College Lifestyle and Product Blog for Dorm Room Living | DormSmart: Just My Opinion

Showing posts with label Just My Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just My Opinion. Show all posts

August 13, 2015

Last Minute Words of Wisdom for Parents of College Bound Freshmen

Off to College ImageCrunch time is here, and it's time for one of the most precious people in your life to leave the nest for college. I started DormSmart because of my personal experiences as a parent of college age children, so I am happy to share my experience with others. I hope it helps to make this transition a little easier for you.

For me, I experienced a mixed bag of emotions. I was proud of my children's accomplishment but worried for their safety living away from home for the first time. Of course, my daughters thought that meant I didn't trust them when the reality is, I don't trust the world with them. I wanted everything to be perfect in their dorm room so they would adjust, and I would feel better knowing I left them prepared and in good living conditions. Of course, they didn't appreciate it as much as they should have at that time and just wanted me to leave campus so they could start their college adventure. I felt both happy that my children were so excited about this new chapter in their life and frustrated that my children were so excited about this new chapter in their life, especially the leaving home part. At times, I took my frustration out on those around me, even strangers like retail clerks or school officials. For lack of a better word, I was just panic-stricken.

If I can impart any wisdom from my personal experience as a parent of college bound freshmen, it would be this...

  • I can promise that your student doesn't realize they are still that little bundle of joy that you brought home about 18 years ago, so they cannot fully appreciate the feelings you are experiencing as a parent. Rest assured that attitude will change when they have their own bundle of joy. At that time, they will appreciate you more and realize that parenting does not end when you leave them on their college campus. It never ends.
  • I can promise you that they will make some missteps as they embark upon this college journey, but the values and lessons that you instilled in them will ultimately prevail.
  • I can promise you that everything will not be perfect on move-in day and your student's lack of interest in making everything perfect will upset you because they mentally moved out over the summer and just want you to go home. Just remember they still love and need you; and, at the first sign of trouble, you'll probably get a phone call.
  • I can promise you that they won't call home enough, and you will worry yourself sick. I remember telling my daughters repeatedly, "Don't text me. Rather, call me, so I know it's really you." I have learned that when I don't hear from my daughters, it's usually because they are happy and safe. Typically, I hear more from them when they need me.
  • Lastly, I can promise you this... there are no guarantees in life, and you cannot control the world; but, if something does happen, the love and bond that you share with your student will be your greatest strength and see you through it. My youngest was attacked on campus her freshman year, and I just cannot put into words the amount of fear, guilt, and grief I felt as her mother; but, we got through it and she's starting law school this week. The only other time in my life I felt that kind of fear was every day that my middle daughter was deployed to Iraq.

At the end of the day, just take a deep breath, have faith, be flexible when things don't go perfectly on move-in weekend, let your student know you love them, and live in this moment because it's a precious time that you will fondly remember and so will they.

June 18, 2015

Advice to Avoid When Shopping for College

Each school year, more articles pop up that give already nervous parents of college bound freshman bad advice when shopping for college dorm room supplies. It’s outrageous. We’ve gone from no advice for parents to a plethora of bad advice. Typically, I find many negative articles are written by individuals who failed to do their homework before shopping and wasted money; or, the article is just a promotional piece for affiliated retailers. Either way, it’s best to avoid advice that encourages parents and students to ignore school policy. It could be a costly shopping mistake if the items you purchase are school contraband or leave your student ill-prepared for college living.

College Shopping Advice Top Ten Offenders List

Top 10 Offenders List of Bad Shopping Advice and Why...

#1  What to Bring Lists are Useless

A school’s what to bring list is important because it provides students with the items they CAN bring into their campus housing, particularly a dorm room, and prevents them from overlooking items that they may find useful at school. At times, these lists do seem like a lot of stuff, but most of it is small and easily stored. Plus, students can coordinate with their roommate on certain items such as a Microfridge, vacuum, or iron to save space. At DormSmart, we always defer to school housing policies and checklists as the Holy Grail even if that means we don’t get the sale. At any rate, the checklist is a good starting point for incoming freshmen.

#2  Dorm Room Size Doesn’t Matter

Wrong. Just keep the size matters philosophy in mind when shopping for a college dorm room because it’s typically a smaller shared space than most students have at home.  Always select compact space saving items or as we say at DormSmart, “Dorm room size. It’s just wise!”

#3 Don’t Bother With Cleaning Supplies

I recently read an article that recommended not sending cleaning supplies to campus with students because they are all pigs.  Seriously, this type of advice is just worrisome. Dorm rooms and residence halls are incubators for germs, so it is best to encourage your student to disinfect their dorm room to avoid illness. Swine flu was a reality my daughter’s freshman year. I personally recommend sending cleaning supplies that are dorm room size and easy to use such as a compact vacuum cleaner, disinfectant spray, and disinfectant wipes. As always, be sure to coordinate with roommates. You only need one vacuum per room.

