Posts Tagged ‘dorm living’

9 Essentials and Ideas Under $50 for Your College Dorm Room

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Essentials and Ideas for Your Dorm Room

Going to college not only means preparing academically, but also preparing your living space. Many bricks-and-mortar stores, as well as online retailers, offer items to make your dorm room your home for the school year.

Here are nine ideas for awesome essentials and other items you may want for your dorm room.

Under $50

Remote control tower fan: If your dorm room doesn’t have air conditioning, a fan is a must-have. Consider this remote control tower fan—it has a slim design (good for tight spaces), is 32-inches tall, has three speed settings, features a timer and comes with a remote control (nice for adjusting it from your loft without getting out of bed).

Three-drawer organizer: Chances are, you’ll need some extra storage space in your dorm room for clothes, books or other school supplies. This three-drawer Sterilite organizer cart is on wheels, easy to move around your dorm room if needed.

Iron Brick portable laptop safe: Your laptop will have your entire life on it—notes from classes, papers you’re writing, even textbooks you’ve downloaded. When you’re not using your laptop, consider keeping it locked up with this portable safe so it doesn’t get stolen (and so your roommate can’t hack in). You can secure it around any heavy or stationary item (such as your bedframe).

3-in-1 Multifunction Breakfast Deluxe: Waking up for an 8 a.m. class can be tough and you may not have time to make a trip to the dining hall. You can use this device instead: it has toaster oven, griddle and coffee maker all in one. It comes in a variety of colors to match your dorm room décor.

Under $20

Pop-up hamper: Use your clothes hamper as a combination hamper and laundry basket. This spiral pop-up hamper is great for tossing your dirty clothes in it, and the shoulder strap makes it easy to carry to your residence hall laundry room.

Bath tote: Whether you’ll be using a communal shower/bathroom or sharing a bathroom with just a couple suitemates, you’ll want your own bath tote to haul your shampoo, conditioner, soap, shave gel, razor and more from your room to the shower. Look for one that has holes, so water can escape instead of pool at the bottom.

Cookin’ Caddy: Store a few utensils and plates in this caddy that is designed to hang over your dorm mini-fridge. This will help you keep your eating supplies out of the way and organized, without taking up much space.

Shower shoes: If sharing a shower with your entire floor grosses you out, you’ll definitely want to invest in a pair of “shower shoes”—a pair of waterproof flip-flops. Check out these options for an anti-slip sandal for men or antimicrobial shower sandal for women.

Clip-on lamp: Most likely, you’ll want to supplement your dorm room’s lighting with a lamp or two. This clip-on lamp is a great option to use when studying at your desk, or for clipping on to your bedframe so you can read in bed.

Image credit: Courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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How to Be a Great College Roomie

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

How to Be a Great Roomie

Going to college means you get to experience freedom (no parents!), fun and, of course, living with a roommate. If you’re like most students and get your first roommate by the luck of the draw, it’s possible you could end up with many stories to tell.

You may have good stories like how you remarkably have all the same interests or how your roommate got you food from the dining center when you were sick. Or bad stories like he never washes his clothes (which are in one large, smelly pile in the middle of the floor), he uses your iPad without permission or she locks you out of the room all day (and night) when her boyfriend comes to town.

Although you may have certain expectations for your college roommate, he or she probably has expectations for you, too. Being a college roommate is a two-way street, though. So, how can you be the best roomie you can be?

Keep it clean. The room doesn’t have be pristine, but it goes a long way to create a pleasant living environment if you keep your dirty clothes in a hamper and not on the floor. If you use a shared microwave, clean it up if your SpaghettiOs lunch explodes all over it, and wash the dishes you use (so they don’t start to reek, mold or attract creepy crawly insects).

Be considerate. If your roommate has an 8 a.m. class and needs to go to bed early, be kind and don’t blare your music, video games or have friends over when she’s trying to sleep. Hopefully she’ll be just as considerate when you need quiet time to study or sleep!

Respect each other’s space. You’ll each have your own desk, bed and even a closet and/or dresser. There’s no need to go through your roommates things when he’s not there. Also, remember to ask your roommate permission to borrow her earrings or use his PlayStation before you use it. You wouldn’t want your roommate to take your stuff without asking, would you?

Talk about problems. If you experience an issue with your roommate, talk to him or her (in a calm tone of voice) before it escalates. Be open to hearing his or her point of view, and be willing to compromise to find a solution. If there’s a huge issue you can’t deal with through talking directly with your roommate, ask your Resident Assistant (RA) for help.

