Read an Excerpt
PACKING FOR COLLEGE: GETTING YOUR STUFF TOGETHER AND GETTING IT TO THE DORM
If you were about to go on a camping trip or on a mountain climbing expedition, your comfort and survival would depend on your packing the right supplies and equipment. You don't want to take along too much, but at the same time, there are certain things you're definitely going to need and want. The same rules apply when you pack for school. Begin packing for college early. This will help to insure that you bring along everything you'll need. If you rush to pack and throw everything you own into a bunch of boxes or suitcases a day before you have to leave, you're going to forget stuff. Most importantly, keep a list of everything you pack. This will keep you from thinking that your stuff got lost, help keep you organized, and make packing and unpacking easier.
Break up your packing into two categories: your clothing, and your other stuff. Begin by packing your clothing.
What are you going to need? To answer this question, first consider the climate. Are you attending a school in Florida or California, for example, where it's always warm, or is your school located in New England or some locale where winter can get pretty harsh? Also, determine how often you will be able to go home. If you'll be visiting home every few weeks, you don't need to pack your entire wardrobe now. Only bring what you'll need for the weather right away. Keep in mind, in late August or September, when the fall semester begins, summer is just about over, so unless yourschool is in a warm climate, pack for fall.
Here's a list of the articles of clothing and accessories you should consider packing. Again, think about the climate you'll be living in, as well as your personal tastes:
º Backpack/book bag
º Bathing suit
º Casual shoes
º Dress shoes
º Fashion accessories
º Gloves, scarf(s), hats
º Jacket (wind breaker)
º Jewelry (Don't bring anything that's very valuable or that can't be replaced.)
º Shirts (long-sleeve)
º Slacks (khaki pants)
º Sport jacket and tie
º Sweatshirt(s) and sweatsuit
º Turtleneck shirts or sweaters
º Underwear (boxers, briefs, athletic supporters, bras, panties, thermal underwear, etc.)
º Winter coat
Here is a list of the toiletries you'll need to bring:
º Bucket (to carry toiletries to and from the communal bathroomyou probably won't have your own!)
º Contact lenses and related supplies
º First-aid kit (aspirin, adhesive bandages, etc.)
º Hair care products
º Hair dryer
º Hairbrush and comb
º Laundry detergent and fabric softener
º Medication(s) (and refillable prescriptions)
º Nail file/clippers
º Perfume, cologne
º Shampoo and conditioner
º Shaving gear
º Tissues and handkerchiefs
º Toothbrush, dental floss, mouthwash, toothpaste
º Towels (bring extras)
Once your clothing is packed, it's time to pack the rest of your stuff.
Before doing this, give your soon-to-be-roommate(s) a call and see what they're bringing. You'll only need one TV, one stereo, and one microwave, for example. Here's a list of some stuff you should definitely bring along (or at least consider packing):
º Alarm clock (Make sure it's reliable and has a battery backup.)
º Answering machine
º Basic tools (hammer and screwdrivers)
º Batteries (variety of sizes)
º Bottle opener
º Bulletin board
º Calculator (Get a recommendation from your school about what type of calculator you'll need.)
º Calendar/student planner
º Camera and film
º Clothes hangers
º Coffeemaker and mugs
º Computer paper, supplies, and cables
º Computer printer
º Computer software and manuals
º Desk lamp and light bulbs
º Dictionary and thesaurus
º Envelopes and stamps
º Extension cord and adapter(s)
º Fan (if your dorm doesn't have air conditioning)
º Forks, knives, etc.
º Glue and thumb tacks
º Highlighting markers (several colors)
º Iron and portable ironing board
º Laundry bag (Put your name on the bag!)
º Mattress pad (You don't want to think about who has been sleeping in your bed or what they did on that mattress!)
º Microwave oven, popcorn maker
º Pads of paper
º Paper clips
º Pens and pencils
º Photo of your family, pet(s), boyfriend/girlfriend
º Posters for dorm walls (as well as other room decorations)
º Reading light (for the bed)
º Sewing kit
º Sheets (bring extras)
º Sporting goods (tennis racquet, baseball glove, skis, etc.)
º Stapler and staples
º Stereo, portable radio, or cassette player and tapes, CDs, etc. (Headphones are a must!)
º Storage boxes, shelves, closet organizer
º Tape (clear and packing tape)
º Telephone message pads (if you'll have roommates)
º Three-ring binder(s) (one per subject)
º Toilet paper (Have your own stash for emergencies. Don't rely on your school to keep the bathrooms stocked!)
º TV (optional)
º VCR (optional)
º Video game system (optional)
Since you haven't yet been to college, it's hard to predict what additional items you may need. Bring along some extra cash, or make an allowance in your budget, for extra necessities that you can purchase once you get to school. If you can, talk to a few upperclassmen at your school, and ask them for suggestions on what else you might want or need.
Once you've gotten everything packed, you've got to get it all to school. You can pack up your car and drive, ship stuff via UPS (or another courier), or bring it on an airplane, bus, or train. If you're taking a plane, bus, or train, keep in mind that there are luggage restrictions. For example, most airlines allow you to check two suitcases and have two small carry-ons. They charge up to .$50 per bag beyond those limits. If you choose to ship your things via UPS, be sure that you pack carefully, address your boxes correctly, and insure the packages.
Unless you're going to school in the middle of nowhere, chances are there will be a mall nearby where you can buy anything you forget. At the very least, every school has a bookstore that sells the basics. As a last resort, you can always call your parents and have them send whatever you left behind.
As you start packing, think about how little room you have in your dorm. Dorms don't offer students a lot of space, especially if you're going to have roommates. A typical dorm will provide you with a standard size closet, a three- or four-drawer dresser, a desk, a chair, and a bedso much for elegant living. It'll be up to your creativity and organizational skills to make your dorm comfortable.
As you place articles of clothing in your suitcase, in your duffel bag, or in a box, think about where you're going to store itin the closet, in the dresser, or under your bed. Here are some things to think about when packing:
º If you know you won't wear something regularly, don't pack it.
º Don't pack too many articles of clothing that require ironing, special care, or dry cleaning.
º Bring plenty of the basics, like underwear, socks, jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and pajamas. These are the things you'll need plenty of. Mom won't be doing your laundry every few days, so pack extras! A ten-day supply (or more) of underwear and socks will come in handy.
º Pack clothing that you're both comfortable with and comfortable wearing. When you visit your school, study the types of clothes the other students wear. Unlike in high school, at most colleges the latest designer fashions and being totally stylish are not priorities. Most college students are on a budget and can't afford expensive designer clothing. You'll probably find that casual and more basic attire (jeans and a T-shirt) is the norm.
º Bring along one or two formal outfits for "special occasions."
º Don't forget shoes and sneakers. Bring along more than one pair of shoes, but don't go overboard. You'll probably be doing a lot of walking, especially if attending a school with a large campus and you don't have a car. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. At UCLA, for example, most of the classrooms are located about a fifteen-minute walk from the dorms.
º Be yourself. Dress in a way that shows who you really are, or how you would like to be perceived.