#4 Forget Raising Your Bed to Create Space

Not necessarily! Just because one parent could not raise their student’s bed and wasted money on bed risers because they failed to check their school’s policy… does not mean that every campus across the US has the same policy. Before shopping, check with your school to get your student’s dorm room dimensions, furniture requirements, and policies.  For example, my eldest daughter attended a university where the student could choose to bring an approved loft bed system or utilize the school’s furniture. It was their choice. However, the school had strict policies on how a student could raise their bed.  My  youngest daughter attended a university where the student must utilize school provided furniture but had a choice whether or not to bunk the beds.  Because it is unsafe to raise a bunked bed and against school policy, my daughter and her roommate chose to debunk their beds so they could raise them safely and create individual living spaces within the same dorm room. They then created under bed storage space using bed risers and a smart storage cart for easy access.  Again, it is important to get the information from your school beforehand and plan accordingly. Believe it or not, there are even a few schools across the US that do not allow bed risers on their campus.

#5 Students Cannot Properly Administer Medications So Don’t Send Them

I recently read an article where a parent recommended restricting over the counter medications because students may not properly administer them. At what point do students learn how to read directions?  Keep in mind that out-of state students may not be able to buy certain over the counter medications with an out of state ID. For this very reason, if your student is out of state, you may need to put together a kit that contains enough medication to see them through cold and flu season. It is also important to note that many students, out of state or in state, wait until they are too sick to shop for medications so plan accordingly. Your student can always call home or visit the campus clinic if they are unsure of what to take or the recommended dosage.

#6 Cheap Stuff Saves Money

Wrong. If it isn’t durable, don’t buy it because moving every year takes its toll. In addition, if your student plans to move into an apartment for year round living after freshman year, it’s smarter to purchase items that are durable and can easily transition from dorm room to apartment living to save time and money.

#7 Students Flying Should Use Store Pickup Services

When I read this one, it just cracked me up. Seriously, a publication recently advised that if your student must travel to campus via airlines, it would be best to utilize the “Click and Pickup” services of certain stores they recommended. My first thought… if they are flying to school, how will they conveniently pick up their off campus purchases? I think it would be smarter to shop beforehand and have those items shipped to campus. Just be sure to check your school’s policies regarding campus deliveries. As for storing items between school years, ask your school about local storage services.

#8 Bring a Really Long Power Strip with Lots of Outlets

Students have lots of electronics such as a phone, Microfridge, lighting, laptop, tablet, or blow dryer… you get the picture, so it is important to have surge protectors with “overload protection” to ensure their safety. Check your school housing policies to ensure you purchase the correct surge protectors when it comes to safely powering up your student’s dorm room. 

#9 Students Don’t  Cook in their Dorm Rooms

While they may not be preparing a 5 course meal, many students do snack in their dorm rooms. For that reason, we recommend a Microfridge that includes a microwave and refrigerator/freezer unit that guards students against circuit overloads and allows them to store and prepare a late night study snack or hot beverage. It’s also helpful when they are too sick to leave their room or on a limited budget and can’t afford to eat out. If your student is a coffee drinker, we recommend a single serve coffeemaker with no warming plate or glass carafe that has automatic shut off. Of course, it is IMPERATIVE that you check your student’s housing policies before purchasing any appliance and coordinate with their roommate. Just remember packing a few microwave reheat safe and BPA free break resistant dishes are a smarter choice over continually purchasing paper products. Two of each is always a nice rule of thumb.

#10 School Supplies are Antiquated

My youngest just graduated this year and is now preparing to attend law school in the fall. Because she is a current student, I ask her and her friends what they think about the school supplies section on our dorm room checklist every season. They said most professors have different rules regarding the use of technology in their classroom; so, at times, handwritten notes may be required. In addition, students may be prohibited from using anything but a standard calculator during test times. Even worse, your student is in big trouble if their system crashes, so keeping  a combination of handwritten and electronic notes may be the smarter choice. It really depends upon your student’s study habits, but school supplies are still a necessity. As for having a small printer in your student’s dorm room, one of my daughters was attacked on campus so I’d prefer she print in her dorm room during those late night study sessions or during times she is too busy to safely travel across campus.

At the end of the day, what you bring to your student’s campus dorm room depends on your school’s policies, the actual dorm room itself, and your student’s needs. Therefore, it is best to set a budget that you feel comfortable with and purchase items that are smart, housing compliant, and will help your student successfully transition to college living.  Don’t worry about what other parents think!

Good luck and live dorm smart!

June 27, 2014

Is it really your college campus bookstore you're shopping or ... how do you know?

