What not to bring to a dorm room
Styles have changed; square footage hasn't.
August 14th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

What not to bring to a dorm room

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) – One of the best things about college dorms is that you get to leave them eventually.

They’re bare, they’re cramped, they’re never at the optimum temperature – in other words, they’re not home.

There are a number of ways in which college students make them feel even more remote and dingy. And by avoiding these mistakes, you can make your dorm-room memories a little less regrettable.

Bringing everything

You don’t have room for everything; you barely have room for anything. Taking along the extra pillows and stuffed animals and lava lamp and 14 pairs of shoes and unneeded sports equipment is not going to work out well.

One key to surviving dorm life is making the most of the least space. Think of the area under your bed as your closet, and try to fit a season’s worth of folded clothing, shoes, and a much-needed-but-still-mini ironing board underneath.

Plastic bins can help here. Hanging shoe organizers are also a good idea for whatever closet space you do get – or the back of your door, if necessary.

Bringing nothing

You're gonna need some basics, though. Start with sheets, and find out early if you'll need the regular or extra long twin size. Then, choose something comfortable (cotton jersey is a good, affordable option); you might feel a little uneasy sleeping away from your home bed, and you won't want to curl up on sandpaper.

You'll also need a pillow and a comforter, a shower caddy (filled with products that'll get you clean), and a toiletry bag for your toothbrush, cologne, deodorant and makeup. A robe is also a good idea for getting to and from the bathroom.

Leslie Sherman Jackson, a contributor to the Dallas Morning News, points out that "in addition to a folding hamper for dirty clothes, a plastic laundry basket comes in handy for transporting" whatever you need it to transport.

So when you go shopping, head to the bed, bath, and container departments and ask what they've got for a college dorm room. Then, try to fit what you’re bringing to school into what you buy for school.

Ignoring lighting

Lighting can change everything from the "mood" to your ability to cram at 3 a.m. without infuriating your roommate. Yes, your new home will come with some sort of overhead florescent, but it will make your living space look like a 1980s kitchen. (Your parents will get that.)

You’ll want your dorm room to feel more like a living room. Some inexpensive, rugged floor or desk lamps will get you through a couple years, and they’ll make your room seem warmer.

And a clamp lamp will let you read while your roommate snores.

Decorating badly

It’s understandable why people living in a sea of strangers want to show their individuality through trophies, flags, dilapidated bouquets and posters. But you might not have much wall space, and your roommate may not share your passion for Justin Bieber.

Start with a couple mementos of home: one or two framed photos of family, a book your best friend gave you, and the alarm clock you got as a going-away gift. If your room looks sparse, you can always decorate more later on – and even tag team with your roommate on curtains and an area rug.

One thing you don’t want to do is decorate with items you’d otherwise throw away. Torn-out pages from magazines should probably be recycled. So should cans: They look bad, smell worse, and tip over easily. (Plus, they attract bugs if they’re not rinsed, and how many people who decorate with cans actually rinse them? Exactly.)

Your dorm room should not resemble a neglected frat house. But while we’re on the subject…

Playing garbage Jenga

The game is to stack discarded fast food bags and containers as high as they’ll go until the whole structure crashes down to the roaches. The one who tipped it has to clean it up and take it out.

This is the intersection between fun and unsanitary. The problem is that it lures pests and repels friends when you want to do the opposite. And it’s not just trash heaps that offend.

Wadding and piling

…sounds like a grunge band. But any kind of pile – clothes, shoes, papers, food – is a bad thing in a dorm room.

A little housekeeping goes a long way in making a room more desirable. If that means taking out the trash when its height is equal to that of its container – or shoving shoes under the bedskirt when company comes calling – the payoff will be a reputation as the clean one.

And if you don’t like your roommate (you probably won’t like your roommate), you’ll have a better chance of finding a new roommate if you’re the clean one.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. patiat

    This is all hogwash. College dorms are no longer the residence of budget-conscious students who need an affordable place to stay for 4 months at a time. They're nearly opulent with creature comforts, and in mid-sized cities they often cost MORE than renting an apartment. They're cash cows for the campus and money pits for parents, just so little lord fauntleroy doesn't have to actually go through college aspiring to better living conditions than the dorms.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  2. Carl

    One thing that will help keep the mens bathroom clean is a pointandpee,also great fun at parties!

    August 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Kathleen Neely

    I was in the Navy after college – 80 roomates, dont bring anything, and pray a lot!!

    August 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  4. Jorge

    If I had it to do all over again, I would have gone to a trade school first for electronics or something, THEN done college part time, work part time and rented a room for myself, the peace and quiet would have done wonders for my nerves and my grades, the prior school experience would have prepared me better for college and the work would have given me the extra cash to tide over my expenses better without the protestations of from parents, not to mention given me something to put on my resume after graduation.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  5. emma

    Fridge is useless unless you are not on a meal plan and have to buy your own food; forget beer and soda, you will be going out for those [if you are drinking alone in your room seek counselling]. Ditto microwave.
    Bring your bedding, clothes, the fewest books you can manage [your going to be buying a lot more and never needing those you brought], a few photos from home and your laptop: everything else you will buy, pick up or otherwise acquire during the year.

