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There are do’s and don’ts for furnishing a dorm room at Keystone College.

The high school graduation cap and gown have been cleaned and safely stored away. The initial college paperwork is done and the first-semester bill has been paid (gulp!).

The roommates have met.

Two weeks before my Carolyn leaves for college, what else is there to do but go shopping?

Back-to-school clothes shopping? No worries. Been there, done that. But dorm shopping, that’s new to her. Sure, her older sisters did it “a few” years ago, but they did it a little too well, for the first year, at least. In their determination to never go without during the first time living on their own, they might have overpacked just a bit.

Carlyle Hicks, director of residence life at Keystone College in LaPlume, said taking too much stuff to college is a common mistake. The director of Keystone’s six residence halls and three houses said students too often “are bringing everything they own to school.”

“Students often forget that they will be returning home at the end of each semester,” he said.

Another common mistake, according to Hicks, is bringing several packages of food and drinks.

“They will have access to those items throughout the academic year,” the director said. “I’ve seen many unopened packages discarded when students move out.”

Hicks said it is important to be practical and keep the size of your dorm room in mind when shopping and packing.

The majority of dorm rooms at Keystone College are one of two sizes, Hicks said – 12-by-10-foot and 10-by-10-foot, for two-person occupancy.

Many colleges and universities like Keystone post suggested dorm room packing lists on their websites. The Keystone list includes items such as a laptop or computer, power strip with surge protector, extra-long sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, alarm clock, calendar, plastic shower caddy, soap, laundry basket and detergent, area rug, desk lamp, trash can and trash bags, bowls, cups, plates and utensils and a can opener. A complete list is available at

Carolyn is using a similar list from her school, Lehigh University, as a guide.

Here is Hicks’ best shopping/packing advice:

Consult with your roommate prior to moving in.

“Bulky items such as TVs, game systems and microfridges can be shared to alleviate overcrowding in the room,” he said.

Remember that everything you bring with you, you will have to take back home.

Hicks noted, “Most colleges and universities do not have storage space to accommodate students’ belongings during the summer."

Make sure you are aware of the college’s policies regarding prohibited items.

“Many colleges do not allow candles, grills, dart boards, etc.,” he said.

In addition to these items mentioned by Hicks, others not accepted at Keystone College, according to its website, include halogen and lava lamps, unauthorized microwaves/refrigerators, air conditioners, space heaters, hot plates, wall paint and pets, with the exception of fish, frogs or other aquatic animal (10-gallon tank or smaller.)

Following the rules of your school will save a lot of unnecessary time and expense, and will eliminate the stress of dorm overload. Unpacking and arranging your new room will be a breeze, so you can get a head start on the fun of college life.