Well, you did it. You've graduated and been accepted to your dream college. So now what? Even though you have the whole summer ahead of you to get ready for this next chapter, getting ready to go away for school does require some planning ahead.
For me, living in a dorm was sort of like one awesome extended sleepover. Unfortunately, it also costs a heck of a lot more than I expected just to move into my dorm room in the first place. If you're heading off to college for the first time, make sure to plan accordingly. You'll need a bunch of new stuff, and it's going to cost you some money.
Thinking of raiding your parents' linen closet instead of buying new bedding? Think again. Most college dorm beds require extra-long sheets--the type your folks aren't likely to have. Taking stuff like pillows and blankets from home isn't a great idea either. If you haul it all away to college, it won’t be there when you come home to visit, and lugging a comforter back and forth just isn't going to work. Your best bet is to buy new bedding, and you can expect to spend at least $75 for a basic set.
Sure, you'll probably spend a fair amount of time studying and going out with friends, but you'll still want some basic entertainment in the comfort of your dorm room. This means there's a good chance you'll need to buy a TV, and probably a DVD player to go along with it. These days, you can score a DVD player for as little as $30-40, but a decent TV might cost you $400 or more.
Your room and board fees should cover a basic meal plan, but what happens when you get hungry at 3:00 in the morning during an all-night study session? Midnight (or post-midnight) munchies are common among college students, and to indulge your craving, you'll need to invest in a mini fridge. Some schools have these available for rent, but that might cost you almost as much as buying your own. Most models start around $65. Throw in a microwave, and you're looking at over $100 to ensure a steady supply of food and snacks.
A New Laptop
The laptop you used throughout high school--you know, the one whose battery dies after 12 minutes--probably isn't going to cut it once you get to college. You're going to have notes to type up during class and papers to write, so you'll need a reliable laptop from the start. While you can go cheaper, the average laptop will run you about $600. Throw in a printer, and you're looking at another $100.
You'll need to invest in a new wardrobe if you're going away to school in a different area of the country. If you're headed for a warmer climate, you'll need to stock up on shorts and, if you're lucky, beachwear. On the other hand, if your school is known for its harsh (or in my case, extended) winters, you'll need to purchase snow boots, warm clothing and a serious supply of gloves.
Some colleges don't allow freshmen to have cars on campus, but if yours does, and there's no public transportation in town, you may be tempted to buy one. Even a used vehicle can cost several thousand dollars, so be sure to have a decent chunk of money on hand before you go car shopping.
Preparing for college can be stressful on many levels, but try not to let the cost of everything wreck what should otherwise be an exciting summer. Budget accordingly, and with any luck, you'll get all the stuff you need to start off on the right foot.
Photo by Yujean Park
By Maurie Backman Copyright 2015 brass Media, Inc.
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