    August 17, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • pattysboi

      Emma, WAY back in 1980 (yeah, I know, the dark ages) I did a six month internship for a local probation department and the way the buses ran, I'd not get back in time to eat before my afternoon classes. Rented a fridge, kept sandwich stuff in it, it worked fine.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  6. FirstAve

    A fridge is needed for all the beer/booze you can cram into that thing.

    August 16, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  7. papa

    Dorm rooms are designed to be uncomfortable, they want to encourage you to get done getting that degree as quickly as possible and quit wasting your parent's money for a degree in English Literature, when you know the only job waiting for you after graduation is bagging groceries at a Piggly Wiggly

    August 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  8. Kristi

    Well first off, students need to figure out what dorm they are in and what the rooms look like–most are different. I was in one where we had bolsters for storage behind our bed, and our beds would pull out of the wall a few inches for when we went to bed and then you'd push it back in to make it a mini couch (so it didn't stick out in the room so much). Then my roommate and I went to home depot and bought cinder blocks (painted them fun colors) and then some boards, and voila–shelves behind our beds for pictures and stuff. Then we bought some 2×4's and put them above our bookcases (the built in's on each side of the room) and threw all our suitcases and stuff up there for storage; and we screwed milk crates into those boards that hung down for food storage and things. You just gotta make space! Be creative and most importantly get your roommates contact info and call before you go to see who is bringing what. Most schools let you rent a fridge until you figure out it's better to just drop the $$ and get your own the next semester.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Larry

    Think small, travel light.
    Most of the stuff you think you'll really really need - you won't, and it'll just be a pain to haul in and out again later.
    I'd probably consider getting a small personal safe for valuables if there is no other option.
    If a refrigerator is a "must" have - see if the dorm has rentals. I owned a small one, and it was sort of convenient, but it took up room and was one more thing to haul in and out. On campus vs. off campus housing - that can be a crap shoot. I did both and outside of the year I lived in a former closet (at least it was private) at a frat house, it was pretty much a wash financially. There are pros and cons both ways, but frankly dorm life was oddly less distracting than being off-campus (even having gone through 2 very odd roommates - the first was just very strange and extremely childish, the second was a class-A neurotic rich kid who constantly talked about how his divorced parents, both doctors, fought over him – and he had sticky fingers).

    August 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Brian

    I can still remember moving to campus my sophamore year- I drove a MGB- if it didnt fit I didnt need it was my theory. Some how managed to put radio shack mach 1 speakers in it and my clothes!

    August 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  11. adingus

    I've just spent the last two days at work dealing with recyclables from move-in. I run the recycling program at a large midwestern university and what students have brought so far is astounding. Here's my thoughts on need vs. don't need:

    Need: sheets, blankets
    Don't need: brand NEW sheets and blankets. What? You don't have a blanket you could bring from home?

    Need: something to make the room homey
    Don't need: extra furniture from Pier 1, an extra futon couch, bookshelves, towel racks, dressers (most rooms on campus have the basics)

    Need: computer for school use, recreation
    Don't need: 32" TV, 60" diagonal TV,

    Need: (well, some need) iron
    Don't need: clothes steamer

    Handy: coffee pot, microwave
    Don't need: Keurig, food steamer

    I can go on and on... and this was just early move in (two dorms, sororities and band only)! Everything was brand new (50 pack hangers? You don't have hangers you could bring from home?) and everything was packaged to the nines. Styrofoam, cardboard, chip, plastic, paper, ribbon, etc. It was crazy.

    Normally it takes my department up to two weeks to collect and process 5 tons of cardboard. Last year during move-in (just over 5 days) we collected 8 tons, and for the full two weeks we ended up with 15.5 tons. We're on course for nearly 18 this year.

    What not to bring to a dorm room? How about rampant consumerism?

    August 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Virgina


      1) Appropriate username
      2) "I can go on and on..." Yes, it's obvious.

      August 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Noel

      Actually, you do need a clothes steamer if you're a business student and a woman. Or else you're paying dry cleaners fees every time you need to get storage creases out of your blouse. (hows that for waste and harming the environment?) Food steamer – actually this is a great item if you want to eat healthy, organic foods and don't have a stove to cook them on. (You know...like most dorm rooms)

      August 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Brianna Massie

      No need to evangelize after the fact. Maybe you should act pro-actively and send out newsletters to incoming students on how they can reduce their move-in waste and decorate more eco-friendly.

      August 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  12. steve

    If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.
    Frank Zappa

    Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't.
    – Pete Seeger

    People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is you’ll know exactly what to do.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  13. saxophone31

    If there's a chance of pests in your room, you really shouldn't be going to that college.

    Also, has this author ever been to college? If they did, their room had to have been so boring! Just a few pictures? No stuffed animals? No posters? No wonder they think the rooms are bare!

    August 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  14. Virgina

    Trust me! A big box of adult diapers come in REAL handy....and a large bottle of 100% pure rubbing alcohol, too. That's if you really know how to "do" college the right way...

