I am the mom of a brand new high school graduate. I’ve spent the last year or more in numerous facebook groups all about college applications, admissions, college life and several specific to perspective parents for particular schools that my son actually applied to. This whole adventure has been A LOT! Yes, all capitals and I would really put about one hundred more explanation points if it wasn’t so obnoxious.
Since I’m in all these parents groups, I’ve been amused, surprised and kinda grossed out by what I’ve learned regarding boys and dorm rooms. Many parents, in attempt to keep us newbie parents of incoming freshman from making some of their mistakes, have been sharing all sorts of wisdom (and some pretty gross pictures) as they have arrived on campus to move their boys out their dorms for the summer.
The biggest take away by far was DON’T SEND THEM WITH SO MUCH CRAP!!!. They don’t need it and they don’t want it. Plus, what little stuff the actually use will most likely be beyond salvageable at the end of the year and even more will end up in a giant trash heap at the curb of the dorm waiting to fill local landfills.
Many moms showed pictures of desks and floors covered inches deep in dirty clothes, school papers and textbooks, weeks old take out containers, and even bedding that long ago stopped being used on the actual beds. Most were sure that their boys had never changed their sheets, let alone washed them the entire year. Same was true for most of their clothes. You could seriously smell the stench through the computer screen for some of these rooms. Cleaning products set unused in buckets in their closets – where not a single stitch of clothing or pair of shoes could be seen (as they were buried somewhere in the trash heaps on the dorm room floor).
I’m sorry if this seems somewhat gender discriminatory and I have no doubt that there were a few girls dorm rooms who weren’t much better and certainly some boys rooms that were probably pristine when their parents arrived. But overall, based on what I was seeing in these parenting groups, through no actual scientifically based data collection, my conclusion is that college boys and college girls are just two different dorm room dwellers.
So, if you have a teen boy heading to college next year, let’s take the collective wisdom of what these experienced moms had to say. It seems clear that there are some definite “must haves” for boys, but the list is short and pretty practical.
A Quick Tip: You might want to consider getting your college student an Amazon Prime College Account. This entitles the member to many discounts specific to college students that aren’t available through a regular prime account. You can sign up here Amazon Prime College Account to help save on the essentials listed below and then your student can use it during all four years of college to help quickly order and save money on all sorts of other items they are likely to need.
Dorm Room Bedding
Sleepyhead Gel Mattress Topper Twin XL – 2Bedsure Twin XL Mattress Pad Deep Pocket Pillow Top Mattress Topper Bedding Quilted Fitted Mattress Cover Extra Long Mattress Protector Stretches up to 18 Inches Deep (39×80 Inches, White)Amazon Basics Lightweight Super Soft Easy Care Microfiber Bed Sheet Set with 14Microplush Fleece Blanket – Twin/Twin Extra Long Blanket – Grey – Lightweight Soft Blanket for Bed, Sofa, Couch, Camping, and Travel – Ultra Soft Warm Blanket (Twin/Twin XL, Grey)KAWAHOME Sherpa Fleece Blanket Twin Size Super Soft Extra Warmest and Heavy Thick Winter 500GSM Bed Blankets for Couch Sofa Bed, 66OCM College Dorm Room Essentials 16-Piece Starter Pak | Twin XL Bedding, Mattress Pad, Comforter, Sheets, Towels and Blanket | Keaton | Graphic Blue Plaid & Solids
Quick Tip: Most college dorm room beds are not a standard size, but instead a twin XL. That is the assumption made for all the suggested items below. But be sure to check the residence life page of your college student’s particular school to confirm.
A Mattress Pad – Most dorm room mattresses are not the best quality and so almost all schools suggest that students bring a mattress pad. The sleep foundation rates the Sleepyhead Gel Mattress Topper Twin XL as the best college dorm mattress cover.
A Mattress Cover – A mattress cover is also suggested, because as already mentioned, college kids can be slops and many of them will eat and drink while sitting on their beds. The cover will protect the more expensive mattress pad and can also be helpful with dust and other allergens. The Bedsure Twin XL Mattress cover is priced right and is the suggested match to the Sleepyhead Gel Mattress topper.
