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Dorm Shopping | 10 Ways To Save Money + Time

Dorm Shopping!

Is your freshmen starting their dorm shopping list?


Do you have the freshmen who stuffs their comforter into two milk crates and declares themselves packed?

senior, Harveys-bookstore, senior-photographer, dorm-shopping, dorm-decorating
Dorm decorating underway with this one

I know it’s kinda hard to plan for college this Fall with so many changes announced daily. We are moving forward in our planning. She’s scheduled in her dorm in late August right now, so we’re shoppin’ + plannin’ with the freshmen in our house.

Let’s keep the direction moving forward with positive vibes for our high school seniors, uhhh, college freshies. It reminds them {and us} that we WILL move past this phase of life as it is now.

Life’s an adventure and we have to experience it all...highs + lows, the excitement + doldrums, the not-so-great + THE AWESOME!

Since many freshmen orientations moved online this Summer it’s a good time to ask questions about your dorm room.

Emma had a once-a-week zoom call with her orientation guide and since she can’t see the dorm she might be in, she’s asking the upper class to guide us in ideas for her room.

This makes early college dorm shopping a tad tricker than years past. Not impossible, we’re just getting more creative.

More creative – that’s what I’m talking about!

Let’s Start with the SMP Basic 5 List

This quick list gets your brain spinning in the college dorm life direction + I made it into a PDF so you can print it and take it with you.

OH, but wait, there’s more! {did ya hear my game-show host voice?}

Since you’re in the dorm mindset you NEED to sign up for Sparkle Notes so you automatically get what’s behind

DOOR #2 Karen!

headshots, senior-photographer, surprise, dorm-life

It’s the ultimate college dorm checklist! It will be sent directly to your inbox at the beginning of August!

That’s right Sharon! You don’t have to do anything else after you sign up for Sparkle Notes. {And don’t worry, it only comes once-a-month. I’m here to help you, not annoy you😆}

Now, on to the rest of the story…

10 places + things to help with dorm life to come::

1/ Online vs in-store shopping

If you have a senior who isn’t into the shopping thing then online saves everyone grief. All you’re asking for is 1-hour of their time. You’ve fed them, raised them, and changed their diapers! They can give you 1-hour to get some college shopping done.

No, I’m not above a little guilt-tripping to get an hour of time.

2/ Who’s looking to save money?

You can download the Honey chrome extension to search out extra coupons, or the Rakuten app for added coupons + cash back when you’re shopping.

3/ One-stop shopping

If you have a serious NON-SHOPPER in your house you need to have a one & done store. When it comes to shopping for college there are two stores to make the one-stop list::

4/ Personalization

They’re moving away from home. Buying pieces that they love or will remind them of home is worth a little extra expense.

I get it, the debit card is red hot getting everything ready to go, but giving in to their favorite shopping spots will help the transition. Red Bubble or Etsy shops make popular teen personalization gear. Red Bubble is not my favorite when it comes to their shipping, but Emma lovvvves that site.

high-school, graduation, college-freshmen
They did it! Seniors to Freshmen again!

5/ First Aid Kit

Buy + put in the suitcase right now! I wrote about this one last year in my 5 College Essentials blog post. Don’t leave home without it!

  • 11×6 plastic container with lid {will fit easily under the bed or up on a shelf}
  • Bottle of Motrin/acetaminophen
  • Thermometer {nothing fancy, just needs to answer “do you have a fever?”}
  • Cough drops/sore throat longes
  • Pointed/sharp tweezers {not for your eyebrows, for splinters}
  • Hydrocortisone cream/antibiotic ointment
  • Band-aides, gauze, bandages, alcohol/antiseptic wipes
  • Insurance card – if a visit to immediate care or hospital is necessary, then having a copy of family’s card on hand saves a lot of hassle {keep this piece in your wallet – not the kit 😉 }

6/ The Dorm Bed/Couch/Chair/Movie Chair/Bean Bag…

Get the idea? The bed will be ALL those things so outfit it well.

  • Good sheets. No polyester {it doesn’t breathe} + highest thread count you can buy
  • Tall pillow for leaning against
  • 2 bed pillows {no, not just 1}
  • Comforter set + extra winter blanket {unless your freshmen chose a southern, WARM, college to go to – color me jealous}

7/ NASA Central

Not to launch anything, but with all the laptops, iPads, cell phones, speakers… they’re going to need to bring extras to charge it all.

When we were touring campus’ last Summer, one thing that HADN’T changed since my college days were the number of outlets in the room.

8/ The Home away from home

Help them personalize their dorm so it feels a bit like home. Emma’s boyfriend gave her this goofy pillow, and I’m guessing it’s making the trip to college. {It’s so ridiculously soft + squishy!}

college-pillow, piece-of-home, dorm-shopping

9/ Build credit – Spend Responsibly

If they haven’t had a credit card before now’s the time to start. You can get your college student a card under your account AND set a limit on the card. Whether you give it to them for emergency use only or have them start budgeting their finances to build their credit score it extends some fiscal responsibility.

10/ Laundry

I don’t talk about this one much because I was the least responsible college student when it came to laundry {or cooking}. But we learn from our mistakes right?

And what I’ve learned is I don’t want Emma saving up all her laundry to bring home for me to wash.

Find out what their laundry set-up is and be sure to have them well stocked::

  • Look up the nearest Target or Walmart for supply runs
  • Which is better for them:: Laundry basket, hamper, or bag
  • Do they need quarters or laundry is included in fees
  • Stock them with laundry soap, stain remover + fabric softener

There ya have it! This list should keep you hopping until I’ve revised my

Ullllltiiiiimate College Dorm Checklist

Cheers & Sparkles to your dorm shopping!

💖Andrea | High School Senior Photographer

P.S. The Ultimate College Dorm Checklist goes out to Sparkle Notes in August.


Modern High School Senior Portraits + Professional Headshot Photographer. Let's Show the World Your Kind of Beautiful! #SMPshine


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