    August 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  15. Charlie

    Bring a minifride and microwave (some dorms actually rent them on move-in day). Having a place to store leftovers and snacks, and the means to heat them up, saved a lot of late night trips to the convenience store during all night cram sessions. A tiny six-cup coffee pot is also a must have.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  16. Johnny Orlando

    If you arent a loser, your dorm room will only be the place you crash. I didn't send more than a couple hours in my room a day that I was not sleeping or banging. If you have to make your little cell "homey" then you need to never attempt to have a social life and just buy your diabetic meds now.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  17. Dino

    I just want to bring some clothes a light and my Great Dane Scoob.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  18. Beth

    Give 'em Hell, TCU!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  19. gatecrasher1

    Girls: Don't bring a "boyfriend" from home, literally or figuratively.

    Do bring one of those big travel coffee mugs with a lid. Sure, coffee in them is great, but guess what. Makes a great way to unobtrusively walk the halls sipping a screwdriver, Jack & Coke, rum & coke, etc.

    I had and used an iron in college, but I also lived and worked in a big Northeast city where we often dressed up.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  20. karin

    go BUCKEYES!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  21. wdacdashda

    Way back in the 60's I was the first one to arrive at my dorm room (#212). The usual spartan stuff. Two twin beds, a bench desk across the end under a window you had to stand up to see out of, two armchairs and two closets with no doors. I remember thinking, "How am I going to survive in this glorified closet for the whole school year with a total stranger?". My roommate arrived a few minutes later. Fresh off the farm, eldest of 12 kids, first one in his entire family to attend college and complete with a plaid shirt buttoned all the way to the neck. This is what he said after dropping his suitcase in the middle of the floor and looking around, "This is the first time in my life I get to have my own bed to sleep in and what the heck are we going to do with ALL this room?" That was 1964 and we're still in touch.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • wdacdashda

      What I meant to say is, don't bring a closed mind. Much of what you learn in college is away from the classroom. That self-described country boy taught me a lot about sharing and keeping your perspective about other people's path through life. AND don't room with a smoker. They may not be able to smoke in the room or the building, but the stench will get into everything you own.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
      • Valerie

        ???? Most anything you learn of value in life isn't learned in a classroom, whether you go to college or not.

        August 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • hsr425

      sweet story. thanks for sharing.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • e

      awww, that's a nice story! love it!

      August 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • emma

      Exactly: it's often how you look at it.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Cupcake

      I love this story wdacdashda!!

      August 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  22. Jake

    The issue not addressed is theft. Having a safety deposit box at the local bank was the best thing ever my freshman year. A safety deposit box can store all the papers and things you don't want ripped off in your room. If you're going to a public university where roommates are mandatory- then be careful what you bring. Don't bring anything you don't mind stolen.. Don't bring expensive electronics. Anything you don't want stolen should fit in your backpack and be taken with you whenever you leave the room. With food & beverage, don't bring anything you don't mind being 'shared' consider any food you bring into the room as the food for the room. Don't bring a fridge with a lock, you'll look like a jerk and the locks are easily broken. Get a meal card and plan on eating every meal well away from your roommate.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • James

      This guy must be a thief.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Jake

      There are a lot of people from many different socio-economic levels at public universities. It's best not to appear like you have the finances to afford nice things your freshman year, especially if you haven't declared a major. Later on, if you've declared a good major ie engineering or CIS your potential roommate quality will improve dramatically but frosh year, you're stuck with whomever the social engineers in dorm management pair you with. For some reason where I went to school, they seemed to think the nerdy white guys should be paired with gangstas that could rob them blind until being placed on academic probation and eventually kicked out of schoo.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Maria from the Bronx

      I agree with what you said about theft. My son was in a suite with a group of guys who were all very nice except for one kid who had "sticky fingers". By the time the campus police came to take this kid away, dozens of items had disappeared. My son was lucky to get his stuff back but some of the other kids were not.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
      • Christy

        Outright theft is somewhat uncommon in college dorms but RAs (resident assistants) don't look kindly on privileged kids refusing to share with their less fortunate roommate(s). Our dorms allowed each person their own mini-fridge, microwave, tv, etc but it went without saying that if a student was unable to afford such things, the roommates were expected to share. Same went with other things like printers, even if the more privileged student was paying for all the paper and toner. It just is expected in dorms. RAs would report serious theft but 'borrowing' is fine.

        Those who report borrowing are just seen as spoiled brats who never learned to share. I had a roommate who constantly 'borrowed' everything I had in the room, food, beverages, shampoo, laundry detergent, even towels (Yuck! ) I got her back the last day of school when I filled my Tide container with fabric softener before she 'borrowed' it. Bet she'll never 'borrow' from anyone ever again.

        August 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
      • eml

        Christy and Maria,
        I was a professional residence hall director for a number of years in the 1990s. In my experience, outright theft in dorms is not uncommon at all. For two reasons, I think. One, some of the kids who begin stealing in middle or high school are also smart enough to get into college. Secondly, kids don't expect that the person who bonded with them last night over 2am pizza might steal stuff from them too.

