Your back-to-school shopping cheat sheet for college

Furnish your college student’s dorm or apartment with these recommended deals

You’re spending a lot on college so the last thing you want to do is break the bank trying to furnish that new dorm room or your student’s first apartment. So, here’s your shopping cheat sheet for bargains and recommendations from the experts at Consumer Reports.

Apartment essentials

“When you’re moving into your first apartment, think about small kitchen appliances that are versatile and can do more than one thing. But also, consider splitting the cost of these items with roommates,” suggested Tonya Christian with Consumer Reports.

Let’s start with a coffee maker, which can keep you from overspending at the cafe.

“You might think a single-serve is the way to go but many are pricey and that doesn’t factor into the cost of the pods which are also wasteful if you can’t recycle them,” said Christian.

A coffee maker in your apartment can keep you from overspending at the café. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

Reduce waste and have enough coffee for your roommates with the Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable 49465R for $26.

If a mug of tea feels more like home, an electric kettle like the top-rated Secura Electric Kettle SWK-1701DB for $32 heats up fast and is easy to clean.

And when you want to “sort of” cook in your first place, consider a toaster oven instead of a microwave.

“They’re much more versatile. And these days, air fryer, toaster ovens are very popular so you get three appliances in one,” Christian said.

The Cuisinart TOA60 for $230 offers convection, cooks and can bake, broil, reheat and is also an air fryer.

As you can watch in the video below, Consumer Reports recently tested washable rugs like Ruggables that can be easily washed and says they can definitely up the aesthetic in any space. But they can also be quite pricey -- especially for a student. So instead, Consumer Reports says check the label on regular rugs or consider other washable fabrics like cotton. A budget-friendly option is the small, Ikea Sortso Rug, which was about $6 when we checked the price.


We tracked in dirt, spilled food and wine, and managed pet stains to find out if Ruggable rugs and other brands are truly machine-washable and stain-resistant. See the results through the link in our bio. #ruggable #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #rugcleaning #washablerugs

♬ original sound - Consumer Reports

Dorm essentials

Living in a shared space, like a dorm, can be challenging. The key is to stay organized.

A mini fridge can be a great option -- just make sure you follow your dorm’s rules. Consumer Reports says they can also help you cut down on food costs.

Living in a shared space, like a dorm, can be challenging. The key is to stay organized. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

“A mini fridge allows you to stash some snacks, drinks, and a meal or two so you don’t have to spend all your money on meals at the dining hall,” said Christian.

CONSUMER REPORTS: 18 Dorm Essentials

You can make your shared bathroom experience a breeze with a shower caddy. The Madesmart Soft-Grip Tote is as low as $10.31 at Target. It comes with ventilation holes that promote airflow to help minimize that funky shower smell.

Next, organize and decorate damage-free with the Command Variety Pack -- which is as low as $17.98 at Amazon. Use them to corral cords underneath a desk, hang towels from a door, or even hang bags and accessories.

Getting a good night’s sleep in college isn’t always easy, but a good pillow can help. The Coop Sleep Goods The Original Pillow is one of Consumer Reports’ top-rated adjustable pillows and is $72 at Amazon and Coop Sleep Goods.

Now to the desk: Ideally one that’s ergonomically sound. The Insignia Ergonomic Laptop Stand is now $29.99 at Best Buy. The stand can raise the laptop about 10.5 inches off the desk.

As for an item you can use for your studies and having a good time with friends: the JBL Clip 4 Wireless & Bluetooth Speaker. It’s $79.95 at Abt Electronics and Amazon.

Student discounts

Your student ID can also unlock savings. You can get discounts on products like laptops, phones, books, clothing, video streaming services, and more!

Just know, you have to prove you are a student by either showing a student ID or have an email address that ends in “edu.”

Consumer Reports compiled this list of deals offered in stores and online.