How To Shop For Your College Kid’s Dorm Room During Quarantine

By now you should know if your child’s college is going online only for Fall or if they will be expected to check into their dorm assignment. If they’re headed to a dorm, they may have already received their room assignment and their roommate as well. Hopefully if that’s the case, they have been talking (or texting, or Snapchatting or whatever) with their roommate to coordinate who will bring what and an overall idea of what they want their shared space to look like so they don’t end up with a bunch of duplicate items or a space that is a clash of ideas.
In my personal experience, it’s best to shop for everything your child needs ahead of time as much as possible. Every freshman will be needing the same items at the same time and in most small college towns, those items will be sold out within half a day and considering a lot of freshman don’t bring a car to college for their first year, getting needed items later can prove problematic. Here’s what I suggest.


Get a list from your college if one is provided of everything they suggest you need and all the things not allowed. Go through that list with your child because some of the “needed” items are likely things he/she just won’t use. It helps also to look on Youtube for “dorm tours” of the exact residential house your child was assigned at their particular university. A lot of students post these (look for student posted videos, not the ones posted by the school)- these provide a real, true-life look at how students make the space work best for them. You’ll find plenty of “life-hack” type tips here.
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Next, see if the town your university is in has a Target or a Bed, Bath & Beyond or a store similar. If it does, you can place your order online for everything your student will need and have it held for pickup at THAT location so on dorm check in day, you can simply pick up everything and move it right in. No shipping, no crating boxes, no packing a car full of supplies. It’s the best way I have found to get it done and the store that specializes in this is Bed, Bath & Beyond– they actually have a dorm shopping list and will hold things for you until dorm check in date. It’s a great service that’s super helpful.
Additionally, you can have a PO Box opened at a local mailbox center in the town your child will be attending (if they shop online at all, this will be super important for them to have over the next 4 years anyway as getting packages on campus is next to impossible). Then you can order items from Dorm specific sites like or Pottery Barn Teen and have them sent directly there with instructions to hold for pickup.

Here are some items I recommend as must haves:


Twin XL Mattress Topper

(dorm mattresses are the worst, thinnest things ever plus EWWW)


Twin XL Sheet Set and Duvet Cover with Washable Duvet Insert



Bed Risers

(Raising the bed up higher off the floor allows for much more storage underneath)



Tension Shower Curtain Rod & Fabric Curtain

(the closets generally don’t have doors and this will hide the mess)


Hanging Shoe Organizer


Velvet Hangers

(fits more than plastic)


Shower Caddy

(Keeping your bathroom items separate avoids roommate conflict)



Laundry Hamper



(make sure they are easy to recognize as your child’s)


Desk Lamp


First Aid Kit

120-piece Travel Friendly// 299-piece Complete Set // 125-piece Dorm Essential // 57-piece Basic Kit

Medicine Kit

(Whatever they regularly use – Advil, Benadryl, Cough & Cold meds, Pepto Bismol, etc.)

Reusable Coffee or Tea Mug and Set of Cutlery




(Actually super easy to forget to bring)


When you get to town you can buy cleaning supplies and snacks to keep in the room. Before you consider buying any electronics, like a mini fridge, microwave or coffee maker, check with the housing department as they supply some items and have strict rules about what students can and cannot bring. And check with your roommate so you don’t end up with two of the same appliance– there’s no room for that! Make sure anything extra that you buy can serve multiple uses or has hidden storage as space is at a premium. 
This is a SUPER exciting time for your child, make it fun and adventurous, and be very encouraging. They are likely nervous and apprehensive of such a big change so keep things 100% positive and hold back your own misgivings and personal feelings about them leaving until you get home from dropping them off. They’re looking to you for confidence right now, so let them know you believe in them and they’ve GOT THIS! And then feel free to ugly cry all the way home! I know I will be. 
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