Be realistic. Living in the dorms should be fun, but no roommate will be ideal. You’ll likely have disagreements and she may get on your nerves now and then, but remember, your roommate is human just like you. And, it’s perfectly fine if you’re just roommates and don’t become BFFs.

For more tips on being a good roommate check out Saint Louis University’s How to Be a Roommate guide, Washington College’s Roommates 101 videos and tips and the University of Colorado-Boulder’s 10 Crucial Tips for Getting Along With Your Roommate.

Image credit: Courtesy of Brenda/Sweetapathy, Flickr Creative Commons

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

After-Thanksgiving Deals for Dorm Room Goodies

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Dorm Room Shopping

Shopping for College Dorm Goodies

Want to get a jump start on prepping for college life? Start your dorm room shopping early by looking for Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday deals after Thanksgiving. You’ll find lots of deals on electronics and other “stuff” you’ll need at college. Here’s how to find some great deals.

Before you go shopping, look through the ads on store websites or on special Black Friday sites such as Next, download a price-compare app such as RedLaser or Price Check by Amazon on your smartphone. The app will let you scan item barcodes to compare prices so you can know if you’re getting a good deal while you’re out and about.

If you’re buying online, start shopping on Thanksgiving morning, since many stores offer their Black Friday deals online on Thanksgiving Day (prior to the physical stores opening). Look for sites that offer free shipping, too. An item may cost a dollar or two more on one site, but if it offers free shipping you might get a better deal than if you had to pay shipping costs on a different site. Plus, check coupon websites such as and for discount codes.


When you go away to college you’ll likely need a laptop, a printer and USB thumb drive (to transfer files between your laptop and a college computer lab). You may even need a small TV for your dorm room, an alarm clock, iPod speaker docking station and a surge protector to plug in all your electronics (and give you more outlet space).

In addition to checking sales at traditional electronics stores, don’t forget to check office supply stores and online stores such as For example, OfficeMax is advertising a Toshiba 15.6” laptop for $299 (a $200 savings) and Best Buy has a Dell Inspiron 15.6” laptop for $177.99 (nearly $220 in savings). OfficeMax also has deals on printers, with a Canon inkjet printer for $49.99.

Before buying electronics, check the product specifications to confirm if you’re really getting a good deal. For example, some low-cost laptops may not have as much memory or hard disk space as you’ll need (or want), depending on the programs you’ll be running and how much multimedia content you plan to use.

Dorm décor and small appliances

Prices for dorm room décor such as comfy chairs, futons, desk lamps, comforters, extra long twin sheets and organizers may be marked down for the holidays. For example, pay only $29.88 (a $10 savings) for the Big Joe Bean Bag Chair at Walmart or $19.99 for a Bungee Chair at Meijer.

In addition to checking discount retailers like Walmart, Target, Kmart and Meijer, look for deals at dorm-specific websites such as, DormSmart and Plus, look for deals at furniture and home improvement stores in your area. Consider going to secondhand stores such as Goodwill, too, since many of those stores also offer Black Friday discounts.

Need your morning cup of coffee to start your day off right? Look for deals on coffee makers at department stores, electronics stores and online. Other appliances you may need (or want) for your dorm room include a small vacuum, a microwave or mini-fridge.

Fun stuff

Many retailers offer great deals on movies this time of year. For example, DVD prices start at $3 at Meijer, $1.99 at Best Buy and $1.96 at Walmart. Blu-ray discs typically cost a bit more. Look for deals on movies at, discount retailers and electronics stores.

As with all purchases, make sure to confirm the retailer’s return policy before you buy. And happy dorm room deal shopping!

Image credit: Courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

Living Off Campus: Why it Could be the Right Fit for You

Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Off Campus Living

Off Campus Living: Not Thrilled by the Thought of Dorm Life? Read On!

Do you cringe at the idea of living in a dorm? You aren’t alone! My College Guide has a few reasons why living off-campus could be the right choice for you.

There’s a lot to be said about living on campus, but for some students, living away from campus might be a nice change of pace. Read on to learn if off-campus living would fit your lifestyle.

Off-Campus Living

Considering Summer School — Are you on the fast track to college graduation? Do you plan on attending college over the summer? Students who plan on sticking around will want to make sure they have somewhere to live! If your college dorm will be off-limits, you may want to consider off-campus living.

Social Atmosphere — For some students, being surrounded by others the same age group day after day after day can be taxing. Dorm rooms aren’t always the most quiet places! If you are a serious student and there are no other on-campus housing options, you may want to look into somewhere off-campus. Just know that you may have to work harder to stay engaged with your pals on campus!

Cost — In some areas, it may actually save you money to live off-campus–as long as you have a roommate or two. If you have responsible roommates who will share the responsibility of cooking and cleaning, you can save a bundle on the cost of dorms and the added expense of the college meal plan.

