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This article has been syndicated to Her Campus from Samanthability, an InfluenceHer Collective member. Read the full post here

Whether it’s your first time going away to college or your last semester, odds are you’ll need to do some college shopping! It can be overwhelming to determine where to begin dorm shopping, especially if this is your first time away from home! When I moved into my first dorm, I remember freaking out about bringing the right stuff. I was frantically trying to determine what I would actually need! Would I need to bring my own light? What in the world was a “shower caddy?” How many towels were too many? Take a deep breath. Here, I’ve laid out all my tips I’ve learned from 4+ years spent in a dorm to create the ultimate dorm shopping guide. (Tip: Check the end of this post for a free downloadable checklist  you can take with you while dorm shopping!)

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED

The first step is to determine what you actually need for your particular dorm. Each school is different, and each dorm at that school is also different. For my college, some dorms have communal bathrooms, while others have private bathrooms. Some have just two students per room, others have five! These are important details in determining your particular dorm shopping list. Check out your school residential website to see which dorms have what. You’ll want to answer the following questions:

  • What furniture does your dorm come with? (Usually, you have a desk, bed, dresser, and maybe a closet.)
  • Can you bring or rent a refrigerator and microwave?
  • Does your room have a built-in light, or do you need to bring your own?
  • Does your room have a private/shared bathroom or a communal bathroom?
  • What can’t I bring (usually there’s a list of no-no items like hot plates and candles.)

Now that you know what you need, you can create your own personalized list, or use mine (see the end of this post).

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRICE

I don’t know about you, but when I was heading to school for the first time, I was worried it was going to cost an arm and a leg to go dorm shopping. You simply need SO MUCH, it seems impossible to get a good deal. Luckily, there are ways to be savvy about your dorm shopping. I think it’s easiest to go an all-in-one store where you can knock out all of your dorm shopping at once! These stores know students don’t have a lot to spend on their dorms, but they still want quality, cute stuff! Bed Bath & Beyond has always been my favorite place for bulk shopping because not only do they have crazy affordable stuff, but they also always have great promotions. I highly recommend signing up for their college email list! First-time subscribers automatically get a 20% off coupon for an in store item!

Keep in mind that you likely will not be keeping your college dorm stuff your entire life. With that said, you don’t need to purchase the most expensive bedding or decor. Bed Bath & Beyond carries items for all price ranges and styles, and it’s easy to stick to a budget! You’ve got so many other expenses as a college student, (textbooks, lab fees, parking decals…) you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking the bank while dorm shopping!

WHEN SHOULD I GO DORM SHOPPING?

It’s tricky to figure out the best time to go dorm shopping. If you’re like me, you don’t want to procrastinate and wait until the last minute, but you also don’t want to lug a ton of stuff all the way to campus! When I first went away to boarding school, I shipped a massive box of dorm stuff to campus so I wouldn’t have to drive with it all the way from Florida to New York! Check with your school to see if you’re allowed to ship items, it’s honestly such a relief!

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