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  1. #1
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    Dormitory Living - Items Major or Minor for Creature Comforts of Home?

    MiniCyn is graduating this Friday (Yay to both of us for surviving the past four years!), and she will be attending college away from home.

    She will not be living off-campus, but she will be living in one of two types of on-campus housing:

    1) The first option is for one of the on-campus apartment suites

    One is a "mini-suite," meaning that four girls will be sharing two bedrooms (2 girls in each) with two closets, with one bathroom (shower stall and no tub) and one commode, and a double vanity, with a one medicine cabinet for each sink, and no common living space or kitchen. The closest to the latter is a fairly narrow corridor with enough space for a small shelving unit and if organized well, a small bar fridge and a microwave.

    The other option is one of the on-campus apartment suites, which are similar to the one above in that four girls share two bedrooms OR two girl share two bedrooms. In these, the closets are considerably larger, there is a decent-sized common living space (aka a living room), and a fully equipped kitchen (full-sized fridge, full-sized stove, dishwasher (IIRC), a good amount of cabinet space for dishes (but no pantry), with a breakfast bar rather than a dining room. It also has a commode on the opposite side of the suite from the bathroom sink and vanity, which has a tub/shower.

    The Apartment Suite is her first choice, but it's first-come-first serve, so we won't know which type of housing she'll have until some time this summer.

    The University supplies all the furniture and lofts (if they're wanted), so we don't need to worry about desks, chairs, etc., but this is a far cry from when I was in college.

    Aside from decorating (which she is having a proverbial shit fit to do all by herself ), can anyone here recommend items that I'm sure will not even cross her mind that she could and will likely need to help to make dorm life both comfortable easier?

    Many, many thanks in advance from an old fart who considered the height of dorm decor to be posters of The Cure, Bauhaus, B52s, The Sex Pistols, Depeche Mode, The Clash, shit I considered to be "deep" poetry, and a bulletin board with various photos and mementos?

    ETA: I do know she needs the obvious stuff, like bedding/linens, towels, etc., plus in each bedroom, they're allowed to have a TV and each student has a desk (all dorms have cable access as well as Internet access (though I don't think it's Wi-Fi). It's the stuff I wouldn't necessarily think of since dorm living has changed so much since the 80's.
    Last edited by Cyn; 05-20-2014 at 12:07 PM.

  2. #2

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    If the Internet isn't wifi, get the longest ethernet cable you can find. Three years of living in college accomodation and I never once had a room where the outlet was near the desk.

  3. #3
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    If she gets the first type, there is an electric kettle pot that can be found at walmart for around $10-15. It looks like a kettle but the top comes off. This was the best thing I had at school, I could cook lots of stuff in it.
    Another fun thing is an air popcorn popper. Much more healthy and it smells do good. It was a great way to meet other people, they are drawn to the smell, then invite then in to share.

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    If the floors are tile- a nice rug really helps. But I found it better to wait until I knew who I was living with, so we could coordinate. (We actually didn't have a matchy-matchy room- but there was no need for two rugs, two TVs, and we weren't allowed 2 fridges...)

  5. #5

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    If you search on "What to pack for college," lots of lists will pop up. Also, my daughter tells me PBteen has a list in their catalogue. That might be a good place to start.

  6. #6

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    I'm listing some things off the top of my head, but will check in with our just graduated nephew to see if I missed something.
    - Insulated grocery bags. No car means walking to the grocery.
    - A good knife.
    - A small tool set - regular and Phillips head screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, adjustable wrench. LABEL THESE as they tend to wander off.
    - If she gets the one with the kitchen, cleaning supplies and a small bucket (also doubles as ice bucket)
    - If she gets the one without a kitchen, and her roommates do not have one, arrange with roommates to rent a mini fridge and share the cost.
    - If the buildings are older (built mid 70s or earlier), emergency lighting. (You'd be amazed how often the circuits trip in older buildings with that many kids.)
    - A warm throw blanket.
    - Consider her valuables and how to secure them. My nephew was a plane ride away from home and had a small fire safe for his passport and other critical papers, emergency credit card, and checkbook.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  7. #7

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    Congrats to you and Mini-Cyn!

    An oscillating fan or box fan can be nice to have depending on how stuffy the rooms get; my freshman dorm room was always hot.

    Other than that, I second getting an electric kettle and renting a mini-fridge if she ends in the place that doesn't come with one.
    "Liking this sport is ridiculous, so you’re a little different for liking it, she explained. But you’re allowed to like what you like." - Robert Samuels

  8. #8

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    If a whiteboard to leave messages on isn't already provided, provide one. They're invaluable.

