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Mandy O’Flaherty is the mother of Cara, a Crimson student. She recently created a college packing list for her daughter before sending her to her dream school in the US. Cara was an international student, so her experience included a few extra steps, but the overall process was similar to what all first-year college students experience when they live on their own for the first time.
Mandy is now passing on her knowledge to other college-bound families, telling them exactly what to bring to a college dorm so their students feel safe and at home in their new surroundings.
Shopping for college is an exciting process, but it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know what you should bring to college.
Having gone through this experience in 2020 during a lockdown, Mandy initially found the experience daunting. Still, once she familiarized herself with US terminology (e.g., comforter in the US vs. duvet in South Africa), the process became more manageable and very exciting!
If you’re an international student, you will find it easier to order most of your dorm room essentials online and have them delivered to the dorm. Most universities have mailrooms for receiving deliveries. If you have an assigned room and residence details in advance, you can plan and order your dorm essentials ahead of time. US students might find this option more convenient as well, as it will help minimize the amount of luggage and supplies they need to bring on move-in day.
Here are just a few places students can buy their dorm room essentials.
Amazon is the most convenient place to get dorm essentials. There are many vendors to select from, most products are competitively priced, and the shipping is fast.
The value and product offerings at Target are always trendy and up to date. They are also a go-to for everyday essentials like stationery, toiletries, and cleaning materials.
Etsy is a great place to shop for unique items like pillows, accessories, and wall décor. Plus, you get the bonus of supporting small businesses.
Dormify focuses on all things dorm room and is a one-stop-shop for designing your room’s color palette and theme. You can shop “Room Vibes” on their site and select “Palm Springs Room” or “Simply Chic Room” for your décor inspiration and further filter your choices by color. They have the added benefit of offering a free design consultation online.
Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Urban Outfitters
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Now that you know where to find the best items for your new dorm, it’s time to create a college packing list! Remember, it’s still important to compare prices, and lots of these items can be purchased online. Just check delivery dates, so you don’t go without essentials at the start of the semester!
And that’s it! If you have these essentials, you won’t have to worry about your dorm room set up and you can focus on more important things like figuring out where your classes are and making new friends!
If you’ve bought the basics and want to add a little more to your dorm room, here are a few extra items to make your dorm room feel more like home.
Now you’re all set!
Most rooms have a bed (twin XL), desk, chair, bin, and closet. If you can find out the room layout and furniture supplied before you move in, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to buy and what you need to create your little slice of home.
If you’re an international student, find out if the university offers summer storage. Many universities offer summer school and require the rooms to be completely emptied during the summer break. If the university doesn’t provide storage, you can pay for off-campus storage. This option can be expensive, so it might be best to only purchase the essentials.