Dorms

Back to School Dorm Room Essentials

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Whether you are a freshman moving into the dorms for the first time or an upperclassman who just loves the dorm life, everyone will be moving into a new dorm this fall. That means it’s time to do a little back to school shopping to spruce up your new space! Don’t be fooled though, just because you see a comfy desk chair that would look perfect in your dorm doesn’t mean you should go ahead and buy it. All dorm rooms are different depending on your school and could include different items and different pieces of furniture. In this list, we break down exactly what you should go ahead and splurge on now and what you should wait to purchase until you have more information!

Buy These Now:

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Bedding: While your school will provide the bed and mattress, you will definitely need to bring your own sheets, pillows and blankets. Many dorm beds are extra-long twin sized so be careful when selecting sheet sizes. Extra-long twin is typically represented as Twin XL on the packaging. If you aren’t sure what size the beds are in your particular dorm, check with your school’s Housing Department before purchasing. Girls, go for the funky look with yellow and gray chevron. Guys, you should keep it simple with solid colors.

aquaflops

Shower Supplies: Communal bathrooms are always tricky so you will probably need a bathrobe or shower wrap to avoid any indecent exposure when traveling back and forth to the showers. You will also need a shower tote to keep all your bath products together and make carrying them to the shower easier. Also, shower shoes are a must. Regular flips-flops will do the trick in a pinch but you should check out other options like these AquaFlops. They have a slip-resistant sole and have holes to let the water drain through your shoes.

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Laundry: Most colleges have a laundry room in each dorm for its residents to use so be sure to pick up some laundry detergent and fabric softener. We love Tide Pods because there is no measuring or messy powder to deal with. Just throw in your dirty clothes and toss in a pod for fresh, clean clothes. Don’t forget a cute laundry bag for those times when you go home to have Mom do your laundry! Febreze is another must-have product for those times when you’ve already worn something once but are too lazy to do laundry. Check out all the new scents here.

Pro Tip: You should pick up a pack of Shout Wipes and keep them with you at all times. You will inevitably spill things on yourself and these wipes will prevent you from walking around with a ketchup stain on your shirt all day.

cleaning-supplies

Cleaning Supplies: Newsflash! Now that you are in college, no one is going to clean up after you. If you want to keep things neat and tidy, it’s up to you. Ditch the traditional cleaning products and pick up plenty of easy-to-use cleaning products so that you can quickly clean up a mess. We recommend Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for cleaning up spills and killing germs at the same time, Windex Glass & Surface Wipes for keeping mirrors and windows squeaky clean and Windex Electronics Wipes for getting Cheetos dust off your laptop keyboard.

textbooks

Textbooks: You should get your textbooks as soon as your professors release their class information. Textbook companies have the largest selection of textbooks in late July with some of the cheapest prices. Getting ahead of the back to school rush ensures that you will get all the textbooks you need at a lower cost. Having your textbooks in hand when you move to campus will give you one less thing to stress about as the semester gets started. Whether you are renting or buying your textbooks this semester or if you are more of an ebook kind of student, check out eCampus.com for the best deals this semester.

Wait To Buy These:

Furniture and Desk Chairs: Many colleges will provide you with all the furniture you need, including a desk, desk chair and dresser. It’s best to wait before making large furniture purchases to see exactly what comes in your dorm room and to see how much extra space you are going to have once you and your roommate move all of your stuff in. You might decide that you actually don’t have room for that leopard print bean bag after all.

Appliances: Before buying a fridge, coffeemaker, microwave, etc. you should check with the Housing Department at your school to see what their rules are on small appliances. Some schools may have restrictions on what type of appliances you can have in your room or there may be a common room in your building that has these items available for everyone to use. If that’s the case you could save money by skipping over these items and just using the community appliances. If you can have a coffeemaker, check out this Mini Keurig. It comes in a ton of fun colors. (We love this yellow one!)

mini-keurig

Decorations & Wall Décor: You will more than likely have a roommate that you will be sharing your new tiny dorm room with, so it may be best to buy decorations after you have had the chance to meet your roommate and get a feel for his/her style. This could also be a great way to bond with your new roommate by shopping for room decorations together. Check out our Awesome Dorm Room board on Pinterest for decoration inspiration!

Making Your College Dorm Room Yours

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With each college residence hall, there’s a certain aspect that makes each and every dorm room feel the same. This aspect happens to be the fact that each dorm room IS exactly the same. Now everyone tries to make their room their own in whatever way they can. However, almost all of these methods consist of shag rugs, posters and funky lights. The painful thing about having a nondescript room to live in is the fact that it won’t feel like a new home. Much in the way that a bird will create its nest out of sticks, dirt and random scraps they’ll find around, you must also create your new home out of scraps that you love and cherish. A large problem with this, however, is that most college students can’t afford to go to a local store and buy unique furniture or decorations for their tiny rooms. However, using these ideas, along with this guide to designing a drool-worthy dorm, your room will be special and memorable in no time!
college dorm room

1. Take the time to visit unique item websites, such as thisiswhyimbroke.com or thinkgeek.com. Many websites exist such as these where you can find almost anything to play with, wear, or use to decorate. You can even find a “Doctor Who” trash can shaped like the Tardis!

