As the haze of August feels like it just wafted over us, “Back to School” sales are rearing their ugly heads. While parents of younger students might revel in the eve of September (visions of that Staples ad campaign “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays in their heads), parents of newly minted (or returning) college students are in for more than just that shiny new pencil case and Marvel superhero lunchbox. Packing for college can feel daunting – when do you know when you have too much? not enough? How much does your child like eating Ramen noodles? Well, consider ShipShape to the rescue!
Packing for college takes organization, pre-planning and most importantly patience. Take a deep breath (and remember how proud you are of your kid!) and check out our 10 foolproof tips.
1. Get a packing list from the college. Most, if not all, colleges will provide your incoming student with a packing list noting the essentials for every dorm room. Read what they suggest, then create your own. Save this list and it will serve as a great way to keep track of your child’s inventory (and may help in the re-pack up once May rolls around). Remember: think small and efficient and invest in some handy closet organization (and don’t forget about those handy plastic storage boxes!).
2. Bring your own tools. While your child might be too young to know MacGyver, he or she will soon become well acquainted with how many ways one can use a paperclip. Save your kids the headache of MacGyver-ing their dorm room when something breaks by investing in a mini tool kit. A good basic kit should have a tape measure, scissors, hammer, adjustable wrench, and a screwdriver. Also – crucial – bring your own extension cords (more on that below)!
3. Don’t duplicate. In today’s day and age – an age of Facebook, texting, tweeting, instagramming, snapchats, etc – there is no excuse for your child not to communicate with their roommate before making the move-in trip. By confirming items from your packing list, you’ll save yourself space in your car and the hassle of having to run to Target for missing items (Believe us, it will be totally mobbed in there!).
4. Don’t get tangled up in the wires. Even though your kid probably has a parade of wireless/bluetooth items, all of those will eventually require a re-charge. Messy wires can really cramp an already small room. Bring plastic zip ties, power strips and (again) those handy extension cords. Make sure to look into any dorm requirements regarding power consumption (especially if your child is in a green dorm).
5. Kitchen and bed set-up is essential. Remember that ramen we mentioned earlier? You’ll hope that it doesn’t become too essential to your child’s nutrition, but just in case late night studying requires nourishment, you’re best to send your child with all of the necessities: microwave safe dishes, utensils, bowls, plates, cups, mugs, can opener, paper towels, coffee maker (they’ll beg for a keurig!), trash bags, and sponges. Look into the availability of MicroFridge rentals – most colleges have very affordable options (especially if you’re splitting the cost). And while sending your child with their favorite easy-to-make foods is sensible, remember: they may be eating it in their bed, so best to also send them with enough detergent to get that mac and cheese stain out of their comforter! Bedding, pillows, and risers for the best (to provide under bed storage) are must-haves, and should be the first thing you set up when you arrive at their new abode.
6. Assemble a first aid kit. Advil, Band-aids, Neosporin, a thermometer, and cough drops can be hard to track down when your child needs it most. Create a college emergency kit with medical information and accessories for easy remedies. You’ll never know when that outdoor concert on the quad leads to nasty bug bites! Don’t overdo it, but make sure you have given your child all of the essentials.
7. Figure out how best to communicate. Part of the organization of moving into college also includes some ground rules for how best to communicate while your child is away. Maybe you prefer phone calls and your text-happy kid prefers communicating exclusively in emojis. Make sure before they leave you set a time to talk each week, and talk over the best ways to get in touch in terms of emergencies. Text messages can sometimes confuse a situation and make it seem more urgent/dire than it is. Talking this over with your child before they leave will save you the headache of hastily driving to rescue them from a situation that was confused by a simple typo!
8. Ship some items. You may think your SUV is cavernous, but once you get a few of those items in you’ll be overwhelmed by how little space you have. Shipping ahead may be the smartest solution (particularly for the lesser important items). Most colleges will hold your child’s belongings until he or she arrives, but do check with your particular college/university.
9. Don’t rely on dorm vending machines. This goes for the actual moving-in day. Pack a cooler with some snacks and beverages to keep everyone satisfied as you unpack and settle into the dorm room. It’s also a great icebreaker with new neighbors!
10. Remember to breathe and have fun. Simple as that.