Going Away To College
Everyone overpacks when they first go to college, so this guide will help new students move into their new dorm room. I've made the mistakes, now here's how you avoid them!
The most important thing to remember is: You will be moving into a room approximately the size of a shoebox, and you will probably be sharing it. You will not find room for everything you want to bring. PACK LIGHTLY! You can always bring/ship missing items later.
You'll need to bring clothes (don't forget underwear) and school supplies, as well as the day-to-day stuff like deodorant and Tylenol. Try packing into bags or boxes that can be folded; don't throw them all away, because you will need them eventually to move out, and you'll probably need a couple of boxes before that anyway. Don't forget an umbrella or raincoat for rainy days.
Any creative storage ideas will come in handy. In my room, I have a wire basket that hangs off a shelf, a hook over a door, several trays in a drawer, and this neat lamp that has small drawers in its base. The wire basket adds one more area to keep stuff, I hang my laundry bag and towels on the hook, and the trays and drawers hold miscellaneous small stuff that would otherwise get lost.
Have a space in your room (like under your bed) for food. Even if there's a cafeteria. Even if there are restaurants nearby. Trust me, you won't always want what the cafeteria is serving, and restaurants close, and can get expensive. In college, you WILL be up late, and you WILL run out of money.
Figure out a way to keep track of assignments and deadlines. You should have done this in high school, but in college, there is NO ONE to remind you. Your professors sure won't, and you can't lean on your parents forever. Write stuff on a wall calander, keep a small daily organizer, or do whatever works for you. I supplement my planner with Post-It notes stuck on my mirror.
Have some place to keep books. They'll get big and heavy (and expensive - I'm not joking) and you'll probably have between 4 and 20 per semester, depending on how many classes you're taking and what kind they are. Expect your semester's book bill to run between $200 and $300. Try to buy a lot of used books, but don't count on the return policy. Not all books are accepted back, and if they are accepted, you won't get that much money back. It's a fact of college life.
Bring an alarm clock. If you aren't a morning person, bring two, and put one on the other side of the room. (Note: turn it OFF when you leave the room. Neighbors will lynch you if you let it beep for two solid hours.)
Check your dorm's fire codes before bringing appliances such as blenders, electric grills, etc, and flammables such as candles and incense. Expect a smoke detector in your room, and expect some sort of fire safety checks.
Consider having a thermos. It's kind of nice to bring hot tea or coffee to class on cold days.
Free-standing lamps such as halogens are good if the lighting in your room isn't quite adequate, but it may be hard to find somewhere to put it. Consider again finding something that does double duty; I've seen halogens that hold CD cases in the base.
Bring posters and Scotch tape. Your mental health will improve if you have an interesting, creatively decorated room to come back to.
When you're moving in, start out as organized as possible. Your room will become more and more messy and chaotic-looking as the first weeks pass, so if you start out on the neat side, you won't wake up one morning and wonder where your toothbrush went.
Don't forget laundry stuff. I prefer laundry bags over those basket things, because they don't take up as much room. Start learning to hoard quarters; you'll go through them faster than you'd think. Learn how to do laundry BEFORE you move in: how much detergent, what settings, emergency stain removal, etc. You gotta wash your own socks now, and contrary to what many high schoolers believe, there are no gorgeous models lounging around the laundry room waiting to help you.
Hope these tips help you out. Again, pack less than you think you'll need, because you won't have room for it all. Think ahead when you pack, and organize everything when you move in. Good luck!