Get Packing!

Stick to this rule of thumb: if you think twice about taking it, leave it at home

You endured the SAT, breezed through the college interviewing process, and finally settled on your college. You can hardly wait to get in your car and peel rubber towards your new and exciting life as a college freshman…but something is standing in your way. Something you’ve been dreading for weeks. Something that you can’t avoid—PACKING!

The art of packing—deciding which of your most prized possessions will be making the trek with you—can be just as overwhelming as choosing a school. From your belt buckle collection to Beanie Babies to “blankie,” how do you decide what stays and what goes? More importantly, will you have room for all of this stuff?

Regardless of your dorm room size, here are some must-haves:

  • Computer or laptop
  • Cell phone
  • Desk lamp
  • Climate-appropriate clothing
  • Storage bins
  • Reminders of home (pictures, stuffed animals)
  • Bedding (sheets, pillow, blanket)
  • Toiletries

Tips for Packing Light and Packing Right

Don’t over-pack! You’ll end up being stuck with stuff that you don’t need and is just in your way. The five-pound weights that you used once in five years—leave them at home. Try to stick to this rule of thumb: if you have to think twice about taking it, leave it at home. If you get to school and find yourself missing it, you can always have it shipped or pick it up the next time you’re home.

There are ways to pack for college without becoming a pack rat. For instance:

  • Leave the winter clothing at home until winter break. Your down coat will just be taking up space in your closet in the late summer months of August and September.
  • For bigger items, such as microwaves and ironing boards, coordinate purchases with your roommate. He or she may already be bringing a refrigerator or plasma TV (plan on hosting lots of dorm parties if this is the case).
  • Don’t pack any school supplies. You can buy them at an office supply store (typically much less expensive than the campus bookstore) close to the campus.
  • Pack everything using boxes that can be broken down. They are easy to store and are recyclable.

As you drive toward your new life, the Boy Scout motto comes to mind: “Be Prepared.” You are ultra-prepared. You are ultra-confident. Extension cords: CHECK.  Flip-flops: CHECK. You are ready for any situation that comes your way…until you are ready to UNPACK!

I Almost Forgot…

You’ve made your list (and checked it twice) of all of the things you can’t leave home without—a reliable computer, pillows, blankets, and way more clothes than will ever fit into the tiny dorm room closet. You are taking everything but the bathroom sink and the family dog. But in the chaos of packing, here is a list of 20 essentials you may forget:

  • Debit/credit card
  • Umbrella
  • Hangers
  • First-aid kit
  • Camera
  • Hamper
  • Rolls of quarters for laundry
  • Mace or pepper spray for safety
  • Extension cords
  • Dry-erase board and pens
  • iPod
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Flashlight
  • Ear Plugs
  • Sewing/mending kit
  • Can and bottle opener
  • Registration information
  • Medical insurance card
  • Social security card
  • Financial aid forms


This article was written by Erin Castrucci

Erin Castrucci is a full-time interactive designer and project manager in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to taking on multiple freelance projects, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, for whom she is already saving for college.

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