Preparing for the Dorm Days Ahead

In blink of an seems like just yesterday your little pride and joy was tottering around the house, giggling at your funny faces, drawing on the walls, catching tadpoles, and thinking you were the coolest thing in the world. Now it's time to send the “not so little” one off to college. Bittersweet for sure. While there is no way to make this momentous leap from our home to the great big world less emotional for us, we can make things a bit easier for them.

Below are some tips and tricks to make the transition to college life smoother for all:

What better way to start college life then with a little cheat sheet, write it on your hand, put it on your home screen either way, this short and sweet list, courtesy of My, will help you ace the move in:

The Best College Move-In Day Tips:

• Have personal information accessible. ...

• Wear Something Comfortable. ...

• Move in early! ...

• Get there before your roommate. ...

• Pack smart! ...

• Order things you don't need later. ...

• Bring snacks. ...

• Help your roommate move in.

Below is a more in-depth list of how to get ready, get set and go for the big move:

Plan ahead

There’s a lot that goes into successfully navigating the big move, so avoid the temptation to procrastinate. With a bit of planning and help from family and friends, you’ll be packing like a pro.

1. Coordinate with your roommate Before the semester starts, your college will connect you with your roommate. Take this time to get to know each other and to map out potentially shared items like mini-fridges, microwaves, and curtains. Some colleges will rent out a microwave/fridge combination each semester, while others require you to bring your own. If your roommate is willing, consider splitting the cost for any shared items, or divvying up who brings what to avoid duplicates. Whether your roommate lives in the next town over or across the country, you have multiple ways to coordinate virtually. Text and video chat to establish a rapport and create a shared Pinterest board to maximize move-in success.

2. Know your specific move-in date and time. College move-in day could be a logistical nightmare at some schools if all incoming students showed up at once. This is why your school will notify you of your move-in schedule. While every college’s move-in process is different, many assign a specific date and time slot to unload your dorm room essentials and begin to set up, often based on dorm assignment or your last name. Along with your move-in date and time, find out how you’ll get your dorm items to your room. Is there any elevator? Can items be dropped off curbside? Are cars to be parked in a specific parking lot and carried? Knowing this information beforehand helps prepare and avoid move-in day confusion.

3. Make a blueprint of your room Many college dorm layouts are different, including different dorm buildings on campus. Most colleges have gone high-tech and offer virtual tours of each dorm room. Once you know where you’ll be staying on campus, request a map of the room dimensions. Don’t forget to find out what furniture is included in your new space. This information is essential for knowing how to best pack for college move-in day. Take advantage of free online room planning websites and app tools such as Roomstyle. Upload your dorm’s blueprint and move items around to create the perfect space.

4. Make a dorm inventory and packing list. There are a ton of resources online for essentials to bring to college. Check out sites like CollegeBoard, Fastweb, and Pinterest for dorm inventory lists and what to pack. Use them as a guide to create one pre-move-in list that works for your particular setup. If your family or friends are helping you plan, create a shared document online for those random moments you think to add items like a trash can or first aid kit.

5. Line up your moving help. While the entire family may want to see you off on college move-in day, too many people crammed into a tiny dorm isn’t the best idea. Remember that both you and your roommate will be moving in at the same time, so try to limit your helpers to two people. Check with your school on their guidelines for move-in day help. Some colleges may offer student representatives to help with your big day or limit the number of adults helping in your dorm room. Pack like a pro When you search the “best way to pack for college move-in day”, you’ll find a ton of information online. Think of packing your car, truck, or minivan the game of Jenga. Everything has to fit properly with as little unused space as possible. Getting your car packed may take more than one try, so don’t wait until the morning of your move to load up.

6. Only pack the essentials. It’s normal to want to bring a ton of items from your bedroom to your new dorm. But that would leave little room for you to actually get in and out of your dorm. Pack smarter, not harder by choosing multi-purpose items like lamps with USB chargers and nightstands with multiple storage drawers. Think of dorm living almost like camping (minus the mosquitos) — you wouldn’t bring your 50” TV or drum set, right?

7. Pack in storage bins, not boxes Storage bins will be one of your best friends during college move-in day and beyond. Instead of using cardboard boxes that will need to be broken down and disposed of, choose storage bins that you plan on keeping on campus. For example, roll your clothing up tightly and pack them in a lidded under-the-bed rolling storage cart.

8. Only pack for the current season. Storage space will be at a premium. While you may have a closet and chest of drawers, you’ll do best by packing for the current season only. There’s no need to pack that bulky winter parka when it’s 80 degrees (unless you’re in a cold climate and the temperature can drop quickly). If you have a winter break, you can switch out your seasonal clothes then.

9. Make a list of things you’ll buy at school. Save space in your car for must-have essentials from home. Grab things like pens, notebooks, shampoo, laundry detergent, and bleach at your local supermarket or campus store. Keep a separate list for what you need to buy once you get on campus. Your local Goodwill store is a great place to get dishes, bowls, cooking and eating utensils and other household items at great prices. 

