Those ubiquitous checklists of âdorm room essentialsâ for college freshmen are filled with items that will be ditched by the end of first semester.
Some parents âgo to the store and grab a list like they did when their kids were in elementary and high school and just go straight down the list,â says Lisa Heffernan, mother of three sons and a college-shopping veteran. Or they buy things they only wish their students will use (looking at you, cleaning products).
You can safely skip about 70% of things on those lists, estimates Asha Dornfest, the author of Parent Hacks and mother of a rising college sophomore whoâs home for the summer.
Freshmen really need just two things, says Heffernan, co-founder of the blog Grown and Flown: a good mattress topper and a laptop.
Here are seven items you can skip:
Items left behind when students pack for the summer are telling. Luke Jones, director of housing and residence life at Boise State University, sees unopened food â a lot of ramen and candy â and stuffed animals and mirrors.
Jones says many students regret bringing high school T-shirts and memorabilia and some of their clothes (dorm closets typically are tiny).
Before you shop, find out what the college forbids (candles, space heaters, electric blankets and halogen lights are common). Have your student check with assigned roommates about appliances (whoâs bringing a fridge or microwave?) and color scheme if they want to set one. Know the dimensions of the room and the size of the bed. And most of all, know your budget. Not everything has to be brand new.
Ten things â besides the all-important mattress topper and laptop â that many students consider dorm room essentials include:
Afraid youâll forget something important? You might, Heffernan says. But chances are, you or your student can order it online and get it delivered. Consider doing this with some items simply to avoid the hassle of bringing them yourself, and remember that âdorm necessitiesâ often go on sale once school starts.
If you or your student still want to replicate the rooms youâve seen on Instagram and Pinterest, think about how the room will actually be used.
Once your son or daughter moves in, the room will never look like that again. Opt for sturdy items and be realistic. Will throw pillows make the place look more homey and inviting, or will they be tossed on the floor until parentsâ weekend?
Dornfest, a co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, offers a compelling reason not to make things too comfortable. âA freshman needs to be encouraged to get out of the dorm room,â she says. âAnything that pulls you into campus life can be good.â
Sheâs not advocating a monk-like environment, but rather one that encourages breaking out of routines. College should be a time to try new things and meet people from different backgrounds. Dornfest advises making the bed as comfortable as possible and keeping a few reminders of home. The ideal dorm room is more launch pad than cocoon.
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The article 7 Things College Freshmen Donât Need â and 10 They Do originally appeared on NerdWallet.