If College Dorm Students Need It, Retailers Have It
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
College students are heading back to campus, and parents want to make sure their kids go to school prepared. Retailers and colleges are eager to help -maybe a little bit too ready, as NPR's Larry Abramson found out when he sent his kid off to college.
LARRY ABRAMSON: Seth Weinshel of George Washington University's housing program stands in the middle of a dorm room that is still at peace during break. The walls are bare; the floor is industrial-grade linoleum.
Mr. SETH WEINSHEL (George Washington University Housing): This is a typical triple for freshmen.
ABRAMSON: The future inhabitants of this room are probably shopping with their parents right now, for the lamps and posters and tchotchkes that will turn this into a home of sorts. And if they've been paying attention, they're buying sheets, special sheets.
Mr. WEINSHEL: We recommend extra-long twin, and some of that is so that when you end up with that student that's over six-two or six-three, you don't have to worry about making sure you have the right mattress; you already do.
ABRAMSON: The average American is five-foot-ten, but the average dorm bed is designed for longer bodies. This was news to me and to parent Sharon Whitney.
Ms. SHARON WHITNEY: Never. I didn't know that they had extra long, twin extra long, so we bought them this time.
ABRAMSON: Whitney is standing in the college dorm section of a Target store in downtown Washington, D.C. The place is packed with bleary-eyed families like hers, looking to cover those extra-long beds. And once you've got the credit card out…
Ms. WHITNEY: And when you get the sheets, you have to get the extra-long comforter that has to go with it.
ABRAMSON: Target and other retailers have seized on the need for new bedding and used it as a springboard for selling a curiosity cabinet of dorm accessories. Once you've ordered sheets from CampusBedding.com or TwinXL.com, you'll likely succumb to the allure of the popup Dorm Caddy, the Bathroom Stuff Bucket or the Girls' Rocking Alarm Clock.
Jackie Burrell writes about American dormaphelia(ph) and other subjects for About.com. She says making your student comfortable is laudable, but don't confuse rampant consumerism with love.
Mr. JACKIE BURRELL (Writer, About.com): And the truth is there won't be room for that purple beanbag chair. Send along a few framed photos of the family to stick on the desk. Take comfort in the idea that you can send care packages.
ABRAMSON: I, for one, will not be sending care packages to my college student. I have bought my piece of mind with the purchase of Egyptian cotton extra-long sheets. But I wonder whether those of us who fit just fine in a regular bed should get some sort of a discount.
Larry Abramson, NPR News.
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