College Lifestyle and Product Blog for Dorm Room Living | DormSmart: Shopping for College

Showing posts with label Shopping for College. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shopping for College. Show all posts

July 3, 2017

When Shopping for College, Shop for You!

When shopping for college, remember articles such as this one and tools like our Dorm Room Checklist, are just there for students to use as a general guide of what they may or may not want to bring on campus. Ultimately, it's about you!

For example, some schools actually accept electronic submissions of assignments or offer electronic printing services so you may not need a printer. But if your school requires a hard copy or if you are someone who procrastinates, like my daughter, having a printer in your dorm room may be safer than walking across campus in the middle of the night to print an assignment. Also, some schools charge for printing services and do not offer color options.

For students who do not care about ironing their clothes, forget ironing supplies. But for those of you who like a crease or participate in business or military related student activities that may require one, then bring ironing supplies to campus if policy permits. Just make sure the iron is UL listed and features 3-way auto shutoff, in case it's left on or gets knocked over. Because there is really no need for two irons and ironing boards to take up space in a dorm room, be sure to coordinate with your roommate. As for students who favor steamers, like irons, they too have heating elements; so, if you bring one to campus with you, just make sure it is a UL listed appliance that auto shuts off and is school approved. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to forego using the commercial dryers at the campus laundry to de-wrinkle your clothes. It can become a costly and energy consuming habit.

For those students who enjoy watching television and movies on their laptop or tablet, you just saved a little more space in your college dorm room. However, for those of you who do not enjoy the experience or use your electronics for other activities while watching the television, like many of us, it is fine to bring one with you as long as it is dorm room size.

At the end of the day, it’s your dorm room and you have to live in it. This is your home away from home and you should be able to bring whatever style of bedding, necessities, electronics, or school approved appliances to help you transition to and be successful at college. So get what you need, get organized, hit the books, and enjoy the ride.

As always, remember to check and respect your campus housing policies before shopping and packing for college and live dorm smart!

July 31, 2015

Money Saving Tip for College Freshmen Shopping for Twin XL Bedding

Save Money When Shopping for Twin XL Bedding for College

It's true. You do need a twin XL fitted sheet, bed bug protection, mattress topper, and pad for a good night's sleep on the typical dorm room twin XL mattress. While a twin XL comforter set is preferable, if you plan to move from your dorm room with a twin XL bed into an apartment with a larger full or queen size bed by your sophomore year of college and money is an issue, you may want to consider purchasing a full or queen size comforter set instead of a twin XL comforter set to save yourself a little money in the long run; especially, if you are going to raise your dorm room bed for storage. As long as the comforter is 90 inches or longer and the pattern works on the bed, you can make it work in your dorm room. The additional length on the sides can be used to hide the stored items underneath your raised bed so you won't need to invest in a twin XL bed skirt. 

Best of all, when you move from your dorm room into an apartment next year, you'll only need to buy new sheets, bed bug protection, a mattress topper, and pad because your comforter set should fit if you planned accordingly. You’ll also have two matching pillow shams instead of one.

Just a money saving tip for budget challenged college bound freshmen from DormSmart. Remember, we carry many options for every budget. Many of the products on our virtual shelves are hand selected to grow with college students from their dorm room to their next space to save money during and beyond college.

Shop Smarter!

July 24, 2015

Announcement: DormSmart Adds Product Reviews

Clip arts

Extra! Extra!

DormSmart adds product reviews to our online storefront. 

It’s been challenging to set up product review guidelines that give students an actual assessment of the product’s performance, especially in a dorm room setting where product selection may be limited by housing policy, but we came up with a few.

For example, our product review guidelines:

  • Only allow product reviews by verified buyers. While this method may take some time to build the number of reviews for shoppers, they can be assured that the reviews are from a credible source. 
  • Require more than one or two words. We want to know what shoppers like about the product and  how they used it.
  • Only allow reviews about actual product performance. What isn’t allowed that seems to plague many review systems these days and is unfair to potential buyers and the manufacturer of the product are reviews unrelated to actual product performance (i.e. promotions by competitors, complaints about price or ship times, and off the wall comments…). 

Our ultimate goal is to keep product reviews pure for students while being fair to manufacturers, only providing feedback that assesses actual product performance. We hope we’ve done that and all verified buyers will participate.

Shop smarter and live DormSmart!

