Designer dorms: Do kids need all the stuff we buy them for college?

Do college students and their parents overpack for that first year of college?
RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

I’m getting a lot of mail from companies trying to sell me dorm accessories. So far, all I’ve bought my college-bound twins are extra-long twin sheets. (I would have passed on the ones my older kids used except my son in Brooklyn has them. I think he’s using them as curtains.)

One helpful big-box retailer provides a college checklist; I counted 115 items for a well-appointed dorm room, including water filtration filters, a safe and tool kit. (I’m not sure if we’re dropping our kids off at an undergraduate college or an underground bunker.)

You also get a sense teens turn into Hugh Hefner when they go to college and live in their pajamas with all the bed accoutrements on the must-have list, including body pillow, bolster and backrest.

How much of this stuff is vital? In picking up my older children from college at the end of the year, they would point out the give-away boxes outside the dorms filled with stuff students didn’t want enough to pack up or pay to store. Along with piles of clothing, much of it brand name, were desk lamps, bikes, throw rugs, toasters and electric fans. (Many schools now donate all these leftovers to local charities.)

So far, I’ve been dipping into my own stash. I rifled through the linen closet and found the most intact towels – four each presuming they figure out how to use the dorm washers within a week or so – and unearthed twin comforters from the days when they shared a bedroom. (I will spring for new duvet covers as they’re not keen anymore on trucks and butterflies.)

My daughter has three roommates in a dorm designed for two – she’s among the freshmen required to double up to resolve the University of Georgia’s housing shortage. (Still unsure why a dorm room originally designed for two was going to cost $3,600 per semester and now, as a dorm for four, costs $3,466. Somehow in that math, UGA comes out way ahead.) She doesn’t seem concerned about coordinating colors or buying matching anything, which is probably a result of growing up in a household where we drink out of Bama jelly jars.

Her twin brother seemed uninterested when I asked about his room layout at Georgia Tech, saying he thinks he has a bunk bed but isn’t sure and what does it matter anyway? His needs are simple, he tells me. A blanket, a pillow and a new MacBook Pro.

Based on the barrage of mail I am getting about designer dorm rooms, it’s apparently common to decorate a dorm in consultation with your roommates. I never did and doubt my first college roommate and I could have collaborated on decorating. She tied gingham ribbons everywhere and mounted a tree branch over her bed from which she hung candles and Christmas lights. She dated the assistant football coach who would kneel by her bedside at night and coo her to sleep while the lights twinkled and the candles glowed. I worried about perishing in a fiery end from a candle catastrophe while listening to an off-tune serenade of “Diamond Girl.” She was an upperclassman with a history of short-lived roommates. After I moved rooms within three months, she wisely chose a single.

At Georgia Tech orientation today, officials warned parents against showing up with U-Hauls full of stuff for their freshmen. The rooms at Tech were likely smaller in size than the U-Hauls themselves, said Brett Hulst, associate director of residence life.

Leave the stuff at home, he said. Or bring an empty U-Haul, he joked, and live in that, instead of the room.

Reader Comments 0

34 comments
detalo
detalo

just as Steven responded I'm dazzled that a student can make $6504 in one month on the internet . check this link right here now..>>>>>>>>>>>www.Google.Start.Money.com

Terry O'Brien Roth
Terry O'Brien Roth

Diamond Girl?! \U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602 Still laughing! And NO!

Trish Gates
Trish Gates

no, I went to college with NONE of that stuff.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

You can build a lot of dorm (and apartment) furniture with concrete blocks and 2x12 lumber.

Just sayin'

Susan Lamb
Susan Lamb

This can't be blamed on the stores and marketing only the parents trying to "one up" each other

Deborah Hill
Deborah Hill

We had fun many years ago. Had an old fridge we named Ishtar and many a bizarre but fun evening due to free spirited young people and along the way, we grew up appreciating all cultures and choices. We shopped thrift stores; I doubt bed bath and beyond existed. Way to go Eckerd College.

Angela Wolleat Kish
Angela Wolleat Kish

Absolutely do not need at least half the stuff parents buy. The kids are barely in these rooms. Store gimmicks drive the pressure to decorate these spaces. Spend, spend , spend.....

