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Dorm Life 101

From Roommates to Meal Plans, Everything A Parent Needs to Know


Packing your freshman off to college is an emotional, complicated process. Here's everything a parent needs to know about dorm life.

1. Choosing a Dorm

Students relaxing in dorm room.
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Doubles or triples, freshman or mixed classes, suites or floors, special interest, gender neutral... could choosing a dorm get any more complicated? Here's the lowdown on the different types of college housing and what it means for your child.

2. The Dorm Room Shopping List

Photo by Jackie Burrell
When it comes to outfitting the college dorm, you can ignore those glossy shelter magazines with the fabulous dorm layouts. Here’s what you actually need to buy (plus a handy downloadable list to take along).

3. High School Friends & College Roommates

Photo by Sanja Gjenero, Stock.Xchng
Rooming with a best friend from high school is certainly tempting. There’s no awkward first meeting or weirdness of living with a stranger. But college students say it’s a lousy idea. Here are four reasons why.

4. Coed Dorm Rooms??

Photo courtesy of Dominic Morel
More than 30 colleges, from Stanford to Harvard, offer coed dorm rooms or gender neutral housing. Here's what that means and whether it's likely to affect your child.

5. Choosing a Dorm Meal Plan

Photo courtesy of Damion Miller, Stock.Xchng Photos
Most college dorms offer a variety of meal plans, ranging from 10 to 19 meals a week, but it's a rare college kid who actually eats every dining hall meal. So how do you figure out how much of a dorm meal plan your college kid needs?

6. Dorm Decor on the Cheap

Photo courtesy of Martin Carter, Stock.Xchng
Got a teen moving into a dorm or a first apartment? Here are four things you can do to help your child outfit that dorm room or first apartment in frugal green style.

7. Crafts to Decorate the Dorm Room

Photo by Jackie Burrell
Dorm rooms can be spartan affairs without some cozy touches and reminders of home. But a soft fleece blanket, photo thumbtacks and other cool, inexpensive craft ideas will add pizazz to any college kid's dorm decorating plans, without costing a fortune.
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