Sun, Fun, and Packing for College

Part 3 of Graduating! Now What?

This is second-to-last in a series for graduating high school seniors about getting organized and ready for college. This installment focuses on getting your stuff ready to take.

Preparing throughout the summer months will help reduce the last-minute frenzy. Start creating a detailed list of what you plan to pack and take with you sooner versus later, keeping in mind that if you are traveling across the country via plane, you will be taking fewer large items than if you are driving.

Juli Shulem

You may wish to ship some things ahead of your arrival or just afterwards (depending on the college’s policy), which will require additional advance planning. Determine what you will need in order to live in the weather and environment where you will be going to school.

Since most freshman start by living in a dorm, prepare as if going away to summer camp for a couple of months. Be aware of restrictions the dorm may impose – typically no hotplates or candles, for example. Keep in mind that there are stores where you can restock, so you don’t need to pack mega-sized bottles of shampoo, etc. and in any case you might not have room for the large sizes of supplies. Take heed of the small amount of space you will have to store your belongings. You don’t need to bring every article of clothing you own. You will most likely be coming home for holiday breaks and can swap out wardrobe needs at those times.

Make it a group effort! These days you often can learn who your roommate(s) will be in advance and begin to get to know them before arriving at your new home-away-from-home. If you are starting at a college with friends and know you are living together, then you will be a little ahead.  Getting to know your new roommate early is a huge plus. Sometimes you can coordinate to share some of the items you both want in your dorm space so you don’t have duplicates of a refrigerator, for example (if those are allowed). Find out about sleeping habits and noise tolerances in advance. You don’t want to end up stuck with someone whose habits are completely incompatible.

This may be your last summer at home, at least in the way you’re used to. Yes, your room may still be there after your first year away, but you will come back with a different outlook perhaps, and the realization that many items you took to college you won’t need to take home again. You might keep a storage unit near campus for next year, or you may determine that there are things you don’t need at all. As your priorities shift, so will the way you organize your life.

Ask a question for the column and I will address it at the appropriate time.  Email questions to Coach Juli, PCC at and put “question for column” in the subject line, and they will be answered right here – your name is not used.


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