It’s college move-in time. For the past two weeks and all the way into mid-September for California students, lots of parents are moving their kids into college dormitories across the country. The experience includes planning, organization, and shopping and spending money. We discovered as we worked with our 18 and 19 year-olds that often times we were quite ready to spend money when we received information about a service that was a perfect fit. If you have already sent kids to college, this is old news. For those of you who have not gotten the chance, this is a preview of things to come. But for all of us, the salient lesson is this: We spent money on products and services that got the word out to us and that met our needs.
Here were a few of our highlighted purchases and some we declined to buy:
- Getting in line at the bookstore is so old school. Not when there’s Amazon Student. Amazon Student is cheaper than Amazon Prime and offers free 2-day shipping. And for expensive science and math textbooks, the prices were better than the bookstore. And offered more used inventory. It’s even cheaper to buy a new calculator here and have it shipped.
- Shipping packages to colleges is happening with regularity. Now, in many places, the student gets an email when a package arrives at the package pick-up and has seven days to go get it. There needed to be a system for all these Amazon Student users. It seems that package pick-up gets used more than the old fashioned mail boxes. Students forget to check those!
- But the college bookstore is still not dead. That’s where you have to pick up your lab packs, chemistry goggles, and all of your university swag. And last minutes (overpriced) items.
- Bellhop move-in service. Not every university has this and we almost declined its usage. Essentially, members of student clubs band together to offer curbside move-in service. No need to wait for carts, elevators or worry abuot physical exertion. The money raised is a major fundraiser for the student clubs. We found that the bellhop service seemed a bit overpriced to students and maybe even mothers, but the dads, when they got the email, were ready to type in those credit card numbers and make it happen at warp speed. Cost: $125. Time for entire vanload of dorm materials to get from the curb into the room: 5 minutes. Money well spent!
- Care packages sold through the university. Essentially, these were collections of junk food that you could pre-pay and would be sent out during the 1st week of school, on Halloween, Valentine’s and during exam week. Seemed overpriced and students have access to food all of the time, and are not starving. Declined.
- Target Takeover. Target stores have teamed up with college campuses and offer a shopping student only party in their stores after hours with buses. They advertise to shop with your roommates and make communal decisions. Awesome marketing and works really well for parents who worry about last minute things that were forgotten (I know my daughter needed a USB drive, but did the room really need a blender?)
- Dorm Room Displays. Several retailers have consolidated all sorts of dormitory items in one place at the front of the store. Comforter sets, bed lifts, desk lamps, storage options all in one place and enticements to other things deeper in the store. Sold.