Myra Blackmon
Myra Blackmon

We managed just fine back in the day without all those things. My dad had a department store so I always furnished the matching bedspreads. And we did it without air conditioning, too.

Bailers77
Bailers77

You should leave your gun collection at home.

Diane Przybylski-Torchio
Diane Przybylski-Torchio

No they don't...followed the freshman list and my daughter didn't use half of it\U0001f633

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

It doesn't hurt. Dorm rooms are some of the most boring places ever. You're sharing a room with someone that you've never met and know very little about. Having a bit of your own thing helps. I would also add that if the parents want to provide it, who are you to judge?

Bailers77
Bailers77

Nice faux non judgmental attitude, but it is fake. It is perfectly acceptable to point and laugh at the parents who give their precious dears everything their little hearts desire. Because those are the kids who will either never leave mommy and daddy's back account, or will curl up in a ball and cry for the first two weeks.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Surelyyoujest More power to them if they can get nearly full price despite doubling the occupancy. Parents have complained to me but the fine print seems to allow universities to stuff more people into dorms.

Luree Echols
Luree Echols

oh no, the less the better. all that junk just makes the room harder to keep.

neuhierla
neuhierla

The designer dorms that have gone to the P3 model (public-private-partnership) here in Georgia are going to not look so good in a couple years. No money to update and/or replace worn furniture. You might need to bring your own furniture!

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

At what age will we allow them to grow up?  As a minimum, college is time for preparation and learning (for those with self motivation and determination) of skills sets and knowledge to permit them to make significant contributions to society once the graduate.  College is WORK!  College should be an introduction to SACRIFICE!


If Mom and Dad are going to pay for their offspring to continue the 'easy life' for as long as it takes them, then they have done their child a gross disservice.  Have seen way too many, now in their 50's, WHO NEVER GREW UP, and their trail of mediocrity continues to this day!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My eldest child spent the ENTIRE summer buying/shopping/planning for what she needed and would take.  Contrast that with her brother, who loaded up his guitar and would have driven away but we stopped him to make him take sheets and towels (2 sets). Third child was a bit of a compromise between the two.

Craig Smith
Craig Smith

No. I worked in higher ed for over 30 years as a professor and administrator. The pampering of college students that we see gets worse every year and is ridiculous.

wgh1948
wgh1948

I wonder how much student loan money is spent on some of these silly and unnecessary purchases.

Manman
Manman

I fit everything I owned for four years into one Grand Marquis. If it didn't fit, it couldn't come.


I don't know why the author's hate for a tool kit though, that made me a very popular person in dorm life. Never know when you need a hammer or screwdriver!

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Manman Heck, I fit everything into a VW beetle including a sound system! Oh and my dorm room did not have AC! Just a portable fan in the window! We had a small fridge, electric fry pan and a hot plate. I cooked for 3 other students! The fry plan allowed for a meat and two!

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@RoadScholar @Manman I also moved to college in a VW. Moved to my first reporting job in Florida in a Mustang. Both were stuffed to the ceiling. 

Mary Alice Foughner NeSmith
Mary Alice Foughner NeSmith

I ❤️ Brett Hulst!!!! Beth Foughner Dunn Erin O'Neil Cantrell Cindy Young Julie Rothschild Isaacs

Brett Hulst
Brett Hulst

Thanks for letting me know about this. My terrible jokes are now in print.

Renee Lord
Renee Lord

The most shocking part of this is UGA not lowering the housing cost significantly for students crammed into rooms.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Not only that....were they surprised that a large number of students were going to show up? Friends do not let their friends attend UGA!

Tammy Patterson Hill
Tammy Patterson Hill

We were shocked also. UGA admitted more students than they can accommodate. So disappointed in the way that they are requiring students to be housed like cattle In the ECV.

Lisa Kelly Mason
Lisa Kelly Mason

No! So glad my first college kid is a boy who's only requirements were bed and fridge \U0001f602

Jill Keirsey Waldon
Jill Keirsey Waldon

Too funny!! And 1yr post college days...I've been madly selling the pile of "college" that has occupied my front living room this past year.. Empty!!!!