An "all the things" meme about packing

Yep…this pretty much sums up preparing to move to college.

You are standing in front of your bedroom closet, then you turn to look at your desk covered in papers and knickknacks and the walls hung with photos and posters before glancing across the floor that is strewn with random objects you had forgotten you even owned but are now sentimental to you.

And as you gaze upon all your possessions, you wonder “Where do I even begin to pack for college??

Is this scene ringing any bells for you? Well, that is how I felt, at least, when I was preparing to go to college, leaving behind the bedroom I’d called my own for almost 18 years and all its memories of childhood.

Whether you are struggling with nostalgia or not, moving is such a hassle (I know, I’ve done it 5 times now) and you might be tempted to bring as few boxes with you as possible. But the reality is that you had better be prepared for everything– weather-wise and otherwise.

This is especially if your parents live several hours away (as mine do) since it isn’t so easy to run home and grab your winter coat, for example, when the weather turns cold disturbingly early. That’s all well and good but, you may be thinking, where are you going to put all that potentially necessary stuff in a college residence hall room?!?

The key is to maximize the amount of space you do have and keep everything organized so you can find it easily.

This is what I have learned:

  • Use flat bins to get the most out of the space under the bed. Even if you don’t decide to loft your bed (which is an excellent way to gain extra floor space) you can still store a lot of stuff under it. I used three long, flat bins to store all my spring & summer clothes during the winter and then turned it into winter storage when the weather grew warm again.
  • Put shelving units inside the closet. This is an easy way to add extra storage space. In my closet, I used several milk crates stacked on their sides in mine to store bedding, towels and other supplies.
  • Buy lots of hangers and 3-M hooks. Hanging up most of your clothes in the closet will save you space in your dresser drawers. Putting up 3-M hooks on the back of the door or elsewhere around your room is a great way to keep coats within easy reach and let towels dry after showering.
  • Use shoe boxes as drawer dividers. Re-purposing shoe boxes as drawer dividers is a cheap, eco-friendly way to stay organized. I save all my shoeboxes (my mom would say I have a problem—but hey, you never know when you might need a box!) and use them in my dresser to make it easy find socks, underwear, make-up, and jewelry.
  • Hang some bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are a great way to de-clutter desktops and display photos but they can also be used to store necklaces, thus eliminating space-consuming jewelry trees. I hang all my necklaces up a bulletin board where they are in easy reach and kept from getting tangled.

The second key piece of advice I have is don’t bring things that you don’t really need:

  • Your entire book collection. Sorry! I am an English major so I understand your pain, but those beloved books will only take up space. Bring only a few of your very favorite books though honestly, you probably won’t have time to read them. If you do have time for pleasure reading, you can simply check books out from the Winona Public Library which is only a few blocks from campus.
  • Your cd/dvd collection. This one calls for the same logic as above; you simply don’t have the space to store stacks of cds or dvds. Instead, put all your music on your computer and/or iPod and listen to songs that way. The front desks in the res halls all have a wide movie selection that you can borrow using your student ID.

    However, if you can’t bear to leave your movies at home, do place all the discs in binder with plastic sleeves to eliminate dozens of bulky cases.

  • A vacuum and cooking equipment. The front desks in all the residence halls have vacuums available for students to check out. They also have pots and pans so if you want to do any baking these items are available. A small frying pan and quart-sized pot for macaroni are useful but you’ll most likely eat your main meals in the cafeteria.
  • A printer. There some 90 printers across campus, including the dorms, that WSU students can use for free. So why would you bring a big bulky printer and pay for all that ink and paper??

You’ll also want to coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t end up with two mini-fridges, two microwaves, floor lamps etc.

Talking to your roommate before you actually move in is always a good idea—it makes sharing close quarters so much less awkward!

Living in the residence hall is a fun challenge. Tthis is just my advice to help your experience be more fun and less challenging by being prepared for everything.