    Also, how about a DVD or Blu-ray player? In my day it was a VCR, but that was a long time ago. But in any case (assuming she doesn't watch everything online) it's nice to have your movies with you.

    Oh, and congratulations to MiniCyn!
    Last edited by Wyliefan; 05-20-2014 at 01:43 PM.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
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  9. #9
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    My advice would be to find a discussion board for her school and look for posts about "What to bring to student housing" or something similar. There's always a discussion board and there are always incoming freshmen looking for advice. That way, she will get advice that is directly relevant to her school and current.

    Not that people aren't giving good advice, but IME, dorm advice requires a certain amount of personalized knowledge. For example, food service and laundry access tend to vary a lot, yet both are critical to what you do and do not need in your room. Bugs are a real problem in some dorms; bedbugs are an issue in some places. Water quality, if that kind of thing matters to you, can be an issue. The college may provide beds, but are the mattresses comfortable? That's the kind of stuff you need to know.

    For some general ideas, there's DormCo, which has some interesting and rather different things along with the usual stuff: http://www.dormco.com/default.asp
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  10. #10

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    I used to work as an RA, and one of the things we did was supervise move in. From my experience, generally speaking, you want to try to bring as little as possible for your first trip. The rest can either be sent later, or purchased near campus, or similar. The reason for this is because she won't really know what her roommate will bring, what will really fit in the room, etc. And it makes the move-in a lot easier. Keep in mind that even if the school has move-in spread out over several days... which they may not... it's going to be you and a zillion other people moving into the dorms. The elevators, if they exist, may not be available, or available quickly, so she may be hauling stuff up the stairs. And while yes, things like an air popper for popcorn are fun to have, they are not necessary for the first weekend, if at all.

    One idea is to bring the minimum, and do a small shopping trip after you get her moved in, if there are stores nearby. Pick up things like laundry soap, and anything you see an immediate need for, locally.

    I wouldn't buy things like a rug in advance. She can pick that up if she wants it, once she's been on campus. If you do buy a rug, I'd suggest one that folds up, rather than one that's stiff and has to be rolled, to save packing space.

    With that said, I imagine she already has a computer, but if she doesn't have a printer, that would be invaluable. And even if she herself does not drink, if she has a bottle opener and wine opener, it's a nice ice-breaker with other students, who probably will have forgotten theirs.

    In terms of linens, I really liked having a mattress pad. They can make the mattresses more comfortable. And a small fan (can be desktop size, no need for johonkan-sized fan), because as others here have said, the dorms can be warm. A laundry basket/hamper or similar - ideally, one that she can both toss her dirty laundry into, and she can use to carry her stuff to the laundry room.

    What size are the beds? Are they normal twins, or are they XL twins? If you are in doubt, then consider buying only one pair of sheets, and waiting to buy a second pair until you get to campus and try the first set on the bed. Weirdly enough, I've seen a lot of colleges say they have XL twins, that actually have normal twins, and vice versa, so you can't always rely on what they say.

    Don't bring anything that you can bring up later. For example, if the college is in driving distance of home, or you can ship stuff, then don't bring up all the winter clothing yet.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  11. #11
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    Congrats to MiniCyn!

    Get a Brita (or other brand) water filtration pitcher in case the tap water doesn't taste good. Mini-fridge and microwave are really good to have. I agree that having a printer in the room is reaaallllyyy helpful. If she needs to print something out in a hurry before class, that comes in very handy. Make sure her laptop is working well. The last thing a college freshman needs is to have her laptop not work at a critical time. A plastic bucket is convenient to put all your shower stuff into when you're sharing a shower with others.

  12. #12

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    Congratulations, mini-Cyn!

    Yes, a plastic bucket/caddy for bathroom stuff is a necessity (they sell them at BB&B). Agree to check on the bed sizes. If they have XL, get an XL fitted sheet and regular size top sheet, blanket and comforter (easier to find and the size difference is not that significant). And yes, a mattress pad - do they still have those "egg crate" foam toppers?

    Coordinate the fridge with the roommates. She may not need a TV if she can stream shows (and play DVDs) she likes on her computer. Definitely get a long cable for the computer and make sure you have several long extension cords along with at least one expander plug (or whatever you call those things with 3 outlets with one plug into the wall outlet). Power strips are good too but they of course take up more room. Outlets in dorm rooms tend to be few and far between and usually in odd places.

