College bound: Tips for easing transition to dorm living

A pale blue backpack spilling its contents onto a white bed comforter, including a pair of glasses, earbuds, Artistry Essentials lotion, Artistry Light Up Lip Gloss, a laptop and other items needed for school.

Every fall, high school graduates across the country pack up their brand new sheet sets, comforters, laptops and mini refrigerators in preparation for moving onto campuses and launching their college careers.

Whether parents are predicting a long, teary goodbye or a quick “See, ya!” as the door closes, a little bit of preparation will make settling in easier on students and their families.

Here are a few tips to get students started:

Cleaning products

It’s up to you and any roommates to keep your space clean. No matter how much of a neat freak you might be, accidents are bound to happen and daily life does leave its mark. A multi-purpose cleaner can handle most of your needs – Amway Home LOC wipes are super convenient. Keep a steady supply of those and paper towel and you can handle most messes.

  • Upperclassmen tip: On move-in day, pack all cleaning products plus extra rags at the top of a box and make sure it’s the first thing you open. You’ll want to give your room a quick wipe-down before you make yourself at home.

Security

If you were lucky enough to be showered with money and gifts after graduating from high school, you likely have a lot of brand new items to move in. A national survey showed that college students and their families planned to spend an average of $969.88 last year, and the number will likely grow this year.

Take some basic steps to ensure your security. Get a high quality bike lock and laptop lock. And of course, always lock your room when you’re gone.

  • Upperclassmen tip: If the worst does happen, your family’s homeowners insurance often covers items in an on-campus dorm – up to a limit. Make some calls to find out about yours.

Laundry

You can wear your favorite t-shirt or new college sweatshirt for days on end without your parents nagging you to change. However, you also don’t have your parents there to do your laundry, and eventually it will need to be done.

Get yourself a laundry bag, basket or hamper – or maybe a combination of a bag and a collapsible basket on wheels – to help keep dirty clothes away from clean ones. Whatever will work best in your small space and help you get to and from the washing machines.

Pack laundry detergent and pre-wash stain treatment for sure. If you know what you’re doing in the laundry room, throw in the fabric softener and all-fabric bleach, too.

  • Upperclassmen tip: Find out if your laundry facilities take coins or credit/debit cards and be prepared. Many new facilities have a smartphone app that will track the progress of your loads so you don’t have to guess when they’re done.

Food storage, food prep

A mini-refrigerator and microwave are incredibly useful, will help stretch your food dollars and aid in dealing with midnight cravings – coordinate with your roommates to save money.

When it comes to other appliances, like electric kettles, coffee pots and hot pots, make sure you review your school’s policies on what is allowed. Open heating elements are often a no-no in today’s dorms – for good reason.

  • Upperclassmen tip: Don’t forget unbreakable plates, cups and silverware. A few that are easily washed will help you get by and be better for the environment than a warehouse package of paper plates.

Shared bathrooms

Whether you’re sharing a bathroom with suitemates or walking down the hall, a shower caddy will be useful. You can keep all your supplies in it and easily transport it to and from the bathroom. A bathrobe makes the hallway trek a little easier, too, and don’t forget shower shoes.

Odds and ends

What else should your student think about bringing? Posters, pictures and other things will help make them feel at home, but be sure to check rules for hanging items on the wall.

Electronic accoutrements: chargers, cords, power strips, surge protectors, thumb drives, battery packs, ink cartridges and noise canceling headphones. When deadlines near, these will be crucial.

A fan. While newer dorms and campus housing may be blessed with air conditioning, most older facilities are not and window-units are not allowed.

A sewing kit and a first aid kit. As we said earlier, accidents happen.

And finally, an open mind, flexibility and sense of humor. Communal living will take some getting used to, but there will be comfort in the fact that you’re all facing the same challenges.

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