Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Julie Williams. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.
When you are preparing to go off to college, you have to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind. This may seem like a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. A good rule of thumb is to skip everything that you do not truly need. In essence, you should consider becoming a minimalist. Not only will it help you keep track of all your belongings, but it will make traveling to and from campus so much easier.
Aim to get all your items (clothing, toiletries, kitchen supplies, etc.) in one or two large suitcases, or a suitcase and a trunk. You’ll have plenty of room to pack the things you need, but not too little space that you can’t pack one or two extra items that you can’t live without. This is what many of these expert students did, and none of them seem to have had any problems once they made it to campus—just read their stories! They had the essentials and beyond that, there isn’t much more that’s absolutely necessary.
Of course, you’re going to need clothing, laundry supplies, winter or summer clothes (depending on where you’re headed), bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels. You’re going to want to bring (or buy once your arrive) toiletries, snacks, and school supplies. But aside from this really short list, what else is important to bring to campus?
Here are a few tips:
If you’re a light sleeper… bring blackout curtains. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep is so important for college students; you’re going to be living a demanding life between studying, taking tests, writing papers, and spending time with your friends and on extracurricular activities. Many campuses are well lit, so if light is something that’s going to prevent you from sleeping well, blackout curtains are a must. They’ll also help block some noise, too, if your dorm window faces a walkway or a busy road.
If you like to cook… consider bringing your own dishes to college. Even if you don’t live in a fancy suite or townhouse with it’s own kitchen, many dorms have communal kitchens that are open to all students. Plus, eating out of your own bowls and off your own plates makes things seem a little more homey and comforting. The reality is that you likely will be making lots of coffee, eating lots of toast, and making lots of mac and cheese in the microwave (read: bring a mug, a plate, and a bowl). Real dishes are a nice touch and will save you from having to buy loads of paper cups and plates.
If you can’t focus when it’s noisy… bring noise-canceling earbuds or headphones. Unless you live on a quiet floor, dorms can get loud. Other students may want to talk, play games, watch movies, or leave their doors open to passers-by at the same time you’re trying to study or write a paper. It’s perfectly fine to need to peace and quiet to work, but you can’t expect everyone else to be silent. Unfortunately, noise-canceling headphones may be the only way to get the peace you need, when you need it.
If you need help staying organized… buy a nice book bag, or two. Don’t forget that college is similar to high school in that you’ll need to carry notebooks, textbooks, and other materials to and from class every day. Your bag should be able to accommodate your laptop, notebooks, planner, and other items that you frequently use. If you have a part-time job, you may want to get a separate bag for your keys, snacks, phone, and other items that you might need at work. With two separate bags (one for school and one for work), you won’t have to switch out your belongings each time you go to class or have a shift. This will ensure that you never misplace any essential items.
If you need extra storage… don’t let the space under your bed go to waste. There’s a ton of room under there, and there’s no need to clog your dresser with dirty laundry, extra towels, or spare toiletries. Head to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and buy one or two short, plastic storage bins that will slide right under your bed. It’s the perfect location for items that you don’t need to use all that often, since it hides them out of the way. But, it still provides easy access to your extra sweaters, blankets, or face wash when you need it.
If you find that you’ve forgotten anything after you arrive on campus, don’t sweat it. Amazon is just a click away, but before you buy, ask yourself if you’re really going to use the item. Don’t buy things that are going to clutter your life and be used once before getting tossed aside. Remember, the most important thing to bring to college is a positive attitude. Not only will it make adjusting to college life and living on your own easier, it will also help you to make new friends!