THE BLOG

On Open Letter To The Parents Spending $5,000 On Their Kids' Dorm Room

08/28/2014 09:21 am ET | Updated Oct 28, 2014

Look, I know you have the time, money and desire to spend $5,000 to make over your dear college-age kid's dorm room. I also recognize that urge comes from "a good place" -- you want your child to succeed at all costs, which means constantly monitoring the kid in question, engineering their surroundings so they feel loved. College is a rough transition for everyone involved. Even Rob Lowe struggled with sending his kid off to college, and he's ROB LOWE. The man is perfect. Can you believe he was playing the saxophone in "St. Elmo's Fire" nearly 30 years ago? I can't -- and neither can his dimples, which are a national treasure.

But look at yourselves. You are seriously devoting brain space to whether or not your 18-year-old needs a customized closet system when we all know that she might use it once, then start on the most cherished ritual a new college kid has: Starting of a heap of clothing that will sit in the corner for the entire semester. There was a heap in the kid's bedroom from ages 11 to 18, so what makes you think that will change?

And then there's the fact that, nowadays, it's just so easy to buy something "fun" that will hopefully make your kid smile as she starts another day by literally rolling out of bed, realizing she's late for her 8 a.m. class and running out the door in her pajamas. That coordinating suite of bedding will delight him while he recovers from His First Real Hangover. And that matching rug? Surprisingly comfortable for passing out on.

College life is a time when you realize that all the planning, hard work and dedication you brought to your high school years has paid off... with more hard work, dedication and the looming threat of an unappealing job market. Your beloved child will most likely make some bad decisions. It'll break your heart and make him look back on those years with a twinge of embarrassment. Dorm makeovers won't prevent that.

Besides, bad decisions, within reason, build character. If one is constantly surrounded by comfort and beauty, one might enter adulthood ill-prepared for the indignities that adulthood brings: First jobs that barely pay; lingering debt; walk-up apartments and the big shift that happens to even close friends as life gets in the way. Not to mention terrible dates, failed relationships and, yes, bad haircuts. Making do with a borderline-institutional dorm room is the great equalizer that unites undergrads and the first stop on the train to Coping Skills City.

On top of that, nearly every dorm room is obligated to have a terrible poster (Audrey Hepburn, John Belushi and Bob Marley make up 90 percent of these). Mess with that, and who knows what'll happen.

I hear some of you saying, "But if we invest in their furniture now, it'll 'grow' with them!" That could be true. However, tastes change -- especially for someone who is just learning what their taste is. Would you have invested in a wardrobe of clothes you hope your teen would "grow" into when said teen turned 13? No. Besides, we all know this stuff is ultimately, tragically, built to be "disposable."

And yeah, it would've been great to have had these options when you were in school, too. I may not have kids, but I do remember when dorm decor choices were limited to "wooden crate" and "plastic crate." Yet we all turned out fine, didn't we?

So please, back away from the custom artwork. Don't touch those dorm-sized couches. Leave the 800-thread-count sheets alone. Everything will be just fine.