Since DormSmart was formed in 2009, I’ve witnessed a plethora of specialty stores and big box retailers jumping into the dorm room supplies marketplace or beefing up their ad campaigns. I have also observed many schools trending toward third party providers to manage their bookstores; and, that's ok because universities and colleges are in the business of educating students, not retailing. Unfortunately, all these changes in the market can make it confusing for college bound students to know where they are shopping for campus living supplies and if the products they are purchasing are indeed housing compliant as sometimes implied on retailer websites. Especially, when there are some retailers who present themselves in a manner that makes it difficult for students to discern whether or not they are shopping at their college campus bookstore, a third party managed bookstore, or another retail site altogether. So this is my advice for students when shopping for college campus living supplies:

Independently check and respect your school housing policies...

At the end of the day, it won't really matter where you shop for college as long as you independently check and respect you school's campus housing policies; just make sure it is a reputable retailer. After all, it is your signature on the housing contract so it is best to read the policies yourself then shop accordingly. This will ensure that no money is wasted purchasing and hauling products to campus that are considered contraband, a violation of  housing policy. When you start fact checking, you will be amazed at the number of items retailers actually carry in their back to college shopping aisles that are non-compliant or just impractical for on campus housing, even some campus bookstores carry inappropriate items. I recently visited a range of retailers and while I am happy to see them listing their bedding dimensions now, I am still finding products being promoted specifically for dorm room living that are just impractical or non compliant.

For kicks and giggles, I’m throwing together a short list of the top 10 questionable products I encountered when shopping back to college aisles this year:

#1 Knife Sets 

Many campuses have policies about the size or type of knives students may have in on campus housing. Some schools even prohibit knives, let alone a full set.

#2 Large Pots and Pan Sets 

While they may not be prohibited, they are somewhat impractical for the typical dorm room with limited storage and no stove. Many residence hall kitchens do have pots and pans available.

#3 Toasters 

Most schools prohibit toasters in campus dorm rooms.

#4 Toaster Ovens 

Most schools prohibit toaster ovens in campus dorm rooms.

#5 Electric Skillets 

Most schools prohibit electric skillets in campus dorm rooms.

#6 Non UL Listed (or ETL Listed) Appliances 

Honestly, non tested appliances should not be used in any home, much less student housing.

#7 Extension Cords 

Tempting, but NO! Most schools do not allow the use of extension cords and certainly do not allow daisy chaining of extension cords in campus housing. Students should use the appropriate size surge protector with built in overload protection, check with campus housing.

#8 Oversized Appliances 

In 2009, I coined the term dorm size meaning students should always use appropriately sized housing approved appliances in their dorm rooms.

#9 Mountable Wall Decor 

If you don’t mind giving up your housing deposit or possibly incurring additional costs… but seriously, schools do not want holes in their walls. Also, many schools limit the amount of wall space that can be covered with decor like a tapestry for fire safety reasons. Funny story, a few years ago, I happened across a retailer selling tapestries to students as a multi-use product “…use it on your wall or cover up with it…” – now that made me giggle!

#10 Glass or Ceramic Furnishings

When I select items for dorm smart living, I always try to think of a hotel room during spring break. I just hate the idea of seeing a student purchase a beautiful piece of furniture or lamp only to have it break during a get together or between dorm room moves.

That’s my short list and opinion. As always, check your school housing policies before shopping and live dorm smart!

More Helpful Resources for Students Preparing for Campus Living:

March 26, 2014

Turismo Insulated Backpack for College Students Review

Turismo Insulated Backpack Main Image

Review of Turismo Insulated Backpack

The Turismo Insulated Backpack in one of my all time favorite DormSmart products. I purchased my Turismo this year and absolutely fell in love with the spaciousness of this bag and its multiple pockets. This backpack is best for students, like me, who have a variety of different indoor and outdoor activities on and off campus. The insulated pockets keep my food and drink cool which is handy for me personally because my class schedule is so packed this semester. I barely have the time to get to my next class let alone eat between classes. 

Turismo Insulated Backpack Open ImageIn addition to cooling my food and drink, I use this backpack to safely transport my schools supplies, laptop, and tailgating items around campus. It also comes in handy for my many outdoor adventures such as a hike, picnic in the park, or road trip. Whether I am indoors working out, outdoors attending a game, or just running errands around campus, the removable water duffle allows me to safely pack a drink without being concerned about damaging my dry contents such as my wallet, school books, or laptop.

For me, the Turismo backpack is more than a practical and functional bag for students. It is also a durable and attractive bag. When I received mine, I was impressed with its quality and durability, definitely money well spent for a student on a budget. Best of all, I chose a Turismo Insulated Backpack that features my embroidered college logo because I enjoy showing my team spirit.

I will definitely be giving and recommending this backpack as a High School Graduation gift for college bound students. It is also an ideal backpack for students attending high school, boarding school, or summer camp. Students will enjoy and appreciate its great looks, durability, practicality, and functionality in the years ahead.