        August 17, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  23. Kenny

    When you go to college you should always carry High Quality Condoms as the only bad luck worse than seven years for breaking a mirror is the number of years you will serve for bursting a cheap condom.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  24. Mike

    You forgot the most important part, bring sensibility, common sense and moderation.

    These will be needed in all aspects of college life, college roommates, and managing your dorm room itself. And ... Get a fridge !

    Learning to live in less than an ideal situation like a dorm room and all it's limitations is a great life lesson, One that can get you thru tough times. Learning how to live with strangers in strange situations, is another great life lesson.

    Suddenly you will find that you have no limits to your own personal freedom in both how you live, and what you do. So the common sense thing really applies here.

    Remember that what you learn going away to college is often far greater than what is taught in a classroom.

    Embrace and enjoy. Leave time for fun, know to buckle down when you must.

    Your gonna remember these years really well, for the rest of your life. (a good thing)

    August 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Virgina

      @Mike, NERD ALERT!

      August 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Don't forget to bring consideration and tolerance if you're sharing a room. Your roomie has just as much right to be there as you do, but you may disagree on a lot of details. I think good advice is that it's better to be kind than to be right. So if your roomie is really offended by neo-Nazi keepsakes and that Confederate flag, it would be better to not display them than to assert your First Amendment Rights just because you think you're right and he's a wimp.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
      • gatecrasher1

        And what if the other roommate was was offended by his Obama Hope poster, rainbow flag, Che Guevara poster (because the kid prob has no idea who Che Guevara really was), pot leaf poster or other left of center decorations? Should he take that down too? Or should the offended roommate "embrace diversity"?

        August 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • lisa sears

      good for you!! great feedback!!

      August 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  25. JesterJames

    Beer... Lots lots of beer. College is 4 to 6 year non-stop BYOB Kegger.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  26. Virgina

    Bring LOTS of condoms! LOTS! And some extra strength itch cream...it's gonna be a long semester! Trust me...

    August 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  27. G

    DON'T bring anything to a college living situation that you will be sad about if it's stolen or destroyed. DO bring a pair of flip-flops to wear in the shower. Your feet will thank you. My freshman year, I must have gotten three or four foot infections before I figured out that the bathrooms were only cleaned once per week, and the shower floors got NASTY in the meantime.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • G

      Oh yeah, and condoms. As a guy who thought he'd never get laid, I was surprised to learn that my chances improved greatly at the college level. I missed out on a couple of opportunities for the nookie due to lack of condom before I wised up and bought some. Never missed an opportunity after that! Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  28. Virgina

    Trust me! Bring LOTS of condoms! LOTS! And some itch cream...it's gonna be a long semester!

    August 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  29. Dave

    Go ahead and slam the Communications majors. When we graduated in 1982, in the middle of a recession, we all got good jobs in sales, while those who looked down on us worked at Burger King (how'd that 4.0 in Economics pay off?) or other jobs. And we're STILL maikng more $$$$.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  30. owleyes

    I had one of the few single rooms in the dorm complex at my university so I had no problem with a roommate and as a result, my room was uncluttered and neat. Other rooms were not as nicely maintained. This is one reason why public housing can never work versus private (ownership) housing.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  31. Dave

    I enjoyed living in a Campus dorm at Roanoke College and am still friends with those that lived on my floor some 30 years later. The College has updated a lot since then and offers upperclassman single dorm rooms. Living on campus made it a lot easier to get to classes at the last minute, participate in campus activities, and take advantage of the facilities that your tuition pays for. I didn't need a lot of space at that age.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  32. Ceri

    The best move, as I found out, is to be as unpleasant a room-mate as possible. It doesn't take too long before the other guy will find somewhere to move out to, and then you get the place to yourself. Worked for me.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Leah

      I see. You are one of THOSE people. How pleasant it must be to know you.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Drew

      As a student judicial officer, I can also say this is a good way to get thrown out of the dorm too. We've seen this 'trick' a thousand times. Don't do it. You'll end up in a conduct-hearing with your former roommate providing information against you which could lead to you being asked to move out. So.. ok, maybe this is a way to get a room to yourself... just not on campus.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  33. atleastigraduated

    When I was in college and living in a dorm room it became apparent very quickly that alot of the other students that surrounded me were there for the drinking and partying and not very interested in getting an education. And then there were the drunken stupid arguments and all that crap that accompanies boozing - IT WAS CRAZY!! I had to go to the main hall just to study . . . I love fun and I love parties - just not seven days a week. I was lucky enough to get a transfer into more hospitable surroundings. Some students weren't that lucky . . . they either put up with it or went home. That was thirty years ago; perhaps things are different today. But like I said, back then alot of kids went to college just for the parties . . . seriously.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Taran

      According to my son, it is still that way.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • englishprof?

      a lot = large extent, a large amount or a large number
      alot = a made up word

      I wouldn’t normally sharp shoot, but you used it twice, so I doubt it was a typo. Must have been an engineer I guess...

      August 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
      • English major

        I concur, wholeheartedly.

        August 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
      • Paganguy

        "Alot" comes from manager types; engineers use numbers.

        August 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  34. WaitWhat?

    Don't forget about a place to stash your bong...

