College Dorm Checklist: Advice for Parents of Freshmen

dorm room checklist freshmen

College Dorm Checklist: Advice for Parents of Freshmen

dorm room checklist freshmen

I hesitate to write this, but I know it will be beneficial advice to parents of soon to be college freshmen. I have outfitted six college dorms at five different colleges.

So I speak from my experiences of moving my kids into dorms at the following schools: Bowling Green State, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Akron University, and Youngstown State.

[Check our list of dorm room essentials, curated by been there, done that parents from our Paying For College 101 Facebook group.]

Brutally Honest Advice About Dorm Shopping and Move-In Day

Here’s my advice…

  • There will always be the minimalists when it comes to dorm shopping. Those of us who decorate and buy in bulk will never convert them. Don’t try.
  • What you buy will depend on whether or not your student has a car on campus, how often they will come home, how much spending money they will have.
  • Do not think your student can buy everything and anything on campus. Yes it might be available on campus but it will cost three times as much. And it might not be there when your student needs it. Last year there was not a single cold medicine to be found on my son’s campus for several weeks. He could have sold his meds at a large profit. School supplies on campus are a joke, unless again you think a paper folder is worth $2. Seriously, go to the dollar store to get these supplies.
  • Do not buy your child something to start using that they don’t already use at home. If they don’t iron their shirts now they usually don’t start in college. Yes. Kids do iron in school. I have two of them.
  • Don’t assume your student is going to have a bunch of friends willing to drive them to the store. Yes they will be able to hitch rides, but it’s really really stressful on them that first month when they don’t have friends yet and no one offers. Make sure they have everything they need for the first month or two.
  • Check the school’s housing page for guidelines before you buy decor. Some schools don’t allow twinkle lights, tapestries, cooking appliances etc.
  • Plan on buying command hooks, but stress to your student not throw them away. You can inexpensively buy refill packs of adhesive. Also, pack rubbing alcohol for putting them up. It really helps.
  • Please pack cold medicine. No one wants to go to store when they are sick. Seriously. I often hear parents suggest students can order this on Amazon, but have you looked at those prices? I went into sticker shock when my daughter ran out. Also, who wants to feel like crap for two days waiting for your Amazon package (even if it ships Prime).
  • Speaking of Amazon Prime, at the colleges I listed above my kids did not get packages every day. Prime ensures that it gets to campus in 2 days by 8pm. It could be one to two additional days before it actually gets to your student!
  • If you plan on just buying items when you get to campus and your student is moving in during regular freshman move-in, make sure you have time. My daughter only had 3 hours to move in before she started orientation. If there are stores close by, they are usually packed during move-in day. So beware.

Good luck moving your child to college and remember, most of all, to enjoy the ride.





By Angi Hall, a parent of three children, ages 19 – 24. Angi enjoys sharing her tips and tricks with other parents of college age children.

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