How to Pack for College

May 4, 2020
Andrea Reino

You did the work, you got the acceptance, and now you’re ready for the hardest part: packing. How can you possibly decide what to bring and what to leave behind? I remember being in your shoes. I thought, No one will use these things at home, so I may as well bring them with me. I’ll admit I severely overpacked. I must have brought every single article of clothing I owned, and then some. I brought photos, tapestries, lights, desk organizers, and more pens and pencils I had ever seen in one room. It was like I had packed for a family of four.

Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about packing for college over the last four years, and I’m hoping I can impart some valuable wisdom to you in this post. First and foremost: if you haven’t worn something in the last year, you won’t wear it at school. Only bring clothing you actually use. This was definitely my biggest weakness when I packed for college for the first time, and the result was an overstuffed closet full of clothing I hadn’t touched in years. Do yourself a favor and pack the essentials. Packing is a great time for a spring cleaning of sorts; maybe make a donation pile while you’re at it!

My next tip is to be introspective. Figure out the type of person you are and the type of environment you thrive in. Personally, I’m a very visual person, so I purchased a small whiteboard calendar from Target. Honestly, this is the best purchase I’ve ever made in my life. Every month, I visually map out all of the events I’ve signed up for, the meetings I’ve scheduled, and the important dates I want to keep in mind. As the days go by, I cross them off on the calendar so it’s easier to see where I am in the month. Even now, after returining home due to COVID-19, I’m still using my whiteboard calendar so I can see all my Zoom meetings in one place. If you’re a visual person like me, do yourself a favor and get a whiteboard calendar!

Andrea's dorm room

Storage is also extremely important. Because college dorm rooms are usually small, they generally don’t have a lot of storage space. My recommendation is this: underbed storage. Head out to the nearest Walmart or The Container Store and get some storage bins for underneath your bed. I got two plastic sets of drawers on wheels and filled them with sweaters and other clothing that didn’t need to be hung up. That way, I freed up space in my closet. This underbed storage was essential for me, since the space under your bed is pretty much wasted if you don’t use it for storage!

Another tip is to invest in a mattress topper, if you can. University beds are notoriously uncomfortable, and a mattress topper can really make or break your night. I was able to find a memory foam mattress topper on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond, and I slept like a baby from night one. The mattress topper was thick enough that it even doubled as a guest bed of sorts; when I had visitors, I’d take the mattress topper off my bed and use it as a second mattress for my guest so they wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor.

These are just a few packing tips for when you’re getting ready to move. Of course, every person is different, and what worked for me may not necessarily work for everyone. My final tip is to not stress out. You will learn more about what to pack as the years go by, and by the time you’re a senior, you’ll be a pro. Good luck, don’t overpack and have fun! Welcome to the best damn place of all.