Kids & Money

Dorm room essentials for the college freshman

As you help your college student move into the dorm this fall, there are a few extra items that will make your freshman’s life a little better.
As you help your college student move into the dorm this fall, there are a few extra items that will make your freshman’s life a little better. The Associated Press

One roommate is bringing the television. Another has the printer, paper and ink covered. The third roommate has promised a couch.

And your college freshman’s dorm room assignment? The mini refrigerator, perhaps?

After hauling three kids and all their stuff to college dorms and back over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the minifridge for all of its compactness, ice-making capacity and real economic value. One of these should last the college years, and then some.

While the minifridge is nice, the micro-fridge is impressive. It’s half microwave, half refrigerator, and believe it or not, at many schools students can actually rent one for the year.

If you’re wrapping up packing details before shipping off your freshman to college, you probably have the basics covered: sheets, bedspread, and pillows; towels; a backpack; a laptop; and cellphone and charger. There also are the desk supplies — scissors, stapler, paper clips, tape, file hangers and calculator.

Then, there’s my list of dorm room essentials. You now know my favorite items. But here are nine more — in no particular order — that I’d be throwing in the minivan. They’re light on the wallet, too.

▪ Bed risers that allow you to increase storage capacity beneath your bed. Think about bins with rollers.

▪ Hot dog cookers or popcorn poppers — two small appliances that provide snacks on the spot.

▪ A can of WD-40 because door hinges squeak, closet doors come off track and windows stick.

▪ A small tool kit with a roll of duct tape. There’s always stuff to assemble, and stuff to repair. And if someone down the hall needs help, your son or daughter might become instantly popular.

▪ Shower caddy. Wish I had the patent on this ubiquitous product.

▪ Desk chair and lamp. Dorm furnishings are spartan — and those wooden chairs are uncomfortable. If your student prefers working at the desk instead of on the bed, buying a decent chair will be worth the money. A floor lamp also will do wonders.

▪ Extension cords and a surge protector. Schools have spent millions to upgrade wiring in the dorms, but there are never enough outlets. That’s where the duct tape comes in, to secure the extension cords to floor or to the ceiling. As for a surge protector, it’s standard equipment.

▪ A small safe to store health insurance information, passwords, a credit card (for emergencies only), medicines, a passport, bank account statements, and other sensitive papers.

▪ Conversation starters, such as a box of Legos, a board game or even a small desktop fish tank.

And if you forget an item, Amazon and other shipping services can zip the package to campus in a day or two.

Except, wait. Most college mail centers are disaster areas the first month or so of school, meaning your package might not surface until Thanksgiving break.

Which brings me to a bonus item you and your new college student shouldn’t leave home without — a quick wit.