Getting Ready for College

September 4, 2009
By: Justine Morgan

Starting College Tips

It’s essential to be prepared for life at college . Unlike high school, getting ready for college requires more than just new school supplies and clothes. If your son or daughter is going to be living in the dorms here’s a checklist for what you need. 

Luggage: There’s never been a better time for a new suitcase than when your child goes off to college, whether it is by plane or car, a suitcase or luggage set is a smart investment for trips between the dorm and home, however often that may be. Before buying think how of it'll be used, will it be checked, carried-on, or thrown in the trunk of a car. Also take size into consideration.

Bedding: Many college dorms come with Twin XL beds which means regular twin bedding from home won’t fit. Twin XL sheets and comforters come in plenty of fun colors and designs to help express your son or daughter's own individual style. But before you put down new sheets and comforters on your dorm mattress, be sure to get a mattress cover. Dorm mattresses, while thoroughly cleaned between each school year, may contain some hidden allergens and bacteria. Avoid any sickiness with an affordable mattress cover that can be washed (hopefully) every 2 weeks. Also, if they find their mattress to be too hard, too springy, or just plain uncomfortable, don't hesitate to get a foam mattress topper for them. The added bit of softness will surely be a welcome comfort after pulling an all-nighter.

Bath: If your college student has never been to camp before, using a communal shower may put them off a bit. Make sure that they are well stocked and ready to bolt down the co-ed hallway for a quick wash. Make sure they retain their hygiene and sanity by purchasing a pair of shower sandals. Stepping into a shower that has been used by thousands of students and, depending on how many people are in your particular hall, may never ever be quite dry. Even simple beach flip-flops will do. And for modesty purposes, find them a bath robe will be their best friend and help them avoid the embarrassment of having their towel slip off as they walk back to their room with a sturdy waist tie terry cloth bath robe. And don't forget to stock up on plenty of towels and a shower caddy to keep their toiletries organized.

Electronics: Staying connected with friends and family when away at college is key. Find the latest laptops with all the built in features they need. No matter what your budget is, there’s sure to be a laptop to fit their specific needs and budget. Dell has laptops starting at just $379 for an Inspiron 15 with 2GB of memory. Other popular laptops for college students to consider include the budget friendly Acer Aspire which combines value and performance, the durable and long-lasting Toshiba Satellite and the always popular Apple MacBook. Don’t let their computer be the only thing they take with them to class, make sure they've got tunes on the go with an MP3 Player. Depending on how many songs they need to have in their library, there’s a wide range of players in size, shape & color. Try the 16GB Zune which holds twice as many songs as an iPod Nano but for a fraction of the price. For ultra portability the 2GB iPod Shuffle can clip conveniently and discreetly to their clothes or bag during a workout or a long commute. Mp3 Players aren't just for music anymore either,many college students can download classnotes in mp3 format and load it up on their MP3 player of choice. Reverse osmosis eat your heart out!

Fun: College can be very stressful. Help your studious child chill out with some fun and relxaing items for their dorm room. If they like video games, fun group games like Guitar Hero World Tour or Rockband can be a outlet for their college frustrations--and they can share that outlet with their friends!

Top 10 Dorm Essentials

1. Steam Iron - You may think it's unnecessary, but wait until your son or daughter has a job interview , formal dance or a meeting with the Dean.

2. Microwave - A must have for nuking midnight burritos.

3. Electric Kettle - If they plan on studying at all, hot water is necessary for making instant coffee, instant ramen, instant mac and cheese, etc.

4. Cup O Noodles/Instant Ramen - While it's far from mom's cooking, do not question to nourishing power of a cup of MSG. 

5. Instant Mac and Cheese - Another dorm food staple

6. Sonicare Toothbrush - Use this to keep cavities and gingivitis at bay.

7. Mouthwash - A quick swish can refresh a mouth and be a healthier alternative when they forget to brush your teeth.

8. Febreeze - Mask odors... but don't let that keep them washing their sheets! It's antimicrobial properties can help keep any dorm room feeling fresh and clean!

9. Alarm Clock - If your college student is a heavy sleeper, you are going to want a loud one to help them make it to that 8am midterm.

10. Body Pillow - A welcome comfort for late night study sessions (or midday naps).

Top 10 College Tech Gadgets

Send your collegiate-bound kid off with the best tech gear of 2009. Students, take note, these gadgets are worth a summer job or an entire year of doing chores for your parents.

1. Dell Vostro 

2. HP Mini Netbook

3. 32' Vizio LCD TV
4. Wii Fit

5. Sandisk Cruzer USB Drive

6. Skullcandy earbuds

7. Bose noise cancelling headphones

8. Creative Laptop Speakers

9. Blackberry Curve

10. Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset

Take advantage of the latest tech gadgets geared towards helping students succeed in school. A little R&R never hurt anyone! 

Computer: Desktop or laptop, that is the question. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for students to own both desktops and laptops each have their own pros and cons. If studies demand a fast processor speeds and a huge hard drive, they may need a powerful desktop computer that can handle heavy duty programs such as Adobe Premiere. A laptop is great for its lightweight portability. If they prefer working in different settings each time they study, then may want to consider models such as the Dell Latitude or the Lenovo Thinkpad. Ultra Portable netbooks are great for bringing to class.

Television: You work hard, you play hard. A slim television like the Sony Bravia LCD or Vizio HDTV can be easily mounted onto your dorm room wall. Consider TVs between 19 to 32 inches; nothing too big that it can e distraction. Connect it to an XBox 360 or PS3 for some fun and relaxation after a hard final.

Accessories: The #1 tech gadget for any teenager or young twenty-something these days is an iPhone. All the apps and features can really help your student navigate through a new city, remember birthdays, etc. Get a cool iPhone case to protect your precious investment.

College tuition is expensive, but dorm room necessities and decor don't have to be. Be a smart shopper and check out a comparison shopping engine like for the best price on what your college student needs.