When your teen is heading off to college, she will need more than pencils, pens and spiral notebooks. Your teen will also be stocking a dorm room. Many colleges and universities offer townhouse style dorms while some colleges still offer older style dorm rooms.
Your teen may be very interested in shopping for her dorm or may not be interested at all. As a general rule, girls are more interested in the details than guys are.
I was surprised to see a college supply list at Target when I was there this week. Although local schools have provided school supply lists to Wal-Mart and Target, I’d not seen college supply lists anywhere in the past.
Many teens prefer Target to Wal-Mart when shopping for their dorm room. Target offers cuter, trendier items. Guys generally want the basics but many girls want cute, matching accessories for their rooms.
If you are planning a college going away party for your teen, try to hold the party early enough that you will know what you still need to buy.
Before you go out shopping, check the information sent by your teen’s college. This may tell you whether the beds are regular size or extra long. Many colleges use extra long beds which require extra long sheets and comforters. You’ll want to buy new pillows and maybe a body pillow. Many teens find these more comfortable.
If you aren’t sure whether your teen will need extra long sheets, you can either buy them just in case or wait until move-in day. I can tell you from experience that you will make at least one trip to Wal-Mart or a similar store on move-in day.
You’ll want to purchase the basics to furnish your teens dorm room as well as basic cleaning supplies, shower supplies, organization supplies, eating supplies and don’t forget study supplies.
Whether or not your child will be traveling home frequently, it’s better not to take essentials from his room to use at college. This will save time and hassles on trips home.
Nearly all colleges allow microwave ovens in dorm rooms; however, townhouse style dorms often include microwaves. If your teen’s dorm room doesn’t come with a microwave, this is a must. A small refrigerator is also a must if there’s not one provided by the school.
Teens are often more comfortable eating on real dishes instead of paper plates so a basic service for four is a good idea. Your teen will also need silverware, glasses and cooking utensils. Go for cheap if you can because these items don’t always find their way back home.
If your teen will be cooking a lot, you may want to invest in mixing bowls and kitchen gadgets. If your teen is a coffee drinker, an inexpensive coffee pot is all she will need.
Be sure to remember a can opener, dish detergent, and food storage containers. Even teens who rarely eat leftovers at home may change that pattern when they go away to college.
In addition to basic shower supplies, your teen will need laundry supplies. There will be a laundry room on campus so if your teen has never done laundry, this is the time to teach her the basics. She will need a laundry basket or bag, detergent and dryer sheets.
She may also want an iron and small ironing board if one isn’t provided. If your teen hangs any of her clothes to dry, she may want a drying rack.
Plan ahead for organization in your teen’s college room. Storage bins for extra clothing may be a must if your teen plans to bring a lot of clothes along. If possible, don’t take a lot of winter clothing but that may depend on the climate and how frequently your teen will come home.
Many teens like using either a dry erase board or a bulletin board to note important dates and hang photos. Most colleges don’t allow anything to be permanently attached to the walls but most will allow items to be taped on the wall. Some colleges have rules regarding how much space can be covered on the walls.
Bed risers will help your teen have more storage space under the bed; however, your teen may prefer to stack the beds if she has a roommate. Another option is a loft bed which some colleges provide. This allows your teen to put her desk under the bed and opens up a lot of space in the room.
Be sure to pick up cleaning supplies for your teen’s dorm room including paper towels and cleaning wipes, a mop, bucket, broom and dustpan and maybe a small vacuum cleaner. A trash can is a must for the dorm room. Size depends on the amount of space in the room and your teen may also want a smaller can for beside the desk.
If your teen’s dorm isn’t air conditioned, you will definitely want a fan. Tower fans work well in dorm rooms and circulate the air really well. You can often find these for about $30.
The dorm room will come with a desk but your teen will probably want a laptop desk that includes a cooling fan. If your teen doesn’t already have a computer, the college may provide specs about what’s required or recommended.
A printer will be helpful so your teen won’t have to print everything off in the computer labs at the school. Your teen will need all of the basic school supplies including paper, pens and pencils, notebooks, markers or colored pencils, highlighters, scissors, and glue or glue sticks.
A desk lamp is a good investment because the lighting in dorm rooms isn’t always great. Your teen may or may not need a floor lamp. It’s best to wait until move-in day to decide on this.
Some teens prefer an office chair for their dorm room, although most dorms come with a basic chair. If your teen will have a roommate or suite-mates, other room accessories are best decided after arrival.
Some other supplies you may want to purchase include a flashlight and batteries, light bulbs, a backrest pillow, futon bed and a television.
The school will probably offer a student discount on a Microsoft Office software package. The school may also offer a discount on laptops or desktop computers.
If your teen is a gamer, you may want to send her game system from home, pick up a new one or wait and see. Some teens find that being in a new place with new friends leaves less time for online gaming.
If your teen will be playing team sports while at college, you’ll need to provide whatever the coach suggests. Whether or not your teen will play sports, she may want a soccer ball or football to play with friends, a frisbee for outdoor fun, and other sporting goods to play tennis, volleyball or other sports for fun on campus.
One more essential is photos from home. Although your teen won’t expect it, she will get homesick while she’s at college. A great gift for a teen going off to college is a scrapbook or photo album with photos from over the years.
This will get you started but don’t think that you’re done yet. On move-in day, you will find you still need that trip to Wal-Mart or Target. The Wal-Mart trip will become a staple of your parent visits for the next four years.
Many of the retailers offer deep discounts on the basic back to college supplies during August so this is the time to get out there. Even teens who don’t normally want to go shopping with their parents are more willing when shopping for college.
You’ll probably find that your teen will take less to college during the second semester, finding that she doesn’t use some of what she brought. If your teen takes good care of the household items, she will be set up when she moves out on her own.