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Jeanie Groh column: College dorm shopping 101

A few weekends ago, I made the trek out to Concord Mills for a Bed Bath & Beyond shopping trip. When I got there, it became extremely obvious that college dorm and back to school shopping is in full swing.

It wasn’t that long ago that I too was one of those anxious and excited teenagers getting ready to move away from home and find my independence on a college campus.

It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time in the life of a young adult. Here are some tips I put together based off my own experience of moving into a college dorm.

Coordinate with your roommate. I don’t necessarily mean that you have to have matching bedspreads or the same color décor (although many choose to do that). What I am saying is that it’s best to touch base with your roommate before you arrive. Talk about what each person is willing to bring and what they’re willing to share. You don’t want to show up with two microwaves, two televisions and no mini fridge.

…but remember they probably won’t be your roommate forever.

My first roommate and I are still casual friends, but at the end of our freshman year, we both were closer with other girls and decided to room with new people the next year.

So if you do have your heart set on a perfectly matching dorm room, just know that chances are you may have to re-coordinate with someone new the next semester or year.

Get a supply list

Remember when you were in elementary school and your teacher would send home a note telling you how many notebooks to buy and to bring scissors, colored pencils and three tissue boxes? Most colleges have those specifically for dorm life.

That list will tell you what you can and should bring, as well as what you can’t. It will tell you what size sheets to purchase (most dorm beds are extra long twin mattresses, but not all are. Don’t assume you know – you might buy the wrong thing).

Some stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond, have lists from all the major colleges nearby in the store. I saw ones for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Gardner-Webb and other nearby colleges just last week.

Avoid shopping at your campus store.

Although campus stores are great for last-minute things that you forgot (or for official licensed apparel), they’re not so great on the wallet. Dorm decorations and other essentials tend to be pricier than they are at other establishments.

Pay attention to what kind of bedding to buy

Think about space-savvy solutions.

Dorm rooms are small and have limited storage. Make the best use of every square inch that you have.

Consider lifting or lofting your bed and using the space underneath for storage. If your roommate agrees, you can oftentimes bunk your beds, as well.

Investigate the different types of space-saving storage options different stores have available.

Invest in a mattress pad.

Dorm beds can be uncomfortable, so if you can, invest in a mattress pad. It will make a world of difference.

Update your style.

If your bedroom at home hasn’t been updated since you were a tween, now is the time to explore your new, more adult style. So switch up your color scheme a little, or try out a new pattern. Have fun creating a new place that is uniquely you.


Jeanie Groh reports on education for the Salisbury Post. Contact her at 704-797-4222.



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