College Life: Packing for the Dorm

The Three BEs of Moving to CollegeScreen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.42.04 AM.png

It’s that time of year. Students are loading up their futons and dreams and heading off to college. Parents, beware: This can be an emotional time that requires an extra dose of patience on your part. Here are some practical tips from folks who’ve gone before you—parents who’ve already played packing Tetris in the mini-van.

1. BE Smart
Read through the residence hall rules prior to packing. There’s no need to purchase (and haul) a coffeemaker with exposed heating element or toaster if fire codes or university policies prohibit them. Also, have your student discuss larger items (futon, fridge, TV) with his roommate(s) ahead of time so you don’t lug a futon up four flights of stairs only to find out the roommate already has one there.

2. BE Realistic
Dorm rooms are more likely to resemble Gilligan’s quarters on the S.S. Minnow than the ballroom of the Titanic. Remember how small the dorm room was when you toured it? Rest assured—it didn’t grow. Keep this in mind as you pack, and remind your child of it before you decide to rent a U-Haul to bring her stuff to school.

3. BE Organized
When you arrive on campus for move-in day, it will be chaos. The more you can organize ahead of time, the easier it will be to unpack when you get there. Rooms and hallways are crowded and hot, so anything you can do to make it a smooth move will be in your favor. And while you (and every other college family) will no doubt require a Target run on move-in day, getting organized now will save you trips then, when you’d rather be bonding with your student. Try these time-saving tips for dorm packing:

  • Prewash all bedding and towels at home before the move.
  • Leave hanging items on their hangers, and simply cover them in tall garbage bags. Yes, a garbage-garment bag does the trick. It saves a ton of time, takes up less space, and requires no extra suitcases.
  • Pack under-the-bed storage containers with items your student will store in them during the school year.
  • Pack like items together. For example, pack toiletries in one tote and food items in another for faster unpacking.
  • Label each box and bag with your child’s name, building, and room number in case something gets misplaced upon arrival.
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