Outfitting Your Dorm From Afar—XL Sheets And All

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Bare dorm room with empty bunk beds.

With the cost of tuition, you’d think you could at least get a fully outfitted dorm room!

Shopping for a soon-to-be-college-freshman is a quite a bit different from the back-to-school shopping my kids and I did during the high school years. Gone are the days of the quick trip to Staples for 99 cent folders and a couple of spiral notebooks.

Now, I’m off to Bed Bath & Beyond for some major spending—and that’s just to get started.

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Order It Here, Pick It Up There

(Warning: The following will sound like a public service announcement for a certain superstore. I only wish I was paid to write this, but no such luck.)

My daughter is traveling away from home for college, and for students like her, stores like Bed Bath & Beyond have figured out a way to make the transition easier and cheaper.

It may be tempting to mail your old stuff from home to save money; however, many of the things you have at home really aren’t worth the cost of shipping to school (OK, your favorite pillow is an exception). And if you are flying to college, you have to think twice about everything you plan to take on the plane since very few airlines allow free luggage these days.

So, what some stores do is work with colleges to help you figure out what supplies you need for your dorm room. Talk to your college about which stores they have partnered with. At the store, all you typically have to do is tell the customer service rep what college you are attending. If they work with your school, they can often tell you exactly what items the campus provides (bed, desk, basic cable, etc.) and what you should and shouldn’t bother to bring.

How It Works: Scan And Go

At the store, you go around the aisles scanning the items you think you will need for your dorm. This generates an order for pick up for whatever date you want, which in my case was at the local Bed Bath & Beyond nearest to my daughter’s future college.

Now, the part I like best: You don’t have to pay for any of your new things until you pick them up (which is good for those parents like me, who like to delay parting with their dollars for as long as possible). Also, you don’t have to buy the items you pre-ordered if you no longer want or need them. This allows you to check out your room in person and avoid ending up like this.

Procrastinators Take Note

Maybe you and your parents would rather take your chances and shop for your dorm furnishings last minute? If so, just know that finding those extra-long twin sheets could be a problem. Trust me, I’ve been there—the regular sheets will simply not fit!

Besides, you probably do not want to waste too much time shopping once you get to campus. You will be too busy making new friends, while your mom is knee deep in your new room, zipping on the mattress pad and making up your new bed.

Funding Your Dream Dorm

With so much to buy (a new comforter, towels, a desk lamp, coffee pot, and a year’s supply of ramen), what can you do to help fund your dorm room, if your parents and you are on a tight college budget?

One option is to create a college gift registry and hope your extended family and close friends will bestow upon you all sorts of great things, like a well-stocked mini fridge and a big move-to-college care package. If that doesn’t’ work, you can always try crowdsource funding. I think I just might.

Found any great ways to save on outfitting your college dorm? Send us a note in the comments.

(Photo: Mike Gdovin)

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