Return Students — If you already have a year or two of college under your belt, living off-campus might feel like the next step forward. You already know your way around campus, you know how to deal with the pressures of school, and you may even know some people to room with! Take into consideration the cost of a rental deposit, estimate your grocery expenses, and don’t forget to figure in gas mileage before you commit.

A Room of Your Own

Whether you choose to live off-campus or on, there are plenty of things to consider! Hopefully our list can help give you some ideas to help you decide what will be the best option for you in the long run.

Image Credit: Flickr, RebelNation1947

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

Reasons Why You Should Consider Living On Campus

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
On Campus Living

On Campus Living: Is it Right for You?

You thought the hard part was deciding where to go to college, but now you need to decide where you will want to live while you are there!

My College Guide has a few things to say about the subject. There are pros and cons to each housing option but today we’ll give you some reasons you should consider living on campus.

For a new college student figuring out how to make the transition to college, it can be a great way to get acquainted with living independently without too much added stress.

On Campus Living

Easy Access — Extracurricular activities, special events, study groups–whatever is going on at school, you can easily make it! There will be times when you find out about a great event right before it happens. Other people on your floor may invite you to join them for a late cafeteria run or to go hear a great guest speaker. Whatever it is, you will be right there and can easily join in the fun!

Not Reliant on Transportation — That great apartment might be close enough to the school that you can easily walk to the campus, but will you want to walk there when it’s raining, storming, snowing, or sleeting? Also, you may have a car now, but cars require upkeep! Are your parents willing to foot the bill for maintenance on your car? What happens if it doesn’t start the morning of a big exam? Living on your college campus means that you don’t need to worry about how you will get to your classes.

Time Efficient — Sometimes college classes can’t be scheduled back to back. Sometimes you will have special group projects and meetings. It can mean quite a bit of back and forth or a lot of hanging around waiting. That can be a waste of time! Rather than commuting multiple times in one day, if you live on campus you will be able to go back to your dorm room any time you want to give your family a call, get caught up on laundry or school work, or even just take a nap. When you live so close to everything, your free time is more your own!

Meal Plans — There are a lot more options for college meal plans than you may have thought. Every school is different, but even so, the vast majority will have some sort of meal plan option that will enable you to get your fill. Mom and dad will no longer be around to cook for you. When you get hungry, if you live off campus, meal prep falls on you! Stick to on-campus living and you don’t have to fret about fitting grocery shopping and meal preparation into your schedule.

Finances — When your meal option is set and your housing option is arranged, it’s easier for new college students like you to stay on top of finances. It’s not to say that you won’t have an unexpected expense pop up here or there, but for the most part there won’t be any big financial bumps in the road. When you are living in a dorm or other on-campus housing option, there is a lot less that you have to deal with which means that you can spend more time enjoying college life instead of worrying about how you will pay bills!

College Life

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to where you will live, but you don’t have to decide right now. Think about what you want out of college. Learn about the different housing options at your college and take your time considering where you will fit in the best.

Image Credit: Flickr, Jeff Dlouhy

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

What is a Resident Assistant?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

When it comes to college housing, and all the joys and concerns that go with it, the Resident Assistant is someone you want to get to know! For learning how to get around on campus or info on academic policy at your school, your RA is always in the know.

What is a resident assistant?

What is a resident assistant?

What is a Resident Assistant?

In your dorm room or residence hall, you will have a Resident Assistant, or RA, who lives in the dorm or residence hall just like you. Unlike you, He or she will live there for the majority of the year (including weekends). Your RA is there to enforce the rules, mediate disagreements, and provide general support for students!

Your RA will also try to create a sense of community and ensure that everyone obeys the college or university’s rules (including what to take to college, so don’t try to sneak in Fluffy or Fido unless your school is a pet-friendly college). Here are three great reasons why the resident assistant is an important part of the dorm housing experience.

You Know You Could Use Somebody

Neutral Party – It happened. You neglected to heed any of My College Guide’s tips for how to get along with your college roommate and now: Things aren’t going so well. When you need a neutral party to help you sort things out, the Residential Advisor is just the person to talk to!

New Kid on the Block – Your resident adviser is someone who knows the ropes. If you need help with anything, like getting from Point A to Point B, figuring out a homework assignment, or you just need to know about on-campus resources, the resident assistant is just the person you need! Your RA can help you learn the lay of campus or help you deal with a troublesome professor. The resident assistant has the answers to your college questions!

