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Aug 03 2016
by Meg McDowell

College Shopping: The Do's and Don'ts

By Meg McDowell - Aug 03 2016

It's about the time to start thinking about college: books and dorm rooms and a whole new wardrobe. With that comes a lot of time and hard work, a lot of that before a student even moves in and starts classes. College shopping can be a nightmare, especially when you've been watching YouTube videos detailing exactly how to make your dorm room the envy of the floor. Here are a few do's and don'ts to help you on your journey to turn a standard dorm room into your home away from home.

Do: Make a list of everything you need.

Having a list will help you organize and you can check off everything you get.


Don’t: Be overzealous.

You don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe and every single cute thing you see on Amazon.

Do: Research what you’re planning on purchasing.

You could buy that comforter for $80 from the school bookstore or spend $45 and get the whole set from Target.

Don’t: Get so swept up with all the great deals.

Just because you bought that $45 bed set doesn’t mean you should buy $35 worth of junk you don’t actually need.


Do: Consider buying some stuff when you’re closer to the school or rent it through the school.

It’ll make moving easier if you don’t have to lug that mini-fridge all the way to school.

Don’t: Buy things if you don’t need to.

Odds are you have some storage bins or throw pillows, something that you don’t really need to go out and buy. It’ll save you some money in the long run.


Do: Read the rules for your dorm.

Everyone's dorm “must haves” list includes fairy lights, but not too many dorms actually allow them.


Don’t: Buy everything before consulting your roommate.

You really only need one microwave for your dorm, if that.

Do: Insert your style into the things you buy.

Your dorm should showcase a part of you, it should be a form of expression.

Don’t: Go overboard with bringing mementos from home.

It’s important to have some things that make your home away from home feel like home, but it’s possible to go overboard. You can only have so many pictures of your friends and snow globes and stuffed animals and glass figurines you’ve been collecting since you were six before it looks weird. Plus, you're buying so many new things that you'll be better off space-wise.

Do: Look up the dorm you are rooming in.

Some dorms have common areas or, if you’re like me, don’t have wifi. Many schools have virtual tours of all of their dorms so you can get an idea of the space you’ll be working with before you buy a bunch of things you won’t need — or forget something you do.

Don’t: Bring every single thing you own.

Dorms aren’t that big, and most people have to share that small space with their roommate.


Do: Bring the necessities...and a couple of back ups.

You do not want to run out of shampoo or not have a brush. I mean technically you could always go buy more, but we all know you’ll wait until it’s gone and just keep forgetting until it gets bad. Fourth grade bad.

Don’t: Go shopping alone.

Bring a friend, a sibling, a parent or anyone else when you go to an actual store to look. They can play devil’s advocate, make sure you don’t buy a bunch of junk and make your shopping experience fun.


Do: Buy or bring some storage.

It’s going to help not only when you’re trying to organize but also, it makes actually moving in a heck of a lot easier.

Don’t: Worry about having the perfect dorm room.

Your room doesn’t need to be some DIY masterpiece that rivals some famous YouTuber who hasn’t been in college in five years. Your dorm room is supposed to be somewhere you’re comfortable and happy, not something out of a college catalogue.

Now stop procrastinating and start shopping!

Lead Image Credit: Books via Pexels

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Meg McDowell - The College of New Jersey

Meg McDowell will be a freshman at The College of New Jersey in the fall with a Chemistry major. She is an avid photographer and journalist. Follow her on twitter @meggiemicks and on instagram @megmcdowellphotography.

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