Multiple Sets of Inexpensive Sheets – One of the highest rated XL twin sheet sets is from Amazon Basics they are perfect for dorm rooms and you can’t beat the price. Again, it is suggested that you buy multiple sets. Be prepared for the fact that they may never get washed and you may just be tossing them at the end of the school year. So, if you haven’t spent a fortune at least it might not be such a big deal. If you do have a college kid that is more apt to use a washing machine and might want a slightly more high end set, you might try these sheets from Mellani that are also highly rated and recommended.
A Blanket (preferably in a dark color) – Depending on what climate your kid is heading to for college, it may impact the weight of blanked you want to purchase. However, also keep in mind that some dorm rooms (especially on higher floors) tend to be like ovens year round no matter what the temp is outside and then even in really warm climates, some dorms are kept at frigid temps to discourage mold growth. So, an idea might be to get a few lighter weight ones that can be layered. This Twin XL Microfleece Plush lightweight blanket that comes in many colors is a definite winner and checks all the boxes. If you really think you’ll want something heavier, then these Supersoft Sherpa blankets are the ticket.
All In One No Hassle Dorm Bedding Set – If you seriously just can’t cope with the choices and want to make your life as easy as possible, there are quite a few full bedding sets out there. Some can get pretty cheap in terms of quality and might not survive even a full year of college guy dorm room shennanigans, so be careful. This college dorm room bedding set has tons of positive reviews and comes with the added bonus of towel sets as well.
Dorm Room Appliances
COSTWAY Compact Refrigerator, 3.2 cu ft. Unit 2-Door Mini Freezer Cooler Fridge with Reversible Door, Removable Glass Shelves, Mechanical Control, Recessed Handle for Dorm, Office, Apartment (Grey)Danby Designer 1.7 cu. ft. Compact Refrigerator (DAR017A2BDD), BlackEmeril Lagasse Power Air Fryer 360 Better Than Convection Ovens Hot Air Fryer Oven, Toaster Oven, Bake, Broil, Slow Cook and More Food Dehydrator, Rotisserie Spit, Pizza Function Cookbook Included (Stainless Steel)Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor, Easy Clean Interior, ECO Mode and Sound On/Off, 1.2 Cu Ft, Stainless SteelWoozoo Globe Multi-Directional 5-Speed Timer Oscillating Fan w/RemoteIRIS USA WOOZOO Oscillating Fan, Vortex Fan, Remote Equipped 4-in-1 Fan w/ Timer/ Multi Oscillation/ Air Circulator/ 5 Speed Settings, 82ft Max Air Distance, Medium, Matte BlackHoneywell HT-900 TurboForce Air Circulator Fan Black, SmallLEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Allergies Pets Hair in Bedroom, H13 True HEPA Filter, 24db Filtration System Cleaner Odor Eliminators, Ozone Free, Remove 99.97% Dust Smoke Mold Pollen, Core 300, WhiteDyson Pure Cool Link TP02 Wi-Fi Enabled Air Purifier, White/SilverLasko 42
Small Refrigerator – College kids are hungry pretty much 24/7 and cafeteria food isn’t known for being gourmet. Throw in the need for snacks to fuel late night study sessions and having a small fridge is pretty much a necessity. Be sure you understand the square footage of the dorm room and space available before purchasing a mini-fridge. This well rated Compact Dorm Fridge is a pretty safe bet for most dorms. However, if you’re extra tight on space, you might also want to consider this Ultra Compact Dorm Room Fridge.
Air Fryer – It just so happens that I work with college kids and so I asked some of them the other day about the one thing they could not live without in their dorm rooms. And to my surprise, boys and girls alike were 100% hands down most enthusiastic about air fryers. Apparently the air fryer is to Gen Z what the mircrowave to Millenials. This Emeril Lagasse Power Air Fryer was the one they all suggested.
Microwave – Okay, so if you’re skeptical of the whole air fryer situation and think a microwave is still the better bet. This small countertop Toshiba Microwave is a best seller and perfectly sized for a dorm room.