Relationships 101 – Sometimes, your resident assistant is like the big brother or sister you have always wanted (or left behind 4 states away). When you have relationship squabbles or a big break-up, your resident assistant is someone that you can talk to about anything—and receive helpful, friendly support.

Code of Conduct

The job of a resident assistant varies from college to college but for the most part, the above remains true. Your residential adviser is your easy connection to college life. She or he can help you make the transition to college–and will also help see you off when you leave for the summer!

Image Courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Huston / Thomas Huston.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores. Check out our participating colleges. Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

At Home in the Halls at Barnard College or An Inside Look at Dorm Life

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Worried about college dorm life? This fun video from Barnard College should help to put your mind at ease! There’s a lot of very good reasons to consider living on campus. Forget what you’ve seen on TV—dorm living is so not like the movies.

Be close to everything and make friends easily. Explore the residence halls at Barnard College and listen to actual students about what they’ve learned from the dorm experience. Don’t forget to check out our article on great things to bring along to make your dorm room feel like home before you head off to college. You can watch At Home in the Halls on YouTube or below.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores. Check out our participating colleges. If you’re a student, enter for a chance to win an Apple iPad or iPhone or cash!

How to Live With Your College Roommate: Student Thoughts From Michigan State University

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Chances are you have been stressing about living in a college dorm. You may have decided to room with your BFF from high school or maybe you have been keeping your fingers crossed that you will end up in a single dorm room, anything than have to live with a complete stranger! My College Guide wants you to know that, just as college housing is probably not what you are expecting, there are also far fewer “dorm roommate nightmares” than you’d think.

Need more convincing? This video from Michigan State University features many dorm roommates – and they have plenty to say on the subject of college housing. College housing is not going to be as bad as you keep thinking it is – and hopefully watching this video will leave you feeling a bit more confident about the college housing process as a whole. Now, if only you can figure out what to take to college (or at least narrow down your massive college packing list), you’ll be doing fine! Watch How to Live with Your Roommate by Michigan State University on YouTube or below.

Single Moms Can Go to College: Unique Housing Option for Single Mothers and their Children

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Single moms don’t normally receive a traditional college experience – unless they happen to be a part of the Mothers Living and Learning Community at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska! Single mothers can not only go to college  and work for a degree just like any other student, but these students still get to be “mom” when not hitting the books. My College Guide interviewed Sarah Watkins, the Director of the Mothers Living and Learning Community, to learn about this unusual college housing option.

Mom and son hang out at the Mothers Living and Learning Community playroom at the College of Saint Mary.

Courtesy of the College of Saint Mary

What is the Mothers Living and Learning Community?
Mothers Living & Learning is a residential option for single mothers with up to two children under the age of 10 years old to live on the campus of College of Saint Mary and attend classes full time. Mothers Living & Learning is located in Walsh Hall on the third and fourth floors, and houses up to 35 women and their children. In many ways, it is very much like the traditional residence halls, however, each floor has its own playroom for the kids to play, and areas for the mothers to do homework. Our program has two main goals: to give single mothers a traditional college campus experience, and also to assist them with developing the skills necessary to live independently and act as head-of-household. In order to meet the latter goal, we offer independent living classes, parenting information, and connect students with community resources and services.

Single moms and their children live on-campus? Can they participate in the usual campus events?
Most definitely, and we actually encourage it. One of the best ways to be a successful student is to become involved in campus organizations and activities. At CSM we held the beginning of our Heritage Week festivities this last weekend, and events included everything from formal banquets, flag football, DJ’s and live music and a bounce house for the kids. CSM greatly appreciates the presence of children on our campus, and we encourage them to participate in our events as well. Many of the single mothers living on and off campus are active in a multitude of student organizations and athletics as well.

Everyone always wants to know: what about the rooms? What amenities does the Mothers Living and Learning Community possess?
Right now, the rooms in Mothers Living & Learning come in three different sizes…students refer to them as small, medium, and large. Because the space on the third and fourth floor has been through many remodels, the rooms are each unique. We have community bathrooms but each mother is assigned her own bathroom and shower stall for her family, and depending on the age of the child, she will also be assigned a bath tub. In some cases, you will share your bath tub with another mother. We have full-time maintenance staff that clean the community areas, floors, etc. and all residents are provided with a meal plan as part of their room and board costs. There is no additional fee for children, although mothers pay the double-room rate to have a private dorm room. As I mentioned previously, the play rooms on each floor are a large draw to both children and potential students.

Notice I said “right now” – indicating that something may change. Well, what I was referring to there is the plan to build a new residence hall solely for Mothers Living & Learning. The new hall will be amazing, suite-style living, four bedrooms per suite, with a living space and kitchenette. Each floor will have its own play room. Continue to watch for our updates as we progress with this. We should be breaking ground no later than Fall 2012.

