College junior addresses common misconceptions freshmen have about dorms, books.
One of my friends is leaving for his freshman year of college in a few weeks. I have known him for a long time, and worked closely with him when I was still in high school. He’s very excited to start his college career, but came to me asking for advice about an expensive purchase:
“What size TV is good for an average dorm room?”
There were several ways to answer this question, because I know students who dealt completely fine without a television, and others whose parents funded 40″ HDTVs that barely fit in a small room. I stressed the importance of spending a bit more for a good brand, as opposed to spending less for a poor product that might not last as long as promised.
For me, I bought a 22″ television that fit perfectly on top of my dresser. Truth be told, I did not use it as frequently as I thought, due to my romanticized view of college.
Overall, it’s not our fault that we see staged photos in college brochures of happy, racially-balanced groups of “friends” watching TV in a color-coordinated dorm room. As newbies, we have difficulties distinguishing reality versus expectations.
If you plan on being a good student, and involved with several activities, you will have less time than you think to watch TV, let alone do laundry, clean your room, and go to the gym.
Having a TV is a great way to attract friends to your room, but be sure to find one you know is within your price range, but also a quality product. Never skimp on electronics that will need to last you at least four years.
Another question I received was about room decor. One of my friends’ sisters asked me the following:
“I want to bring posters, picture frames, and other mementos. Is that seen as too much?”
Everything you bring to your dorm room must be able to fit in a car or on a plane, along with your essentials. Most importantly, those decorative items must be able to fit in your dorm without taking up too much valuable space or breaking fire code.
Basically, if you have a giant poster of your best friends that is large and fragile, it might be a good idea to leave it at home. That’s not to say you cannot bring framed pictures of your friends! Just keep in mind that your Resident Assistant will review your room after you move in, and is sure to check that you have a certain amount of wall-hangings that doesn’t violate code. At my school, it’s quite strict.
One last question I answered, was important since it affects all students:
“Ugh, books are so expensive! I really don’t want to spend over $500 at the bookstore. Is that the only option?”
Buying books at your campus bookstore is a last resort. I made the mistake of buying my first semester, freshman year books at the bookstore. Guess how much I sold the books back for? Less than half of the purchase price. One book was so specialized that the professor updated it every year, and my edition was about to be discontinued. Needless to say, I was not happy that I had to give away a $70 book.
Renting textbooks has become increasingly more popular, especially with the escalating price of higher education. I rent as many of my books from Chegg.com as I can each semester. Renting books cuts costs significantly, and you still receive new or gently used books. There is free shipping and the company plants a tree in a deforested area for each order you purchase. At the end of each semester, I tend to ceremoniously pack my books back into the Chegg boxes, tape them up, and drop them off at the UPS Dropbox in the center of Ithaca. Done.
If you like to write in your books, you can purchase books for cheap on eBay, Half, or Amazon. At the end of the semster you can keep your books, sell them online, or sell them to an authorized reseller on campus.
Parents and students! If you have any college-related questions, feel free to comment on this story or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Did You Gain the Freshman 15? (fitsugar.com)
- How Colleges and Students Differ: The Intangibles (education.com)
- College Dorm Checklist: What You Really Need To Bring (livingrichwithcoupons.com)
- Open House: What Was Your Most Memorable College Living Situation? (casasugar.com)
- Great Gifts for the College-Bound Kid (education.com)
- FIRST steps (womenoverboard.wordpress.com)
- Yahoo! Search Trends: Teens going online to prepare for college life (ysearchblog.com)
- Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D.: As Kids Head to College, Keep a Healthy Focus (huffingtonpost.com)