Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tips for Packing for College

1. Be weather ready.
I know this sounds pretty basic, but do take the time to research the typical weather for your campus during different times of the year.  This way you won't get stuck in a rainstorm without an umbrella, a snowstorm without a coat, or a heat wave without at least one pair of shorts.  And as weird as it sounds, being mentally prepared for how cold (or hot) the weather is going to be makes the transition a whole lot easier.

2. Be prepared for casual, professional, and dressy events.
Within the first week of my undergrad career I had hiked part of Marin county, worked at a food bank, gone to classes, and attended a formal dinner.  You never know what you might end up doing!  So while I'm not advising you to pack your entire wardrobe (yes, there is such a thing as being over-prepared) bring enough of a variety to allow for different activities.  You don't want to be left out of a trip, for example, because you didn't bring a bathing suit or good walking shoes.

3. Buy school supplies at home.
This might be difficult for those of you flying to college, but seriously, buying your school supplies from stores like Target and Office Depot at home will save you so much money.  Most campus bookstores have ridiculously high prices because they know that they are the most convenient location for students to buy books and supplies.  Yes, this tip applies to coursebooks as well.  If you have the option to get your book lists ahead of time, I highly suggest browsing both Barnes and Nobel and Amazing rather than just buying books from the school bookstore.  Trust me, I saved about $100 myself just this semester by bargain hunting online.

4. Don't bring fragile or emotionally important items.
Consider the following scenarios: You don't know your roommate very well.  It turns out they're a total klutz, and one week in they've already knocked a picture frame off your desk and broken it.  Or how about this: after going to a party one weekend, you and your friends return to your room a bit intoxicated (yes, this is a possibility!) and someone accidentally gets sick on your vintage book collection or rips your favorite poster.  Are you starting to see a pattern?  Basically, don't bring super fragile or important items to college with you.  Things will get broken, stained and stolen.  That's just the nature of the beast!

5. Pack in boxes you can reuse.
Most dorm rooms don't have a ton of storage space, so packing in things like plastic boxes can be really helpful.  You can then repack these with items that don't fit in your limited closet space and store them under your bed.  Save cardboard boxes as well for sending packages home at the end of the year, or even for that random art class you decide to take.

6. Pack enough, but not too much.
I think that the most important thing to remember about packing for college is that you're not moving out entirely.  You're parents will expect you to come home for a least a few of the breaks and so it's perfectly fine to leave most of your clothing and possessions behind. If you're having separation anxiety for that one coat you just couldn't fit, never fear.  Every year when I go home for Christmas, I swap clothes out, leaving things that I'm tired of wearing over and over again and picking up that sweater that would look great with my new dress.  Always be aware that you'll probably accumulate quite a bit of stuff, especially if you live on an urban campus like I did.

I hope you guys find these tips helpful.  Happy packing!

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