With the fall season quickly approaching, a whole new class of college freshmen are preparing for the next four years of their lives. High school, the SAT, and college applications are all behind them. A feeling of excitement takes hold– the world will soon be theirs! The only thing left standing in the way is packing for college.
This can be a daunting task, and the first thing to do is to step back and consider what you actually need. Many people will arrive at college with far too much stuff, finding out too late that their dorm room is smaller than they thought. By planning ahead, this will not be you.
What to Pack for College
Luckily, packing for college is not as hard as most people think. You just have to break it down into small categories and make yourself a college dorm checklist. Follow this checklist to the end, and you’ll find yourself happily prepared.
Bedding – Make sure you get the correct size for your dorm bed (probably Twin Extra-Long). If you can, buy a package set with the sheets and comforter included. Pack an extra lightweight blanket for curling up at your desk late at night, or for keeping extra warm during the cold winter nights at school.
Clothes – You will be at school for all but three or four months of the year, so you will need a wide range of clothing. If you live close to home, take only your warm-weather clothes, and swap them out later in the semester when you go home to visit. IF this is not the case, you’ll have to take enough clothes to keep you cool and warm, depending on the season. Make sure you don’t overdo it though! Your space is limited.
Toiletries – Make sure you don’t forget your toothbrush, soap, shampoo, razor, and any other toiletries you’ll need. Get yourself a small basket that you can put it all in to carry down the hall to the bathroom. Pack a cheap pair of flip-flops as well to wear in the bathroom and shower.
Electronics – You’ll probably need a laptop and everything to go with it. Make sure you get a laptop lock for your computer so it doesn’t go anywhere while you’re away from the dorm. Also invest in a quality surge protector to keep everything safe from power surges. There are plenty of extra electronic gadgets you can take as well – mp3 player, computer speakers, alarm clock, etc.
School Supplies – The key to succeeding in college is to simply take good notes. There are three ways to do this:
- Take notes on your laptop. This works great for lecture-style classes with little writing on the board. For math and engineering classes with a lot of diagrams, this doesn’t work so well.
- With loose paper and 3-ring binders. This way works well because it allows you to organize your notes however you like.
- Taking notes in bound notebooks. This doesn’t allow you as much organizational freedom, but it ensures that none of your loose-leaf notes are lost.
Make sure you take what you need to take notes with you when you leave home. Don’t wait to buy these until you get to school. The local stores surrounding your college will most likely be sold out of most school supplies by the time you get moved in.
Backpack – Your backpack is probably the single most important item you will take with you. Make sure you try on several packs to find one that is comfortable on you. If you purchase a high-quality backpack, it will last you all four (or more) years of college. Make sure it has reinforced or double stitched seams. Look for quality construction in high-wear areas such as the shoulder straps and top of the pack.
If you’ll be taking your laptop with you to class, then be sure to find one with a built-in sleeve to keep your laptop protected. If you go this route, tuck a large plastic bag into your laptop sleeve in case you get caught in the rain, you can wrap your computer in it and keep it from getting damaged.
Misc. Dorm Supplies – Take some plastic dishes and silverware with you. You’ll also need some snacks for those late-night study sessions. If you’re going to be doing any decorating, then take your supplies with you. Make sure you coordinate with your roommate to ensure your décor matches.
Some things can be split with your new roommate. Some good things to split would be large expenses like your dorm refrigerator rental and microwave. Make sure you work out who is paying whom before you make any purchases. It’s also wise to decide how you are going to be splitting things up at the end of the year if you decide to part ways.
Another strategy is to split nothing with your roommate. This ensures there will be no surprises at the end of the year when you’re both moving out. Simply roughly split purchases between yourself and your roommate throughout the year. When it comes time to move out, simply take your purchases with you, and let your roommate take theirs.
Use your backpack to pack a couple days worth of supplies and important items. It will take you a few days to fully unpack, and having everything you need for the first couple days in your backpack will take some of the stress off you. Pack one or two days of clothes and toiletries. Any paperwork for class registration, orientation, or financial aid can be stored here as well. Double check before you leave that you also have your college ID, since you’ll probably need it to check in and get into the dining hall for meals.
Arriving at your new dorm will be an exciting and chaotic experience. Try to contain yourself and remain calm. Follow the instructions of any staff or RA’s at your dorm to ensure you get into the correct room and get unpacked as quickly and smoothly as possible.