Preparing to Move to College

Starting a university is an exciting time in a young adult’s life, but it can also be overwhelming.  There are so many exciting new experiences and opportunities approaching on the horizon.  It also a major transition from being a child to a young adult, essentially embarking on a new adventure.  For most, it is the first time that they will not be living under their parents’ roof, so you will definitely need some guidance in packing and preparing.

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Living Situation

The first step after deciding which university to attend is to figure out your living situation upon arrival.  Most college freshman opt to live in a dormitory, which allows for you to stay on campus, or at the least, very close to where classes are held.  This is an ideal situation for many reasons, the first of which is convenience, especially if you will not have a car for transportation.  The second perk is the social aspect.  Many students are starting off in a new city, or possibly a new state, with little or no ties to friends and family.  A dorm is a great place to meet people and build relationships, many of which you will hold on to and develop over the course of your time in school, and very possibly the rest of your life.

If you decide to live in a dorm, you should find out what different options the school has and which amenities are offered.  Some colleges are designing dorms that are more like apartments with a full or partial kitchen, individual bedrooms, and even your own bathrooms.  More traditional dorms are usually limited to just a room you will share with a communal bathroom and no kitchen facilities on-site.  Depending on what style you choose or which one is made available to you can also aid you in determining what you need to pack.  However, regardless of your specific set-up, there are some essentials that you will need to bring along.  This checklist created by the College Board is a good starting point.  Most home goods stores, such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target, also provide a physical paper checklist if that makes it easier for you.

Planning Tips

Start with a Suitcase:  Fill your suitcase with season-appropriate clothes, toiletries, bed sheets, medications, school supplies, and all other essentials.  The rest of your belongings can go in boxes for easier transport.  Make sure the suitcase is small enough, or can fold up flat, so you will be able to store it upon arrival.

Label Your Boxes:  This will make it MUCH easier to find things as needed before you have a chance to get unpacked and settled.  Pack light!  Depending on the size or layout of your dorm or apartment, there may not be a lot of room for unnecessary items.  And if you determine you need something more down the line, you can always buy it new, pick it up when you visit home, or have your parents ship it to you.

Determine Furniture Situation:  A basic dorm should come equipped with a bed (oftentimes, it will be a Twin XL), a desk, a dresser, and a closet.  Some have a mini-refrigerator, and if they don’t, you may want to decide if buying one is a worthwhile investment (or if it is even allowed).  The same goes for a microwave, hot plate or George Foreman grill.  A few items like this can help save you a lot of money in food costs.

Hire a Professional:  Most people start college without a vehicle, and for those who do intend to drive themselves to their new school, it is still so much less traumatic knowing that your valuables and possessions are in the hands of professional movers.  Starting a new school in a new city can be anxiety-provoking enough, without the added stress of figuring out how to haul all of your belongings by yourself.

Finally, utilize the resources that your new college has to offer.  Maybe they have a school-specific checklist to help you pack, or a labeled floor plan to help you determine what will and won’t fit.  Also, be sure to double check what items are NOT allowed, because you don’t want to bring something and later find out that it is prohibited.

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