    August 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • College

      Lol highly important

      August 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  35. Johnny

    Bring a plasma TV, leather recliner, a nice bath robe, and a case of Lagavulin 16 yr old Scotch. You are going to be working hard and need to be able to chill out.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Christian

      A nice, peated 16-year old Islay scotch may be a bit pricey for a college student. I think Lagavulin is arguably the best scotch ever made. But, if money was a big issue, I'd buy a gatorade watercooler sized bottle of Johnny Walker black.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Virgina

      @Johnny, Did you go to college when you were 45?

      August 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  36. Bobby

    "try to fit a season’s worth of folded clothing, shoes, and a much-needed-but-still-mini ironing board underneath"

    An iron isn't "much needed" in college.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • G

      Yeah, the iron made me laugh. I don't know anyone who used an iron in college.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • bone315

        Before the time of (small) microwaves, I used an iron – brand new – to make pizza............ Showing my age (and inventiveness) Mr. Hand.....................

        August 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  37. MashaSobaka

    I lived in the dorms for one year. My roommate was an obnoxious slob. There wasn't even enough room between the beds for us both to be on the floor at the same time...it didn't take long for her crap to start leaking onto my side of the room. I called her out on it over and over and over and she did nothing. Luckily she was kicked out of the university for failing all of her classes by the third term. I had the room to myself after that. Even with the disgusting communal bathrooms and shower rooms, it felt like the freaking Ritz with her gone.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  38. Stretch

    Oh, you can't fool me. Yale isn't real.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  39. Uncle Dutch

    Building a platform bed frame creates desk/storage/whatever space underneath the mattress. Once the other weasels on the floor saw mine, I made some considerable $$ & popularity points building replicas for others. Another plus that will cut down on the bickering is only bringing entertainment devices that are headphone-capable and demanding that your roomie endeavor to do the same, especially if they play guitar. Oh, yes...a word to the clueless...two instruments you should never bring or try to take up in a dorm situation is the banjo and bag pipes. I speak from experience.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Bagpipes? WOW! I worked with a fellow who was a piper, and because he lived in an apartment, he couldn't play the pipes, just the chanter (I think, don't hold me to that), otherwise, as Pat said, he'd get hung.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Paganguy

      Banjo and bag pipes. They are both breakable.

      August 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  40. tacostand

    I stayed two years in the dorms and three years in off-campus apartments. The first year in an off-campus apartment with two sloppy roommates made me homesick for the dorms. After that, I got a great roommate that I'm still in contact with today, 26 years later. The dorms were fun for about 1.5 years... then it got old, quickly.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  41. JRR

    Last year was my sons freshman year. Almost everyone in the dorm had big screen TV's and game consoles. The room comes with refrigerator. My son was lucky, he got a corner room that had 50% more space than the others. They also got very creative using bunk beds to make a sleeping space and a relaxing/studying space.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • T

      Times sure have changed.
      In my day in Rochester (NY) in the early '80s – all we had was a 25 inch color tv in the floor lounge tv room and nothing else. Some people would have a small 13 inch tv in their dorm room but not a lot of people did but did have those little mini-fridges.. No Laptops and I never knew of anyone who had a PC in their dorm room – no X-Box or PS2 or 3. Cell phones was non-existent. The only hi-tech thing in the dorms was the pocket calculators at best.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  42. Melissa

    I agree with majorly useless majors. My daughter is paying for her tuition and books and we are paying for room and board. She has a job to pay for expenses. She has been lectured constantly about choosing a tangible major, no fluff majors allowed. You have to be able to get a job after paying this much money....

    August 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Prsbes

      I absolutely agree. I graduated with a degree in Business Administration (minor in Accounting) and it have helped me so much. Getting a good job was a lot easier than I thought. I do not like paying back student loans but I do it faithfully. I'm thankful to have an education and a job. Hooray for college!!!

      August 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
      • Guest

        You don't have an education. You have a vocation. There's a big difference.

        Vocational training in business management is clearly very valuable - it got you a job, after all - but it's still not the same thing as an education, and one shouldn't be confused for the other.

        August 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • ma

      That is the worst advise EVER!!! Being stuck in a job, or major that you hate will never be with any amount of money, nor will you be successful at it. My Grandmother was horrified that my sister was a dance major. Turns out, she made more money, and was more successful BY FAR than the lawyer, teacher, nurse, electrician, university administrator, and everyone else in our family. Why? Because she genuinely loved it, had a gift, and was a true professional. Never dissuade someone who has a calling. They will be miserable.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Melissa, what is your daughter majoring in? Not all "fluff majors" are "useless".

      August 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  43. Mike

    REMEMBER to get your folks to buy you a case of beer before they go; you're not going to know any juniors the first week!

