An Organized Student is a More Successful Student
This is true whether your student is heading off to kindergarten or, like 3 students in our family, heading off to college. The better prepared and organized your students are as they head off, the more they are able to concentrate on the important tasks that lay before them.
Moving Day......Simplify the Process!
Get In Order for Dorm Living
Before you even check out any of the Packing Lists below, it’s a good idea to check out your individual school’s policies. You can find on-campus housing policies both online and in the student handbook of most schools. Alternatively, feel free to call your campus housing office. Find out answers to the following questions before you begin packing:
- What are the dorm policies?
- Which small appliances can you bring, and which should you leave at home?
- How is your dorm room set up? What furniture is provided with your room? Is the furniture stationary, or are you able to move it?
- What is your bathroom situation? Are you heading down the hall or do you have a private/shared bath?
- How are you allowed to decorate your room?
If you are sharing a room, be sure to check in with your roommate(s) before purchasing and packing the larger items that you will need. Dorm rooms are SMALL, and shared items can go a long way in freeing up needed space. Consider sharing items such as: TV, DVD player, Game Consoles, mini-fridge, and microwave. You may also want to coordinate who (if anyone) will be bringing a rug, curtain, etc.
A quick introductory phone call to your new roommate(s) can go a long way toward getting acquainted, starting your relationship off on the right foot, minimizing the stress of shopping and packing, and feeling more prepared.
Life Detail Check
- Vital Papers – Prepare a small file box with important papers that you may need during the school year. Create sections for: Banking, School Passwords and Information and Personal Documents
- Medical Concerns and Health Insurance – Be sure that you are covered under your parent’s policy or purchase medical insurance that is offered through your school. Be sure to have copies of your insurance cards and your current physician’s contact information. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Student Health Center, services provided, costs and hours. Be sure to bring along any medications that you are currently taking.
- Renters insurance . Most schools will advise you to carry renter’s insurance to cover personal belongings. Accidents happen and thefts do occur, even in the best situations, and generally your University will not replace or reimburse in the event of loss of personal items for any reason. It’s always best to be prepared. A small fee can cover you for several thousands of dollars of coverage.
- Protecting Your Valuables. Along with taking time to get renters insurance, protect yourself and your belongings by labeling your valuables and electronics with your name and hometown. This can be as simple as using a permanent marker, engraving your name and hometown on your valuables, or going more high tech using assett tagging. A simple assett tagging package can be purchased very inexpensively. ReuniteIT by LoJack asset tags allow you to label your personal assets, so that if they are ever lost or stolen, finders can return them to you. Better yet, removal attempts will always leave a trace, immediately identifying the item as a probable theft, and reducing the likelihood that it can be resold or pawned. A quick google search of “Assett Tags” or “Property Tags” will bring up hundreds of other options.
- Cell Phone and Internet Access. Check your cell phone plan and be sure it will accommodate your new living situation. If your going out of state, be sure you won’t be paying for long distance or roaming fees. If you will be texting more and/or use your phone to connect to the internet, be sure you have unlimited texting and online minutes. Keep in mind that most colleges do provide internet access to dorm rooms.
- Banking. Take the time to call your school and find out which banks have branches on or near your college. Many banks reach out to college students and offer free checking accounts. It’s a good idea to open a checking account at a local bank. You may want to consider getting a debit card and find out where your bank’s ATM machines are located to avoid ATM fees. But, be sure to take the time to consider a spending budget and the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt.
If you are heading off to live in a dorm, chances are your University has sent out a packing list. Use this as a guideline, taking into consideration your personality. The lists tend to be organized into sections of Bed and Bath,Eat, Study, Electronics and Relax, Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps, and finally, Cleaning and Laundry.
Keep in mind, that it probably isn’t necessary to pack clothes for every season during your initial move. Depending on where you are heading, you may be able to bring home your summer clothes at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and pack up the rest of your fall/winter duds. Then during spring break, switch out your winter for spring/summer clothes. Try to keep to your favorites, as this is what you will end up wearing anyway.
Finally, you know yourself. Don’t pack items that you won’t use (even if they ARE on every list!). Remember, “Less IS More”. There is a fine line between being prepared and over-stuffing your small space, your mind, your time, and your energy with useless items from home. I found a list entitled, “Top5Must-Haves” from a reputable and popular online college resource. My students used none of these “essentials” in their dorm room! Think real life and essential. The reality is that most students will have the opportunity to head out to the local discount store and pick up anything they need.
That being said, below you will find a simple packing list of essentials:
Bed and Bath:
Bedding: sheets, blankets or comforter, pillow(s), pillow protector/mattress pad, book light
Send them off in style with Pottery Barn Dorm Bedding!
Bath: towels/wash clothes, toiletries, medicines, tissues
Bath attached to your room? toilet paper, bathmat, shower curtain, toothbrush/soap holder, bath cleaning supplies – don’t forget to coordinate with your roommate(s)
Bath down the hall? bath caddy, flip flops for shared shower, robe
Microwave/Refrigerator -remember to coordinate with your roommate(s), quick snacks such as granola bars & fruit cups, a couple mugs, cups, and bowls, hot and cold beverage mix. Don’t forget that most likely you have a FULL meal plan.
Books – if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to order textbooks. Check online. Many schools offer the convenience of ordering online and picking up at the school bookstore. Quick, convenient, and space saving! Bring along any basic resource books that you will use (dictionary, thesaurus etc), but don’t bring these items if you generally access this information online.
Check out PBDorm Line of Study Accessories.
Basics – Day planner (if you don’t maintain online planner), notebooks/binders /folders, basic office supplies, alarm clock (to wake up for class!)
Electronics and Relax
Extra pillows/back rest, i-pod or mp3 player, headphones, stereo/cd player, gaming systems
Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps
Hangers, towel rack for the door/closet, extension cord(s), multi-plug outlet, sticky tack, a few basic tools, light bulbs, milk crates or wire shelves for storage, and a fan
Purchase, after checking out your room, or bring along a few organizing tools such as drawer organizers, closet organizers, shoe storage, shelf dividers, but don’t open until you are sure they can be used (and make sure you hang on to the receipts).
Cleaning and Laundry
Laundry: Laundry bag/hamper, laundry soap and dryer sheets, quarters, stain remover, drying rack, small iron/board (another item that can be shared with roommates – and only bring it if you will use it!)
Cleaning: Find out if a vacuum is available on your hall, basic disinfecting wipes will cover most other needs
Check out one or more of the lists below, but please keep in mind that you won’t need all of the listed items. I suggest checking out a few lists to jog your memory, but your best bet is to create your own lists of items that you actually use on a daily basis.
SallieMae College, What to Pack for College Checklist
CollegeBoard Checklist for College Dorm
Bed Bath and Beyond College Check List
Dorm Room Checklist
College Dorm Room Needs Checklist, About.com
Heading Out of State and Travel Space Limited? Watch for my next blog post; “The Traveling Student”
Happy (and Organized!) College Days!
Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series; Part 1: Saving on Supplies, Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 3: Organize the Student, Part 4: Organize Their Space, and Part 5: Organize Their School Memories.