10. Moving far from home? Consider renting a small storage unit Is your college more than a car ride away? This can add an extra level of stress around how to transport your belongings safely. Consider renting a moving container to pack up your dorm room essentials and have them shipped to your college location. Companies such as UPack and Pods offer portable storage containers so you don’t have to navigate a moving truck across the country.

College move-in day will be exciting, memorable, and almost stress-free if you prepare a packing plan and dorm room essentials checklist. With proper planning, you can focus on getting to know your dorm mate and begin to experience the next amazing chapter in your life.

All the stuff is in the room, now what? notes that "as college kids prepare to head to campus this fall, one thing’s for sure — their dorm shopping experience is nothing like the days of yore." Today’s students are completely making over their dorm rooms, adding their own style and personalities to the spaces via temporary and (mostly) affordable decor.

“Moving away to college is such a huge transition and in times of academic uncertainty due to Covid, designing a space with all of the comforts of home is more likely to provide students with a sense of peace as they navigate life as a new college student,” says interior designer and mom of seven (yes, seven!) Jenny Reimold, who created a boho chic dorm room for her daughter Grace at the University of Alabama last year that was so pretty it actually went viral. The evolution of dorm design has helped students make the smooth transition from home to dorm living, without sacrificing their own unique style,” says Lisa Fleming Picciano, owner of the New Jersey-based interior design firm Lisa Fleming Design. “There are so many dorm-ready decor options these days — from peel-and-stick wallpapers and neon signs to comfy bedding sets and wall-mounted headboards — students have endless ways to make their spaces both functional and totally fun.”

Jon Call, owner of the interior design firm Mr Call Designs, which has designed innumerable dorm rooms across the country in recent years adds, “More and more, students are craving designed spaces that reflect their personalities. This is many of their first homes outside of their parents’, and they want to embrace it, decorate it and make it their own.” Obviously, most college dormitories won’t let you make changes to the room layout, wall color, or furniture. But you can add your own touches to the spaces to make it feel more like your own place. 

Below are some ideas from for turning the Dorm Room into a comfy and cozy place:

Dorm Room Wall Décor:

Basically, the first thing you see when you move into a dorm room are bare walls. Of course, you’ll want to adorn them with items that will make the room more vivid and interesting. The proper dorm wall decor will not only help you cover up bare walls but will also help create a cozy and homey atmosphere.

  • Posters There are hundreds of interesting ways to adorn the walls of your dorm room. For many years, posters have been one of the most popular choices. You can display one large print or several smaller ones. You can find practically anything you want featured on a poster, depending on your tastes and hobbies. For instance, you may want to hang up abstract art prints, dog or cat images, or a poster featuring your favorite celebrity. Moreover, you may want to order a custom print, like a poster-size photo of your family or pet, monogram art, or a print of a design that you’ve created yourself.
  • Wall Stickers Another popular way to decorate bare walls with almost no effort is with wall stickers, which are removable and reusable. You can find a wide range of sticker themes, designs, colors, and sizes. Patterned or vibrantly hued washi tape is also a great way to transform drab dorm walls without causing damage. You can use the tape to create visually captivating patterns, spell out a favorite quote, or “frame” posters on your wall.
  • String Lights Instantly create a relaxing and dreamy mood in your dorm room with the simple addition of string lights. Design a glowing wall collage by clipping favorite photos and postcards between the lights, or wind a long strand of artificial ivy or floral garland around the lights for a lush garden look. If plain white fairy lights sound too boring, opt for thematic shapes like stars, cacti, flamingoes, palm trees, or paper lanterns.

College Bedding Tips: Everyone wants to sleep in a cozy and comfortable bed each night. However, the beds in dormitories don’t always meet that comfort quotient.

  • To get the best rest while away at college, you need to start with the right mattress. A soft and comfortable mattress is the key element to getting a good night’s sleep. Moreover, a good mattress will contribute to good back health.
  • Selecting down bedding is another important element for a good night’s sleep because it’s breathable. Down and feathers are natural fibers, which provide comfortable sleeping in any season. They will keep you warm in winter and will wick the moisture away in summer. It’s recommended that your sheets and bedspreads also be made of natural fibers, like cotton, as they allow air to circulate properly through the bed.
  • Know the Bed Size When choosing the bedding, it’s important to know all the dimensions of the bed. Some dormitory beds have the 39” width of a twin but the 80” length of a queen-size bed in order to accommodate taller students. In those cases, it’s better to opt for twin XL size sheets.
  • As a general rule, white bedding isn’t the best choice for a dorm. It will get dirty pretty fast. It’s better to opt for darker colors. Moreover, consider buying bedding with cute prints. They will definitely add a personal touch and coziness to your living space.
  • Add Cozy Accents: Another important consideration is the bedspread. You may choose whatever material, style, and color you want, but keep in mind that light bedcovers are easily soiled. You have many alternatives when it comes to covers, such as cotton comforters, knitted quilts, and faux fur blankets.
  • If you plan to store things under your bed, consider buying a bed skirt for hidden storage. For cozy and colorful accents on top of your bed, use a mix of decorative throw pillows.

Consider taking favorite pillows from your own bedroom to feel the comforts of home while living miles away from your loved ones.

When you need to have many things stored in a single room, you need to think about storage systems down to the smallest detailsL:

  • Create cool organizers that can store many different things. It’s especially convenient for small pieces that can easily get lost.
  • Clever Shelving While you probably can’t install anything into your dormitory wall, you can use freestanding wall shelves that aren’t too bulky or cumbersome. They don’t occupy much place, but, at the same time, can store a great number of things, from textbooks to collectibles and art.
  • Shelves can be either open or closed and are available in various designs. Consider repurposing some unique thrift shop items into creative shelving options.

Box It Up Another way to store things is in boxes. They’re perfect for holding a number of dorm essentials, from clothing to stationery. Boxes are ideal if you want to store items you don’t need that often under the bed. Plastic storage boxes are good solutions since they’re durable, airtight, fairly inexpensive, and can have cool designs.

There's no place like your space. Personalize with Dorm Room Decorations:

• Custom photo frames featuring treasured memories with friends and relatives are great ways to add uniqueness to your room as well as the comforts of home.

• Mirrors are a great example of functional decor. Besides serving its primary purpose, a mirror can make a small space feel bigger and make a room brighter if it captures natural light. The best options for college dormitories are over-the-door rectangular mirrors or a standing ladder-style mirrors for a full-length view of your outfit.

• Plants are good for any type of dwelling. By placing a plant or two in your dorm room, you’re not only getting a vibrant accent for your room but also a steady supply of fresh air. If you’re afraid it will be hard to care for, opt for a spider plant, bromeliad, or peace lily, which require little upkeep.

• A cute rug can add comfort to any room. It’s not necessary to buy an expensive rug. There are many affordable rugs for sale with beautiful designs.

• Additional lighting can also make your dorm room feel cozier. It can be in the form of a table lamp, floor lamp, or adjustable lamp that can be clamped to your bedpost or dresser. By having some additional light sources, you’ll also be able to use them instead of the overhead light, especially if you’re up late studying or watching movies on your laptop and don’t want to disturb your roommate.

• You may also need a garbage can or two. The type you’ll need will depend on your dorm size and your living situation. For example, a small one to fit under your desk, a large one if you have a suite with a kitchen, and another small one if you have a private bathroom. Pick garbage cans with interesting designs to match the style and color scheme of your decor.

• Having a small microwave and refrigerator, if they allow, so snacks and drinks readily available.

• Get a set or two of cute and practical dishes and glassware so you don’t have to rely on plastic and paper. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! All in all, it’s not so hard to add some cute accents to your dorm room to make it more comfortable for you. Moreover, it’s not necessary to do all the changes immediately. You may start with a few things and continue decorating and changing your living space throughout the academic year.

Keeping it Real. Practical Matters.

Once the dorm room is decorated and ready for studying, hanging out and of course sleeping, there are a few practical matters to consider. Chances are if your student isn’t studying, he’s probably not scrubbing either. For those rare occasions when cleaning is on the to-do list, stock your kid’s arsenal with dorm essentials that will really be used. suggests the following cleaning supplies to have on hand to keep the new space sparkly clean:

1. Disinfecting Wipes When it comes to a battle over space, the spray bottle will never win. Wipes can pick up crumbs, clean up a sticky unidentified mess, and prevent bacteria from spreading. Students can, and probably will, use these wipes to clean up pretty much everything.

2. Sweeper-mop: Having a long-handled sweeper that doubles as a mop is ideal for dorm living. Saving space is key, and these mops are light and easy to store. The dry sweeper pads can also be used as dusting cloths for cleaning bookshelves, lamps, and other surfaces.

3. Paper towels: Not only can they be used as napkins, but they can tackle spills in no time. Having a roll or two around the room will be helpful.

4. Mini vacuum cleaner: Larger vacuum cleaners are bulky and take up too much space in a small dorm room. (Plus, many dorm facilities make them available to students.) If your child has access to his or her own vacuum, there's a greater chance that the mess will get cleaned up (like ever).

5. Dish soap: Doing the dishes is one step for man and a huge leap for any college student. A small bottle of dish soap can go a long way—like an entire year! A little bit of soap can wash cups, bowls, plates, and silverware. And for those desperate time, the soap can also used to hand wash clothes.

Armed with a great space that feels like their own, yet feels a little like home, it is now it is time to let the little birdie fly. Perhaps your empty nest is ready for a refresh of its own?


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