Turismo Insulated Backpack Product Details

from $53.95 at (Free shipping within Continental US)

This Turismo Insulated Backpack is the best backpack for busy students on the go at college, high school, boarding school, even camp. Made of durable 600D polyester, the backpack features numerous interior and exterior pockets to securely hold essentials for every activity, from hauling school supplies across campus or packing gear for outdoor activities such as tailgating, hiking, biking, or the beach. The reinforced base, padded handle grip, detachable water duffel, and hidden pocket for securing valuables make this backpack ideal for students.

  • Durable 600D Polyester Construction
  • Numerous Interior and Exterior Pockets Hold Popular Essentials for Students on the Go
  • Non-slip, Extra-comfort Backpack Straps
  • Two Large Insulated Interior Compartments
  • Multi-use Mesh Pocket with Reinforced Base and Drawstring Closure, Ideal for Dorm Room Living
  • Large Utility Clip
  • Hidden Zippered Pocket Under Exterior Flap Secures Valuables
  • Padded Handle Grip for Comfort
  • Detachable Water Duffel with Adjustable Shoulder Strap


Dimensions: 14" L x 7" W x 17" H
Cooler Section Capacity: 1,520 Cubic Inches (0.88 cubic feet)
12 oz Can Capacity: 20
Weight: 3.75 lbs
Care Instructions: Wash Surface Using Damp Cloth Only
Color: Black with Optional College Logo Version Available

February 2, 2013

Privacy Pop Bed Tent for Dorm Rooms

Privacy Pop Bed Tent for Students

Because we know sharing a room with anyone can be a real drag, whether you like them or not, Team DormSmart wants to share one of our favorite new and unique products for students living in dorm rooms... the Privacy Pop Bed Tent!

The Privacy Pop is a unique bed tent that is designed to provide students with maximum privacy in a shared bedroom. Its easy setup and compact storage make it the perfect space saving privacy solution for students living in dorm rooms at college or boarding school, even teens sharing a bedroom at home.

Even better, The Privacy Pop Bed Tent ships free from and is available in twin, twin XL, full and bunk sizes.

Live Dorm Smart

November 24, 2012

The Decision to Go Greek or Not

The Decision to Go Greek or NotFor many of you, it’s time to make the decision whether or not to pledge a Greek organization in the new year. For some students, it’s an easy decision and for others not so easy. The great thing about joining school approved organizations, like Greek, is that they provide students with a platform to network, volunteer within their community and hone their social skills before embarking upon a career.

However, speaking as an executive experienced in handling career development and employment activities for many companies over the years, I want students to understand that while Greek life may open doors for students, it cannot assure them of better career opportunities over non Greeks and should not be a deciding factor. From intern to CEO, my employment decisions and the numerous companies I represented were always based on criteria such as education, work experience, past performance, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitude and motivation… essentially what the applicant could offer the company in that particular job role and in the future. Whether or not a job applicant participated in Greek life was never a consideration for employment at any level.

So if you find yourself struggling with the decision about whether or not to go Greek this year… ask yourself if it feels right for you and if so, how will it benefit you. If you are passionate about it and can afford it, go for it. If money is an issue, there are many affordable and well respected student organizations in lieu of Greek where you can participate and learn. If you don’t have an interest in going Greek, don’t waste your time and money or theirs.

If you do decide to go Greek but are not selected… remember that no one likes to be picked last or feel left out of a social circle, yet everyone has experienced it at some point in their life. As a parent I would remind you that the majority of students in the US are non Greek. I would then tell you to pick yourself up and dust off your boots because there are many student organizations left to explore that may ultimately be a better fit and overall experience for you. Lastly, I would tell you to be supportive of those friends who were selected.

Regardless of what you choose to do… remember that going Greek won’t be the deciding factor in your future. The true predictor of who you will be one day and your success is YOU! So stay in school, participate in lots of school sponsored organizations and activities, study, and always live Dorm Smart!

June 14, 2012

Parents and students beware when dorm shopping

Parents and students beware when dorm shopping...

Or shall we be aware of retailers this dorm shopping season who state that they are their university or college’s only approved vendor for appliances, linens, or dorm supplies… It’s sad to see so many retailers using deceptive practices or a play on words to take advantage of students and parents.

DormSmart researches more than 2000 university and college housing websites each year and this is what we have learned... While most schools provide housing guidelines as to what to buy for a college dorm room, they do not dictate where to buy college dorm supplies such asappliances,  linens, or dorm supplies. Some schools may have an affiliate relationship with a retailer where they pass savings on to students or raise funds for their school but it's optional not a requirement.

So shop cautiously and check directly with your school housing office as to their specific requirements of students living in campus housing.

In other words…

“Don’t take our word for it… check with your campus housing office!”

Feel free to use DormSmart’s Campus Housing Connector to connect directly to your university or college housing website before dorm shopping this season.

Shop safe and live Dorm Smart!

February 21, 2012

Camp Supplies = Dorm Supplies = BIG SAVINGS


Live Dorm Smart Shopping Tip:

Many students, including college bound students, participate in camp (i.e., sports camp, cheerleading camp, band camp, chorus camp, summer camp...) so invest in quality camp supplies that will last and can be easily transitioned from camp life to dorm life.