What does this program hope to achieve?
The two main goals again are 1) to give single parent students an opportunity to live on campus and have a somewhat traditional college experience, and 2) to help single parents to develop the skills necessary for living independently; granting the confidence to act as head-of-household. Last year we had 8 graduates from the Mothers Living & Learning program. We watched their children beam at their mothers with pride, and their mothers walking proudly into the world. That’s what this program hopes to continue and build upon.

Ashley and Ariana cross the College of Saint Mary campus in Omaha, Nebraska.

Courtesy of the College of Saint Mary

How many mothers and their children can this program currently hold? (any plans for expansion)
Currently we can hold up to 35 residents and their children.  When our new residence hall is completed, we will have a capacity for 48 students.

What does a single mom who is considering attending the College of Saint Mary and the Mothers Living and Learning need to know?
This question I should refer to the Mothers Living & Learning residents, as they will know best! If you are interested, get accepted to CSM, and complete the process for application, I will call you to arrange an interview. At the time of your interview, we will have a student give you a tour. Ask any questions you’d like at that time, I know they will tell you how it is!

Are there other campus resources for these single moms?
Yes! A multitude. Every person here on campus is very much invested in students and our single parent students’ success. I was hired as Director in February of this year given my experience in social work and counseling professions. In addition to doing proactive life skills and parenting workshops, I also meet one-on-one with students interested in learning more about community resources and finding support for single parents both on and off campus. Within our achievement center, we also offer tutoring, academic workshops like developing efficient study skills, discovering your learning style, as well as career counseling services.

Single moms and their children enjoy playtime in the Mothers Living and Learning Center at the College of Saint Mary.

Courtesy of the College of Saint Mary

Do you have any advice for a single parent interested in pursuing an education?
Best advice I could give is to tell you that you can do it, and don’t ever give up. Pursuing your college degree is the best decision you could ever make for your family, your community, and for yourself.

Anything else I need to know?
College of Saint Mary also offers life skills and parenting courses to the commuter students that reside off-campus. In an effort to provide support and opportunities for networking between single parent students, I also advise a student organization called Single Parent Success for Students (SPSS). This organization is an opportunity for students to advocate for single parent student needs on campus. All single parent students, whether living on campus within the Mothers Living & Learning community or commuting from off-campus, have much available to them in the way of resources and support at CSM.

Dorm Room Survival Tips or How to Get Along With Your College Roommate

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Living in a dorm can be incredibly fun – you have easy access to events and activities on campus, a ready community, close proximity to food at all times, and an easy way to meet people right where you live (and dorm housing has definitely improved since your parents went to college)!  As good as it sounds and as much fun as it’s going to be: it’s completely normal to stress about dorm living.

Is your dorm room turning into a pig sty? Tidy up and keep the peace!

Chiot's Run / Susy Morris

Hands off: If it’s not yours: don’t touch!  It might be incredibly tempting to borrow your dorm roommate’s iPod, snack, or even clothing (especially if you have neglected your own laundry lately) – but don’t!  Starting the borrowing game without permission is only going to lead to hurt feelings and plenty of conflict, especially if something accidentally gets lost or broken! Keep the peace and keep your hands off of anything that doesn’t belong to you.

Boundaries: It’s important from the start to lay down a few ground rules, like preferred visiting hours or quiet time or when it’s just too late to listen to a dorm roommate texting someone at 3 in the morning! If there are specific times that one or both of you would prefer to have quiet for studying, make sure that that is something that you work out before there are any problems!

Clean Up: So, yes, there are plenty of other things you would probably prefer to do with your time than cleaning — but no one likes living with a slob. When space is at a premium, it’s important to keep things tidy – so there’s more room for you to live (and less chance of stubbed toes or lost homework). If your things keep creeping over the “Great Divide” you probably want to start thinking “dorm organization” — get to cleaning and organizing now rather than later!

Neglecting your laundry? Resist the temptation to dig through your roommate's clothing!

suzettesuzette / Suzette Pauwels

Jot It Down: Did someone stop by your dorm room looking for your roommate? Make sure to let your roommate know: it’s just good manners. After all, if someone stops by to see you, wouldn’t you like your dorm roommate to return the favor?

Branch out: Just because you live together doesn’t mean you have to spend every single waking minute together!  It’s great that you get along with your new dorm roommate and are total BFFs – just don’t forget to branch out a little too. Make friends outside of your dorm room. The people who live on the same floor as you and are in your classes are a great place to start. Don’t feel like you have to include your roommate on every little thing – but don’t feel hurt if they do the same.