We checked in with the folks at moving.com to find out what they recommend when packing for college. What to pack for college is especially challenging when it’s your first time and you are moving into a shared dorm room or apartment.
Why it matters: You will be fitting a lot of stuff into a small space, so having a strategic college move-in list is essential.
Let’s take a look at the college packing tips from moving.com:
Make a college packing checklist of what to bring
If you just grab a bunch of random items out of your room to pack instead of preparing a dorm packing list, chances are high that you’ll end up with a lot of things that you don’t really need. Refer to our ultimate college packing list for a general outline of the essentials you’ll want when you’re in school, then make your own personalized list (and try to stick of it!).
Leave out-of-season items behind when packing for college
If you’re planning to visit home before the cold weather really sets in then you’re better off leaving behind bulky winter items like boots and your parka and grabbing them later. When the time comes, you’ll be able to swap them out with the shorts and sundresses that are currently going to remain front and center in your dorm room closet.
Keep your hanging clothes on their hangers
There’s no need to waste time taking clothes off hangers, folding them and packing them, and then rehanging them once you’re at school. Instead, group together hanging items and slip a large garbage bag over them, starting from the bottom. Secure the bag by closing it shut over the necks of the hangers. As an alternative, you could also hang them in a wardrobe box.
Pack only items that aren’t prohibited
Pretty much all colleges and/or student housing complexes have rules about what can and cannot be brought in. And unfortunately, things like your toaster, favorite candles, and yes, even string lights, might be on the forbidden list. Check before you pack so that you don’t end up bringing something along that you’re not actually allowed to have.
Have a conversation with your roommate
There are a lot of college essentials that you’ll only need one of in your room (i.e. mini-fridges, area rugs, window A/C units, and so on). If you’re going to have a roommate, coordinate with them on who will be packing what, lest you end up with any duplicates.
Pack plenty of toiletries
You never really know when you’ll have a chance to get to the store again, especially if you’re moving to a college town where you need a car to get to the shops. So plan ahead and stock up on the biggest bottles you can find of toiletry must-haves like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. You’ll definitely be glad that you did.
Bring a business-worthy outfit, even if you don’t know when you’ll need it
Colleges often bring in professionals from various industries to meet with students and even potentially interview them for positions. And in the event you get an opportunity to meet with one of these professionals, you’ll want to have a suit or other business-appropriate attire that you can wear to the meeting. You don’t have to go shopping, but you should bring at least one outfit from your wardrobe that will suffice.
Pack only clothes you have worn in the last year
If you haven’t worn a garment at home in over a year, you’re probably not going to wear it once you get to school either. A lot of students have aspirational ideas about how they’ll dress on campus, but for most students, their go-to staples from back home are also going to be their-go staples at school.
Throw in an extra pillow
When you live in student housing, your bed is usually not just the place you sleep but the place you study, hang out, and sometimes even eat. So even if you’re a one-pillow sleeper, you’ll still want to have an extra pillow to prop yourself up during the times you’re in bed for things other than catching z’s.
Pack plenty of towels
It’s pretty much an established fact that college students aren’t great about doing their laundry on a regular basis. We get it, a lot of other stuff gets in the way, but you should at least be prepared. Bring at least three bath towels with you so that you’re not forced to use an old and grody one until you make it to the laundry room again.
Use your storage items as packing boxes
Underbed storage and plastic dressers are excellent vessels for packing. Use them in lieu of boxes where you can, since they’re coming along anyway. Just be sure not to completely overstuff them since the plastic isn’t usually the most durable, and always tape them shut with plenty of packing tape.
Pack boxes and storage items instead of large suitcases unless you have a way to send them back home
You very likely will not have a place in your dorm room to store a suitcase, so unless you have a plan for getting it back to your home after move-in day stick to collapsible, recyclable boxes instead.
Use clothes, towels, and linens to keep fragile items safe
Save money on packing supplies by using things like your socks and towels to cushion packed items instead of packing paper. They need to come along anyway, so may as well use them as protection for breakable items such as your bedside lamp and your must-have coffee mug.
Add your favorite stuffed animal to your dorm packing list
Stuffed animals can be a real source of comfort when you’re living away from home. If you have one or two that you want to bring along, go for it! No one is going to pay much attention, and you’d be surprised how many other students brought their own stuffed animals along as well.
Bring a filtered water pitcher instead of plastic water bottles
Plastic water bottles are a big problem for the environment. Save the planet (and save yourself a lot of money) by opting for a reusable filtered water pitcher instead. You can buy a big one if your mini fridge has the space, or you can go for one that’s just the size of a standard water bottle.
Pack your shower shoes
You don’t want to go barefoot in dorm bathrooms. Bring along a cheap pair of shower shoes (flip flops will suffice) that you can throw on for bathroom trips and showers—your feet will thank you.
Pack an essentials bag
Set aside a gym bag that you fill with everything you will probably need in the first one to two days after moving in. This usually includes any medications you take, important documents, basic toiletries, your phone charger, and a couple of pairs of clothes (or at least a set of pajamas for your first night).
Label your boxes
Sure, all of your boxes are just going into one room, but it’s still a good idea to label them with a quick overview of what’s inside. That way, if you’re desperately searching for pens or pillow covers, you won’t have to open up a ton of boxes to find them.
Bring a small safe box
Pack a small safe that you can keep under your bed or in your closet for storing important documents, credit cards, and other small valuables. Thefts in dorms do happen, and while you can’t lock away every single thing that you own, you can at least make sure that your irreplaceable items are stowed somewhere no one can get to them.
Have your plan before you start packing up the car
You should have some sort of strategy in mind for your college move-in list before you start packing up your car, otherwise, you may end up having to take everything out and start from scratch. In general, large heavy stuff goes in first and is situated toward the center and sides of the car. Then you can fill in the space with everything else.
Ask your parents and friends for help
Hopefully, you already have someone on board to help you pack and load, but if you don’t, there is absolutely no shame in asking for assistance. Knowing what to pack for college is a big job, and it can help to have not just another set of hands, but also an objective point of view on what’s necessary to bring and what isn’t.
Questions? Please contact your Earn to Learn FL Near Peer Success Coach for assistance to answer any of the questions about college packing tips or ask other questions.
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