In the coming weeks, thousands of tiny white rooms on campuses throughout the country will be welcoming their newest residents and their carloads of stuff.
Although the shaky economy has students and their families rattled about college loan debt and living expenses, they will spend an average of $907.22 this year on everything from comforters to hand-held vacuums, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That is up from $808.71 in 2011.
Students want to make their rooms less utilitarian and more like home, says Sarah Daniels, Catholic University of Americas director of residence life.
But students often overbuy and word is getting out that colleges cant provide storage space for unwanted furniture: Whats in the room stays in the room.
Students are best served sticking to accessories that personalize or organize, such as pillows, bins, lamps or storage ottomans. They can use social media to plan shopping.
I recommend that students get online and follow their housing offices Facebook page or Twitter feed. They are often putting out ideas and tips and information and students are posting them as well, says Maggie Burkhart Evans, James Madison Universitys director of residence life.
At home you dont buy enough shampoo for a year, says Seth Weinshel, George Washington Universitys director of housing, so dont do it for college.
Resist the urge to stock up for the whole semester, Evans says. Just bring what you need for the first month and reassess.
We surveyed retailers to come up with two lists of dorm necessities and accessories you might want to consider as you shop: the requirements and the electives. Take notes on whats right for you.
Your bedding will define your style, says Jessica Joyce, spokeswoman for Bed Bath & Beyond. Its where you study, eat, sleep and hang out, and it reflects your personality.
Add more space for stuff with lightweight portable chests. They have fabric drawers and are equipped with swivel casters.
Upgraded Desk Chair
Most dorm rooms come with a standard desk chair, but its usually very plain and not the most comfortable, says Olescia Hanson, spokeswoman for the Container Store.
With so many devices to keep track of and charged, it is wise to designate a multi-tasking home for them. In the iHome App-Enhanced Triple Charge Dual Alarm Stereo Clock, for example, you can charge your iPhone and iPad at once and wake and sleep to either your own playlist or the radio.
A waterproof carrier for all those hair and body products is a must for trips to the shower down the hall. Look for one with drain holes.
They are an inexpensive accessory that adds personality.
Lamps with Personality
Dont just get a lamp thats beige and boring, says Sabrina Soto, Targets style expert for home. Injecting some color with your lamp is important.
Hooks for a Nail-Free Zone
Create a home for your purses or towels with sleek adhesive hooks that adhere to almost any surface and wont damage paint or wood.
Stylish decals bring personality to a boring white dorm room. And they dont take up any space. This removable accessory is best when it makes a bold statement.