2. Wake up a little early every few weekends and take a walk around your neighborhood to find garage sales and flea markets. You can find amazing treasures being sold for very cheap prices! You really never know what you’ll find.

3. Avoid your university’s poster sales at all costs. You might feel special for buying that Jimmy Hendrix water color poster, but I assure you, hundreds of other students will have the exact same one. Obviously, if you absolutely love Jimmy Hendrix, buy it! But I’d recommend trying to find one that truly is special.

4. Try making your own decorations. I literally have no idea what you’d be capable of making, but isn’t that the beauty of it? I would NEVER forget walking into a room covered in origami swans, or plush sock monkeys!

There are an infinite amount of possibilities for what you could turn your room into this year. So instead of going for the classic look, turn your room into the hangout spot for the whole campus! If there are ideas that I left out, don’t limit yourself to these points, just let your mind wander, and decorate!

And if you are moving in to a college dorm for the first time, don’t forget to use our Ultimate Dorm Essentials Checklist.

Must Haves For Back To School

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The school year is approaching fast and preparation is in order. Lately I’ve been thinking about the things I need before fall rolls around. Now that I’ll be a sophomore I have a little experience under my belt. Here are the “must haves” for this fall.

The first thing you’ll want might seem odd in this hot weather. You’re going to want a good sweat outfit. It can get chilly in dorms and sweats are the perfect cozy option. Along with being cozy you should try and find a cute pair so that you can walk to food halls, laundry, and study hall cozy AND in style. My favorite sweats are from the Victoria’s Secret PINK collection. They have adorable campus pants, collegiate wear, and yoga pants. Most of the pants have a match back sweatshirt. This year Victoria’s Secret is more than ready for back to school with stylish backpacks, water bottles, planners, and even ID card holders!

Next, you’re going to need a cute pair of flat easy to walk in shoes. My favorite back to school shoes are TOMS. There are so many different styles of TOMS these days, so there is one for everyone. If you choose a basic color they can match everything. They are cushioned on the bottom making them extremely comfortable to walk around campus. Another cool thing that TOMS do is give back. Every time a pair is purchased another pair is sent free to Africa for a person in need of shoes, as if you needed more inspiration to buy a pair!

Another thing you’re going to need is decorations! It’s a lot of fun to decorate your room to fit your personal style. Most places won’t allow you to nail anything into your walls, but they make stick on wall art now that’s perfect for a dorm! I had one on my wall all year and when it was time to move out it peeled right off. Target is usually my first destination for any decorations I might want for back to school. They have the wall decals there along with pretty much anything else you’d want to make your dorm room beautiful. Target is also very affordable and available online for your convenience.

These are the three things that every girl must have before heading back to school. I hope I’ve helped you come up with some good ideas for things to buy before the fall. Have fun being comfortable and stylish in your fashionable dorm room. Take this opportunity to really showcase your style and be confident! Best of luck shopping!

 

 

 

To Be or Not To Be…an RA

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In college, the housing issue is complicated. Who should you room with? What if you get stuck with a bad roommate? What dorm should you try to get into? Will all your stuff fit into this third-choice room you ended up with? Sometimes one of the most complicated questions: how are you going to pay for this? Dorm life can be expensive, sometimes just as much or more than living in an apartment off-campus. Can they really charge that much when you’re already paying so much for tuition? They can and they do. So you’re considering becoming an RA to save some money. Here’s what you need to know.

A lot about being an RA is give and take: depending on your personality, your experience can be doused with positives and negatives. For starters, you get your own room, which can be nice or lonely. If you’re someone who has had trouble in the past with roommates or just really enjoys your privacy, this is perfect for you. But just because you have your own room doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect to have a lot of alone time. As someone on duty, your door has to be open for your residents basically all the time. Sometimes people will come in just to hang out because they’re lonely. Now and then you’ll have to advise someone facing an issue, like a freshman who’s homesick. So, if you’re a complete loner this may not be the job for you. You have to be helpful and caring toward your residents—even when they annoy you at 3 am.

Another aspect to consider is cutting your summer short. Generally, it is required for RA’s to move in early, possibly go through some training and helps all the newbies move in. If you have an internship that’s lined up to last right up until an average student is returning or a family vacation schedule for right before school, this can certainly put a damper on your plans. So, if you’re considering RA-dom, be prepared for compromise on time—even before the school year officially starts. This will also change your travel plans during the school year. You can’t leave every weekend or even every other weekend; depending on your school, you may get only one weekend every month to travel home…so plan wisely!

