As summer draws to a close, many parents are getting their college students ready for the new school year. But it can be hard to outfit a college-bound teen for dorm life for the first time, especially on a tight budget.
"Good Morning America" technology contributor Becky Worley has found the best deals on the gadgets and gear for your college kid.
Becky's Product Picks
The key to dorm room gear is that it must be compact and multi-functional. All of the products we found earn "As" on that score.
At just 5.5 lbs, this lightweight laptop is easy to carry around campus and starts at the low price of $499. To get it completely tricked out and future-proofed, with extra memory and good software, plus a printer, it costs $799.
Click HERE to find out what not to take to college this semester.
In a dorm room, a printer has to be more than a printer to make sense. The HP model can scan, fax and copy and there's a brand new feature that connects the printer to the web. You can wirelessly email a document to the printer from a smart phone or a computer and it will print, which makes it great for study groups or if you're sharing your printer with a roommate. It's all wireless, so there are no wires to trip over in close quarters.
For Mac lovers, you can get a laptop, printer and an iPod Nano Touch for $999.
Before you spend any money, check your college's discount. Most universities have some kind of discount with computer companies. Go to your school's online bookstore to find out what's available to you.
To protect your computer, you need a laptop lock. The Kensington Combosaver is like a bike lock for your computer. Lock it up in your dorm room, at the library or coffee shop -- anyplace where it could be out of your sight even for a moment. It's an extra level of security for under $40.
Livescribe Smartpen, $129.95
The Livescribe Smartpen and notebook is one of the best new tech gadgets out there. The pen turns taking written notes into an interactive experience. It records audio while you're writing, so if you miss something the professor said, you've got a back-up. It will digitize your notes and the audio so you can transfer all the data to the computer.
For example, if you've taken notes on earthquakes, you can find all the times the word "earthquake" appears in your notes with just a tap. It's a little pricey, but sure to be on many kids' wish-lists this year.
Textbooks: How to Save
Textbooks are one of the biggest expenses for college students, totaling between $700 and $1,000 a year. How can you save on those costs?
Used Books: The tried and true method is to buy used textbooks and resell them when the class is over, which can save you about 65 percent.
Rent Books: You can also rent books at Chegg.com. Go to the website, type in the name of the text and the book will come to you in the mail. It's due back at the end of the semester. On average, a student will save over $500 a year by renting compared to buying textbooks.
There's also a new iPhone app that allows you to comparison shop on the spot. Just scan the textbook's ISBN number to find out how much it would cost on Chegg.com. Plus, Chegg plants a tree every time you rent.
What about schools that use iPads and Kindles instead of textbooks? Many universities are providing the devices to their incoming freshmen, not only to access textbooks but to send out articles and workbooks that students are required to get. Before you buy one of these devices, find out if they are available for free and how dependent your college is on this kind of technology.
Dorm Room Essentials
Most dorm rooms come equipped with the basics: a bed, desk, dresser, wardrobe or closet, and a chair. Beyond that, it's up to you to make it functional.
Neu Home Closet Doubler, $11.99
Everyone needs more closet space -- especially space-deprived college students. The Neu Home Closet Doubler is the perfect solution at the right price.
Ironing Blanket, $8
Not every college student is satisfied looking like an unmade bed -- at least for the first week of school. This ironing blanket, available at Amazon.com, replaces the board no one has room for.
Laundry Bags, $12.50-$14 Household Essentials 5630 Oval-Shaped Laundry Hamper with Carrying Straps, $12.50
These laundry bags double as hampers. (Hopefully, college-bound teens know how to do the laundry!)
Back in the day, we weren't allowed to cook in our dorm rooms. Now, you can make entire meals without getting out of bed.
Sears Mini-Fridge, $99
Wait to buy a microwave or fridge until you meet your roommate and see what appliances they brought. If you still need a fridge or a microwave, go to Sears.com, where you can "ship to store," and pick it up at any Sears location.
Once you have your appliances, you can get this Fox Run Microwave 3-in-1 Rice, Pasta and Popcorn Cooker, which tackles the three major food groups in one bowl.
You can find all of our dorm room products at Amazon.com
Printable College Packing List
For college-bound teens and parents, packing can be a daunting task. Instead of leaving it until the last minute, print out this list and carry it with you, so you can pick up what you need and check it off as you go.
☐ Comforter or quilt
☐ Sheets. Twin extra-long beds are in many dorms.
☐ Mattress pad and/or cover
☐ Shower caddy
☐ Towels and washcloths
☐ Flip flops for shower
☐ Detergent, dryer sheets, etc.
☐ Sock bag
☐ Drying rack
Becky's Pick: Ironing Blanket, $8
☐ Computer/Printer (Becky's Picks: HP G62T Series Laptop and Printer Combo Deal, $799; the Mac iBook, Printer & Nano Touch, $999)
☐ Laptop lock (Becky's Pick: Kensington Combosaver Laptop Lock, $39.78)
☐ Desk Lamp
☐ Supplies: pens, notebooks, flashcards, etc. (Becky's Pick: Livescribe Smartpen, $129.95)
☐ Bed risers
☐ Under bed storage containers
☐ Plastic containers for extra storage. (Tip: If stacked, they can also be used as a nightstand).
☐ Alarm clock
☐ Surge protector and extension cords
☐ Closet Doubler (Becky's Pick: Neu Home Closet Doubler, $11.99)
☐ Over-the-door hooks
☐ Hooks and putty tack for walls. (Many products allow for easy removal without damaging the walls).
☐ Mini-Fridge or Micro-Fridge (Becky's Pick: Sears Mini-Fridge, $99)
☐ Plastic utensils, plates
☐ Favorite snacks
Becky's Pick: Fox Run Microwave 3-In-1 Rice, Pasta and Popcorn Cooker $11.99
☐ Television (Don't forget to bring a cable cord to hook up to the connection).
☐ DVD player
☐ Decorations to give your room flair. Think memo boards, pictures to remind you of home, or other mementos.
☐ First aid kit and medications
☐ Cleaning products (wipes, paper towels, etc.).
☐ Cordless vacuum
☐ Fan -- depending on the climate
What Not to Bring:
Be sure to check what's not permitted before bringing everything to school.
☐ Halogen lamps
☐ Knives longer than 4 inches