Life-Saving College Packing & Preparation Tips


Shopping for college can be expensive, time-consuming, and most notably, high-stress. That’s where we come in! Before you start your preparations to tackle the big day, let us take the wheel for a minute. We’ve compiled our favorite “life-saving” college tips to help both parents and future academics ace the big move.

Get the right laptop.
Before buying a new laptop, find out which system the school or program recommends first. Different schools and majors often require software that performs better on, if not exclusively on, Macs or PCs. As an example, many business schools recommend a PC for special finance softwares while creative majors tend to favor Macs. Whatever assignments the computer will be used for, make sure it is built to handle them first.

Keep your hanging clothes hanging.
Don’t bother folding and boxing hanging clothes before the big move. While clothes are still hanging, take a large garbage bag and slide it on the bottom of 15-20 pieces of clothing. Bring the bag up to the hooks, match the top corners of the bag to the sides of the hangers and tie the bag shut around the group of hooks. This protects clothes from dirtying during the move AND saves tons of space, all you have to do is pop the bags into a new closet. Just be sure to reuse the garbage bags!  

Get out your measuring tape.
Save space where you can! Over-the-bed shelving units, bed risers, large storage bins and small organizers are lifesavers in a cramped dorm room. If possible, see if you can snag any measurements of the room, such as the distance between the bed and floor and the size of dresser drawers so that you can accurately shop for space-saving pieces. If you aren’t able to secure measurements on your own**, many colleges make this information available on their housing website or on new student forums.

**Writer’s note: My mom brought a pocket measuring tape to every college tour we went on! Even before I knew what school I wanted to attend, I knew the dimensions of each one’s closet. While it was highly embarrassing to see my mother crawl on the floor to take measurements during the middle of a tour, I could not have been more appreciative for her over-preparedness when I was able to make the most of my future dorm space.

Think about sick days.
College can be a gross place— it’s part of the charm! That being said, catching “Freshman Plague” is as inevitable as it is miserable. Pre-stock your dorm room with any safe drugstore medicine you might need for most killer symptoms in addition to first-aid items, cleaning products, and a few cans of soup. It might sound superfluous thinking ahead (and taking up valuable space for it!), but running errands can feel like a grave punishment when you’re seriously ill. Even worse, many drug stores closest to campus completely sell out of items and medications quickly when the entire population gets sick at the same time. Protect yourself from the risk and guarantee comfort during a highly uncomfortable time.

You really need a vacuum.
Colleges do not have moms and they certainly do not have maids. While it’s easy to take a towel to wipe down grimy or dusty surfaces, the floor is a whole other beast. When you eat, sleep, relax, and do homework all in one tiny space, it’s gets messy quickly. Add in a roommate or two into the equation and a carpet can become a thing of nightmares in a matter of days. Nothing can pick up hair, crumbs, and dust better than a vacuum. A simple upright, lightweight vacuum should do the trick for quick sweeps and are fairly inexpensive to boot.

Starting preparations for the move to college requires a strong game plan. By knowing exactly what you need to buy, what you need to pack, and most importantly, where to put it all once you’re done, you are going to save yourself time, money, and, best of all, anxiety. College is such an incredible experience. While we hope that we helped prepare you for it some, the whole point of the experience is to go in not knowing what to fully expect— the rest is on you to figure out. Good luck!


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