it easy and affordable for students to create the
perfect living space by providing a variety of
compact and dual-purpose furnishings.”
Additionally, focus on comfort, practicality
and a “less is more” philosophy, says Costco
member Melissa Schmalenberger, CEO of MS.
Simplicity in Fargo, North Dakota.
“For boys, I’ve found that style really
isn’t that important—it’s about who’s bring-
ing the TV and the Xbox,” she says. “For girls,
it may be a certain theme such as an animal
print or a certain color.”
Matthew Fantau, a senior at Seton Hall
University in South Orange, New Jersey, who
will be sharing a rented home with several
roommates this fall, recommends the least
expensive approach when hunting for furniture.
“Although the furniture may not match, it’s
more about being accommodating to everyday
life,” says Fantau, whose parents are Costco
members. “You can always use accessories to tie
things together and create a vibe, and posters
and other aesthetic decorations allow you to put
your personal flair on your space.”
Parents can ease this transition tremen-
dously by getting and staying involved.
“I made checklists for my children and
helped them plan things out well in advance.
We reuse a lot of the same stuff we’ve already
had, and I buy them the items that need to be
replaced,” says Costco member Anna Molin,
a mother in Totowa, New Jersey, whose
daughter and son live on separate campuses
in New York.
“Preparing for a major move can be over-
whelming for these kids, which is where par-
ents can help,” she says. C
Choosing the right ools for your studentBack-to-school Back-to-school technology
By Andy Penfold
WHILE GET TING YOUR kids to go on back-to-school shopping trips for basic school supplies can be a challenge, shopping for
technology is more appealing. And whether
you’re equipping a 5-year-old for year one or
packing a semi-adult off to college, a computer
Which computer you choose will depend
on a wide range of factors, from your budget
to the student’s needs. The good news is that
for general use—watching multimedia on
the Internet, typing essays and emailing
classmates—you can pick up a perfectly passable computer for a few hundred dollars.
standard keyboard—which could be a real
pain for a mathematics or business student.
Costco member Erik J. Martin is a Chicago-based freelance writer.
Tips to best equip
your college quarters
• Organize vertically: Bunk your
beds or loft your bed high and use
the space beneath for storage.
• Choose furniture with multiple
uses (e.g., a futon, sleeper sofa or
• Look for affordable yet durable
products that can last at least a
• Keep all receipts in case items
clash or don’t fit on moving day.
• Have the furniture/décor you
purchase online shipped directly
to your residence.—EJM
Narrow your search
The choice is immense, so it’s a good idea
to think about how you can narrow your
search. First, you’ll need to think about whether
to get a desktop or a portable laptop. A desktop
might be good for younger children if you
want to set it up in a family area and keep an
eye on their activity. A laptop is more suited to
students who need to take their computer to
collaborative working sessions or lectures.
These days, it’s virtually impossible to buy
a computer that isn’t cut out for everyday
tasks such as word processing, Internet surfing, number crunching, media playing and
even basic video work. However, if you’re
buying a computer for a student specializing
in animation, video editing, music tech or
other technology-heavy subjects, you’ll need
to look at powerful processors, bigger screens
and generally a much bulkier unit.
There are other ergonomic features to consider. For example, many laptops don’t have
a numeric keyboard on the right side of the
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com offer a complete
selection of computers, tablets, external hard
drives and related accessories to equip students at all levels.
Once you’ve picked a model that suits your
child’s needs, a few additions can make all the
difference to the setup. A good set of external
speakers is essential if your student is going to
be using the computer for multimedia. And
with music collections increasingly stored on
hard drives or the cloud, a computer with good
sound can easily replace a separate stereo.
Although it might seem contraindica-tive for a laptop, a mouse is actually another
essential purchase. Laptop trackpads do the
job on the go, but nothing beats a mouse
when it comes to working quickly at a table or
desk. Higher-end models also offer programmable buttons that let you carry out often-used commands quickly.
Creative students may also want to investigate pen-and-tablet devices. These replace or
work alongside a mouse and offer a more real-world feel using a pen-based input method.
A monitor may be a wise purchase, even
if you buy a laptop. Students spend so much
work and leisure time hunched over a laptop
screen that it can be an ergonomic nightmare. Wire a laptop to a large high-definition
monitor and you can correct your children’s
working posture as well as make their room
the go-to destination for Blu-ray screenings in
Few students want to do their homework
once, let alone twice, so backing up work is
essential. An external hard drive will let students automate backups, and it’s also worth
investigating online storage services, such as
Dropbox ( www.dropbox.com).
With this much technology at their disposal, the biggest challenge for your offspring
will be focusing on their studies. C
Andy Penfold is a London-based freelance