Dodging the Bullet: Becoming a Posh Fashionista on a College Student’s Budget

Marisa Balanda

First-year Marisa Balanda shares her experience shopping for her dorm room furnishings

By Marisa Balanda, Contributing Writer

When it comes to college dorm shopping, “Bed, Bath & Beyond” is truly an understatement.

According to a 2014 study from The Washington Post, the average college student spends approximately $916 on dorm supplies. While this number may seem extravagant to any outsider, I can admit that I have been suckered into the marketing tactics, Pinterest boards, and YouTube videos that revolve around furnishing and decorating first-year dorms.

In most cases, I would assume that the logical first step for dorm shopping would be making a list. However, my first step was to pick a theme and color scheme. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. But this superficial step put me on the right path to make sure my cinderblock space will be a stylish and coordinated place to call home for the next year. For my room, I am planning to use grey as a subdued base color with a lot of light pink and sparkly accents.

After I moved past the “wannabe posh fashionista living on a college student’s budget” phase, I became practical. I went through my room at home and inventoried what I would take with me. Then, I divided up my shopping list into five sections: bedding, bath & personal care, desk/school supplies, storage, and miscellaneous. I was lucky enough to go shopping with my aunt (who is also my Fairy Godmother) and grandmother. They were much more willing to indulge my glamorous whims then my parents would be. I guess it’s true that grandmas are infamous for spoiling their grandchildren. With the help of my list and some coffee, we hit the stores!

Marisa Balanda '21 ended up coming away with a good amount of stuff as she shopped for dorm decor

Marisa Balanda ’21 ended up coming away with a good amount of stuff as she shopped for dorm decor

Even though I purchased the bulk of my dorm supplies in one day, I found that it was helpful to browse and shop at multiple stores. TJ Maxx was my personal favorite stop of the day. They have many trendy (and affordable) options for decorations and office/organizational supplies. However, I found the majority of my items at Target. They had blankets, shower necessities, storage containers, bedding supplies, and all of the in betweens that fit my “pink, grey, and sparkles” theme without stretching my budget. We also stopped at Kohl’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond for some final practical purchases. I even explored my crafty side by trying some DIY decor projects I found online. I am hoping that these monogram-inspired decorations will help my room feel more personal.

Ultimately, I am counting down the days until I move in and am extremely grateful for my family, who never fail to support my decorative whims while simultaneously sharing practical advice about the reality of dorm living. After I broke the bank on shopping day, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. (I’m still trying to convince myself that ten towels were necessary).

Here’s to a great start to the school year and to hoping that all your dorm dreams come true! Mine sure did.

Editor’s Note: This article is the first of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2021 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. You can read the full series here. (BP)

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Author: Marisa Balanda

Marisa Balanda '21 is pursuing a double major in both political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Gettysburg College. She works in the admissions office as a tour guide, is a senator for the Class of 2021, and is a part of the auditioned hip hop group, Bomb Squad.

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