Roomies: Sharing a small space means you have to be organized, as well as considerate. *MCT photo
Roomies: Sharing a small space means you have to be organized, as well as considerate. *MCT photo

It’s a weekend event that simultaneously excites and frightens parents — the dorm room move.

Students at Christopher Newport University (CNU), Hampton University and the College of William & Mary, among others around the state, will officially leave the nest soon, hauling loads of lamps, rugs and storage bins to their new — probably smaller — hearth.

The National Retail Federation in the US estimates that families with college students will spend an average of $907 to get their kids suited up with living essentials and school supplies this year.

So we asked some dorm resident advisors — do you need all that stuff?

Here’s what they said you should pack, and what you should leave behind.

Stay cool

You’re going to want to set your fan up first, says Brooke Hummel, a rising senior at William & Mary and a two-year resident advisor veteran.

“You’re moving in on a hot day, and you’re definitely going to want to cool down as you move in,” she says.

Jewel Long, dean of women at Hampton University, reminds students to bring fans along too, even though the dorm rooms have air conditioning.

“You’ll want to bring a flashlight, batteries and a fan, just in case something goes on with the electricity,” she says.

Stay organized

Dasha Godunova, a rising senior at William & Mary, is heading back for her third year as a resident advisor, and it’s all about organization for her.

“Never underestimate the power of a shoe organizer, especially if you have more than three pairs of anything,” she says.

She also recommends bringing buckets or dividers for drawers to make the most use of the space in your chest or dresser, and investing in a small, durable laundry basket.

“Often, collapsible mesh baskets are the most flexible for your space and the lightest to haul to the laundry room.”

A study lamp is a good tool, especially if you’re sharing your room, says Zach Stewart, a rising senior at CNU.

“You really do need a small personal light for studying if you have a roommate,” he says.

Brooke adds that raising your bed to use the space underneath is one of the most effective tools you have in college dorms.

You can purchase bed risers from stores like Bed Bath & Beyond for $9-$14. The risers can perform double duty and act as bedside power sources to plug in lamps, laptops, cellphones or e-readers. A set of four costs $25.

She also brought a large trunk with her to college, which she stores under her bed, to hold her linens and towels.

Feel at home

The girls, especially, have a hankering to transform their small space into a home.

“Over-the-door hangars allow you to hang those full-length mirrors you’ll want,” Brooke says.

“And everyone uses command strips and hooks to hang picture frames and bulletin boards, since we can’t use nails or tape.”

Jyness Williams, a rising senior at William & Mary and two-year resident advisor, says she brings a floor rug, decorative vases and a lamp to personalize her space.

“I always bring a plant with me; I have a bamboo tree,” she says.

“It makes me feel like I’m at home.”

For the boys, foliage would simply get in the way of their big screen TV.

A TV is considered essential, says Zach. He has been a resident advisor on campus for more than three years.

“Having a place to play your video games gives you a way to relax and take a break,” he says.

But bringing along your oversized HDTV can be a bad decision.

“It’s mostly the guys that bring in these huge TVs that take up half of their desks,” he says.

“They really don’t need all that. A smaller TV would be fine.”

As for the girls, they bring too many clothes.

“Most of these girls bring every clothing item they have with them, and it just won’t fit in the room,” he adds.

“You can’t bring everything you own.”

Extra furniture is usually a bad idea for dorm rooms, too. Essential furniture items are provided, and there simply isn’t enough room for others.

“You really need to coordinate with your roommate before you get to school,” Zach says.

“If you both bring Papasan chairs, there’s just not going to be anywhere to put them.”

Don’t forget the essentials

Jewel, of course, has academics in mind as she ticks off a list of essential dorm room paraphernalia.

Reference books, bathroom toiletries, an iron, an alarm clock and an umbrella are top on her list of suggestions.

After all, there isn’t much room in that small space for more than the essentials.

“I was once told that the best way to pack was to put everything together, and then take only half of it,” Dasha says.

“It takes time to haul up all of those boxes up three floors of stairs, only to find that there may not be enough room.

“My most sincere suggestion would be to take the basics, instead of everything you can possibly think of.

“I have never missed all of the extra items I left behind.”

Scholarship Recipients 2012