Will you really make popcorn so often that you need a popcorn maker in your college dorm?
Browse any retailer around major shopping times, and you’ll see all the campus “essentials”: blenders, popcorn makers, indoor grills, toasters, coffee makers, toaster ovens. There are electric toothbrushes and electric razors, and that doesn’t even include your laptop and printer, digital camera, cell phone and MP3 player.
Share this list of what you’ll really need at college with your parents, and save the rest of your family’s cash for tuition.
Laptops with Wi-Fi can be helpful to students, says Kiersten Murphy, a college consultant with Murphy College Consultants in Seattle.
“College campuses are virtually wireless. I think [having a laptop] gives them more freedom for choosing work space and going to class and typing notes,” Murphy says. But although laptops can be helpful, they can also be distractions.
“Let’s say a student shows up at a lecture with a laptop because it’s easier to type to take notes,” says Troy Hammond, a counselor at Bayview Glen School in Toronto. “But are they being distracted by using e-mail and doing Web searches when the professor is speaking?” Check your college bookstore for discounts on computers and software.
Our recommendation: A laptop is the way to go. If you can’t afford a laptop, there’s still a place for bringing a desktop computer to college. And if you can’t afford either, scope out the many computer labs on campus, and plan your paper writing accordingly.
Having a printer in your room can save you from trudging across campus in the middle of the night to print a paper.
“Here it is, 3 o’clock in the morning. Are you really going to wander on campus to print something?” says Rob Burckhard, a recent grad of Binghamton University in New York.
Our recommendation: A printer is a great thing to have. Families on a budget, however, can skip a printer and purchase a memory stick instead. That way, you can save your work, slip it in your pocket, and print it in a campus computer lab.
One student in Burckhard’s college dorm had a 40-inch, high-tech television. “I said, ‘Here we are in public school. You really don’t need this,’” he says.
Our recommendation: Students may want a TV, but families on a budget should consider it a luxury item. If you have the extra cash, spend it on a laptop instead and use it to watch DVDs or TV online.
Most universities do not allow exposed coils, so toasters and hot plates may be off limits and fire hazards.
Check with your school before you spend money on appliances that may be confiscated. And give thought to how often you’ll really use an appliance. Also don’t forget one of the benefits of
on-campus living: your meal plan.
“You’re paying for a meal plan most likely in college. Why would you need a George Forman Grill or a blender?” Murphy says.
And though a coffeemaker is a good money-saving appliance if you can’t get going without a cup of joe, it’s not necessary if you’re just an occasional caffeine junky.
After all, leaving your college dorm for a coffee or a meal is important to the college social experience.
Our recommendation: Stick to a mini-fridge (for your water bottle, restaurant leftovers and maybe some juice) and maybe a microwave. Leave the rest in the stores.