Moving away from home for college can cause excitement and anxiety in equal measure. You will be living without Mom and Dad, often with one or more roommates who are perfect strangers to you at the start of the semester. How much can it really feel like "home"? Needless to say, the new living area won't be nearly as large as your family house. What do you need to bring, and what can you leave behind?
Some of the must-have items to bring with you on move-in day include: clothing; bed linens and towels; laundry supplies; organizers (to hang in your closet or the back of your door and to carry toiletries to and from a communal shower); desk supplies, such as pens, paper, staplers and scissors; sewing and first-aid kits; personal electronics, such as your laptop, radio, alarm clock, cellphone, chargers, power strips and a desk lamp; and a small amount of decorations to make the humble dorm room feel more like home. Most colleges notify new students of roommate assignments and contact information. It is a prudent idea to contact your roommates to coordinate who is bringing larger items, such as a television, a small fridge (if not supplied in the room), an electric coffee maker (if allowed) or video gaming system.
Some colleges have simple one-room dorms, whereas others have mini apartments with kitchenettes and bathrooms. Each institution has its own rules regarding heating elements, minifridges and what can be used to hang items on walls. Many schools offer Ethernet but limit how many items can be connected at one time. Check with your resident adviser for the lowdown on what's allowed.
You will need two to three sets of bed linens; three sets of towels and washcloths; two blankets and a bedspread; and two pillows and pillowcases. Dormitory beds are usually "twin exra-long" -- the same width as a twin bed but longer, usually measuring 39 by 80 inches. Confirm the bed's size so you can find out what size linens and blankets are needed before shopping. Unless the beds already have storage drawers, consider adding risers and stowing plastic bins under the bed for extra storage. Most dorm rooms are furnished with the basics, but depending on the individual setup, easy-to-assemble wire and/or plastic bins can come in handy as extra table surfaces, too.
When it comes to clothing, pack for the college's climate, and always pack a few more sweaters or sweatshirts than you think you'll need. Pack one or two business-casual and dressier outfits, but leave dry-clean-only clothing home.
Be sure to pack hangers, a laundry bag, detergent, a folding drying rack, plastic clothespins and coins for laundry. Pack enough underwear, socks, pajamas, tops and jeans for more than a week. You will be stressed enough with homework and activities; there's no reason to add frequent laundry days to an already busy schedule.
You will need a few pairs of everyday footwear, a pair of dress shoes, athletic shoes, boots (for rain and/or snow), slippers and shower flip-flops. Don't forget to pack workout clothing (forgo the freshman 15!) and a swimsuit, as well.
Use a zippered bag for all prescribed medications (secure any controlled substances) and over-the-counter meds such as antacids, antihistamines, analgesics and vitamins. It's a good idea to keep an index card with a list of prescribed medications and dosages, medical conditions and your doctor's name and number.
Toiletries to bring include shampoo, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, grooming supplies, a hair dryer, body wash, soap, feminine-hygiene items, shaving cream, razors and cosmetics.
Other useful items for the room include a garbage pail, a cork bulletin board, a small area rug, double-sided tape for hanging posters, a small dry-erase board for the room door, a small rechargeable vacuum and a tabletop fan.
Be sure to pack snacks and drinks (individual bottles of water, cans of soda or juice packs are ideal), paper plates, plastic cutlery and a box of storage bags. Bring a few pots and pans if there will be cooking facilities available -- and be prepared to share cleaning and shopping responsibilities with roommates.
Though there's no place like home, a dorm room stocked with these essentials will make college life more comfortable.