    August 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  44. The_Mick

    After growing up in the poorest family on my block in the armpit of our county and working my way through college, I got a scholarship and teaching assistantship to grad school that allowed me to fulfill what I thought an impossible dream: to live on campus in a dormitory and then join, survive initiation, and live in a fraternity. What to bring should include a small TV – even if there aren't cable hookups, broadcast TV is still worthwhile. Of course, the TV also facilitates Playstation, etc. but beware that too much time with video games will result in flunking out of college. Music and headphones and a chance to tuneout from the world on occasion is good therapy. A softball glove, tennis racket, basketball, etc. are worth bringing for exercise. The main thing is stuff that doesn't take up a lot of room. You should have a closet that will hold that sort of stuff.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • ROFL

      Your dream was to live in a dorm and join a frat? talk about low expectations.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  45. Claxton

    A school that requires students to live on campus all four years? Outside of the service academies, maybe, that's a novel concept. I went to NC State, where you weren't even guaranteed one year on campus, much less four. I got four years on campus, but only because a scholarship I got included it. And trust me, I had no desire whatsoever to live off campus. I didn't get my first car until six months after I got out of school, so I did a lot of walking to and from, or hitting the bus when I couldn't find a lift.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Robert

      You sound poor

      August 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  46. pamme

    Freshman ? Go as a blank slate and create your style as you go... take just the basics. Hot pot, ( the kitchen microwave won't always be avail to you), an iron (you won't always want the wrinkled, slept in look), extension cord, alarm clock (something bigger than your Cell Phone), a bath towel, one set twin sheets, blanket, comforter, laundry bag, toiletries, jeans, shorts, tops (BASICS), laptop, cell phone w/ two batteries). Rain jacket w/hood and or an umbrella (you will start to use these when you walk across campus – sitting in class all wet is not fun). sneakers, sandals, and winter/hiking boots is all you'll really need, add loafers if you have a job. Have fun. Learn as much as you can. Make the most of it !

    August 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  47. 0Patrick0

    Hold off on wall decorating until you find out what the fire restrictions are in your school. Fire regulations at UMASS prevent students from plastering entire walls with flammable posters. R.A.'s do a square footage measurement to ensure dormies don't go over the allowed space.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • lroy

      I went to community college and was able to live at home. As for the wall posters, I would recommend framing them-they'll last longer. Also I would recommend a sleeping bag for extra warmth in the winter.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  48. smb04d

    I had a roommate who brought a large supply of pot, cocaine, and meth...she didn't make it past Christmas.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Really?

      Thanks for making me spit coffee at work – that was classic. 😉

      August 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Mike

      it's a crapshoot

      August 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  49. Chris

    I really didn't think dorm living was that bad. The beds weren't all that comfy, but a mattress pad goes a long way to fix that one. In all, the most important things to have are your trusty swiffer duster, a small vacuum cleaner, and a well-stocked drawer of post-it notes to leave passive-aggressive notes for your sloppy roommate. Being the guys with the cleanest room on the floor goes a long way for making new friends.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  50. Henry

    Certainly do NOT bring what my college roomie brought in: guns and marijuana...

    August 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Well, I can understand the no guns part, but what do you have against marijuana?!

      August 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  51. APB

    I had a roommate who brought a large supply of fireworks and the nasty habit of deploying them in the showers while they were in use. A few complaints later I was without a roommate.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Virgina

      @APB, NARC ALERT! Hide your bongs!

      August 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  52. Ax

    This was a fun read. It made me think of moving in my first year of school. Good times!

    August 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  53. suckitup

    low quality pot?

    August 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  54. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Waaaay back 40 years ago (and many of you will need to ask your parents about those dark ages), I brought my clothes, a clock radio and some other stuff (mostly books). I rented sheets for the bed, and my roommate and I went out and bought junk for the dorm. Our dorm was a bit strange, though. In addition to the room, we also had separate locked study rooms that had a desk, chair and bookcase. Not much in the way of creature comforts, but gave a place to put stuff that may have suffered a 5-finger discount when you weren't there, and you weren't sure if the Roomie locked the door. I did have the advantage of living only two hours away, though, so could go home on weekends and get other "stuff" I figured I would need as time went on.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • PAM


      August 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
      • got soap?

        That's what detergent and the washer/dryer are for honey. Additionally, when you drop your toilet paper seat cover or sprinkle when you tinkle and then courteously wipe it up, that's what water and hand soap are for! Get it?

        August 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  55. abmarconi

    on campus living usually also includes food. Off campus you're stuck hiking it out to whatever local grocery store you can reach either by bus or car also on campus you probably don't pay for internet, phone or cable. It's all the little things off campus that end up making on-campus living not look too bad. As a side note I firmly beleive that dorm rooms are just enough room to keep you from commiting murder- even very good friends can find that they cannot share such a small space very well.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • g

      on campus usually cost twice as much as off so there is no savings hence why everyone moves off campus after freshmen year

      August 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
      • JA

        True statement; at my college, it cost double to live on campus compared to even the more expensive apartments in town.

        August 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  56. Calidip

    I found early on... what not to bring... your guns, ammo, a compund bow and several hunting arrows. School administration kind of looks down on that.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • JA

      My roommates and I hid our shotguns and rifles in a golf bag for a couple weeks during season, and just put those driver socks over the muzzles and kept it all behind a door. No one was the wiser.

      Not that it really mattered, since several guys on our floor did similar. Even our RA kept a shotgun in his room (well, I assume he did, since I saw a box of rounds on a shelf when I visited him once).

