Tools For Success: Preparing For Life In A College Dorm

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As August turns to September, dorm room shopping is always on the mind for first-year college students.

However, it’s important to note what is practical and not just pretty cool.

Practical living is essential when it comes to close quarters in a college dorm.

Knowing the basics such as what weather to pack for, what colleges allow in dorms — and what they don’t — are all important notes for the packing list.

Students should also keep in mind what life skills they will need once they reach campus, including learning to cook, do laundry, and clean a bathroom. 

College Dorm Living Skills

“Practice basic life skills before you get to school,” says Riley Mazzocco, an Oceanside resident and sophomore at Marist College.

“It’s going to save you so much time, it’s going to save your reputation, and it’s going to help make living with you so much easier.”

Lynda Feustel, a sophomore at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and Baldwin resident, says that one tip to keep in mind for rising first-year students is to go to an Accepted Students Day.

While there, Feustel says, students should ask to see the specific building they will be living in.

They should also go to a dining hall and try the on-campus food, but have ready-made foods on the packing list as well. 

“Have some meals that you can just stick in the microwave or in your freezer,” Feustel says.

“Just have something to eat because you’re not going to want to go to the dining hall if you’re getting back at 10 o’clock at night from a sports practice or an extracurricular.”

Many residence halls have kitchens, which will come in very handy, so spending money on kitchen tools or cleaning supplies is important.

On some campuses, there may be a kitchen or a private bathroom that students may need to maintain themselves. 

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Supplies For Life In College

Additionally, while living supplies are definitely necessary for every college student, school supplies are too, so students should add pens and pencils to their college shopping list.

If students forget something, there will always be a bookstore at their college, but prices are typically higher than at an office supply retailer such as Staples. 

“School supplies may be on the back burner because you’re so focused on moving and asking yourself, ‘What clothes do I need? What shoes do I need?’ But make sure…you have index cards and notebooks,” Mazzocco says.

“Make sure you have pencils and pens because some professors are going to give handwritten assignments and handwritten tests or quizzes.”

While the college shopping list may get longer, just know that it is not as intimidating as it seems.

The key is to take things slowly and think through every purchase to save time, money, and dorm space. 

“Remember to go join that club, go play a sport that you’ve never played before,” Feustel says. “Don’t forget to take care of yourself and take care of school — but go have fun too.”

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