College Lifestyle and Product Blog for Dorm Room Living | DormSmart

April 27, 2017

Safe Online Shopping Tips for College Bound Students

It's that time of year again... time to shop for dorm supplies, so Team DormSmart thought we'd give you a few tips for safe online dorm on!

Does the online dorm store provide...
  • Contact information including a phone number. If you call, can you get a person on the phone? We all get busy during dorm shopping season, so it's alright if you have to leave a message but did you get a return phone call or email in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Clearly written store policies?
  • True manufacturer information (i.e. product specifications, warranty information, and brand) versus a store who provides a false brand. In other words, what will the label say when you receive the product? Who is providing the warranty?
  • A secure payment option such as PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Checkout...

Beware of Spam URLS...

Make sure you are shopping on an actual online store versus a spam URL (a URL that redirects you to another website).We've all seen them lately; you think you are actually on an online retail shopping site or legitimate review site then realize the contact information is lacking or it redirects you to another site... not cool! Run your antivirus software after you have visited one of these spam URLS.

How to deal with Annoying Cookies / Ads...

If you recently visited an online store then started seeing their ads popping up EVERYWHERE, update and run your antivirus software... delete your cookies. You may have a tracking cookie on your system that keeps triggering the ads.

Avoid the Negative Ninny... 

We are all about giving accurate information to student shoppers. We make fact based product comparisons all the time. However, if you come across a retailer who promotes their products by ranting ... making outrageous negative statements about other retailers and their products to scare you into a purchase, you may want to keep shopping! Avoid the negative ninny, find a retailer who promotes quality dorm products based on facts about those products (how they will benefit you) instead of a retailer who promotes their products based on scare tactics using negative advertising.

How to effectively use major search engines shopping feeds when researching dorm supplies...

We have recently noticed a wave of online retailers who are listing their products in different marketplaces, even using different skus or brand names... just to get a sale. The problem for shoppers occurs when each marketplace uploads these same products to a major search engine's shopping feed.  All the results are for the same product by the same retailer being advertised in different marketplaces using different brands, product skus, or price points. These retailers do this to saturate the major shopping engine results with their product in hopes of getting the sale. Unfortunately, this adversely impacts a shoppers ability to choose the best product for them. Our recommendation is to scan through several pages of each shopping engines search results to find the best product for you ... at least until such time technology can catch up with these offenders.

Out of business...

Lastly, there is a new wave of online retail sites where the original retail entity has gone out of business and someone has purchased certain assets such as the brand and domain name ... It is not the same retailer. This does not mean that it is a bad shopping site. However, dorm shoppers should not confuse the previous store's reputation with that of the new website and brand owner. It's an ingenious way to capitalize on the previous owner's reputation and misfortune. Quite frankly, it's misleading to consumers.
What can you do? Review the store policies (frequently asked questions, help section...) to see if they are no longer honoring gift certificates, store credit cards, or orders made prior to a certain date. If you are a shopper who uses customer reviews, focus on reviews about that retailer written after the date they acquired the website and brand (the date they began honoring orders). If all else fails, call the retailer and talk with them to see if you feel comfortable making the purchase.
    Have a safe and fun dorm shopping season and live dorm smart! Always remember, when in doubt about whether or not a product is safe or acceptable for your campus dorm room, call your university housing office before investing in your dorm supplies!

    May 18, 2016

    How to Get Through High School Graduation

    Somebody told me once that change happens quickly, you can try to manage it, but in today’s world, it is best if you just hold on tight and take the ride!

    April is a crazy month for graduating high school seniors. If you are a senior reading this blog, you are probably feeling pulled in many directions right now and a little overwhelmed! Final papers and final exams are probably keeping you up at night as well as the uncertainty of the future such as college selection and acceptance, scholarships, awards… the list goes on and on! And what about those little details such as deciding what to wear for graduation or giving your parents the guest list for your graduation ceremony and graduation party… I think you get the picture.

    My point! This is an exciting time in your life. In a few short weeks, it will all come together and you’ll be walking across that platform to receive your hard earned diploma and many decisions will be settled. We’ve all been there!