      August 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  57. imjustsaying

    This is really gender specific. In my dorm, the ladies showed up with all kinds of new furniture along with a years supply of groceries. The guys had the bare minimum. A dorm fridge, a loft to build, and dumpsters to search for a common area couch. A weeks supply of noodles and a jar of peanut butter. By the end of the year the floor was all beer cans, alcohol related items, and other unmentionables anyway. I think by the end of our freshman year my roommate and I had destroyed our lofts and decided on just two mattresses on the floor with the rest of the crap to wade through. The reason being, a door room was just a place to sleep nothing more. We would go to the women's rooms if we cared about comfort anyway. Don't bring anything nice at all. It will take your roommate approximately 1 week to throw up and ruin any essence of cleanliness or purity in the room that existed.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • zlulz

      Sounds like you were just a slob. You could of kept it clean and brought the girls back to your room where your roommate would be a bro and leave instead of having to deal with her roommate.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  58. Eerye

    Seriously, i am pretty sure no college student is worrying about Justin Beiber posters. And truly, if your room is as tiny as mine was, you need a shelf to hang over the desk to put your printer on. (also a highly prized item) bins to slide under your bed and hold your shoes and lots of stuff you can pop in the microwave, so you don't hike across campus at all hours when you realize its 930 pm and you haven't eaten anything. We also had to provide our own fridge and microwave.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  59. Jim -HS Varsity Football

    I want to formally apologize for stuffing Mike in his locker, many, many times.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jorge

      You're lucky you didn't try that with me, I would have stabbed you many, many times.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  60. dmnewsi

    Reblogged this on dmnewsi.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  61. Near Deaf Kid

    Bring the biggest, heaviest pair of speakers you can find. Plug them in, and crank those puppies up until the windows rattle. It's Party Time.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  62. BC

    Ironing Board? You're kidding right?

    August 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  63. Susan

    Sorry, Mike but you're way off base when you say regular students pay for free housing for athletes. All expenses for athletes are covered by the athletic department on each campus. Housing, uniforms, tutors, meals, transporation to games and any expense related to the athlete are NOT paid by regular student fees. There are many things about college sports that such be reviewed and changed but other students do not pay for athletes' expenses. Even the expenses of the bands which play at games are covered by athletic department funds which are generated by revenue (tickets, advertisements, tv etc) from the sporting events.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sam

      And where would the athletic department get the money to do that? I'm sure a portion at the very least comes from tuition.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
      • pattysboi

        Sam, you are definitely right! Non-jocks should NOT have to pay for the athletic programs.

        August 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Fred

      At our campus students pay a $16 per credit hour athletic fee which does pay for coaches, feeding & housing athletes, and travel, and oh yes, we can use a tennis court if we're willing to wait in line.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • imjustsaying

      Well that is just false. In your tuition breakdown, it will tell you how much of each students expenses goes directly to the athletic department. The athletic department pays for the perks for the athletes and the "regular" students pay for the athletic department with some of their tuition. Those fees also go towards paying for student access to games but at many universities, some students never get the opportunity to see some of the games they pay for due to unbalanced lottery systems.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • got soap?

      And most of those numbnut athletes graduate with absolutely NO education. All resources provided with no return = failure. What a waste of money.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
      • looser ^

        same with the music majors

        August 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • DB

      Nearly every single athletic department in the country loses money. "Regular" students most certainly ARE paying for the free rides for athletes, and I've had about enough of people like you lying about it. I love sports, too, but I don't expect other people to foot the bill for my entertainment.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mike

      The athletic department gets their money from ticket and clothing sales.

      Let's see, who is that crowding the stadium, all wearing the same colors?

      (different mike)

      August 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  64. Joe

    If out of state don't take anything but basic needs. Buy everything when you get there. Some people would hit the local DAV for stuff and at the end of the year trash it. Students studying abroad are great for buying slightly used computers from. Its cheaper for them to buy new each year than to cart them back and forth.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  65. James

    It's funny how spacious a bong can make a dorm room. It just really tied the room together.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  66. Lisa

    The reason campus dorms cost more than off-campus housing:

    1. Convenience. You don't need a car and can fall out of bed into class.
    2. Camaraderie with like-minded people, study partners, etc.
    3. Security. Dorms come with campus police.
    4. A 9-month lease, unlike an apartment which usually requires a 12-month lease.
    5. Some supervision. You child can go to a dorm counselor for assistance with roommate problems and might even be able to change rooms if needed.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  67. Mike

    Why does on campus housing cost so much? Here's one reason. If you child is not on the football team, you're paying for your child and all the others who get a free ride. Which is part of the same reason tuition is so high. Someone has to pay the bill. For most schools, college sports are money loser, so the buck get passed to the paying students. The other reason college cost so much: it's supply and demand. Schools charge it because they can get it.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Sounds like Mike was stuffed in his locker by the football players in high school.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Bill

      Sounds like Mike is butt hurt because some jock stole his girl.....

      August 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  68. Annon

    I missed out on all that dorm living stuff when I was in college and don't regret it at all. I lived at home with the wife and kid. Didn't have to worry about cramped spaces, lighting, laundry or piles of trash.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Nice that you had a wife to take care of the laundry and trash.......

