (and she writes lots of papers)

 

DS is at another school and can use nails but cannot use any 3M adhesive materials.  All dorm rooms come with a mcirowave/fridge combo--students cannot bring their own.  He can loft his bed high enough that he can put furniture underneath.  He has a printer in the common area of his dorm he can use.  

 

I guess I was thinking more in terms of personal items, not wall hangings, etc....

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Things that weren't on the list but very helpful:

-an ethernet cable.  Internet is cabled only in the dorms, no wireless, so having an extra cable was very helpful.

-a unique keychain.  They're still using keys there, not cards, and freshmen can't have parking spots.  So the keyring only has his dorm key on it.

-a tool kit.  I picked up one last year at Christmas for about $10. Very small, only the necessities.  By the time we had finished getting him settled he had used a screwdriver and a friend had borrowed another tool to fix something.

-a multi-charger/plug.  We bought two - one for his desk area and one behind his bed.

-extra pillows

-a safe space.  Something that locks to keep documents and important things in.

 

 

 

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Ok, I have been looking at lists online, specifically this one:

 

https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist

 

However, I am curious to hear from you all:

 

1. What are some things your child wished he/she had taken but didn't the first go-around?

 

2. What are some things your child took that weren't necessary and he/she ditched later on?

 

3. What would your child consider essential that may not be so common or on a list?

 

4. Any other advice.

 

Some of you might think I am obsessing, and I am a little. If I could explain my college first day experience you would understand. I don't have time to type it all out right now, but the short version.....I flew in from Africa. My uncle picked me up at the airport, dropped me off in front of my dorm at noon (it didn't open until 2pm) and I sat on my trunk (with EVERYTHING I OWNED!) for 2 hours watching as people drove up in trucks and U-Hauls. I still remember being wide eyed and feeling lost.

 

PS: And yes, I know there is Amazon and all sorts of things if you forgot something.....just still trying to prep

I came in from Africa too, no kidding.

I had all my stuff in my dads old air force duffel.

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A backup charger for the cell phone. Ds lost power for a couple days during Hurricane Irma and he was able to keep his phone charged.

 

That's about it. Ds could probably live with less than half of what I made him take.

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I thinking of some of this as I'm applying to grad school. Random thoughts

 

Turkish towels and microfiber sheets. The towels take up less space and both take less time in the dryer. 

 

USB drive with something identifiable on it. I work at the front desk of a department and just yesterday had one call about a missing USB (bright pink) and a professor brought me two that students had left. Of the two left behind, one had a funky color cord attached and the other was just plain black, so I knew neither belonged to the student that had called. Hopefully the other students will remember where they left them. 

 

Comfortable walking shoes. I have this issue but I'm older. Still with the weight of some of these backpacks and as much as students walk, good walking shoes are vital. 

 

I also carry a travel toothpaste and toothbrush in my backpack. I do it because I'm a commuter student, yet if dorms are across campus and you really need fresh breath it's nice to have the option. 

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Ikea sells thin towels that have loops on them for hanging.  They dry quickly and are cheap enough that you can throw them out at the end of the year and start fresh next year.  Another alternative (not embraced by my kiddo except when she traveled) is a Turkish towel big enough to serve as a bath towel, beach towel or wrap.  I get mine off of Amazon.  Fast-drying towels are critical, as is a loop (I would sew them onto the Turkish towel if she were using them again.)

 

My daughter mostly packed in these big zippered Ziploc bags.  They are great because they fold flat and are easy to store between moves.  I have read on CC about families using these Ikea bags.  That also seems like a good plan, although my daughter packed so lightly that one of the Ikea bags would probably have sufficed.

 

OTC meds is one thing I made sure my daughter had--Sudafed, Advil, etc.  She did need a box fan, and that moved with her.  Dorm rooms tend to be stuffy.

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The towels made me think of the over the door towel hook rack. If the bed is on risers you can put it on the end of the bed. Or the door if you have a single room.

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Ok, I have been looking at lists online, specifically this one:

 

https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist

 

However, I am curious to hear from you all:

 

1. What are some things your child wished he/she had taken but didn't the first go-around?

 

2. What are some things your child took that weren't necessary and he/she ditched later on?

 

3. What would your child consider essential that may not be so common or on a list?

 

4. Any other advice.  

 

Some of you might think I am obsessing, and I am a little.  If I could explain my college first day experience you would understand.  I don't have time to type it all out right now, but the short version.....I flew in from Africa.  My uncle picked me up at the airport, dropped me off in front of my dorm at noon (it didn't open until 2pm) and I sat on my trunk (with EVERYTHING I OWNED!)  for 2 hours watching as people drove up in trucks and U-Hauls.  I still remember being wide eyed and feeling lost.

 

PS:  And yes, I know there is Amazon and all sorts of things if you forgot something.....just still trying to prep

 

1.  waterproof boots (essential)

     boot tray for room (beside door, can be shared)

     dust-buster

     long underwear (essential)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clothes appropriate for climate at midnight. Sneakers and hoodies don't cut it when its snow/slush on the ground and they have to walk or wait in the wind.

 

Thermos. Make and take your own java, standing in line is too much of a time suck. Or water bottle.

 

Door mat and method of cleaning floor and dusting surfaces.

 

Documents for employment.

 

Medical insurance card, pharmacy location and method of payment, and instructions for where to go for what level of care. Don't assume student health care will be available for drop ins, or student will realize urgent care is more expensive than doctors office, and that there are service hours for all options when the time comes. Preplan that.

 

Reading material on ereader or actual paperbacks

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1.  waterproof boots (essential)

     boot tray for room (beside door, can be shared)

     dust-buster

     long underwear (essential)

 

 

Clothes appropriate for climate at midnight. Sneakers and hoodies don't cut it when its snow/slush on the ground and they have to walk or wait in the wind.

 

 

Door mat and method of cleaning floor and dusting surfaces.

 

Documents for employment.

 

Medical insurance card, pharmacy location and method of payment, and instructions for where to go for what level of care. Don't assume student health care will be available for drop ins, or student will realize urgent care is more expensive than doctors office, and that there are service hours for all options when the time comes. Preplan that.

 

 

 

 

This will be in a warmer climate, no snow or slush.  

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A small lockbox.  Our kids used one that is about 8 by 10 and about 4 inches high. No, it doesn't prevent someone from stealing the whole box, but it does keep things hidden so casual guests don't walk off with things....like prescription medication, money,important papers, etc.  Our kids also got into the habit of putting their wallets in the box whenever they had a group of friends over to study or hang out.  It's also a good place to stash things when they are coming home for the weekend. 

 

Each one of our kids thought it was unnecessary and then each one either lost something or had it stolen ...and then learned to keep things secured. It also made it easy to grab in case of quick evacuation. 

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Clothes appropriate for climate at midnight. Sneakers and hoodies don't cut it when its snow/slush on the ground and they have to walk or wait in the wind.

 

 

 

I'm going to have to start a new thread this winter on Cold Weather 101 for my Atlanta girl who is going to college in Toledo.  This child does not even own any pants.   (That is a 100% true statement, by the way.)  My college senior will know by early spring where she's going, and U Michigan is high on her list.  Anyway, please hold on to this thought!

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I'm going to have to start a new thread this winter on Cold Weather 101 for my Atlanta girl who is going to college in Toledo.  This child does not even own any pants.   (That is a 100% true statement, by the way.)  My college senior will know by early spring where she's going, and U Michigan is high on her list.  Anyway, please hold on to this thought!

 

I would definitely start stalking Land's End for sales this spring. She is going to need a good parka and good waterproof winter boots. Both of my sisters went to UMich and those winters are no fun! 

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Waterproof winter boots AND most definitely waterproof shoes. My dd treasures her waterproof hiking shoes. They look like normal gym shoes, but they keep her warm and dry walking about in wet conditions on her humongous campus. Makes a huuuuuuuge difference in how the day goes when feet are dry versus damp/wet all day.

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When I was considering MI or WI for graduate school, I started pricing knee length parkas and snow boots. It gets cold where I live, but you can do without a parka most of the time

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So I think the guys are a bit more tech oriented and minimalist than the girls.  (I wish my house were decorated as nicely as some of the girls' rooms at dd's school!)

 

What the school will dictate-sheet size and what type of mattress covers you need to provide (waterproof, bug proof, etc.)  Keep in mind that sheet size might change over the years with housing. What the freshman dorm has isn't always the same in off campus living or in campus apartments.  Look at regulations for coffee makers, fridges, etc. before buying. Don't want to be busted on day one and have to toss something pricy.  Also-have a cord that will physically connect the internet to the student's computer-somedays even campus wifi goes out or gets weak.

 

Things dd found useful-bookcase, night stand (or night stand substitute), bed risers to allow for under bed storage, a rug, set of over the door hooks for towels and coats, pod style coffee maker, power strips, lamps for desk and bed, alarm clock (not phone, battery powered), waterproof container for shower supplies/transportation to shower, shower shoes, clothes and shoes to suit all the major weather issues, charging cords (dd received as birthday and holiday gifts braided charging cords in a couple lengths, a usb battery, and a multi-port usb charger), back up batteries, noise cancelling headphones and headphone stand (if using over the ear style), any work out/sport/gym gear, good water bottle/cup and a hot beverage cup, laundry bag/basket to suit their situation, a good backpack or similar to carry books.  Some of this seemed overwhelming so we began the summer before senior year including college prep items as gifts for birthday and holidays (not sheets and command strips but chargers, headphones, quality phone case, etc.)

 

Ask your self how much/how easy access to a grocery store/Target/etc. will be for your kid. There is lots of stuff on that list they might not need immediately.  Study what toiletries they actually use and then add in some first aid, sunscreen, OTC pain or cold meds you typically use, and go from there.  Same for the study supplies.  Highlighters will be available on campus if your student suddenly decides they need them for the first time. 

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My dd considers a mini FREEZER for her room to be essential, because she likes to have frozen food from home in addition to her meal plan. A small rice cooker goes along with that nicely. 

 

Her school allows Command Strips for the walls, so she had plenty of those. Washi tape is good for marking your power cords and sticking photos and notes to the wall. Ethernet cable. Water filter bc water is not great. She has two backpacks, one for M/W/F and one for T/Th, never has to unpack and repack them. She has most of the school supplies listed, and it's nice to have lots of cheap folders for turning in work. Oh, and a couple of whiteboards, not on the wall, with colored markers, that she uses to work out problems and plan projects.

 

What she didn't need: 

 

*alarm clock/radio, she just uses her phone

*drying rack for laundry, because she is in no way that dedicated

*fabric softener, again not that dedicated

*toolkit, bc she is not going to fix anything 

*stackable desk trays, she never brought this, it seems like a space suck and even she is not that organized at college

*shower shoes, she'd have them if she had a hallway bathroom

*area rug

*tv, suitemate had one for the common area first year, but they never used it and she didn't bring it back (not bc they are so studious, they just watch on laptops most of the time)

 

 

 

Edited by katilac

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My son was popular on his hall freshman year beause he had band aids. Apparently some of the kids weren’t used to walking a lot, or the hills got to them or they were breaking in new shoes. He had both blister band aids and regular band aids.

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My daughter found a lap desk very useful.   We gave one as a high school graduation gift; she took it to college and has since taken it to South Korea where she now lives and works.  Here are a few examples ~

 

one   two   three

 

Another handy item was a timer (to remind her to go get her laundry, etc.)

 

She found Rubbermaid tubs practical for packing. They also double as storage bins and coffee tables or as a makeshift laundry basket.

 

My daughter suggested matches. (I wondered why until she mentioned that non-smokers will have no way to light birthday cake candles.)

 

 

Here's an older thread that might prove informative ~

Gwen's complete college supply list

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Most of the important things my dc needed have already been mentioned.  Here are a few more:

 

Take a towel that's regular-sized, not a bath sheet, so it packs smaller in case of going on a weekend camping trip or a retreat.

 

A bag that folds flat for storage, but can be used for weekend trips (since a car that holds 5 adults won't likely have space for 5 suitcases).  

 

If bunking or lofting the beds, a basket to hang on the side of the top bunk.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRHNJWC/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1  

 

Sturdy laundry pop-up tote.  The Target one dc started with fell apart the first time dc used it, but this one is going strong:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VD37US8/ref=twister_B071YTXJ72?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 

 

Spray outside of shoes and boots with water-repellent before going to college.

 

 

 

 

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Bumping.

 

He has gotten his room assignment.  No kitchen.  A bathroom shared between 4 students, a small living room.

 

Can someone point me in the direction of water proof sneakers?  He has hiking boots but says he doesn't want to wear them around campus....and they are a bit worn.

 

I keep reading that the washer/dryer is typically always in use so you may need to wait.  He got his class assignments and I am encouraging him to pick a date he gets out of classes by 10:30 (M/W) and come straight back the dorms and do laundry while most are in classes.  If he waits until F-Sun, everyone will be wanting the W/D.  

 

It is really cool, they have an app that alerts them when their wash load is finished and when their dryer load is finished.  

 

He can take a fridge, 4.4 cu. max, but not a microwave unless it is rented through the school (they do something to the plug to make it not short out or use less electricity or something).  So, we are looking at fridges.  One has a LOT of fridge space and almost no freezer space (just enough for ice cube trays) and the other has much more ample freezer space but takes up more of the fridge space.  He will be sharing this with his roommate.  He says he prefers the "more fridge" option, but I thought I would see what you guys think??  He says he just needs it for drinks and leftovers.

 

 

 

 

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When living on campus our boys have always tried to do their laundry during the week, between breaks in classes. Many schools have that app and it is indeed neat. It also tells them which machines are available for use at any given time.

 

I know a lot of people prefer to buy dorm fridges, but we've always rented a microfridge for them. For us any extra cost is well worth it to not have to fool with moving a fridge. It's simply more "stuff" that we do not need or want to deal with. The boys use/used them more for drinks than food. The microfridges are very handy for reheating leftovers, and DS19's dorm has vending machines with Hot Pockets and other sorts of microwaveable passes-for-food items. Sometimes if he doesn't want to go out to the dining hall he'll get something like that and fix it in his room.

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When living on campus our boys have always tried to do their laundry during the week, between breaks in classes. Many schools have that app and it is indeed neat. It also tells them which machines are available for use at any given time.

 

I know a lot of people prefer to buy dorm fridges, but we've always rented a microfridge for them. For us any extra cost is well worth it to not have to fool with moving a fridge. It's simply more "stuff" that we do not need or want to deal with. The boys use/used them more for drinks than food. The microfridges are very handy for reheating leftovers, and DS19's dorm has vending machines with Hot Pockets and other sorts of microwaveable passes-for-food items. Sometimes if he doesn't want to go out to the dining hall he'll get something like that and fix it in his room.

 

Yeah, I was trying to avoid the rental cost.  If the guys would share the cost, it might be ok, but it is $360 per year.  I can get an almost new fridge for $70.    Since we live 3.5 hours away and have an SUV, I am not that worried about added items to cart around.

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Can someone point me in the direction of water proof sneakers?  He has hiking boots but says he doesn't want to wear them around campus....and they are a bit worn.

 

 

 

try asics trail runners

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Could he just spray his current sneakers with water repellent?  

 

He needs new sneakers anyway, his are shot.  He has been wearing flip flops and dress shoes for a while now!  :lol:

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