A Fan – Dorms are known for bad air circulation and many colleges in cooler climates don’t have A/C. Additionally, it appears universal that dorm rooms on higher floors tend to be warm year round. This is why a fan has become a must have for most college dorm room. By far the hands down most suggested is the Woozoo 5 Speed Globe Fan. However, they are so popular, they are regularly out of stock and hard to find. So, a few back up options include this slightly more expensive Woozoo model or this much more economical Honeywell Turbo fan. If a tower fan is preferred as it can be a little better space wise and to cool the whole room consider the Lasko Oscillating Tower Fan.
An Air Purifier – Due to the circulation issues mentioned above and the general construction of many dorms, mold can be a pretty significant issue. The schools won’t divulge this information, but join any parent group for any college and you’ll hear about it. (P.S. it’s not just the dorms, but many college apartment buildings too). Then there is also the fact that you’re putting a whole bunch of young people in small spaces who aren’t sleeping or eating all that well and therefore are perpetually sick, which means germs spread like wildfire in dorms. Staying healthy is a challenge, but an air filter can certainly help. This Levoit Hepa Air Purifie is fairly compact and effective making it a top choice for dorm rooms, but these pricier Dyson purifiers seemed to be the ones students and parents felt worked best.
General Dorm Room Essentials
AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger, USB Charging Port, 5 Lighting Modes,7 Brightness Levels, Sensitive Control, 30/60 min Auto Timer, Eye-Caring Office Lamp，5000K, 8WAddtam Power Strip Surge Protector 6 Outlets and 3 USB Ports 5Ft Long Extension Cord, Flat Plug Overload Surge Protection Outlet Strip, Wall Mount for Home, Office and DormDirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, Corded, Small, Dry Hand Held Vac With Cord, SD20005RED, RedmDesign Small Modern 1.3 Gallon Rectangle Metal Lidded Step Trash Can, Compact Garbage Bin with Removable Liner Bucket and Handle for Bathroom, Kitchen, Craft Room, Office, Garage – BlackFirst Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit, Soft Case, 299 Pieces, Color Varies (Pack of 6)The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to HomesicknessHeavy Duty Organizer Storage Bag – XL Moving Bags Totes with zippers for Clothing, College Moving Bags Compatible with Ikea Frakta Bag, 4 PacksClorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes – All Purpose Wipes – Simply Lemon, 75 Count (Pack of 3)
Desk Lamp – The lighting in most dorm rooms is pretty harsh and sometimes you’ve got one roomie pulling an all nighter while the others are trying to actually sleep. A good desk lamp like this multifunctional LED desk lamp with wireless charger and five lighting modes is a solid solution with the added bonus of working as another USB charging option.
Power Strip with USB ports – Computer, iphones, appliances, lamps.. getting the idea. These college kids are plugging a ton of stuff in and most dorm rooms don’t come equipped with nearly enough plugs. Inclusion of the USB ports is a must and how can you go wrong with this perfect five star rated power strip that is ideal for a college dorm room.
Handheld Vacuum- The likelihood of much cleaning going on is pretty slim, on the other hand the likelihood of spills is pretty high. It can also get pretty icky constantly stepping on food crumbs and dirt and debris that gets brought in on over the course of the year. An easy to use and effective handheld vacuum did seem to be something that got some use and could be worth sending. Plus, it doesn’t take up much room and can be thrown in the closet – since it should be used for something.
Small Trash Can With Lid – Many dorm rooms don’t provide trash cans or the ones they do are pretty puny and don’t have lids. Since small spaces are prone to stink up fast, a solid trash can with a lid isn’t a bad idea.
First Aid Kit – It may never get used, that would be the best thing to say about this item. But… just in case, this is one of those better safe than sorry ideas. An inexpensive way to purchase peace of mind. Also, don’t be surprised when they call asking what they should take for a cold, a sort throat, a stomach ache and so forth. While it might be nice to hear from them, its even better empowering them to figure a few basics of health care themselves, so tuck this handy guide in with their school books.