      August 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bill

      And your wife got to hang out with the football team...She thanks you too :+)

      August 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  69. Rick Springfield

    This is going to date me but when I entered college as a freshman, The Univ. of Oklahoma allowed 3-point beer in dorm rooms. So we went out and picked up kegs at the local liquor store. At least one room on a men's floor had a keg. O.U. allowed you to have hard liquor in the dorm lounges. In Adams center, it was on the top floor. On weekends, we had up to 10 blenders running to make daiquiris. Those days are gone as OU is now alcohol free. So now you have to figure out what kind of fridge you can take. I worked briefly at another university who made a huge mistake. The bookstore did not consult with the housing department and ordered 200 dorm fridges. But they ordered the 3 cubic foot models. Housing only allowed the 1.5cf models. The bookstore could not give them away. So, after I came along they put me in charge of the problem. I called all the retailers in town and finally got one of them to take them at only a $5 per unit loss. It cleared them off the books and the retailer got to have a big sale.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Cuban B


      What was the point of that pointless story?

      August 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Who knows? I think he's still drinking all that 3 point beer.

        August 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • Tom

        His point is that he learned that taking a $5 loss per unit is not a good thing. Common sense cannot be learned in college.

        August 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Must have

      A blender ... yes, absolutely! Bring one and start the mixing... you'll meet new friends quickly! We had our "bar" in the corner on top of my trunk. What good memories!

      The guys usually pushed four beds in one room and used the other one as the party space. I was amazed at the counters and bar stools they carried up to the dorm rooms. Some could compete with real clubs ... gosh, those were the days.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  70. snowdogg

    "and a much-needed-but-still-mini ironing board underneath."

    NOT... who irons anymore?

    August 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  71. MrManhattan

    Back in the '70's we just brought a stereo and a bong.

    August 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • snowdogg

      Yeah, I remember... my room was next to yours but I always crashed at your place.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • oodoodanoo

      Kids can't afford to be colossal goof-offs anymore. Not at $50K / year.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Walker

      I hope you brought something to put IN the bong...

      August 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • @whatkillsme

      You are awesome.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  72. EVN

    Funny enough article and timely after having helped move in the youngest into her dorm room last week. What I'd like to have addressed is why university housing and the board component of it ends up costing significantly more than off campus living? The two older sibblings of our youngest went to off campus as soon as the rules at their respective schools allowed it, and while they shared apartments with a couple more roomates, but in a larger space with more of an "at home" feel, the overall costs of rent, utilities and food went down at least a 1/3 once they left the dorms. Tuition and books are bad enough and are increasing in cost faster than just about anything else (except maybe health care, but event there it's a race for the dubious honor of going up in costs the quickest and most consistent year after year), but why are the universities and colleges gouging on living accommodations (other than perhaps they can, particularly where on campus residency is required for a year or two for non-local students)?

    August 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Patrick

      It's not because they are inefficient. It is the profit margin that is attached to any business that a university engages in. Not widely publicized but they add their 20% margin. Local apartment owners price by what the market will bear.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jim

      A few years ago a couple students died in an off campus house fire at a local State university.
      The house was up to Code but Code didn't require fire retardant cinder block walls or adult supervision to be sure the 2nd exit wasn't blocked by the kids, etc..
      It's your kid and money but I was thrilled to discover that my kid's university required all students to live on campus all 4 years.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • majorly useless majors

      EVN, why are you paying for your kid's higher education? Have they not been working ever since they were 15 and saving their money? Are they not working now? Are they signed up to be- laugh!- liberal arts or communications majors? If you want your kid to take their education seriously, make them pay for all or part of it. Paying everything for your kiddypoos just makes them not face the reality of being an adult for another 4- I hear it's now 5- years.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
      • Dave

        The most important thing about colleges is that they teach you how to learn and utilize available resources. It doesn't matter whether or not you have a liberal arts degree or not. No major is useless if it gets you to where you want to be. I went to Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, which is a liberal arts college and everyone that I know from my senior class have had very successful careers. Many of us used it as a stepping stone for graduate, medical, and law schools, but I haven't heard of any of my classmates that were disappointed in the degrees we got there.

        August 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  73. Conrad Shull

    Don't bring your friends from home. You're in college now.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  74. Kate

    1 or 2 pictures of family and friends? I completely covered what little wall space I had with photos of family and friends. It was comforting to have a bunch of photos to skim through if I was having a bad day or zoning out during a tough night of studying. Also, don't be afraid to to hang up your own posters. As long as you stay on your own "designated" wall space and keep it tasteful, no one cares. Your tiny portion of the room is the only corner of space you own in a new scary place. Don't be afraid to make it your own. My freshman year roommate had a giant creepy poster of Edward Scissorhands, it took me exactly 5 minutes to get over it and move on. This author needs to lighten up. Don't be afraid to be yourself. But I agree, keep it clean no matter how messy you may have been at home.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Jessica

      I did the same thing, and my roommate thought it was an awesome idea, so much so that she did the same thing.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Thomas

      Was it your Junior or Senior year that you learned about photo albums?

      August 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm |