Packing for College
Updated: Nov 16
PHHS ‘17, Boston College ‘21
One of the most daunting tasks of college is packing; a process of not only figuring out what to pack, but also how to pack it. For me, my simple solution was to jam my entire bedroom into my parents’ car, full closet, comforter, decorations and all. And even with all of the ingenious organization and planning, I severely overpacked. I was prepared for every possible moment from formal events to potential party themes, brought every item from Target that could have a possible use in my dorm room, and stocked up on every “necessity” that I could imagine needing. And let me tell you, I should have known I had too much from the moment I realized that I could barely fit in my car.
And you might be thinking, “How in the world am I supposed to know what I could even potentially need in college?” It’s not a simple question to answer, and the answer is not straight forward. And for someone like me, who likes to be prepared for everything, it’s even more challenging. It’s a balance of knowing your habits, what you need to make a space feel like home, and realizing that anything you could otherwise need is a 2-day free shipping, Amazon order away. Here are a few tips to help you minimize the amount of stuff you’ll need to take when packing for college and tackling move-in day:
Take Stock Of YOUR Essentials: The most common advice I heard when packing was “just pack the essentials,” but what about the essentials that I most consider essential. This most commonly means bedding, towels, and toiletries and beyond these items, the definition is driven by you. Take stock of what items you cannot simply live without, what items you know will be used frequently, and what items might make your life a little easier. And do yourself a favor, a limit yourself to one formal outfit and maybe not that wacky top that you might wear.
Pack for the Season: There is no reason to bring your entire winter wardrobe with you the first week of college. If you are going to travel home during the semester, like at Fall Break or a random weekend, use these trips as a chance to swap your clothes seasonally. Closet space is limited, don’t fill up your closet with your winter coat from the outset.
Utilize what you are bringing: Once you figure out the amount of natural storage that exists in your room, plan on packing your items in things you’ll actually need - like laundry bags, unused garbage cans, underbed storage, a single suitcase, etc. If you are going to be hanging clothes, try to bring them on the hangers to avoid any unnecessary boxes or suitcases. Or, if you are about saving space, use SpaceBags on your clothes and softer items when packing to maximize your move.
Pack Light: This is probably one of the hardest things I found. It is you and your family moving you in, and while your school may offer moving assistance, nothing is more difficult than struggling with heavy boxes and items up a seemingly endless flight of stairs.
And lastly, before beginning your packing, be sure to talk with your roommate(s) about common items for the room like fridges or TVS. In the same sense, wait on the big items like extra storage essentials or decorations to tie your space together, once you know how your space works and feels.
And of course, be sure to know what items might be prohibited like Keurigs or string lights. By no means will this make your packing seamless, but they might provide some sanity during the chaos of move-in and that maybe, you’ll see most of your items before it comes time to move out.