Packing for college:What’s necessary and what’s not

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Today’s post is by Jackie Heath of Allied Van Lines. Thanks for sharing your expertise with my readers.

Moving someone off to college? Here’s a quick list of what’s necessary, and what really isn’t.

college student desk

Your first impulse when packing up and heading out to college will probably be to include all those creature comforts you’re sure you can’t do without. Sure, you’ve heard space will be limited, but you still need clothes to wear and books to read, right?

Not necessarily. If you’re like most new college students, chances are, there’s quite a bit you can do without.

What to Pack for College

Although every college is different (and your packing list will vary depending on whether you’ll be staying in a dorm room or apartment), almost everyone considers these items a necessity:

> Mattress/bed (assuming one is not provided)
>  Sheets and bedding for the bed
>  Pillows
>  Computer
>  Power strip/cords
>  Lamp
>  Alarm Clock
>  Garbage Can
>  Showering accessories (including towels)
>  Daily toiletries
>  Weather-specific clothing (note the weather-specific designation; for many students, it’s best to keep a closet rotation that allows you to store your seasonal items at home when not in use)
>  Hangers
>  Wall décor
>  Music/headphones
>  Laundry basket or bag
>  First-aid kit

Of course, not all of these items have to be purchased in advance and put onto the moving truck. If space is limited, you may want to make a list of items to bring with you from home and a separate list of items you can buy once you arrive. A last-minute trip to the drugstore can usually provide you with everything you need to get settled in.

What Not to Pack for College

More important than what to pack for college is what not to pack. These items tend to be bulky, heavy, or not relevant—which means that not only will they crowd your room, but you’ll pay more for the moving van, as well.

>  Air conditioner
>  Printer (the campus should have plenty)
>  Cooking appliances (with the possible exception of a microwave and/or mini fridge)
>  Stuffed animals
>  High value items, including jewelry
>  Books (with the exception of a few favorites and/or a well-stocked e-reader)
>  Furniture other than a bed and desk chair
>  Off-season sporting equipment (like skis during summer or a bicycle in winter)
>  Bookcases and shelves
>  Weight-lifting equipment

We also recommend not bringing things like school supplies, as you may not be sure what you need until you arrive and attend a few classes first.

Share in the comments what you packed for college that was completely useless. 

Julie Stobbe, professional organizerJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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  1. Diane Quintana on August 21, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Great list! I would add prescriptive medicine to your list of must brings. My son is allergic to bees. It was important for him to bring a couple of epi-pens and the prescription for them from his doctor – just in case.

    • Julie Stobbe on August 21, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Bringing prescriptive medicines and a few over the counter medications are a must. Some universities have a drug plan for students. If you don’t have a drug plan waiting to fill prescriptions until you have a student card can save some money.

  2. Seana Turner on August 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I think most kids overpack clothing. The closets are small, and you end up wearing the same things over and over. Bring plenty of underwear, though. That alleviates the laundry pressure:)

    • Julie Stobbe on August 21, 2017 at 8:28 am

      So true, clothing seems to be very casual, pajama pants seem to be worn a lot everywhere.

  3. Janet Barclay on August 21, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I guess I was lucky when I lived in residence, because many of those required items were supplied, and others didn’t yet exist (yes, I pre-date personal computers). But I did have a toaster and electric kettle which I used quite a lot!

  4. Julie Stobbe on August 21, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Great advise, thanks

  5. Linda Samuels on August 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    This brings me back to the days of getting our daughters ready for college. Having a list of what we needed to do, purchase and organize really helped. One of the things that was useful was sending them with a small file box that contained hanging files that included things like financial/banking, college info, class info, medical, personal, resumes/work, important documents, area info. These files were easily expandable as other topics came up.

    • Julie Stobbe on August 22, 2017 at 5:28 am

      I did the same thing with my kids when they went to university. I thought it was important to transfer the responsibility of looking after their life as part of transitioning to adult roles as they left high school and moved onto university.

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