The Ultimate Guide to Packing
College packing can be a stressful time. Your guest room and garage are covered in pillows, lamps and supplies. High school graduation brought in a full wallet of gift-card currency. This is a time of preparation, as you pack up your dorm-sized life into a minivan and head off.
This is a time of learning how to pack for independence, and here are a few tips to help along the way:
For the Twin XL
When it comes to community dorm beds, you’re going to need a mattress cover and mattress pad — you don’t need to invest hundreds to use it for 8 months, but it should be comfortable. If you plan on lofting your bed, get a shelf to attach to the frame to hold whatever you need at night, because the ladder down isn’t worth the forgotten retainer. Dorm thermostats are about as predictable as the weather, so make your bed in layers with a clip-on fan. Whether you don’t want to do laundry often, or have a revolving door of guests, keep an extra sheet set in your closet. Your friends on the futon will thank you.
For the Closet
You won’t need your whole closet from home, but you might need all the hangers. Pack by season, with a few overlapping pieces. Bring your summer clothes, with a pair of jeans, a light jacket and a raincoat, and interchange these items to adapt to the weather. When it comes to shoes and outfits, pack for the following: class, casual, church, cocktail and career. And, don’t forget the duffle bag for your first trip home. Even though your mom will promise to wash your clothes any time you go back, you need to do laundry before then. Pack your detergent and dryer sheets, and know what to do with them.
For the Essentials
College is fun, but you have to learn while you’re there. Pack your pens and notebooks, but keep it compact to fit in your backpack, since most of your studying won’t be in the dorm. You’ll remember all your technology, but it’s easy to forget the chargers. Pack extension cords, especially one long enough to reach from the outlet to a lofted bed. Huge resident halls are just part of the bunk-bed lifestyle that makes illness inevitable. Buy a first aid kit and bring your insurance card. A can of chicken soup, gatorade, crackers and ginger ale may be equally important.
For the Room
Hang hooks for your towels, and get a towel wrap for the hikes down the hall to the community shower. Get a shower-caddy with holes to drain the water and don’t forget your flip-flops. Invest in as many command strips as money can buy — they really will hold your life together, or, at least, your pinterest-inspired decor. You might want to get a futon or chairs to entertain your new friends, or to collapse in after class. College is harsh, but resident hall lighting is worse. Get a lamp, or two, to leave on for your roommate when you go to bed first, and a full-length mirror to share in the mornings.
For Cleaning It
A multi-surface cleaner or Clorox wipes go a long way during flu season, when the health center’s schedule is even more packed than yours. You may have packed 37 matching mugs, but you’ll need dish soap for your 38th cup of coffee. Consider having ziplock bags for the pizza you ordered at midnight but couldn’t finish, and you won’t know you need stain remover for your favorite shirt until it’s too late. If you get a rug, get a vacuum, but keep it small. You can’t just shake it out and sweep it up the way you might think.
The truth is, your minivan might be packed with Keurigs, curtains and containers, but you won’t be able to bring everything you want. Try to take what you will need. Your parents will thank you when it’s time to move it all back. You may start off with decor that fills your walls, or move into an almost empty shoebox, but this is your space. This shoebox of yours is exactly that — all yours. You’ll bring what you want and decorate it how you please, but it might take a few Walmart runs to truly make it your home.
By Ansley Cartwright, a public relations student in Grady College at the University of Georgia, and a content creator for UGA’s community of Odyssey Online.