Planning What to Bring to College
Can you rely on your student to plan? If not, start with these two main tips.
Don’t Procrastinate. Plan Early.
Students may wait until a few days before move-in to even think about what they want to pack.
And trust us: the longer they wait, the more they will overpack. Why? Because their minds will be racing not to forget anything, so they’ll pack everything.
Or they don’t care and will take the bare minimum. We hope the latter applies to us as most classes start around Labor Day.
You may have already been thinking ahead and started shopping. But don’t go crazy and overthink what they need to take, because then you’ll need to rent a trailer hitch.
Everything Doesn’t Need To Be New
It’s perfectly OK not to want to buy everything new. After all, the big bill is due soon, and you can save a lot by shopping in your own home.
Let them take the stuff they already own. (That way, you can get new stuff when you repurpose their old room.) This could save you hundreds of dollars.
Traditionally, new students bring way too much to their dorm rooms. Remember: they aren’t moving out for good (yet), just a few semesters at a time.
So, depending on how far away the campus is, there’s no need to box up their entire childhood. Just pack the basics for now, and bring up change of season stuff on family weekend.
It’s so easy to overpack and overspend, but let me encourage you that there’s plenty you want to leave behind.
Checklist: Things You Need for College
First, packing for college requires the right bags and bins. Then students will need the right clothes, toiletries, bedding, room decor, electronics, and more.
Here is our essential, categorical list to pack practically.
The Right Bags and Containers
Suitcases or trunks aren’t the most practical. It’s best to use rolling duffle bags, backpack-style recyclable totes, sack-style durable bags, and Rubbermaid-type storage totes. These can all be easily stored inside one another until it’s time to move again. And of course, your student will need a good backpack for those on-campus travels.
The Right Clothes for College
Students don’t need a lot of clothes, but they do need the right ones.
When preparing for college, it’s crucial to pack various casual clothes that suit different occasions. Consider including T-shirts, jeans, shorts, and comfortable loungewear. Mix and match an everyday wardrobe to create multiple stylish and effortless looks.
College life may present students with formal events or occasions that require a more polished appearance. Don’t forget to pack a few dressy outfits, such as button-down shirts, blouses, skirts, dress pants, and dresses. These essentials will ensure they’re ready for any formal gatherings.
Staying active is essential for a healthy college lifestyle. Pack some favorite workout clothes, including sports bras, leggings, athletic shorts, and moisture-wicking tops.
Depending on the climate, students might need a variety of outerwear. Bring a warm coat or jacket for colder months, a lightweight raincoat, and perhaps a cozy hoodie for cool evenings. Bring a collapsible umbrella that can fit in a backpack.
Buy easy-care items that will survive in the college laundry.
Students may be walking a lot on campus, so bring comfortable shoes. It’s also good to have versatile, dressier shoes that go with other outfits.
Keep this chore simple! There’s no need to measure or carry heavy bottles. Use bags to sort whites and darks. You’ll need:
- Two laundry bags
- Detergent pods
- Fabric sheets
- Mini steamer (instead of iron/board)
- Wrinkle releaser like Downy
Dorm Bedding and Decor
Bedspreads and Bedding
Make the dorm room feel like home with comfortable and stylish bedding. Consider bringing a cozy comforter, soft sheets, and extra pillows for added comfort during long study sessions or lazy weekends.
Rugs and Curtains
Personalize the living space by adding rugs and curtains that complement your chosen dorm decor theme. Rugs not only add a touch of coziness but also cover up bland dorm floors.
Wall Art and Posters
Inject personality into the dorm room by hanging up posters and artwork. These decorations can create a sense of familiarity and make this space more inviting.
Dorm rooms are typically compact, so smart storage solutions are crucial. Consider packing storage containers, under-bed organizers, and hooks to maximize the space and keep it tidy.
- Slim hangers
- Stackable storage crates, bins, or shelving
- Hanging organizers for the closet: clothes, shoes, accessories
- Hanging organizer for the bathroom with clear pockets: grooming supplies, hygiene, first aid, etc.
ID, Keys, Money
- Driver’s license
- School ID
- Lanyard and keys
- ATM card, cash, maybe a credit card
Students can save photos of IDs in their cell phones as a backup. For security, keep the phone locked.
College life heavily relies on technology. Students should pack their laptops, phones, chargers, and other electronics they may need to study and stay connected with friends and family.
Pack personal hygiene essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other grooming products.
If there’s a communal kitchen in the dorm, consider bringing some basic kitchen supplies like a microwave-safe bowl, reusable water bottle, coffee maker, and eating utensils.
Books and School Supplies
Be prepared with the necessary textbooks, notebooks, pens, and other school supplies. Consider investing in a sturdy backpack to carry your essentials between classes.
These items may be necessary, depending on your student’s need. Confirm with their roommate and consider sharing expenses and usage.
- Mini fridge
- Sports equipment
- Musical instrument
Where to Get Deals on Things You Need for College
|5 Below||supplies, décor, fun stuff|
|Christmas Tree Shop||furniture, décor, storage, snacks, misc. [USE COUPONS]|
|Dollar Stores||supplies, storage, cleaning, toiletries, misc.|
|Kohls||bedding, clothes, shoes [USE COUPONS]|
|Marshalls||bedding, clothes, shoes, décor|
|Ollie’s Bargain Outlet||supplies, storage, cleaning, snacks, toiletries, misc.|
|Thrift Stores||décor, storage, furniture, clothes|
Final Tips on Packing for College
Be Realistic About Your Needs
While it’s essential to be prepared, don’t pack items that will just clutter the room without any real use.
Labeling your boxes and storage containers can save you a lot of time when unpacking. This simple step will help you find what you need quickly and stay organized throughout the year.
Choose a Theme
Decorating your dorm room with a theme in mind can give it a cohesive and visually appealing look. Whether it’s a color scheme, a favorite movie, or a specific style, having a theme will help guide your decor choices.
Focus on Opportunity
College is a time for growth, learning, and making memories. Help your student to embrace the experience, meet new people, and make the most of this transformative chapter in your life.
Use College Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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