Now it’s time to think about your resume. There are positives and negatives being an RA can provide. Obviously, an RA is a leader and it will definitely present you as a take-charge kind of person who can handle difficult situations on their own. Your communication skills will improve considerably—as will your understanding of strange campus lingo. You’ll also be shown as a problem solver, someone who can truly care for another and act to find the best solution. Being an RA can also hurt your resume a bit if it cuts into time you could otherwise spend on other organizations or studying. With a lot on your plate for your RA responsibilities, something else will likely have to give. This won’t necessarily hurt you, to stop attending recreational volleyball, but it is something to consider.

Finally, think of the responsibilities you’ll have and consider if it’s something you’ll actually enjoy. RA’s often correspond activities for their hall, set up meetings, enforce the rules, and have a knowledge of the university to help guide students (especially freshmen) to the people they need to talk to. Also, consider your personality. If you generally don’t like hanging out with people regularly or listening to their problems, this probably isn’t the right choice for you. If you’re really shy and don’t think you’ll be able to come out of your shell enough to help your residents, consider other cheaper housing options.

Ultimately, the job isn’t just about you. It’s about what your residents need you to be and need your help with. Just like an internship or any other job, you have to think about whether or not you’re the best one for the position, beyond the money factor. With the job comes a lot of benefits and a lot of responsibilities, so if you decide being an RA is something you can do, be prepared to take the good with the bad.

As always, best of luck!

-Toony Toon

I’m reading Introduction to Geography

To Live on Campus, or Not Live on Campus: Tough Question!

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Depending on where you go to school, living can be a sticky situation. If you go to a big school your options might consist of freshmen dorms, off campus apartments or houses, and potentially Greek Sorority or Fraternity houses. You may get to choose where you live—and make the tough call of staying put, or venturing off on your own. However if you go to a smaller school, your options start to change.

Smaller schools can accommodate more students because of smaller numbers—instead of 33,000 beds, you may only need a few thousand—if that. Small scale universities have large commuter, day time, and evening populations. Dormitories can be built to hold fewer students than state schools would need to, and often guarantee housing for all four years instead of offering a less than desirable lottery system.

But how do you choose where to live? If it’s mandatory to live on campus, is that a bad thing?  If you can choose whether or not to live on campus, should you? Or if you have the option to move off campus, what factors should you consider? Where does benefit vs. cost analysis kick in?

Before you toss and turn trying to figure out all of you housing worries, consider the facts. Make a pros and cons list and really weigh your options. Most campuses are different, so what may make more sense for friends studying at other schools, may not necessarily make the most sense for you!

So why live on campus? Here are my reasons: I go to a small, private institution in Philadelphia. It’s centered in an urban area, 15 minutes from center city. Housing options are limited off campus—you have to rent, buy or sublet. However, students are fortunate enough to be guaranteed housing on campus for all four years. And that’s not all! Your start in the dorms, but as you move through semesters and classes (and start to accumulate credits!) you can move up on the housing ladder. Dorms turn into apartments, and eventually your apartment turns into a townhouse with three floors. Now this isn’t the case everywhere, but you get the point. There are options for students who want to stay close, and stay put right on campus! The upkeep is taking care of, you don’t pay water and electric, you have options and space to room. Really, campus is your new backyard. The only downside? Your room and board receipt.  Maybe it’s covered in your financial aid, scholarships or loan, or maybe not. Just consider the numbers and decide if adding this portion to your bill makes sense.

If on campus isn’t for you, what else can you try? Here is my perspective– On the flip side of our cozy campus community, is the off-campus living. Students who are local, or who want slightly more freedom than dorms allow, make the move off campus. There are houses and apartments close by with owners looking to rent, or sublet to desirable students. There are factors that go into this move that students don’t often consider—safety, upkeep, costs, etc. However, when all is said and done, those who decided to become “college home owners” do okay. You can make your own rules, decorate however you want, and eat on your own plan. However, don’t forget to consider the time commitment you are signing up for! You are signing a lease or contract and become responsible for property. You are paying bills (that may or may not be cheaper than on campus alternatives), and managing the upkeep of your place. You have to cook, clean, and monitor aspects of your living life that you may not have even noticed when you were in the dorms.

Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to where you should live on campus. It’s mixing bowl of factors, time, and costs. You need to decide what makes the most sense for you individually and how you want to spend your time when you don’t have your head buried in a book. Do you want to share a room, are you comfortable with roommates? Can you remember to take on the trash? Will you remember to turn off lights and lock your door? Will you remember to grab your keys?

Take your time and do your research. Check out every available outlet of information on housing in your college area and decide what makes the most sense—also check requirements. Some scholarships stipulate that you live on campus, so does some financial aid! Or your campus may have a “first year” rule making it mandatory to live on campus. After that, it’s up to you! You can also choose how you decorate your room and what furniture to have—now you just have to decide where that room will be!

-Ring Queen