These budget-friendly recommendations from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) will help you set your favorite student up in style. For more tips and tricks for school-year prep, be sure to check out Good Housekeeping’s comprehensive back-to-school guide.
- Dorm Decor
Your child will want to put his/her own personal stamp on his/her new space, and the easiest way to do that quickly is with colorful bedding. Since your child will probably use the same bedding set for several years, you’ll want a durable topper like the Residence Hall Linens Extra Long Extra Warm Reversible Comforter ($40). This affordable blanket held up well after numerous washings and comes in a wide array of colors and patterns.
- Better Bedding
Dorm beds aren’t always the most comfortable, but the PBTeen Classic Twin XL Sheets ($39) offer a generous fit (with plenty of room for a cushy mattress topper). Made of a soft, durable fabric that didn’t tear easily during tests, the sheets come in a wide array of colors and prints.
- Terrific Towels
You’ll want to send your child off to school with a towel that can take plenty of abuse. Lasting Color Towels ($3.99 – $5.99) from Bed, Bath and Beyond are absorbent and quick to dry, and didn’t bleed during wash tests. Plus, at this price, you can get one in every color!
- Wake-up Call
Late-night study sessions can make it tough to get up for early classes. To the rescue: the Sonic Alert Sonic Boom alarm clock ($32.98, amazon.com). If the wake-up tones aren’t enough, this model comes with a vibrating disk that tucks under your child’s pillow for that extra push out of bed in the morning.
- Hydration Help
Your child can save the environment and money on bottled water at the same time with a reusable bottle like the Fit & Fresh LivPure ($9.49, amazon.com). This container comes with a built-in water filter for removing chlorine from tap water and it’s made from polyethylene, a plastic manufactured without BPA.
- Morning Boost
He/she won’t have to run to the local café for morning coffee with The Scoop coffeemaker from Hamilton Beach ($35.99, amazon.com). This versatile single-serve machine will let your student brew using the ground coffee of their choice and can adjust to accommodate a regular cup or travel mug.
If he/she is counting on caffeine to get through the long days, your student will appreciate the Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug ($15.81, amazon.com). With its patented Autoseal technology, this container promises to cut down on leaks and spills.
- Cool Tunes
Good Housekeeping had a hard time finding anything negative to say about the Philips SHE3580 Headphones ($13.90, amazon.com) and your favorite student probably will, too. These inexpensive earbuds boast excellent sound quality and a comfortable fit for long study sessions. Plus they come in six colors!
- Power Cleaner
Keeping tight quarters clean is important when living in a dorm room (and with a roommate!). The Dirt Devil Gator Handheld Vacuum ($24.43, amazon.com) is easy to use even for first time cleaners and offers plenty of runtime on a charge for bigger jobs. Good Housekeeping found it did a good job removing dirt from a number of different surfaces, including bare floors and carpets.
- Pack-it-All Bag
Chances are your student has plenty to tote around between books, gadgets, and school supplies. The LL Bean Turbo Transit II ($70) promises to carry it all with its front stretch cord and extra compartment to stash a change of shoes for good measure. It comes in seven vibrant colors.
- Homework Help
Bulky, heavy and out-of-date textbooks are a thing of the past for most students. Save your student’s back with a Kindle ($79+, amazon.com) for electronic textbooks. This lightweight device offers built-in Wi-Fi for easy downloads and will automatically sync with your student’s laptop and smartphone if he/she downloads the Kindle app. Plus, your student can tap into the local library’s collection using Kindle’s handy book borrowing program! Looking for a tablet with more capabilities? The 10-inch Dell XPS 10 ($399, amazon.com) docks into a keyboard and features Microsoft office for all of your child’s productivity needs. At just over a pound, it won’t weigh down your student’s bag.
For more heading-off-to-college tips, visit GoodHousekeeping.com.