See WHAT NOT TO BUY at the end of this post for the last two items pictured above. 😉
Bathroom and Laundry Essentials
Portable Shower Caddy Dorm, Large Capacity, Quick Dry Toiletry Bag with Metal Hook, Hanging Shower Bag, College Dorm Room Essentials for Girls Boys, Mesh Toiletry Shower Tote for Gym and College Dorm (Grey)Utopia Towels – 600 GSM 8-Piece Premium Towel Set, 2 Bath Towels, 2 Hand Towels and 4 Washcloths -100% Ring Spun Cotton – Machine Washable, Super Soft and Highly Absorbent (Grey)FUNKYMONKEY Mens Bathroom Shower Slippers Indoor Home Beach Non Slip Sandal (12 M US, Black)Dalykate Backpack Laundry Bag, Laundry Backpack with Shoulder Straps and Mesh Pocket Durable Nylon Backpack Clothes Hamper Bag with Drawstring Closure for College, Travel, Laundromat, ApartmentDOKEHOM 90L Large Laundry Basket (7 Colors), Collapsible Laundry Bag, Foldable Laundry Hamper, Folding Washing Bin (Grey, L)
Shower Caddy – A slightly more portable hanging shower caddy seems to be the preferred and more modern update to the older bucket style. Not having to set this version on the floor makes it particularly appealing. The key items to include: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, shower soap, shaving necessities, lotion/sunscreen and maybe some body spray.
Towel Set – Don’t count on these surviving more than the first year, so this fairly good quality, but not so spendy set is your perfect option. You’ll definitely want at least two sets, maybe more. If you have a kid that isn’t likely to launder often or at all, dark colors for sure. If they will launder at least occasionally, go with white and have them use bleach!
Shower Shoes – Shower shoes are a must, but don’t count on your kiddos to wear them. You might consider showing them some google images of the potential consequences of not wearing them to create a little motivation. And then make if fun, because who doesn’t want to sport funky monkey shower shoes simply for the name alone?!
Laundry Baskets/Bags – Let’s talk about how laundry is going to go down. If they actually do their laundry, they will not fold it, so buy at least two of these brilliantly designed laundry basket and bag all in ones. One to hold the clean laundry and one for the dirty laundry. This will at least keep their room from being completely covered in random clothes, because why would they ever use the closet and dressers that are designed for such purposes?
Laundry Bag Part II – Okay, so hear this idea out. It might not also be a bad idea to get them a simple, easily portable laundry bag like this one with the handy compartment for detergent. It is highly likely that they will sort clothes in the following way; pretty clean, a bit funky but still wearable and whoa, that smells baaaaaad! The latter are the ones that might get washed and will need to be kept separate from all the other clothes, The bag will make it easy to transport to the laundry room and to remember the detergent. Well, one can hope.
What NOT To Buy
There is more that could be added to this list and you can figure out some of the items that might be a little more particular to your child. But the idea is to keep things as simple as possible. Start small and if they need more stuff, that’s why Amazon Prime was invented. Better to get items as they go then to end up with a bunch of stuff they never use. However, here are a few things better left never bought:
- Throw Rugs (you don’t want to know how gross these can get by the end of one year of college)
- A TV (that’s what their phones and your netflix password are for and it just takes up space)
- A Gaming Console (Do you actually want them to go to class, like ever??)
- Plates, silverware or any kind of any food consumption device that requires washing (they won’t ever get washed)
- A Printer (there is rarely room for it, they will run out of paper, ink, etc – it’s a hassle and there are plenty on campus)
- A ton of new clothes (see all the laundry comments above – keep it to the bare minimum, but extra undies maybe..)
- Luggage – there is no where to store it. Go for these instead.
- Tons of cleaning products – grab some Clorox wipes and call it good.
- An iron (LOL!!!!) or other silly small appliances (toaster, keurig, panini press, waffle maker, you get the idea)
- Fancy decor like throw pillows, candles or anything that will just be clutter (They don’t care if their room is “pretty”)