by Hannah Welles
Packing for college can seem like a massive undertaking, and in many ways it is. You’re going to be moving almost everything you own into a tiny dorm room that you’ll probably have to share with a stranger. Whether you’re an incoming freshman with no experience or a veteran college student looking for a more efficient packing strategy, if you follow these tips and stick to a decent schedule, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by the task of packing up your life and moving it into a dorm room.
If you leave everything until the last minute, you’ll run the risk of forgetting important things in the rush to get your packing done. Find time early in the summer (now) to put aside the things that you know you want to bring to school but won’t need until it’s time to move in. Discuss the best packing strategy with your family. Will you use boxes or suitcases? Will you ship your items or bring them all with you?
If you won’t be driving to college, consider using boxes and shipping them out. (If you go this route, make sure to check with your college’s mail room to find out when they will start accepting packages for incoming students.) When you’re ready to start packing things up, make lists for each suitcase or box. Write down every item that you put in, and keep track of the list so that you don’t forget where you put your things.
Some items that you may be able to pack early include furniture, bedding, appliances, decorations, cold weather clothes, shoes you don’t wear regularly in the summer, and anything you buy specifically for college, like books and air freshener.
Pack sparingly and by season
You will not have very much space in your dorm, so when it comes to packing, be ruthless. When you go through your clothes to decide what to pack, don’t bring anything that you have any doubts about. You will not wear as much clothing or as many shoes as you think you will, so ask yourself if you’ll really need something before packing it.
You should also set up a rotation so that you don’t waste your closet space with clothes that are off-season. Most of my friends and I brought our summer and fall clothes with us initially, and then switched them out for cold weather clothes during Thanksgiving break, and then switched those out for warmer weather clothes after spring break.
Make unpacking easier for yourself
If you are bringing any storage bins or drawers, pack everything that you plan to have in them from the start. This will save you time when you are moving in and space in your suitcases. Decide which clothes you will hang or fold based on the configuration of your closet at school. Pack your hanging clothes by putting a large garbage bag around them and tying the handles at the top of the hangers. (You may need to use more than one bag depending on how much clothing you have.) With this method, you can simply hang up all of your clothes at once instead of taking everything on and off of hangers and wasting space in your suitcases.
Wait to see your dorm before buying your decorations
Generally, it’s best to wait to buy anything decorations until once you move in and discuss what aesthetic you’re going for with your roommate(s) When you’ve settled in a bit more and have a better understanding of what you need that you didn’t bring, you can adjust easily–especially now that you’ll have access to Amazon Prime’s student rate and two day shipping.
Hannah Welles attends Barnard College. This post was originally published in 2017.