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Shopping for College & Getting Ready For Move In Day

me bbbCongratulations, your child is going to college!

Now you must face the task of shopping for the dorm room. It is a special time for parents and their college bound kids and a wonderful opportunity for more bonding as they’re headed out the door.

Some kids will be excited to shop for their new digs, others will drag their feet, not quite ready to leave the comforts of family and home.

Don’t be surprised if emotions run high during the summer before they leave. It’s all normal and part of the process as they pull away and we let them go.

It’s never too early to start shopping for college…emory dorm

Especially if your child has an eye on a super-plush foamy bed cushion that might sell out.  This is also a good time to stash away a few things you might want to send in a care package a month or two after move-in day, which can cheer up a homesick child or just be a lovely reminder that the family thinks of them.

When our youngest was going off to college, I waited until the last minute to shop. I was in complete denial that my baby girl 18-year-old daughter was moving across country and we would be empty nesters.

MichelleMini-Me and I had talked about decorating her dorm room for years! (It’s a girl thing. College-Boy made it easy on me, his only request something blue or with stripes.) Though neither of us was ready to make the first move because it would make it too real. However, once our toes crossed the threshold of the mother-ship Bed, Bath & Beyond we never looked back.

I couldn’t help myself when I saw something cute I thought she’d like, a neon green scissor, a furry purple pillow, in the cart they went. For me the hardest part was buying the bedding. I didn’t want to imagine her sweet head resting on any pillow other than the one at home.

Shop Till You Drop


Who’s your caddy?

It’s my second time around and as you would expect, it’s been a little easier. I have learned a few things along the way that I’ll share with you. You’ll want to visit Bed, Bath & Beyond which has a detailed list of what your student will need.

BBB even has a college finder that will provide you with an actual list of items for your particular school. So I hope you’ve been saving up those BBB coupons that come in the mail like I have!

Another great place for linens and towels is The Company Store and, bonus, they will monogram for free, which is fabulous to help avoid mix-ups considering many kids prefer white towels.

Once you’ve scratched linens and towels off your list head on over to The Container Store for colorful, stylish bath and desk accessories, storage units and space saving closet ideas. You can view a sampling of color-coordinated dorm rooms online and there’s even a Gift Registry for the graduate. 

BinsKeep in mind most dorm closets are small so you might want to consider buying plastic storage bins or drawers for under the bed to keep extra linens, sweaters, etc. FYI, Pottery Barn Dorm also has cute bedding and accessories that are pretty reasonable too. 

Packing Tip:
When shipping the drawers, fill them with the items you want stored so all you have to do is unpack and slip them under the bed. Also, I wash the sheets and towels before I pack, so it’s one less thing to do on move in day.

Reading Material

going to collegeThere are also some great books that College Boy’s high school college counselor recommended for us when he was leaving the nest. I was having a hard time letting go. Maybe you are too. (All are on Amazon).

For Parents:

Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only, A Parent’s Guide To The New College Experience by Harlan Cohen
When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin

For Students:

How To Survive Your Freshman Year (Hundreds of Heads Survival Guides)
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen
Do Your Laundry Or You’ll Die Alone: Advice your mom would give you if she thought you were listening by Becky Blades
U Chic: The College Girl’s Guide to Everything by Christie Garton

My personal favorite for Parents of Teens:

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony E. Wolf

Happy reading and shopping. Hope you have an easy and painless move in!

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any college tips or stories you’d like to share?

This is not a sponsored post, nor was any merchandise received. All opinions are my own.

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  • NotJune - So I started crying when talking to a friend about the fact that my boys are getting so big. They’re 8 & 5. So I can only imagine how you feel! At least you’ll have ongoing excuses to shop. And Pottery Barn Dorm and that BB&B school finder app? So cool!!!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Not June, I know the feeling. I get that way when I look at photos from my kids’ early years.ReplyCancel

  • Jordan - What great advice you have for parents. I don’t think I’ll ever use another BBB coupon until It’s time for this shopping trip!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Thanks, Jordan. Yeah, start saving them now. I don’t think they ever expire.ReplyCancel

  • Christina Simon - “The Naked Roommate” ah yes, those roommates. I didn’t have one of those, but I know a few people who did at UC Santa Cruz where the showers are/were co-ed.

    Even though its your second whirl at this college stuff, this time its your Mini-Me so I’d imagine it be harder in a way to let go.ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Mini-Me and she’s the “baby.” I wonder what kind of roommate stories she’ll have for me ;)ReplyCancel

    • Hayley - My son went to UCSC for a quarter. Students run outside naked the first time it rains. My son called me laughing hysterically when that scenario unfolded in front of him.ReplyCancel

  • Pauline Gaines - My oldest is in boarding school so I have some sense of what this process is like…but the thought of my youngest going to college? ACK! We’re still in the bedtime snuggle stage. Although I do like the idea of shopping for bedding and dorm room accoutrements…great mother-daughter bonding.ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - We still do some snuggling (shh…don’t tell!). The shopping is great for bonding, though I think she’s more interested in a new wardrobe than her dorm room, LOL.ReplyCancel

  • sarah - i hate to admit it, but i am already jonesing to decorate dorm rooms. i went to boarding school and LOVED getting my dorm rooms ready every year! best thing my parents did — and it’s different for college, because you share smaller spaces, in my experience — was my mother buying me a Kennedy rocker from LL Bean my freshman year of high school. i brought it to every subsequent dorm room, through high school and college, and even into my first several apartments. i loved it. so i vote for one nice thing — maybe a sturdy rug, or a small piece of furniture — that says HOME + PERSONAL IDENTITY + ADULTHOOD all wrapped into one, that can live into the future awhile …ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Great idea, Sarah! I love that!ReplyCancel

  • Missy - Mine are younger (8 and 6), but I was just thinking about them going off to college. It was a bit of a daydream actually. It sounds like you miss them once they are “gone” though. I will remind myself of this the next time I am counting the days until high school graduation!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Yes, exactly, there are days when they’re here you can’t wait for them to leave. But there will a lot of missing though. It’s easier to handle when you know they’re happy where they are. Fingers are crossed.ReplyCancel

  • BH Mom - Did our parents go through this stuff? Did they? I can’t remember. That probably means as a teenager I was so focused on my own world and learning to navigate through all the ‘newness’ that I didn’t notice teary mom and dad in the corner. In this scenario, if I had to pick, I’d be the teenager, not the parent!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Well, I don’t think I gave my mom a chance to get teary. I lived just down the hall from her in my college years. I should have lived in a dorm!ReplyCancel

  • Lisha @ TheLuckyMom - I held it together when the firstborn went off to college. But he’s a strong, independent, organized guy, and I knew he’d be fine. Brother #2 will be a senior this year, and I still have to “mother” him quite a bit. My fears may not be quite as casual this time next year when it’s his turn. We’ll see. :-DReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - My first off to college was a boy, this time it’s a girl (and the baby of the family). The whole experience feels so different.ReplyCancel

  • Hayley - Great tips. Hang in there Goddess. You may even like, no love it, when you experience your new found freedom!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Thanks, Hayley! There are certainly days where I’m already looking forward to it :)ReplyCancel

  • Danelle Brown - Oh man – I am dreading this day. I have two daughters – 11 and 9. I am getting ready to go school supply shopping today even. I cannot fathom buying dorm supplies. Now I understand why my mother cried so much when she helped me move in. I just thought she was being her normal mushy self.

    The other tip I would give is to buy them tools – I was the only one on my floor that had basic tools, screwdriver, hammer, etc.

    That and how to avoid the Freshman 15!

    Great post!ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Thanks, Danelle! Buying a set of tools and avoiding the Freshman 15 are excellent advice!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole @ Busy Mom in - I definitely do not look forward to this day, although it is approaching way too fast. I too will be in denial as long as possible. Thank you for the heads up on the shopping . I think it too will be the only part I will look forward too.ReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Nicole, the shopping is lots of fun. It’s the best part!ReplyCancel

  • Motherhood on the Ro - I’m gonna cry so hard when my daughter goes off to college. Thankfully we have 15 years, but still… I think about it every so often and well up with tears. hugsReplyCancel

    • Carpool Goddess - Thanks for commenting Motherhood on the Ro. Enjoy every minute with your precious daughter. Hugs to you too :)ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I need to save this for when my now high school sophomore leaves for college. Lots of great tips and lots of great memories from my college days…I remember all the coordinating with my roommate and finding the perfect comforter.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I need to save this for when my now high school sophomore leaves for college. Lots of great tips and lots of great memories from my college days…I remember all the coordinating with my roommate and finding the perfect comforter.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy Winter DeMel - I need to save this for when my now high school sophomore leaves for college. Lots of great tips and lots of great memories from my college days…I remember all the coordinating with my roommate and finding the perfect comforter.ReplyCancel

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