Packing for College: Things to Remember and Things to Leave at Home
Packing for college can be confusing. Everyone keeps telling you how small your dorm room is going to be, but you are going to be living there for a whole year – there’s so much you want to take! The bottom line is that every student, every living situation and every school is different. Don’t feel like you have to exactly follow a packing list. Instead, modify one (or several) for your own needs. Here are a few tips and tricks I picked up that not many packing lists will tell you:
• A few weeks before you leave, buy a little notebook and spend 3 – 4 days writing down every single thing that you use. If you used it within these days, you’ll want it at school.
• You can get a great generic packing list from almost any school’s student services division and from many department stores. This will give you a checklist of all the essentials – bedding, towels, alarm clock, etc.
• Suitcases, duffle bags and plastic storage containers are great for packing, but where are you going to store them after you’re moved in? Pack in cardboard boxes instead.
• Vacuum-sealed space bags aren’t just good for transportation; they are great for storing coats, sweaters and blankets throughout the year. Be sure to get the manual kind, not the kind where you need an actual vacuum cleaner.
• Check out the room that you’ll be living in – get dimensions; see how much storage space you have and if you can loft your beds. If you can, do it!
• Copies of your Social Security card, insurance cards, passport, birth certificate and bank account information.
• A can opener
• Downy Wrinkle Release, Febreze and a lint roller bring new life to dirty clothes if you’ve slacked on laundry
• A toothbrush container – you don’t want your bristles rubbing up against the loofah in your shower caddy, right?
• Curtains – your small dorm room will let in a lot of light during the day
• A hanging clothing bar or tension rod – they will double your closet space
• A collapsible umbrella
• Halloween costumes
• A Frisbee, football, playing cards, Monopoly, etc
• Dustbuster and/or Swiffer
• A car emergency kit if you are bringing a car
• Small tool kit
• Supply of basic over-the-counter medicine
• Blank CD
• Powdered drink mix – it is cheaper and takes up less room than soda
• Comfortable but inexpensive shoes – nights out and walking on campus can both ruin footwear quickly
• An extra throw blanket
Things to consider
• Remember to transfer your magazine subscriptions from home to your dorm address – or subscribe to something new. Receiving mail will be much more exciting at school than it is at home.
• Don’t risk getting your new PS3 stolen – take your old Nintendo and some classic games for the dorm room. It can be a great tool for making friends.
• Consider buying a cheap digital camera even if you already have a nice one. Your memory-worthy activities might get rowdy, and you don’t want to drop a high-end model into a pool of Jell-O, a toilet or the lake.
Leave at home
• Most high school memorabilia. A yearbook is a nice reminder of home, but your trophies, Homecoming queen tiara and letter jacket should stay there.
• Anything you can’t afford to lose. While theft may have never happened to you, it is an all-too common occurrence in college living.
• A four-season wardrobe. Pack for the weather your campus is experiencing now and two or three pieces in case the weather should change unexpectedly. You can trade out the rest when you go home for the holidays.
• A year’s supply of shampoo and Ramen Noodles. There will be convenience stores on or around campus.
• Pets. A single fish can add a nice touch of color to your desk, but before buying one, think about what you’ll do with it over breaks. Even if your school allows small caged animals, don’t do it – they will smell, even if you keep the cage clean.