POV: You are pondering your packing situation for college.
Me: “I'll just pack everything from my room that I love.”
Also me: "hmm or maybe, I’ll make a list of appliances, dishes, and cookware, and matching bedding and decorations and furniture that I’ve always wanted & I’ll buy a fancy coffee maker to make specialty coffee every morning like a barista and be a sophisticated young adult headed to class!”
Screech!!! Pump the breaks. Before you get carried away with packing your entire bedroom and shopping like it's your first apartment, make some important considerations. Everything you bring to college, unpack, decorate, and build, will have to be taken apart, removed, repacked and brought back home or put into storage less than a year from now. 8 months to be exact.
College Move-In Day across America is a very long day full of excitement and chaos. Make the process less daunting with a packing plan. Follow all or some of these tips & you’re guaranteed an extra dose of dopamine for your parents and yourself.
- Get familiar with the room layout of your new living conditions & have a chat with your roommate. Finding your dorm room configuration online is easier than ever. Try your school's website or YouTube. Students & schools film dorm tours all the time. Take note of what furniture already exists in the room. Are there any mirrors, can you rearrange the furniture? Most dorm rooms are lacking in space. So you’ll want to visualize the layout you want to achieve after you’ve researched. Then, talk it over with your roommate and develop a plan or even a theme. Try not to purchase wall decorations or lights until you’ve talked over a theme with your roommate. You don’t want your themes to clash. Knowing ahead of time will save you long trips at the local stores on move-in day (common issue) for those last minute items. You’ll thank me later.
- Decorations: Most popular these days are the led lights and wall decorations. Keep it simple by planning it out and talking it over with your roommate. Add a floor lamp to this category. Power strips. Get two. Buy lots of command hooks and batteries. Buy more than you think you’ll need. Check your appliances for battery usage. Comfort and convenient item: a small cart on wheels. It has two to three shelves. You can add your makeup or other small handy items and use it as a nightstand.
- Bedding & Bath: Of course you’ll need sheets (2- 3 sets is good enough). A Machine washable blanket or comforter and invest in a simple mattress topper for comfort. Dorm mattresses are not comfortable. They're super thin. A throw blanket comes in handy for multiple purposes. Most college campuses have a lawn area for recreational play and relaxation. Bring your blanket along to have something to sit on. Towels, wash cloths & hand towels (2-3 sets). Full body mirror. If you’ll have a communal bathroom, you’ll need shower shoes, a robe and a shower caddy. Consider toilet seat covers as well. Toilet paper. Check your schools list. You may have to supply your own. Add face tissue to the list as well. Tip: keep all of your new bedding in its packaging until you arrive. It’s already packed for moving and it’s as small as it will ever be within that packaging. If you want to wash it, do it when you arrive.
- Kitchen: You won’t be cooking everyday. At best, you’ll make a ramen meal so dishes are necessary but very minimal. Consider a set for 2 of reusable dishes including flatware and bowls or compostable throwaway dishes. Filtered water pitcher (much cheaper than buying bottled water), Plug in kettle (tea, coffee, & ramen can all be made with an electric kettle). Most dorms have a fridge and microwave. Most common areas and dining halls also have microwaves.
- School supplies: Bags of course but don’t go crazy. Something large enough to carry your laptop and other essentials that you’ll need for classes and roaming around campus. Laptop. Enough said, you’ll need it. Consider a laptop stand as well. Prevents crooks in your neck from looking down and prevents your laptop from overheating. Notebooks and pens, sure you may need them but not a lot. Start with 2 notebooks and maybe you’ll buy more later or maybe you’ll take all your notes directly on your laptop.
- Cleaning and laundry supplies you’ll need most: easy to carry medium sized sturdy laundry bag with a great handle, and a sturdy laundry basket (do not get a small flimsy laundry bag/basket), small container of laundry detergent, a small simple long handle vacuum and swiffer broom, small trash bags, clorox wipes and something to keep your room smelling nice that is allowed in a dorm room (not a candle). Wax melter or plugins are great alternatives. Shower cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner & wipes.
- Clothing and shoes: Remember you do not have a lot of space in your dorm. Most closet are 1 small rack and a dresser drawer. With that said, do not pack your entire closet. Don’t bring anything that you haven’t worn in months. You won’t wear it in college either. Bring your favorites in the categories of weekend wear, leisure wear, going out wear, daily wear and dress for success wear. Consider your comfort levels as well. You want your feet to be comfy for running across campus to classes. You want layering items like tanks, tees and hoodies. And of course you want shorts and sweatpants. There will be opportunities for networking, internships and job interviews. Make sure you’re prepared with 1 or 2 professional outfits and 1 pair of nice shoes. Bring thin hangers to conserve space but bring two or three thicker ones for heavier items like coats.
- Coffee maker. If you don’t drink coffee now and if you only drink fancy coffee beverages, you do not need a coffee maker. But if you insist, buy a single serve coffee maker and not an entire coffee pot.
- Do not purchase an entire set of reusable dishware or a hundreds of disposable plates etc. Not only is it bad for the environment but it’s a waste of money and space. Your number 1 priority is yourself. Not guests. And doing dishes has never been fun.
- A printer isn’t necessary. You can use what’s available on campus if something must be printed.
- Large containers of laundry detergent are bulky and heavy and take up a lot of space. Most laundry areas on campus aren’t close to your room. Having a smaller option will make the process easier.
- TV, I’m sure you use your laptop to watch your movies and shows. Don’t buy a TV.
4. Next, let’s tackle packing. You’ll want to pack like items with like items. With this approach you won’t overpack and you’ll know exactly what you’ve packed. An example is, bedding, toiletries, shoes, clothing, cleaning supplies etc. After items are packed, label the box or container. Keep clothing on hangers, bunch them together, get a few large trash bags and starting from the bottom of the clothing pull the trash bag up on the clothing and tie at the top when you reach the hangers. This method makes the transition from car to dorm room closet so much easier. If you’re traveling far from home, roll your clothing in your suitcases. You’ll fit more that way. Rent packing bins instead of buying boxes. Truck rental companies offer this service. You can rent 12 containers for $18 for an entire week. You can also do a mix of purchasing bins and renting bins, as well as utilizing your suitcases and then storing them under your bed (you’ll need them for visiting home anyway). You may want to keep 2 or 3 bins in your room for later. In comparison to purchasing a college shipping kit which includes 5 medium sized boxes, tape, bubble wrap, markers & a knife for $31, you’re making a better investment with renting 12 sturdy bins with lids attached. You’re also saving yourself time on assembling, taping, breaking down a bunch of boxes, and tossing them in the garbage. Renting is better for your pocket and the environment. Allow yourself plenty of time for planning, shopping and execution. Last minute can be disastrous.
6. Clean your dorm room prior to unpacking. Wipe down everything as soon as you get in your room.
Enjoy your family and loved ones on this day. They came to help you, after all.
That’s all folks. Happy College Move-In Day!