As a freshman college student, Emily Chapman brought more clothes than she would ever wear, over-packed on toiletries and took up part of what little precious space she had with an electric skateboard.
This year, Chapman will be a resident assistant at Emory University at Oxford and she knows what she needs — and doesn’t need — for the small dorm room that she’ll call home for the next year. When it comes to outfitting a dorm room, the strategy is as much about efficiently utilizing space as it is about saving money. And in some cases, those things go hand-in-hand.
For example, a bargain on a 42-inch television isn’t necessarily a good purchase if the room is too small to accommodate the item.
“The rooms haven’t gotten any bigger, but people still bring so much stuff,” said Dan Morrison, Georgia Tech’s director of residence life.
Before stuffing the car and dropping off your son or daughter on campus, remember that the shared room may only be around 10 feet, by 12 feet. To make sure there’s room to study, sleep — and breathe — buy only what you’ll need. Morrison suggests communicating with your future roommate ahead of time to hash out who’ll bring what items.
“There’s no need for redundancy,” Morrison said. “The students often end up sending things back home with their parents. Also, we tell students to move in, settle in and find the pieces that will complement your room.”
Also, carefully review your college’s list of allowed and prohibited items before you go shopping.
Some of the most common prohibited and unnecessary items are:
Candles: Yes, they may be beautiful, but they are a fire hazard in a tight space like this.
Halogen lamps: These are among the least expensive you’ll find during the college shopping sales. But, they get extremely hot and could potentially burn items close enough to them, like posters or towels.
Small appliances: Depending upon the school, you may or may not be able to bring a small microwave or small refrigerator. In most cases, though, toasters and coffee makers aren’t allowed. Instead, use an electric water kettle.
Game systems: You can’t live without your game system? Fine. But do you and your roommate both need to bring the Wii and the Xbox? Decide ahead of time who’ll bring what.
Pets: You might get away with a small goldfish, but leave the cat, dog and hamster at home with your folks.
Weapons: This includes firearms and often other less obvious items, like paintball guns and fencing sabres.
Still, there will be plenty of things you do need. Maximize space with storage cubes, double-hang closet rods, hooks with adhesive, bed risers and most important, smart choices.
Here are some of the common, non-decorative items students like to have:
Extra-long twin sheets; a mattress pad to make the bed more comfortable; bed risers to give the bed lift so you can store items underneath; double-hang closet rods from the Container Store; hooks with adhesive material to hang towels, purses and other items; storage cube and a large container; electric water kettle or microwave; small tool kit; cold and pain medicines; a rug for un-carpeted floors; iron and ironing board; only a reasonable amount of clothes and shoes; laundry bag; shower shoes and shower container for toiletries; sewing kit; extension cord; two to four sets of towels; umbrella; batteries; power strip; flashlight; laundry detergent and dish soap; small amount of paper and plastic kitchenware; alarm clock if you don’t have one on your phone; blanket and pillow; school supplies.
And just because it’s hot now, don’t forget to bring your winter coat!