    In the meantime, just take a deep breath and remember to focus on the important tasks and decisions at hand. Remember that both you and your family may be a little overwhelmed right now with this life changing event. You’re preparing to leave home and your family is preparing to let you go! It is a huge life change for everyone! So, while you may not be able to control change, you can make the transition easier for yourself and those close to you. Focus on the decisions and activities that require your undivided attention and allow your family to assist you with the rest. In the end, it will make high school graduation and your move to college a much happier experience and memory for everyone! Enjoy the ride! Live DormSmart!

    Already attending college? Help your future underclassmen by sharing your high school graduation experience.

    January 8, 2016

    Planning a Move to Campus for Spring Semester

    Spring semester is fast approaching which means shopping for and shipping dorm room supplies during an already busy holiday season for many college bound students. To ensure your dorm room supplies make it to your campus on time this January, it is important to understand the various shipping services offered by retailers today and their related transit times before shopping.

    Actual transit time is the amount of time it takes your dorm supplies to reach your campus once they leave the retailer’s warehouse. When shopping for dorm supplies, the actual amount of time it takes to receive your order depends upon:

    1.       How long it takes the retailer to process your order;
    2.       The shipping service the retailer chooses to transport your order (transit time); and
    3.       The proximity of the retailer’s warehouse to your college campus.

    For example, if your college campus is located on the west coast and you purchase dorm supplies from a retailer who warehouses only in New York and utilizes a 5 to 10 days shipping service… odds are your dorm supplies will take closer to 10 business days to reach your college campus, maybe more, even if that retailer processes your order within 24 hours.

    So if you are headed to campus this January, plan accordingly…  remember to factor in the time it takes a retailer to process your dorm supplies order, the actual transit time for your order to reach your college campus, the holiday rush, and the possibility of inclement weather.   Bottom line, it’s best to shop early to avoid delays and reduce costs!

    To assist you in your dorm shopping this holiday season, here’s a breakdown of average transit times for standard shipping services typically used by today’s online retailers:

    FedEx SmartPost5 to 10 Business DaysYes
    UPS Ground1 to 5 Business DaysNo
    FedEx Ground1 to 5 Business DaysYes
    USPS Priority Mail2 to 3 Business DaysYes

    Good luck this spring and remember to live Dorm Smart!

    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.

    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!

    Why Give Your Money to the Campus Coffeehouse? Brew Smarter in Your College Dorm Room and Save!

    If you’re anything like me and 150 million other Americans, coffee is an essential part of your daily routine. Whether you drink the average 3.1 cups per day according to the National Coffee Association, simply need a cup to get you going in the morning, use caffeine as a study aid before big tests, or just crave a cup in the afternoon, students alike will find that it continues to be an important source of fuel throughout their college career; and, we all know how expensive it can be to buy coffee at your favorite campus coffeehouse. Most college students, including myself, are on a tight budget and cannot afford to spend the average $2.38 for a plain brewed cup of coffee or $3.45 on a specialty coffee once a day, let alone multiple times. A daily habit could be costing you over $100 a month, a big bite out of a student's budget. 

    Fortunately for students, the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffeemaker Brew Package offers an affordable solution to your overpriced coffee woes with a few added benefits. 

    • At a mere $112.98, these brew packages include a competitively priced hospitality grade coffeemaker and 100 individually sealed European Coffeehouse Blend gourmet coffee pods by Java Brewing Company available in decaf or regular.
    • This coffee maker is specifically designed for high traffic community living, meaning they are made to last. 
    • Whether you are a freshman or seasoned upperclassman, you will find that most colleges only permit certain appliances. These coffeemakers are ideal for student living because they are UL Listed, auto shutoff, low wattage, and use no breakable glass carafes or warming plates, making them the safer choice. 
    • For you space challenged dorm dwellers, the FlexBrew is compact and takes up considerably less space than more expensive coffeemakers while offering the same great taste. 
    • They are K Cup, Soft Pod, and coffee ground compatible, so your coffee options are many.
    • Not a coffee lover? Not a problem! These coffeemakers can also be used to brew tea and cocoa for your other favorite hot drink options. 
    • Using coffee pods means no measuring or messy clean up. Within minutes, you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee without the hassle. This also means you won’t be stuck with an old pot of coffee at the end of the day, saving you time and money. 
    • Conveniently located in your dorm room, you can brew a quick cup of joe at any time even when your campus coffeehouse is closed at night or you are running late in the morning. 
    • Because they are made to stand up to repeated use, these coffee makers are not limited to dorm room living but will last throughout your college career and can be used in your first apartment or home. 