For example, DormSmart's quality wheeled trunks, waterproof shower bags, and laundry back packs… are durable and can be multi-purposed as both camp and college supplies for your busy student!

Just another way to shop and live Dorm Smart!

December 31, 2011

Things Your Student's Dorm Room Doesn't Need or Do They...

Just My Opinion: "I read an article recently about 10 things your kid's dorm room doesn't need... It made me chuckle because they used the word kid which would send my student off the deep end. The author then proceeded to generalize about college students and universities as if they are all the same. I think the author's intent was to caution parents about overspending on dorm room supplies and encourage them to save space. I agree, parents and students need to be practical. That's why at DormSmart, we always tell students to make their checklist... shop at home first then go shopping.

Unfortunately, the author seemed so focused on short-term cost savings that they overlooked an important point... a dorm room is a student's first step toward independent living so it needs to be their home away from home. Their dorm room should create an environment that promotes student success and makes the transition to college life easier. After all, college is a huge investment and we want to do everything we can as parents to protect that investment, ensure our student's success. Let's face it, we won't save money if our student fails to adjust and has to repeat classes

As a parent and specialty retailer, I found a good portion of the author's advice to be impractical for college bound students. Read on..."

Impractical: No college student irons clothes so don't bring an iron, use the dryer touch up button...

Really? My daughter is a business major and some activities actually require ironing. Her friend is ROTC and wears uniforms that must be pressed. When your student is 12 hours from home, it may be a little difficult to iron their clothes for them. So if your student needs to iron, you are better off packing a 1200 watt (or less) 3-way auto shutoff iron and a dorm size ironing surface that is safe and easily stored. As for suggesting students use the touch up/wrinkle free option on their dryer. Actually, I don't think commercial dryers in the dorm laundry rooms have a wrinkle free option and it certainly is not FREE, especially over four years!

Impractical: Most dorms supply perfectly good desk chairs so don't waste your money on furniture... 

It really depends on the school. When we moved our daughter into her dorm room, we secretly went up and down the halls of her residence hall, room by room, trying to locate two desk chairs that were still intact for her and her roommate. Afterwards, we spent days trying to find the right cushion to make it more comfortable. Bottom line, don't assume the furniture provided by the university will be right for your student. You know your student better than anyone. Do they need a comfortable chair?

Impractical: If you find your student cannot live without a coffeemaker allow them to plunder your kitchen appliances during Christmas break... 

NEVER send your student to school with your regular size kitchen appliances (i.e. 12 cup coffeemaker). Pack dorm size appliances that auto shutoff, contain no hot plates, operate on a standard 110/120v plug, and are UL or ETL listed. And because regulations vary from school to school, always check with the university housing office before investing in any appliance.

Impractical: Send your old television to school with your student or give them their uncle's old tube television... 

Isn't that like sending your student to their dorm room with an old mainframe computer instead of a laptop? A dorm room is a small space so electronics need to be dorm sized. I purchased an inexpensive 15" LCD/DVD television for my daughter and it fit perfectly in her small dorm room. Bottom line, sending your student with an old tube television is not a good space saving idea at all. If you are concerned about theft or accidental damage, consider purchasing student property insurance. It is relatively inexpensive.

Impractical: College trunks are out of vogue because they do not fill a purpose...

College trunks have changed a lot and are more popular than ever. They come in many shapes and sizes to fit in the smallest of dorm rooms while providing a wealth of storage space. College trunks are also available with options such as easy glide removable wheels and locking systems to secure a student's laptop, phone, and food... Additionally, a good quality trunk can be multi purposed,used as a night stand or extra dorm room seating and storage.

Impractical: Matchy matchy dorm bedding is too pricey. Save money, just pack the bare essentials... 

Because a good night's sleep is a must have for college students and we are yet to visit a college campus with a comfortable dorm room bed, parents should consider investing in a comfortable mattress topper and bedding. In addition, many dorm room beds are twin XL in size, longer than the standard twin bed found at home so your twin fitted sheet from home will not fit a twin XL bed.

Bottom line... if you find yourself shopping for comfortable bedding to fit your student's twin XL bed properly, take the opportunity to brighten up their bland dorm room and chase away those freshman blues. As for pricey, there are many affordable quality bedding options for students in today's dorm supplies marketplace, including duvet sets (much easier and cheaper to launder than the typical comforter set). If your student can find affordable bedding (dorm decor) that makes their dorm room look like Pottery Barn then good for them. After all, it is their first home away from home!

Good luck getting your student off to college! Live Dorm Smart!

December 17, 2011

DormSmart Product Review - Twin XL Dorm Room Essentials & Extra Large Dorm Trunk Package ...

You won't hear any complaints from your college bound student when you purchase a Twin XL Dorm Room Essentials & Extra Large Dorm Trunk Package, read on...

Product Review

The Twin XL & Extra Large Trunk Package has all the basic essentials your college bound student requires for an easy move into their campus dorm room (i.e., storage, eating, sleeping, shower supplies, and more...) and all at a substantial savings.

Bottom line, these aren't your typical cheap bedding and trunk packages advertised for a few hundred dollars. Rather these packages contain more than 55 quality dorm smart tested and approved supplies by reputable manufacturers such as Saltwater Canvas, Bentley, Honey Can Do, Picnic Time, Rhino Trunk & Case, Thermos... Students even get to pick their colors, customize these packages to reflect their unique sense of style!

A Dorm Essentials & Trunk Package Deal is an ideal holiday, graduation, or birthday gift for college bound high school seniors, any student preparing for dorm room living.

Available in Twin, Twin XL with multiple trunk sizes!

Live Dorm Smart!

July 18, 2011

How to Shop for Twin XL Sheets

Just My Opinion: "...Shopping for Twin XL Sheets can be very confusing for college bound students, especially when there are retailers both online and at physical storefronts who advertise twin sheets as twin XL sheets... they just don't understand the difference.  Generally speaking, selling dorm room supplies is not their full time focus or niche market. It's part-time or seasonal at best.
When shopping for Twin XL Sheet Sets this back to school season, remember to look for the actual sheet dimensions of each piece in the set.
To help students have a successful shopping trip, I'm listing two examples of advertisements below: one that provides shoppers with the correct information about twin XL sheets; and one that does not..."

What's correct in this Twin XL Sheet Set advertisement?

The ad below provides the actual dimensions for each piece in the Twin XL sheet set (that's good). To fit a Twin XL bed, the fitted sheet must be manufactured to fit an 80" long mattress NO EXCEPTIONS! The flat sheet may vary slightly in size between manufacturers and that's alright... just focus on the actual dimensions of the twin XL fitted sheet.
  • One Twin XL Fitted Sheet 39" x 80"
  • Fits Mattress Up to 18" Deep
  • One Twin XL Flat Sheet 70" x 102"
  • One Pillow Case 20" x 30" 

What's incorrect in this Twin XL Sheet Set advertisement?

The ad below fails to provide the dimensions of the most important part of the twin XL sheet set, the fitted sheet. In addition, it mentions that it fits a mattress size of 39" x 90". The standard twin XL mattress is 39" x 80" long, not 90". So even if these sheets look great, they may not fit.
  • One flat sheet. Fits mattress – 39" x 90"
  • One fitted sheet. Fits mattress up 12" deep
  • One standard pillowcase. Fits Pillow – 20" x 26" 

Fact or Fiction About Twin XL Sheets 

  • FICTION: A standard twin FITTED sheet will fit my twin XL bed.
  • FICTION: I can make an extra deep twin FITTED sheet properly fit my twin XL mattress. 
  • FACT: A standard twin FLAT sheet will fit my twin XL bed.
  • FACT: Most twin XL sheet sets include a standard size pillowcase. 

What can students do when shopping for twin XL sheets? 

If you see a twin XL sheet set you really like, verify the actual dimensions of the fitted sheet. The fitted sheet must be manufactured for a 80" long twin XL mattress to ensure a proper fit. If the retailer fails to provide that information, shop on...

In the event that your college has custom size beds in their dorm rooms, you can have your sheets custom made to fit. Just contact DormSmart.

July 7, 2011

Cheap College Trunks: Avoid the Pitfalls

"...As an online dorm store, we continually receive phone calls from prospective customers shopping for a quality trunk for their college bound or camp bound students... customers that have been burned by buying a cheap trunk in the past. I'd like to share their experiences with you, our dorm shoppers in hopes of helping you avoid the same pitfalls."

Vinyl Edging With Brads: Fell Apart During Shipping... A grandfather called in wanting information about Rhino Armor Trunks. He was shopping for a quality college trunk for his grandson but was a little apprehensive about what brand to buy. He had recently purchased a storage trunk for himself online and was disappointed when the trunk arrived at his home damaged. Apparently, it fell APART during shipping. It was one of those cheap college trunks with the vinyl edging that we warn our dorm shoppers about repeatedly. Steel edging and corners are a must have essential when it comes to college trunks!

Particle Board Construction: Punctured During Shipping... Another customer phoned saying he had purchased a trunk from a competitor and when it arrived it was punctured (had a hole in it). Apparently the trunk was cheaply made structurally using particle board instead of hardwood. The trunk was so cheaply made, it didn't even make it through the shipping process.

Cheap Non Load Bearing Wheels: Collapsed 1st Week of Camp... A  mom shopping for trunks for her college bound daughters pointed us to a review online where an individual had purchased a cheaper priced trunk from a competitor for their camp bound student. Apparently the permanently attached wheels collapsed the first week of summer camp. They were unable to support the weight of the trunk at full capacity.

Guidelines to Use When Trunk Shopping Bottom line, when it comes to storage trunks, you get what you pay for... Many times, we speak with parents or college students at DormSmart who purchased a cheap college trunk that could not hold up to the rigors of dorm life and are now shopping for a quality alternative. They didn't save money. If you can't afford to invest in a quality storage trunk for college, don't waste your money buying a cheaply made trunk. If budget is an issue,  you may want to consider looking for a quality used trunk. Whether you choose to buy a new or used college trunk, here are a few guidelines to use when trunk shopping:

  • Steel edging and corners versus plastic or vinyl corners with cheap brads.
  • An interior made of hardwood versus particle board, needs to be structurally sound. The trunk should be able to be multipurposed as additional dorm seating or a coffee table (able hold several college students at the same time).
  • Removable load bearing versus stationary wheels. Removable wheels prevents someone from taking your college trunk but makes it easy for you to transport. You also want your trunk wheels to glide smoothly when it is at full capacity so they need to hold a large amount of weight.
  • Leather versus vinyl handles.
  • Lifetime structural warranty if purchasing a a new trunk that can be serviced easily. If you reside in the US and the trunk is made outside the US, it may be costly to obtain repairs. 
Just my opinion! Live Dorm Smart!

May 3, 2011

The Importance of Dorm Safe Appliances Versus Cheap Dorm Appliances...

At DormSmart, we are continually lecturing about the importance of buying dorm safe appliances when living on campus versus cheap dorm appliances, so I thought I'd back that up by sharing an article about one student's personal experience...

"...I was pounding on doors yelling fire, fire, wake up, everyone get out," said Christmas, who is credited with rousing sleeping students throughout her residence hall, despite serious burns on 60 percent of her body. But everyone in the residence hall was asleep or thought it was a false alarm. Suddenly, my scalp was burning, my hands and fingers were on fire. I didn't know what to do...

...Whether you live in a residence hall, Greek housing or an off-campus apartment, your living area is likely overfilled with books, paper, bedding, curtains and clothes that make your room a bon-fire waiting to happen," said John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), a not-for-profit organization that tests products for safety. "In this environment, even the smallest spark can be deadly..."

The Angel of Boland Hall, Dana Christmas, sharing her painful experience on YouTube in hopes of making students aware of the dangers of dorm fires:

Live Dorm Smart and take fire safety seriously!

April 23, 2011

Shop Smart for Dorm Supplies...

Did you know that according to the  National Fire Protection Association... historically, cooking equipment has been involved in 75% of dormitory fires and those fires accounted for 62% of civilian deaths and 26% of civilian fire injuries?

LIVE DORM SMART TIP: Choose to be smart when you shop for dorm supplies, especially dorm appliances. Purchase smart dorm safe appliances that comply with your university's housing regulations versus non compliant appliances just because they're cheap in price.

Do & Do Not

Do check with your university housing office before purchasing appliances for your dorm room. Obviously you want to purchase appliances that your college considers dorm safe instead of confiscated contraband. How much money will you save if your cheap dorm appliance, meaning of lower quality or non compliant with your campus housing regulations, is confiscated and you have to buy another one?

Do not be swayed by any retailer or dorm supplies store that promotes dorm appliances by spreading propaganda "not facts" about your school (i.e. saying that schools are only pushing certain regulations or dorm appliances to make a buck for themselves...). The retailer should be focused on selling the features of their products versus selling assumptions about your school. At DormSmart, we consider this to be a desperate and unethical approach by a retailer to unload their inventory... sell non compliant dorm appliances to unsuspecting college students. Remember, your school is the final authority on what dorm appliances may be operated on their campus not the retailer.

Safety & Costs

Colleges and universities are responsible for their students' safety first and foremost. It only makes sense that they want to minimize the potential for loss of life or property damage. Building codes change over time and vary from state to state so your school housing officials probably know best what appliances will operate safely in their dorm rooms. In addition, if you purchase non compliant dorm appliances that continually trip your circuit breaker or cause damage to your building, then it only stands to reason that university maintenance costs will increase which ultimately results in increased tuition costs.

At DormSmart

At DormSmart, we would be the first to admit that we are big proponents of colleges and universities setting standards for students to apply when purchasing dorm appliances rather than setting brands that students must purchase. Doing so allows student shoppers to choose from a broader selection of appliances at different price points. (We've blogged about this topic a lot.) However, we are not proponents of retailers encouraging students to buy dorm appliances... any dorm supplies that they cannot legally use on "their" college campus (this varies from school to school). Exactly the reason we offer to contact your housing office for you, why we freely provide detailed information to you about the appliances we sell in our online dorm store, and also directly provide you with your school's dorm living guidelines through our Housing Connector.

We hope you will choose to shop smart & live Dorm Smart!,

April 13, 2011

High School Graduates: Always reach for the impossible, make it possible!

