Dorm Shopping for Mount St Mary's University
College

Dorm Shopping: 5 Tips for a Stress-Free Experience

Dorm shopping is one of the most exciting things you’ll do before college. Picking out decorations, bedding, and other essentials can be super fun, but at the same time, with so much to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! My freshman year of college, I spent lots of time browsing Pinterest and the seemingly never-ending lists of things to buy seemed a little scary. Luckily, dorm shopping can be a stress-free experience as long as you are prepared, patient, and have an open mind! On the blog today, I’m sharing 5 tips to have a stress-free dorm shopping experience. Enjoy planning and shopping for your dorm rather than worrying over whether you can get it all done!

Dorm Shopping for Mount St Mary's University

With a huge leap like moving into a college dorm comes needing lots of stuff. From bedding to school supplies to toiletries, to storage and everything in between, the list seems never ending! This doesn’t have to mean that your life while dorm shopping is stressful and tense. I had the best time shopping for my freshman year dorm and can’t wait to plan out what I need for sophomore year.

Need ideas for all things dorm-related? Check out my Dorm board on Pinterest!

Let’s dive into 5 tips that will help you have a stress-free, awesome dorm shopping experience!

Don’t panic.

Everything is going to work out! When you first start thinking about all of the items and things you need to purchase for your new dorm room, it can be really overwhelming and freak you out. Don’t let this happen to you! Just remember that this is a positive thing and you are going to be okay.

In addition, it’s easy to feel nervous when shopping because things become real. You’re moving away from home, and you are going to have an entire new lifestyle at college! There are a lot of changes on the way. It’s okay to be nervous about change as long as you accept that there is a path you’re on for a reason. Everything works out in the end, and no matter how hard a change or situation may feel, you’ll adapt and life will be totally awesome for you!

Make lists to guide you, not to check off.

This one may sound a bit self-contradicting, but it’s really important not to look at dorm shopping lists like school supply or grocery lists. Every ‘essential’ and shopping list is different, and every dorm is different. Some people need to furnish a full kitchen and bathroom their freshman year in a suite, and other people need shower caddies and can barely fit anything under the bed.

Take time to figure out the nooks and crannies of your specific needs and wants. Do you want to bring lots of organizational pieces to make your dorm neat? Are you more focused on decor and having a super home-y dorm? Write down essentials, but during shopping, don’t be afraid to purchase things not on your list or “on theme”. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun!

I’ve been using lists for multiple things during the dorm shopping process. First, I searched Pinterest and read through tons of shopping list, essential lists, and more. Then, I wrote down a master list with everything I could think of that I needed. I only used this list after major shopping trips, when I was taking an inventory of what we’d purchased.

Next, I’d cross off and add items as needed. Then I’d rewrite the list a little neater, and change things as I went along.

Finally, I wrote lists of what was in each bin as I packed for college. This made dorm shopping and cataloging all of the items (and their whereabouts in my packing bins!) much easier.

Shop with family or friends.  

There are so many great reasons to tackle dorm shopping with friends or family. First, I always need a second opinion on what to buy, what colors I should do, which towel or sheets are the softest, and of course, logistical things, like whether to buy batteries, laundry detergent vs pods, or even which mattress pad is the best!

Next, I absolutely believe that shopping is a really fun experience. My mom and I talked about how excited we were for dorm shopping for months before I even picked a college! We’ve had a blast browsing stores, filling carts, and planning out the colors and decor for my new dorm.

Finally, it’s a lot more enjoyable and effective to have help. My dad and sister have been so helpful along the way, from pushing the cart while I get distracted by sets of rose gold bowls (this happens a lot) to bringing ideas to the table I never would’ve thought about.

Dorm Shopping with the Fam

Check out multiple stores.

No one’s perfect dorm room is the same, and every store caters to certain types of buyers. Don’t be hesitant to look for deals, and on the other hand, some things are worth splurging on. For example, a quality mattress topper will absolutely save your sleep in college! But a $40 set of bowls from Pottery Barn is probably not the smartest investment, especially since you won’t be doing much cooking (or none at all if you’re in a traditional dorm).

I’ve done most of my dorm shopping at Target. I got tons of inexpensive and yet genius organizational things at Ikea. I picked up a lot at Marshall’s as well as a few things at HomeGoods, too. Check out all of these places for great deals and really quality products.

Oh, and for quality bed accessories like mattress toppers and pillows, I recommend Kohl’s! They have a great selection and are not overpriced.

Divide and conquer.

It’s not a good idea to wait until the last minute to go dorm shopping, and on the same token, it’s a bad idea to try and do everything in one day. While I waited until the end of summer to do my dorm shopping, I didn’t wait until the last minute or day before moving in. I knew once I moved home from the beach I would have lots more time to shop.

I think dividing up your trips is a good idea, too. The first day we went dorm shopping, my family and I only went to Ikea, since we knew it was a huge place and a good starting point. Plus, the Ikea closest to my house is around an hour away. On this trip, the focus was getting a few organizational things and whatever else we spotted along the way.

My mom and I did the bulk of my shopping one late afternoon and evening, where we hit Target and many other stores. By dividing up your shopping into multiple trips, you’ll be less prone to get stressed out or overwhelmed, and you’ll have time in between to sort out your purchases and to do lists!

I hope these tips were helpful for anyone dorm shopping. It’s such an exciting time and there’s no reason to be stressed while doing something that should be so fun!

Bonus Dorm Shopping Tips

  • Think about what colors you want to be highlighted in your room. I didn’t pick one color scheme and stick to it, but I did have an idea of certain colors I knew I wanted to be featured!
  • Make sure to get the essentials. I’ve seen lots of people who were overly concerned with getting the perfect wall art that they forgot a mattress pad or Lysol wipes.
  • Think about where you will be storing things in your dorm. Remember, your room is likely going to be pretty small. Practical storage is key! Trust me, you do not want a messy, cluttered dorm room if you can avoid it.
  • Don’t be afraid to go into a store without a list. Browsing is part of the fun of dorm shopping. You never know what you might find and love!

Let me know your favorite stores for dorm shopping in the comments. 

Thanks for reading!

Kaitlin's Signature at thecuriouslemon blog

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