    For those of you who must have your gourmet coffee fix, these brew packages can also be upgraded to include a variety selection of 108 Jo Coffee Single Serve Cups. Averaging less than $1 per cup, this coffee is a great way to get that specialty coffee taste at home for less than half the price of a cup at your favorite coffeehouse. Handcrafted using specialty beans from the top 2% of pure Arabica raw coffee worldwide, these coffee cups are offered in three unique flavors, New York Jo, Morning Jo, and Wild Jo. Not only does this coffee offer a superior taste, but it is also USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Kosher Certified, and Non-GMO with no additives. In addition, the eco-friendly filter cup technology serves to create the smoothest brewing extraction. Best of all, students can reorder these coffee cups throughout the semester on in quantities of 36, 72, or 108 cups. 

    While I personally cannot deny my love for the occasional specialty coffee at my campus coffeehouse, my bank account certainly appreciates the daily use of a coffee maker at home. Combined with the flavorful coffee pods or cups included in this package, and your coffee needs will be easily fulfilled each semester! Be sure to enjoy your favorite beverage responsibly from now on with your FlexBrew Coffeemaker and gourmet Jo Coffee Cups.   

    Brew Smarter! 

    List of Items Not to Bring to College: Dorm Room Contraband

    Dorm Room Contraband
    Dorm Room Contraband

    Since we are always writing about must have college dorm room essentials, we thought it would be a good idea to create a list of those items students should not bring to college, otherwise known as dorm room contraband. These items, listed in random order, made our top ten list at DormSmart:

    #1 Pets

    We realize there are a few colleges out there with pet friendly housing, and we applaud these trend setters. Unfortunately, the vast majority do not allow students to bring their family pet so do Fido a favor and leave him at home.

    #2 Hot Plates and Toaster Ovens

    Although we've noticed several retailers advertising a cute toaster oven and hot plate combo appliance this year, most schools consider any form of these items a fire hazard and have banned them from their dorm rooms. Don't waste your money, just use your dorm room microwave or residence hall kitchen.

    #3 Weapons

    Leave your guns and knives at home please, including paint ball and stun guns! Check with your campus police to see what security products you can legally use for protection on your college or university campus. Some schools even ban pepper spray and the average kitchen knife on campus 

    #4 Expensive Jewelry

    We all like it and want to keep it! If you choose not to heed this advice and bring it, at least invest in a good  dorm room safe.

    #5 Large Sums of Cash

    You may as well donate it to charity and take the tax deduction because if it’s stolen, how do you prove it was yours? "Duh, it had a picture of Benjamin Franklin on it officer, honest."

    #6 Large Screen Television

    We hear about this a lot. Not a great idea in limited space.  Even if it is not contraband on your campus, it is smarter to dorm room size your electronics.

    #7 Full Size Appliances

    Attempting to hide a stocked full size refrigerator in a college dorm room is not the best idea and could be unsafe on the existing circuitry. We have to wonder how students manage to get one past their RA. Even if you're a caffeine addict, a 24-cup coffeemaker is out of the question. Can you really drink that much coffee before your 8:00 a.m. class? Live safer and dorm room size your appliances.

    #8 Illegal Drugs or Alcohol

    Seriously, do we need to say more?

    #9 Candles or Incense

    Keep your dorm room fire free. Opt for air freshener and soft lighting.

    #10 Boyfriend or Girlfriend

    While you may miss each other and we feel your pain, it really isn’t appropriate or fair to your roommate to move your boyfriend or girlfriend into your college dorm room, especially when they aren’t enrolled.

      Just a few more tips to live smarter on campus from DormSmart. Good luck this school year!