"I played volleyball in high school so I would love to have a volleyball theme, but I don't know what my roommates will like," said Rappoli, an 18-year-old Brookfield resident who's looking forward to her first year at Western Connecticut State University. "I've already bought some pink pillows and a pink bed spread."

Rappoli is among scores of incoming college students in the region who are preparing for their first dorm room experience. The teenager and her mother recently when shopping at some outlet stores near Philadelphia to buy some supplies such as

bedding and storage items.

"We already have a dorm-sized refrigerator and a television that she is going to bring with her," said Shirley Rappoli, the teen's mom. "We did get a microwave but apparently those aren't allowed in the room. We've been getting ready for this all year."

Maribeth Griffin, the director of housing and residential services for WestConn, said that while microwaves aren't allowed in some housing situations because of power load concerns, the university has teamed up with Campus Specialties to offer microfridges, a unit that includes both a microwave and refrigerator that switches power between the functions as they are being used. The units cost $175 to rent for one year or $500 to purchase.

Many colleges and universities also have restrictions on other items such as electric heaters, halogen lamps, electric skillets and extension cords.

"Like many colleges, we don't allow extension cords for safety reasons, but we do suggest students bring a power strip that contains its own circuit breaker," Griffin said. "Power strips are a good idea because students bring a variety of electronic devices to school these days and many rooms only have a few outlets."

College officials also recommend that students contact their roommates before moving into the dorm so they don't end up with three televisions in one room or several refrigerators.

"We really encourage students to be reasonable with what they're bringing because the rooms are probably smaller than they are used to," said Pam Schipani, director of housing services for the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "It's also a good idea not to bring everything at once if you can, such as leaving some of your winter clothing at home until it gets colder."

Representatives of Bed Bath and Beyond said there are several things students can do to maximize their storage in small dorm rooms. The store also offers a checklist of things to bring on its Web site at www.bedbathandbeyond.com.

Store associates suggest a variety of storage ideas such as over-the-door organizers and under-the-bed storage bins. Bed lifts can also be purchased to increase storage space by seven inches.

"Although tuition has increased over time, the average size of the dorm room has not," said Catherine Gentile, a spokesperson for the store. "We offer a variety of items that will make storage a lot easier."

Griffin also suggested students look into some type of secure storage such as a safe or lockable trunk.

"Students don't always know the people they'll be sharing a room with and who their friends are," she said. "With all the electronic devices these days, like laptops, it's a good idea to have a lockable storage area."

Griffin added parents should also check their homeowner's insurance policy to ensure that their child's belongings will be protected in case of theft or damage. Most colleges and universities don't offer such protection, she said.

When it comes to moving day, Schipani notes that students and parents should also check any possible building constraints. Some dorms, at the University of Connecticut for example, don't have elevators.

"Consider if some of those larger items are really necessary," she said, adding that the university provides a schedule and instructions for moving items into dorm rooms. "If they follow our instructions and bring some patience with them, the moving day shouldn't be a difficult experience."

To make moving items a little easier, Bed Bath and Beyond also offers a free service in which items purchased at the store can be picked up at a location nearest to the college. The items can also be delivered directly to the dorm room, although a shipping fee will be applied to the purchase.

Rappoli said she's excited about the opportunity to live in a dorm room, although she'll probably wait until she meets with her roommates before she brings all her stuff.

"I guess it depends on what they bring and how much room we have," she said. "Maybe we can go shopping together the first week for some stuff and have some lunch. It could be a good bonding experience."

Rappoli added that one of the first lessons she's learned from college -- before she's even arrived -- is to get your paperwork in on time.

"I was supposed to dorm with my best friend but she got her paperwork in a week late," Rappoli said. "She didn't get any housing at all."

Contact Dirk Perrefort at dperrefort@newstimes.com

or at (203) 731-3358.