I’m a junior at The College of New Jersey, but as a freshman I had no idea what to bring to college so to make your life easier, I’ve put together some tips I wish I’d known back then.
1. Check to see what the college provides and what you need to bring. If you are sharing a bathroom with a few people, cleaning supplies might not be provided, but if you’re on a floor with a community bathroom, you may not need anything.
2. Matching your sheets to your rug to your towels, which match your pajamas, is not important. It’s tempting to have your room look like it’s out of a magazine, but your roommate may have a completely different color scheme for the rest of the room.
3. Talk to your roommate(s) to see what they’re bringing. It’s intimidating to pick up the phone and talk to someone you’ve never met (but will be living with in a month). Make a list of your purchases so you’ll have everything you need to discuss. Save every receipt because I guarantee you’ll return stuff.
4. Be completely packed two to three days before moving. It is miserable to be running around the night before trying to find things.
5. Pack your stuff in containers you’ll use. No one wants to find out where to toss 25 cardboard boxes. Packing in plastic containers that can slide under your bed is a great idea, and plastic bags are helpful since they can be used as garbage bags.
6. You will probably be moving in mid-August when it’s hot and chances are your dorm won’t have air conditioning. Pack accordingly (hint: fans) and believe me, you don’t want to be walking up four flights of stairs in 90* weather in anything but a casual outfit and sneakers.
7. Unpacking is probably worse than carrying in all those boxes. Don’t get stressed about putting everything in its place on Day One. There’s no use getting everything perfect just to have to move it around when you find out what your roomie’s brought.
8. Don’t let your parents leave before you figure out if you need to send anything home. Chances are, you’re not going to have enough room for all you brought. Keep in mind that your dorm room probably won’t be as big as you think.
Here are a few items I didn’t pack at first but that have proven very useful:
Tools: A hammer always comes in handy and screwdrivers are good for putting together fans, lamps and other things. You can’t go wrong having pliers, either.
A beach towel: You may want to sit outside, and using your bath towel just makes laundry.
Duct tape: It works wonders on all kinds of things, even sealing drafty windows.
I hope this guide helps you on your big day. Good luck!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.