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." ~Jimmy Johnson

With your high school graduation fast approaching and a future full of infinite possibilities before you, always remember to reach for what may seem to be impossible… take a chance. Just remember as you embark upon your future, your freshman year of college, that it’s important to believe in yourself, in your vision for yourself! And when nay sayers try to discourage you or make you believe that your dreams are impossible, remember those are usually people who are too afraid to take a chance or who are possibly failing. Just think about all the successes in the world.

Ron Rice, Hawaiian Tropic

Did you know that Ron Rice started Hawaiian Tropic mixing his first batches in a trash can in his garage? Ron has grown Hawaiian Tropic into an internationally recognized brand, with over 125 products distributed around the world.

Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields

Did you know that Debbi Fields, a young mother with no business experience, opened her first cookie store in Palo Alto, California in 1977, Mrs. Fields Cookies? Sound familiar? They told her she was crazy. No business could survive just selling cookies. She walked up and down the street with a plate of cookies asking pedestrians to try them. Her cookies are now sold worldwide, a leader in the industry.

"The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it." ~Debbi Fields
John Paul DeJoria, John Paul Mitchell Systems

Did you know that John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems was so short of cash during his business start up that he slept out of his car? He and his business partner Paul Mitchell had $700 between the two of them… just enough to pay their graphic designer for the label on their hair care products. The famous label is black and white because that’s all they could afford. According to Forbes, their sales are estimated to be $900 million annually and Dejoria’s personal worth at $4.2 billion.

Do I even need to go into facebook starting out in a dorm room?  I think we know that story! As you move to campus and settle into your dorm room, just imagine the success stories that started right there.

My point… it’s important in life to have faith, to believe in yourself, to pursue your dreams, to be positive, to be ethical, and respectful of others… in school, at home, and in your future business endeavors. Operating with integrity will always allow you to operate from a position of strength not weakness.

Congratulations on your success! I wish you continued success throughout your life and I hope you reach for the impossible... make it possible!

Live Dorm Smart!

Christi Leslie
Founder & CEO,
Creator of

April 10, 2011

Dorm Safe Ironing: 3-Way Auto Shut Off Irons...

I recently came across an advertisement promoting irons without auto shut off to college students as being dorm safe. I then noticed the advertiser is also selling an ironing accessory product, a silicone iron rest pad, touting it as a "smart dorm product." As a parent and the founder of and, it concerns me that students may develop a false sense of security...believing that a standard iron without any kind of auto shutoff feature is safe as long as it is used with a silicone iron rest pad...

What is a Silicone Iron Rest Pad?

A silicone iron rest pad is made of specially designed silicone with a raised surface for slip resistant protection that creates a safe place to rest your hot iron while ironing or allowing it to cool off... to protect surfaces from scorching or burning. A useful ironing accessory for someone who is ironing over an extended period of time such as a quilter or someone who needs a place to cool their shut off iron before putting it away. However, a silicone iron rest pad does not have a motion sensor... it cannot detect a falling iron or magically throw itself under a falling iron; an iron that may be knocked off by a busy college student heading out for a long day of classes or home for winter break. In addition, the iron rest pad can become very hot; causing burns if handled before cooling down.

What is considered Dorm Safe when ironing?

If you plan to iron in your college dorm room, it is our opinion that the safest option is to purchase an  iron with 3-way auto shut off; an iron that shuts off in the upright position, down position, and side position in the event you do forget to turn it off, unplug it, or it gets knocked over. A standard size iron is a high wattage appliance (typically 1200 to 1500 watts) so it is important to purchase an iron with the following features:
  • 3-way auto shut off (auto shuts off in the upright, down, and side positions);
  • operates on a standard 110/120v plug; and
  • is UL Listed or ETL Listed (tested to nationally accepted safety standards).

Avoid Circuit Overloads When Ironing...

Do not plug your iron into an outlet with other high wattage appliances. If you must plug your iron into a power strip, we recommend using a Multi Outlet Surge Protector with Overload Protection (protects your appliance purchase from power surges and contains an internal 15 Amp Circuit Breaker to prevent you from overloading the circuit to your dorm room).

3-Way Auto Shut Off Iron versus an External Auto Shut Off Outlet...

We do not recommend using an external auto shut off outlet in your dorm room to control a high wattage appliance like an iron that can be knocked over. It can be unsafe because the auto shut off outlet depends on the student remembering to use it and it does not auto shut off for at least 60 minutes. A quality iron with 3-way auto shut off typically turns off in 15 minutes or less (down to 30 seconds) depending upon the iron's position... definitely a dorm smart product!

Because we care...

At we care... so we CHOOSE to sell 3-Way Auto Shut Off Irons because we believe them to be the dorm smart option... the safer way to iron for college students so CHOOSE to live dorm smart! Add a 3-Way Auto Shut Off Iron to your dorm supplies checklist!