July 21, 2015

How We Ship Orders from DormSmart

Because many of our students deliver dorm room supplies to their campus or just want to be able to track shipments to their front door, DormSmart only ships orders using trackable shipping services, usually referred to as premium shipping services by discount retailers. If you don't already know this... it is crazy busy on move in day and at times students have difficulty locating packages so it’s important to be able to track them. So the next time you are comparison shopping for college supplies, remember to factor in premium shipping services. Obviously, you get what you pay for.

Shop Smarter!

June 28, 2015

Affordable Twin XL Bedding for College Students

Comfortable, durable, and affordable twin XL bedding for budget conscious college students can be challenging to find when outfitting a dorm room. Thus far, I personally like our Royal Tradition product line. Their twin XL Egyptian cotton or bamboo sheets are comfortable, affordable, durable, and machine washable at the campus laundry. The only thing students need to keep in mind is that most Egyptian cotton wrinkles when washed, but it sure does feel good after a long day of classes or, for me, a long day at work.

Affordable Bedding for College
Affordable Twin XL Bedding by Royal Tradition
I personally use Royal Tradition bedding products at home, including their wrinkle resistant 100% Microfiber Reversible Coverlet and Matching Sham Set (starting at $70.29 delivered within the 48 Contiguous US States). Ideal for everyday use, this bedding just feels and looks good. The weight of these coverlets, 110gsm, is ideal for any weather. I use mine year round. The basic solid color selection can be used to create the perfect backdrop for more trendy patterned bedding accessories such as decorative pillows and throws.

Best of all, this bedding is durable and easily maintained. I dislike doing laundry so I enjoy knowing these are fairly simple to wash and hold up well after repeated washing. I’ve had my chocolate coverlet set and coordinating sage sheets for three years and they still look great. Just remember to always wash your linens according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent shrinkage and promote longevity.

At any rate, this affordable twin XL bedding in black, burgundy, chocolate, gold, ivory, linen, navy, sage, and white is one of my personal favorites and easy on the budget.

Live DormSmart!

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!

November 1, 2014

Planning a Move to College or Boarding School Spring Semester

For students planning a move to college or boarding school spring semester, it is a great time to shop and save on dorm room supplies. During non peak shopping seasons parents and students will find retailers discounting items such as twin XL comforter sets, sheets, and more in their back to college or off to boarding school shopping aisles. So if you are a savvy shopper that appreciates a bargain, take advantage of  sales on dorm room essentials and decor during non peak seasons. Just another tip to prepare for smarter campus living from Team DormSmart!

August 8, 2014

TiK ToK: It’s Time for Many College Bound Students to Use Campus Direct Shipping

The summer hours are ticking away probably quicker than you imagined with your impending move to campus just around the corner. If you waited to shop for college and do not have time to wait for online purchases to be delivered at home or to drive from store to store enduring the crowds of back to school shoppers and picked over inventory, then I recommend shipping purchases to your college campus. Campus direct shipping will get your essentials to school without delaying your departure while reducing the cost, time, and stress associated with moving items from home to campus or driving from store to store to make purchases over an already busy move-in weekend.

Quick Tips for Students Shipping Online Purchases to Campus

  1. Be sure to use your “exact mailing address” for campus. For example, many colleges hyphenate the mailbox number next to a student’s name. This allows them to better sort through the thousands of packages that will be making their way to campus, ensuring that your items are not lost in the shuffle.
  2. Remember that packages arriving at school are typically not delivered to your dorm room rather they are sent to the campus mail room where you must retrieve them. Be sure to check your college or university’s policies for package pick-up.
  3. Most schools have a specific time frame for move-in shipments to begin arriving on campus so schedule your purchases accordingly.
  4. Understand the processing and shipping times of your online orders so you can allot enough time for them to arrive on campus. Be realistic and don’t sweat the small stuff; meaning, if it’s an item that may arrive a few days later than you, you can still pick it up once it gets there.

If you are someone like me who procrastinates, the best advice I can give you is do not panic and use campus direct shipping. Speaking from experience, I know this is an emotional time for you and your family. I understand that everyone wants move-in weekend to be perfect freshman year. Realistically, it probably won’t be perfect, more like chaotic, so laugh through it and make the weekend count. Assure your family that you can retrieve any packages that may not have arrived on campus for move-in weekend. You can finish your dorm room setup with your roommate, a little bonding time, and then send your family a picture once it is completed. Remind them that you will see them soon, and, for your sake and theirs, call them at least once a week so they can hear your voice. It will make the transition easier for everyone, trust me!

Hit the books, get involved in school approved activities, make new friends, 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: