Shopping List for Today’s College Student…

dorm room

In my tiny town we have no Target. We barely have department stores–the ones we have are “economy-sized”. And trendy clothes stores are few and far between. There is no Container Store, to my dismay. And we live in a college town, where the college grows by leaps and bounds each year. To add to my annual shopping misery, we happen to be the county seat for our rural county. Thus, back-to-school shoppers abound at pretty much one store–Walmart. To go to Walmart at this time of year is to invite oneself to a demolition derby of human beings. I learned a loooooooooooooong time ago that one should not get between a mother and the last wide-ruled 3-subject spiral notebook in the joint.

While I can largely avoid the school supply aisle now that my kids are all past adolescence, one college student remains. And if you think it’s painful to shop for 3 elementary or junior high school students at this time of year, wait until you see what a college student now requires! Gone are the days where they merely took clothes, a plug-in coffee pot and a 1 cubic foot refrigerator that might hold a couple of apples and oranges. Most college dorms are now going to “suite-style” housing units, where 4 students share 2 bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room. They each have their own room, too. So, today’s college student requires the following:

  • One 3 cubic ft. refrigerator (in case the roomies steal food out of the suite refridge)
  • One small microwave
  • One flat screen TV with remote
  • One bathroom rug
  • One bedroom rug
  • One bean bag type chair (that they’ll never use)
  • 1 shower curtain
  • 1 shower curtain liner
  • 1 set of shower curtain hooks
  • 1 TP holder (Don’t assume these pricey dorms come with one!)
  • Posters to cover all the vertical surfaces in 4 countries
  • Command strips to hold the posters, fake window treatments and jackets (Don’t assume they still put hooks in dorm closets anymore.)
  • 1 lamp with light bulb (that will light up Australia)
  • Cube-shaped shelving (They don’t put bookshelves in dorms anymore.)
  • Silverware for 14 (because some of it will invariably go missing throughout the year)
  • Unbreakable Plates for 14 (See above)
  • 1 cheap set of pots and pans (because the good stuff gets ripped off)
  • 1 set of cheap cooking utensils/gadgets (because the good stuff gets ripped off)
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Plastic cups for 14 (usually sporting the favorite team’s logo somewhere)
  • 1 silverware tray
  • Microwave popcorn and ramen noodles for an entire 3rd world nation
  • Bottled water (because drinking the tap stuff would absolutely kill them)
  • Granola bars (only the expensive ones with chocolate will usually suffice)
  • Microwave macaroni and cheese (It will take a year to learn how to do it the cheap way.)
  • 2 dish towels
  • 2 bottles of dish soap
  • 2 jugs of dishwasher soap
  • 1 spiral notebook, college-ruled
  • 1 laptop with accident protection for infinity (Expect them to spill something on said laptop.)
  • 2 charger cords for said laptop (Do they put them through the washer???)
  • 1 smart phone with 2 sets of ear buds (See above)
  • 2 charger cords for the smart phone (See laptop charger cords for why.)
  • Extension cords and surge protectors for every outlet in their domain
  • 1 game system they snuck out of the house when Mom and Dad weren’t looking
  • Games for all game systems on the planet that they also snuck out of the house
  • 1 Kindle/Nook with 2 charger cords
  • Rented Textbooks (for those not yet on Kindle or Nook)
  • 1 queen-sized mattress pad (Yes, queen-sized. Twins are for nerds.)
  • 1 queen-sized memory foam pad
  • 1 set of queen-sized sheets (if for a guy)
  • 2 sets of queen-sized sheets (if for a girl)
  • 1 queen-sized comforter
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toilet bowl brush
  • Bath and shower soap (Bars don’t cut it anymore.)
  • 2 sets of towels (if for a girl)
  • 7 sets of towels (if for a guy)
  • 1 medium-sized bottle of laundry detergent (if for a guy)
  • 1 large-sized bottle of laundry detergent (if for a girl)
  • 2 boxes of color-catcher sheets (if for a guy)
  • 1 bottle of laundry softener (if for a girl)
  • 1 bottle of stain remover (if for a girl)
  • 1 giant box of dryer sheets (if for a girl)
  • Fire extinguisher for the guys in case of fires, filthy dryer lint filters or other “experiments”
  • TP for an army (Because some poor unsuspecting prof’s yard-full of trees need decorating)
  • Paper towels for an army
  • Clorox wipes for an army
  • 1 ratty old T-shirt and a pair of shorts (for pajamas for a guy)
  • 14 pairs of cute PJs in assorted styles and colors (if for a girl)
  • 2 bathrobes (if for a girl)
  • 1 ridiculously long key chain (if for a guy)
  • 2 cute key chains (if for a girl)
  • 5 purses (in a variety of sizes, if for a girl)
  • 1 backpack (if for a guy)
  • 1 swim suit (because all Universities now have “lazy river” swimming pools, if for a guy)
  • 3 swim suits (one to look cute in, one to swim in, and one to sunbathe in–if for a girl)
  • 1 beach towel (if for a guy)
  • 2 beach towels (if for a girl, that coordinate with the swim suits)
  • 7 sets of workout wear (All universities have climbing walls, 8000 treadmills, stairmasters and recumbent bikes, and every fitness class on the planet for every level of fitness)
  • 14 sets of casual clothing (if for a guy)
  • 14 pairs of underwear (if for a guy–they never wash anything!)
  • 7 pairs of flip-flops in assorted colors
  • 2 pairs of tennis shoes (one for fall/winter; one for spring/summer)
  • 1 pair of dressy shoes (if for a guy)
  • 5 binders in assorted colors
  • 1 package of highlighters
  • 28 sets of casual clothing (if for a girl)
  • 8 pairs of underwear (if for a girl)
  • 14 pairs of flip-flops (if for a girl)
  • 7 pairs of casual and dressy shoes (if for a girl)
  • 1 pair of cute rain boots (if for a girl)
  • 2 shoe organizers (if for a girl)
  • 1 rain jacket (if for a guy)
  • 1 winter jacket (if for a guy)
  • 2 rain jackets (if for a girl)
  • 4 winter jackets (if for a girl)
  • Toiletries
  • Lots of Sunscreen (if for a girl. Guys won’t need this because the girls will put it on them. I just made you an insomniac, didn’t I?)
  • Acne wash supplies, preferably for the entire faction of Dauntless
  • Enough makeup for every girl on campus (if for a girl)
  • 1 partridge in a pear tree
  • Bird seed for 32 weeks


They won’t use any of this stuff until Finals Week:

  • 1 bottle of multi-vitamins
  • 1 bottle of Vitamin C
  • 1 bottle of Beta-Carotene
  • 1 bottle of Vitamin E
  • 1 bottle of B-Complex
  • 1 bottle of cranberry tablets
  • 1 bottle of Ibuprofen
  • 1 package of their favorite allergy meds
  • 1 box of bandaids
  • 1 bottle of aloe vera lotion


I wonder why the newest item in my closet is 12 years old. This is before we pay the room, board and tuition bills. And yet, we still love them and shed a few tears when we say goodbye to them.

Friday’s Post: Are you doing your ONE thing? And…..the September Book Club Announcement!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under Fun Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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