Dorm Room Shopping: The Dos and Don’ts

Yesterday I checked another big life event off the list.

Something that you hear about other people doing but don’t really think about doing yourself until you are in the middle of it.

Botox? Colonoscopy?

No, I took my daughter shopping for college.

You know, the anticipated trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target to get all the cute dorm room things that will never actually fit in her new room &/or things that will never be seen under all the piles of crap that will litter the floor by mid-September.

And while it was an exciting and fun day, it didn’t come without a few lessons.

Since I know some of you will be tackling this job either in the coming weeks or years, I wanted to share a few of them with you.

If you want to thank me, send cash.

I’ll need it now to pay her tuition.

Dos and Don’ts for Dorm Room Shopping

Do get her the mattress cover that protects against bed bugs, allergens and other contaminants.
Don’t think of what ‘other contaminants’ might mean.

Do encourage her to get the cute dry erase board for her dorm room door.
Don’t tell her that by the end of week one someone will have drawn a penis on it in Sharpie.

Do get her two sheet sets so she can change her sheets while one is in the wash.
Don’t think about the fact that the second one will probably never be opened.

Do get her at least 25 good hangers.
Don’t tell her that only 10 will fit in her closet.

Do buy plenty of Command Damage Free hooks and wall adhesive.
Don’t mention that nothing sticks to cinder-block walls which is precisely why they use them in prison cells.

Do buy her cute, colorful towels.
Don’t think about the fact that boys will see her wrapped in them as she walks back to her room from the communal bathrooms.

Do tell her that having a communal bathroom won’t be nearly as bad as she thinks it will be!
Don’t vomit in your mouth when you’re telling this to her.

Do treat her to a nice lunch.
Don’t let her know it’s the last time she’ll eat real food until Thanksgiving.

Do listen when when she admits she’s getting a little scared about leaving home.
Don’t throw your arms around her, lock her in her room and Google “Home-Colleging.”

Do make sure to get her a vial of pepper spray to put on her keychain.
Don’t even imagine a situation where she’ll need to use it.

Do buck up for a good memory foam mattress topper.
Don’t get one that will comfortably hold more than her body weight.

Do get her a microwave.
Don’t think she’ll ever use it for anything other than popcorn.

Do let her splurge on an item or two.
Don’t let her know it will be the last time you’re paying for it.

Do tell her how darling the mini-fridge is!
Don’t point out it won’t hold more than two bottles of water and one cheese stick.

Do tuck a couple of surprises into her bags.
Don’t consider yourself a ‘surprise’.

Do get her an umbrella.
Don’t mention that no umbrella in the world will keep her dry when walking a half a mile to class in the pouring rain.

Do put a box together of necessary pain-relievers, band-aids, a thermometer and any other medications she takes regularly.
Don’t put an alert in your phone to check to make sure she took them.

Do remind her to plan for space for the million things that are currently littering the floors and flat surfaces of her room that she must take with her.
Don’t panic when you realize she will be leaving it all behind.

Do be understanding when she is contradictory of your many helpful suggestions.
Don’t laugh in six weeks when she calls to tell you you were right.

Do have fun and remember the day together.
Don’t look at it as an ending, look at it as a beginning.



  1. Robyn Toland on July 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Michelle…just did the Ikea & Container Store in the last few weeks. Laughed, cried, and consumed a bottle of Kim Crawford upon my return to home!!!!! How can Emily and Sophie be leaving for college? Thinking of you!

  2. Julia Lohman on July 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Great list!! Love these suggestions!!! I’ve been experiencing a lot of these feelings these past few weeks!! Keep writing about this and we’ll get through this together!!

  3. Beth Lancaster Geurink on July 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    We have been chipping away at it. I do recommend the towels with the velcro closure! Secretly giggling about her roommate having to deal with the mess I walk by every day. Secretly crying when I think about walking by the empty room that will be spotless until Thanksgiving.

  4. Jennifer Corcione Swartvagher on July 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Great list! I am in the same boat. The corner of my daughter’s room is slowly filling up with XL sheets, towels and crates. Only one more month, and she will be off to school. I still vomit a little in my mouth when we talk about the communal bathroom, but I do so with a smile on my face!

  5. Jenny Ball Tufford on July 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Dear God. Bought the same towels for my college-bound girl. I didn’t get the mattress cover though…now I’m itching with imaginary bedbug bites. I see a few more shopping trips will be necessary between now and August 28. Great post!

  6. Crumpets and Bollocks on July 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I can remember my college semester before getting kicked out over a little marijuana like it was yesterday. I remember my roommate watching my television making me go to the common area to watch the football game. I remember eating out a lot because I didn’t want to share a kitchen and had no good place for groceries, and it was cheaper to eat out when single. I remember the emergency American Express card my dad gave me, and my idea of an emergency was a sale at the mall followed by treating my friends to Applebees. I remember my dad freaking out about that, and the time I thought about getting a tattoo because my roommate (he took that fear to the grave with him). And bathrobe is a great idea. My mom got me one as a gift on the day I left for college. I threw it out when one of my friends in the military years later borrowed it, without asking, naked, while on her period.

  7. Angelo Bovara on July 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Two bottles of water, two pints of gin; same thing.

  8. Karen mark on August 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Totally disagreed with all of this!

  9. […] of college-bound kids, stay tuned — later in the week I’ll be posting a handy list of Do’s and Don’ts so you, too, can survive! […]

  10. Victoria Wynavage on January 2, 2015 at 3:53 am

    As a college sophomore, I personally am thankful to my parents for buying me a bathrobe. It takes the awkwardness out of going back and forth to the bathroom.

  11. […] schooled me on the subject, click HERE. For another Do’s and Don’ts list, click HERE. Sharing is caring (most of the time)! If you like what you read, please share the link via your […]

  12. Mary Jo Colangelo on April 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I cant believe it is your turn to shop with your daughter cuz. Mine will be shopping with her son in a few more yrs.

  13. Shirley Mcclaine on July 21, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Was glad to see that tears were mentioned several times in the comments!

  14. Miriam Dejesus Maldonado on August 21, 2015 at 3:44 am

    so happy my son daniel is going to college and going to live at the dorm gonna miss him but he be okay i know at the same time i be worring he my youngiest son god bless my son

  15. Miriam Dejesus Maldonado on August 21, 2015 at 3:49 am

    my son going to be attending college good luck son from all evil people evil eye evil thought my son god walk you threw your career amen proud of you daniel

  16. Andrea Kennedy on June 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    You can actually get rid of sharpie on dry erase boards by coloring over the sharpie with a dry erase marker, then erasing it. Hopefully that little hack will put some ease back into the mind of parents.

  17. Martha Ratner on July 18, 2016 at 2:23 am

    loved it!

  18. Sudha on September 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Wish I read this little earlier. Just dropped my daughter at colleage. Just did the stupid thing from Don’t list LOL. Got yelled at a lot. 😕

  19. […] This Post Originally Appeared on You’re My Favorite Today […]

  20. Dawn on October 31, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Also, Remember that however small you think the dorm room is- it’s even smaller!!

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