Home Away from Home

Pinterest offers a myriad of decorating ideas for any dorm room.

The differences between sons and daughters moving into a dorm room

All moms want their children’s rooms at college to be homey, but boys certainly care less about this than girls do. I have had the pleasure of raising two boys and one girl to to send off to college; the boys are out of college now, and my daughter is going to be a freshman this fall. It occurred to me that the packing and decor process would be extremely different—and likely much more expensive—this time around.

My kids are on the far ends of each spectrum when it comes to exhibiting typical examples of their gender…my boys are  very boy-like and could care less about anything but sports, and my daughter is very girly, fashion-conscious, and needs all decor to be “cute.” From my perceptions of my kids, I think the difference is that boys just need a place to sleep and dump their things, while girls view their dorm room as their home and plan for it to be a mixture of the comfort of their room at home and their first foray out into the world.” My daughter is starting to plan, gather her things, and add to her Pinterest board. As of this writing, she is at 90 pins and it’s only the beginning of June (seriously, check out the dorm insanity on Pinterest—it is mind-boggling).

Below are a variety of necessities that will most likely head off to college with your child this fall. Based on my observations over the years, here is some advice on the differences in gathering these items for girls versus boys. I’ll explain if I think it’s better for the STUDENT to pack, because “mom might get it wrong” OR if the MOM should pack because, well … you do want them to survive the first year, don’t you?

Luggage

Girls: STUDENT

…must have newly purchased Lily Pulitzer coordinated bags.

Boys: MOM

if the student selects they will come up with an old duffel bag previously used for sports and likely not smelling very fresh. Or a simple trash bag.

Sheets & pillows

Girls: STUDENT

…because they have to be cute, right?

Boys: MOM

…because if you don’t pack it they’ll just sleep on the bare mattress. Seriously, I have witnessed this with my own eyes. And don’t bother with the second set of sheets…they won’t change them all semester.

*check the size of the mattresses at the dorm-many colleges have long size single mattresses and standard single sheets will not fit. Bed Bath and Beyond knows all about this.

Mattress cover

Girls: STUDENT

…because, it’s a mattress and who knows who else has been sleeping on it?

Boys: MOM

…because, it’s a mattress and who knows who else has been sleeping on it?

The Basket for dirty laundry dirty socks

Laundry supplies

Girls: STUDENT

…adorable hamper found on pinterest, laundry detergent, woolite, mesh bags for delicates, dryer sheets, drying rack for drip-dry clothes, color-coordinated hangers, and shoe-organizing racks.

Boys: MOM

…They will need the largest plastic hamper with handles you can find because they won’t do laundry until they bring the hamper home with them on breaks for mom to do it. OR they’ll wait till they have absolutely not a stitch left to wear and then spend a day and a half with the huge hamper washing everything they own in the dorm laundry room. Or they will only wash what is needed for that day.

Towels

Girls: STUDENT

…monogrammed, with a preferably matching comforter. Enough to use one every day between laundry days.

Boys: MOM

…because otherwise they’ll just dry themselves off with a t-shirt from the hamper. Only pack one so they need to use it every day, otherwise extra ones will get stuffed somewhere and get moldy.

Toiletries

Girls: STUDENT

…because there’s way too much and mom will pack the wrong thing

Boys: STUDENT

…because they only need a toothpaste/brush, deodorant, soap, and shampoo,  and hopefully they can manage at least this basic packing?

Clothing

Girls: STUDENT

…because mom will pack all practical comfortable stuff and nothing that looks good.

Boys: STUDENT

…with mom caveat: they will only pack what is in season on the day of the packing, which in August in Warrenton would be shorts and t-shirts. They might throw in a sweatshirt. But if they are going north for school, they will likely have snow and very cold weather before Thanksgiving break, and they will not have a coat and will wander the campus in shorts. Again, I have witnessed this with my own eyes.

Room Decor

Girls: STUDENT

…following the dorm room decor on Pinterest. Must haves: cute curtains, comforter, throw pillows, laundry hamper–all color coordinated and matching every single thing in the room. All of these details have been discussed extensively with her roommate ahead of time. A clock (to complement decor only, because everyone just looks at their phones for the time anyway). Twine to string photos across walls. Cute, color-coordinated baskets for storing anything and everything. Mirror … because, of course. Twinkly Christmas lights, and scented wax melting pot (no candles allowed in dorms, no matter how cute). Desk decor: color-coordinated file folders, pen holders, notebooks.

Boys: STUDENT

…a sports poster. But they will not worry about how to hang it and will then just crumple it up and stuff it under the bed. Maybe a Budweiser sign. Everything else is just N/A.

Sports paraphernalia

Girls: STUDENT

…because mom will forget something.

Boys: STUDENT

…because mom will forget something.

*caveat: regardless of the sport, both girls and boys will need hundreds of dollars of new equipment before departing for college.

Other items

Girls will need a small refrigerator to keep sophisticated food like hummus, fresh mozzarella, fresh vegetables, yogurt, and fruit cold. Boys will need it for beer. Girls will need a microwave to cook a number of sophisticated recipes specifically for microwaves that are neatly cataloged on a Pinterest board and for which the dry ingredients are already purchased and packed. Boys might do an occasional cup-o-noodles.

…I’d like to ask everyone to wish me luck as I help this daughter of mine pack for school!

Pam Kamphuis
About Pam Kamphuis 6 Articles
Pam Kamphuis is an editor and writer for Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*