College Dorm Shopping Project

Shopping for a dorm is a necessary task if you are heading to college, and can be quite a daunting experience if you’ve never done it before!  It seems like college students today need a lot more as incoming freshman than what I ever needed in four years of college (many moons ago)!  I discovered this when preparing to send my first born off to college a few years ago and as we look forward to repeating it with child number two next summer.  Having that experience prompted me to create this project to help students see what colleges suggest they bring and the cost involved.  It also allows them to discern between what they will truly use and need versus what they don’t, eliminating a lot of excess spending!  This is a real eye-opener for students as they prepare for moving into dormitory living!


  • Explain to students that it’s time to go shopping for their dorm.  What do they think they will need? Share responses.


  • iPads or Laptops
  • Highlighter (if not doing this project digitally)


  • Provide students with a list of items with specified quantities.  Ask them to “purchase” all of it even if they don’t think they will need/use the item(s). When “purchasing”, students have to locate a picture of the item, include the cost and the name of the store the item is coming from.
  • After shopping and calculating a grand total, students must answer some follow-up questions. These questions ask them to reflect on the amount they purchased, the grand total and whether there was anything they used/needed that was not on the list.
  • Students were then asked to highlight those items they would not need/use or find necessary to have in college.  For example, I’ve had many students tell me that an iron is unnecessary because they don’t use one now, why would they buy one for college!  Sigh!!
  • Students then compare their final list to an actual college “What to Bring List” such as this one or this one and compare. Students recalculate their totals, noting the amount of money saved by only purchasing what was truly necessary.
  • Finally, students are asked to generate some ways they could save money on the items that really are a necessity.


Image courtesy of khongkitwiriyachan at Free Digital Photos

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