Welcome to Dorm IQ!
Dorm IQ is an exclusive educational series focused on dorm comfort, wellness, safety, and savings. This is a free learning series to help parents and students prepare for dorm life and dorm shopping while saving money and headaches along the way.
With 3 years of research, hands-on product testing, trend watching, price watching, and asking manufacturers endless questions, we’ve condensed our learnings and experiences into the Dorm IQ series.
Another great information source is the very active Dorm Shopping Facebook Group where members have been an incredible source of product feedback, design inspiration, and valuable insight into the VAST rules and regulations at colleges nationwide.
The objectives of this series are to:
- Proactively educate dorm shoppers
- Answer the most popular FAQ’s asked in the Facebook group
- Ensure you can find the best dorm products at the best prices
With college applications underway and decisions coming in, now is the time to start learning and planning for dorm shopping. The more you understand in advance, the less overwhelming AND expensive the dorm shopping process will be for you.
You are reading the welcome “module”.. As you reach the end of this page, you’ll see a link to go to the next topic. New topics will be released regularly throughout November and December until all 20+ topics have been covered.
First Things First: General Dorm Shopping Guidelines
Just reading the next few paragraphs will save you headaches, money and time, and each of the series’ topics will continue to add your Dorm IQ.
Don’t Start Too Early!
Every dorm is different these days. Different setups, layouts, bed sizes, bathroom types, laundry facilities, rules, restrictions and allowances. Until you know your dorm assignment, please hold off on shopping except for a subset of items that are useful and most likely allowed in any situation.
Also consider roommates and timing before shopping. You might decide with your roommate(s) to have a certain color scheme or find out that the roommate already has a great rug or mini-fridge.
Beware Products Marketed As “Dorm Room Essentials”
There is an unfortunate amount of low quality “dorm essentials” on the market, and a majority of these products are marketed by less reputable international manufacturers.
Common business practices of these overseas manufacturers with the funny names:
- Heavily advertise to get their products to the top of the pile.
- Buy positive reviews.
- Put claims of certifications in their graphics rather than in the text of a listing. This is to avoid being caught by text readers trying to validate content. The good news is that validation technology can read graphics now, but it is a red flag if that is the only place you see it. More on the important certifications in future topics.
- Hike up the ‘usual list price’ and then put a big SALE tag on it that looks exciting, but really just brings the price close to where it usually is.
In addition to these individual low-quality items, you’ll also encounter dorm bundles and dorm value sets. You may even get an email or a flyer from your college about these.
Sure these seem easy and less expensive, but the quality is LOW. The bedding is thin and not certified toxin-free. It’s all made overseas with various levels of quality control and questionable materials. These packages also tend to come with many pieces to make them seem like a bargain, but you won’t need or use many of the items. A 75-piece set for $299 sounds great, but please do your due diligence.
Be Cautious About Retailer Marketplaces
This caution is relevant no matter your shopping list! Dorm, home, gifts, clothes, shoes, electronics, etc.
Many of the common business practices mentioned above aren’t new, but you primarily saw them only at the one big online retailer where individual sellers create their own products and product listings.
Today, many other retailers have introduced marketplaces to their online shopping experiences including Target, Walmart, Home Depot, even Kohl’s. A marketplace means that the retailer opens up their e-commerce platform to 3rd party sellers and allows them to sell direct to the consumer. We don’t love this. These sellers don’t necessarily uphold the retailer’s more generous return or replacement policies or offer much, if any, customer service as you may be accustomed to with the primary retailer.
How will you know if there is a 3rd party seller? There should be an indication near the price that says something like “Sold By <Company Name>” or “Sold And Shipped By”. In some cases, if we know a company and their reputation, we may recommend these items, but for the most part, we will avoid recommending these products. We suggest you follow a similar approach.
The Dorm IQ Curriculum
This series launched in late 2023, and new topics will go live every few days.
Some of the topics you can expect are:
- Topic 1: How to get all of the intel on your dorm.
- Topic 2: Roommate matching and planning.
- Topic 3: How to layer a dorm bed.
- Topic 4: How to choose the right mattress topper for you.
- Topic 5: Dorm bed elevations – raised, captain height, fully lofted, etc.
- Topic 6: The best comforter size for a Twin XL dorm bed.
- Topic 7: Choosing a dorm headboard and how to attach it to your dorm bed.
- Topic 8: How to maximize storage under dorm beds.
- Topic 9: The most popular college dorm room layouts.
- Topic 10: Mold + humidity = air purifiers for dorm rooms
- Topic 11: Dorm laundry 101
- Which rug size is best for your dorm room?
- Water & ice: The struggle is real.
- First aid planning and storage.
- Unlimited meal plans – these mean no need for a fridge or microwave, right? (If only)
- Personal safety – in room, on campus, what to know about fire hazards and electrical certifications.
- Laptops, TVs and other dorm technology.
- Cleaning dorm rooms – what they’ll actually use.
- Taking a car to college.
- When to buy – when items go on sale and when they sell out!
- What not to bring to your dorm!
- Maximizing storage – popular items for tight spaces. Vertical storage.
- Move-in planning – a drive away or cross-country moving challenges.
- And more!
How Can I Follow The Dorm IQ Series?
While we intend to cover each topic comprehensively here on the website, you will no doubt have questions as you learn and as you start shopping! You can bring those questions to the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook Community. The deal alerts will help you find the best times to buy too.
In addition to following on Facebook, we also recommend subscribing to our newsletter. You may think Facebook is enough, but their new algorithms are maddening and only show each post to a small subset of group members. To be sure you’re seeing all of the Dorm IQ content as well as key Deal Alerts, subscribe to our newsletter in the box below. You can opt out at any time, and we will never sell your data or information.
Share The Learning: Bring Your Fellow Class of 2024 FriendS Into The Know
This is the link to the main page for the Dorm IQ Series: https://positivelysquaredaway.com/category/Dorm-IQ/
NEW in 2024! DormIQ just launched on TikTok (@dorm_IQ) with more student friendly content. Invite your friends and potential roommates to join you there.
Moms of Class of 2024 Students, you can copy this https://positivelysquaredaway.com/category/Dorm-IQ/ and
- Send in a text message to send to friends.
- Send in an email to friends.
- Post it on your Facebook page.
- Post it in a Facebook group for your high school or Class of 2024 group.