CM’s Master Guide to Packing for College

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Crap. It’s almost back-to-school time, and that means move-in day is sooner than you think. What happened to those blissful days of summer? Now you’re looking at the days tick down, and you’ve got nothing ready. Zilch. Nada. Not even your backpack chosen. Navigating those treacherous back-to-school guides can be really stressful, as if you don’t have enough on your plate already. Well, stress no more, because College Magazine keeps you packed and ready to go.

The Three Stages of Packing

1. Deciding What Goes and What Stays

I know you don’t feel like packing, but, once you get the box rolling, it can be pretty fun. The key is to know what you need. Different stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond have back-to-school lists with everything you could possibly need for college (found online or in stores). Once you know what to bring, think about what you’re leaving behind. This usually includes items like home computers, mattresses or furniture. The rule usually goes: if you haven’t used it in months, leave it at home. But guess what? Packing is the easy part.

2. Putting Decorations Back

Contrary to what you’d think, most students struggle with over-packing. Don’t be afraid to edit your suitcase, because otherwise you’ll be that person. You know, the person whose room is always messy and overcrowded. Don’t bring your whole wardrobe or your collection of antique china, cause they’ll just be going back with your parents.

3. Moving In

Brace yourselves: Move-in day is coming. Roll up your sleeves, ‘cause you’re getting down and dusty. After you manage to get your stuff in the car in a similar fashion to a game of Tetris, brave the threat of boxes falling on you during the drive and finally arrive at this scary place that is now your home, you get to spend the next few hours lugging your whole life up stairs, through long hallways and around scores of people just like you.

Should I bring my car?

No. Just no. Hell no. Parking permits on campus run pretty steep these days, and can end up costing you $300 to $400 just to collect dust and pollen. Unless you’re one of those students that drives home every single weekend, a.k.a in-state kids, do yourself a favor and leave your ride at home.

How much packing is too much packing?

Well, if your dog is in your suitcase, I’d say you officially packed too much. Take Spot out, along with anything leisurely. By “leisurely” I mean the soothing face masks, or all the books you plan to read for fun. I guarantee you won’t do much joy reading simply because there isn’t enough time for it.

Do I bring all of my clothes?

Nah. Think about the semester. Unless you’re in those high-temp states, fall semester equals light jackets and sweaters, leggings and hoodies. Spring can be a little difficult to navigate, but it usually starts off with huge Michellin Man jackets and snow boots, and it ends with shorts and tank-tops. Cater to your semester.

Is a coffee maker really necessary?

Short answer: yes. Long and strangely passionate answer: the coffee maker you choose can make or break your college experience. You’ll want the newer kinds that aren’t only limited to coffee. Think of the endless opportunities. Tea. Ramen. Jell-O shots. The world isn’t your oyster—the world is your coffee maker.

What is move-in like?

Hectic. Sweaty. Scary. Not only are you coping with the fact that your mommy and daddy drove off into the distance with plans to transform your room into a home gym, you’re meeting your roommate, your neighbors, your RA—people you’re going to live with for 16 freaking weeks. Add to that hauling all your crap up to your room, knowing you still managed to pack too much and, yeah, it’s stressful. Look on the bright side though. College is an exciting new chapter of your life, and your room is probably the cleanest it’ll ever be this semester.

Top 3 Itemss to Pack

1. Shower Supplies

On behalf of your future self, I’d like to advise you to purchase two magical items before moving in: shower shoes and a shower caddy. A shower caddy keeps you from becoming an infomercial where someone is juggling too many things and just drops it all. Keeps you organized, keeps you clean. Chances are you’ll share a bathroom with other people. Other people means other people’s hair, dirt, grime and pretty much everything you don’t want on your body. For the love of all that is holy, wear your shower shoes.

2. White Board

A white board is like a group chat with everyone that walks by your door. What do you want to tell the world? Maybe you have a romantic friend over and you might want to warn your roommate to avoid any awkward encounters. Or perhaps you have a message you want your dorm to see. Write it on the all-knowing, magic white board.

3. Laptop

Student, meet your new best friend. Your laptop serves as the keystone for your academic success. You need a laptop for so many reasons, such as taking online quizzes, watching videos (let’s be honest—Crash Course videos when you feel too lazy to study), checking emails and submitting essays. Teachers rarely ask for print copies anymore these days, so hop on the technology train, unless you’re Amish, in which case—how are you reading this?

For more college packing musts, check out our College Shop!

Top 3 Twitter Accounts

1. @college_packs

Want to be the coolest kid on campus? @College_Packs has a website that’ll send you tons of college goodies. From deodorant to yummy snacks, @College_Packs provides anything a student could possibly need.

2. @TwoMenAndATruck

Two Men and a Truck was established by two former Sigma Chi frat bros who, like you, know what it’s like to endure moving. They were there for the sweat, the tears and the strained muscles. Follow these two bros for tips during the dreaded move-in day.

3. @(Insert Your University’s ResLife Association)

To get the most up to date information on move-in, following your university’s resident life association is a must-do. Usually they’ll give you lists of basic dorm necessities, the least busy times to haul your stuff in and other topics that you need to know. Follow ResLife and keep your finger on the pulse of all things move in.

Make Your Dorm Stand Out.

Cuddly Cat Tapestry

tap 5 mockup

Shooting Star Tapestry

Tap 1 mockup

Not your style? Check out even more awesome college stuff

Still not sure what to pack?

Packing for College 101: How to Box Your Stuff

11 Must Have Items before You Start Packing

The Downward Spiral of Freshman Move-in Day

Updated August 3, 2016: We added awesome dorm products and links to get them.

Freshman and communications major at the University of Maryland. Creator of Mixed girl blogger. Loves all things food related.

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