    Check and see if you have to have certain items for fire code reasons, like a metal trash can. And any other oddities. Those mandatory items will probably be easier to buy at home b/c the stores near the college will likely be mobbed with students/parents trying to buy the same items during move-in days.

    Get at least 2 sets of towels, and maybe bring some extra (older) bath towels from home, to minimize the amount of times she'll need to do laundry. And a laundry bag is better than a hamper - easier to carry. See if the closets in the dorm rooms have some sort of hook or bar that you can hang used towels over until you can do laundry. If not, get one of those suction hooks.

  13. #13

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    A small (shoebox size or smaller) plastic bin with lid with medicine cabinet basics. Bandaids, polysporin, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, tylenol etc.

    And if she gets the suite without the kitchen, and they are allowed, a deep-sided eletric frying pan is a very useful item.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by morqet View Post
    If the Internet isn't wifi, get the longest ethernet cable you can find. Three years of living in college accomodation and I never once had a room where the outlet was near the desk.
    This is good advice; the longer cords are really helpful. I wouldn't buy a microwave or any other electric kitchen device until you have the college's rules at hand. Unfortunately, most stuff is banned.

    With Facebook, etc., she'll likely know her roommate(s) before moving in and can coordinate accordingly. Storage is important and often overlooked. There are plenty of things to bring, but far too little space. Look for good under the bed containers or think about space bags. I had a few plastic dresser-like pieces for my closet that were very convenient and kept my room organized/clean.

    Most people overlook that you need to bring your own broom and vacuum. I hate fluorescent lighting, so I always had my own lamp.
    Sometimes I think I lost something really important to me, and it turns out I already ate it.

  15. #15

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    Congrats to you and to mini-Cyn!

    If it is a place where the water is not good tasting, some kind of a filter jug/bottle -- we got D one of the slimline Brita's that fit into the mini-fridge. http://www.amazon.com/Brita-Slim-Wat...a+pitcher+slim.

    Depending on the bed situation, one of the pockets that hangs off the side of the bed to hold stuff is handy. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/stor...857?poc=119771 I don't know any college students who actually study at that desk that is provided.

    D loved her egg-crate mattress -- the dorm mattresses weren't the pillowtop luxuries she had at home.

    iPhone (or similar) speakers are nice.

    Small toolbox, small LED flashlight, small first aid kit (we made one up -- the purchased ones were pretty useless), and unless the dorm has one already, one of those plug in smoke alarm/CO monitors.

    And it isn't quite what you meant, but Dorm Room Insurance was cheap AND covered theft, loss, accidental damage (like spilled drinks or dropping) to her laptop, cellphone or other stuff for a full calendar year whether she was living in the dorm or in an apartment/house. The coverage for accidental damage or loss was pretty significant given the cost of replacing a laptop. (And, D's furniture was damaged by water one summer -- she came back for the fall, found the damage, filed a claim -- including snapping some pictures with her cellphone to show the damage -- and had a full check in under 10 days.)

    Bed bath and beyond has a ton of stuff -- depending on how she's getting to college, you may (still) be able to order stuff at your local store for pickup at the store nearest her college. (If you need BB&B coupons, send me a PM and I'll happily mail you my stash. I think they still accept expired ones.)

  16. #16

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    DD is subletting her apartment at grad school for her summer job and while she gets married.

    Can anyone recommend the smallest possible microwave, like 12." She bought one at an apt. garage sale, and it broke, but sub letter's mother saw it when they came to look, so she has to get one to replace it.

    We are going to Bed, Bath and Beyond tomorrow night because we have a 20% off coupon.

  17. #17

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    Hi Lacey -- I'd look to Wal-Mart or Target for an inexpensive microwave -- or even on Craigslist. Around here (university town) people are always getting rid of those as they close up apartments/houses.

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    A cheap full-length mirror.

    A few lamps and Christmas lights will really warm up the place. I hated the harsh overhead lights and rarely turned them on.

    Check out the curtains once you get there to see how light-blocking they are.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by NinjaTurtles View Post

    Most people overlook that you need to bring your own broom and vacuum.
    Depends on the school. At my university, you could borrow the dorm's. So again, I wouldn't necessarily buy this stuff until you know for sure that you need it. For example, my dorm room in one building came with a full length mirror on the back of the door, in another building, it did not.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    something with a serious lock, my first roommate was a klepto
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