Six Tips for the Big Move


Start planning early, make lots of lists, and be sure to check and recheck those lists.

Don't pack a single box until you've read these tips.

Moving Day. Finally. I'd been looking forward to this for a long time—the day I'd head off to college and move into the dorm. I was really ready to start college life. 

It's funny, going to college always seemed like it was way off in the future. Then, the summer flew by and, suddenly, the big day was here.

Fortunately, I had planned ahead, which made the move go a lot smoother. Still, I learned some things by making mistakes, too. 

If you're heading off to college this fall, I hope my experience can help you get ready. Here are some of the things I learned.

Don't over pack

By the time my family finished loading our van, we hardly had enough room to sit. When we got to the college, I realized I had too many clothes to put away. I ended up sending most of my winter clothes home with my parents. When I went home for Thanksgiving, I took a big suitcase full of summer clothes and brought my sweaters back with me. (Of course, if you're going halfway across the country to college, you might not get home till Christmas—or later. In that case, you'll have to pack more winter clothes, unless you're headed to Florida or Southern California!)

Expect chaos

When we arrived at the college, it was hot, humid and hectic. Hundreds of people were moving in at the same time. The stairs and halls were jammed with people—especially dads and brothers carrying boxes, bags and furniture. There was one elevator; it was faster to use the stairs, and I was moving to the third floor! While my dad and my brother carried stuff in, Mom and I started putting it away. When our van was finally unloaded, it was almost impossible to walk through my dorm room. Fortunately, my roommate wasn't arriving until the next day. And believe me, it took that long to restore order to the chaos!

Get creative

Your dorm room probably won't have much furniture in it; mine had a bed with two drawers underneath and a small desk—nowhere near enough space to store all the stuff I brought. So check with the residence hall director to find out if it's a good idea to bring some of your own furniture. Ask what's provided, and what furniture you're allowed to bring. Still, it's likely your room will be too small to add much furniture. One way to increase storage space is with stackable plastic crates. They're great for packing, and then for storing stuff in your room. You can stack 'em up and make a little night stand to hold a lamp and alarm clock by the bed. You can also stack them in the closet to hold folded clothes.

Don't forget the little things

It's a good idea to make a list of all the miscellaneous things you'll want at college, and to shop for them before you leave home. On moving day, the Kmarts and Wal-Marts in your college town will be swamped with students trying to pick up last-minute items. Be sure you have all the necessities to beat those long lines. When you're making a list of stuff to take, write down everything you think of. Nothing is too obvious because it's possible to forget anything. I would've forgotten my tennis racket if I hadn't listed it. (And I really needed it, since I was taking a tennis class!)

Know the rules

When you're making your list of stuff to bring, it'll help to know what you can't bring. Ask the college for a list of what's allowed, and what's not allowed, in the dorms—and under what conditions. Some colleges, for example, don't allow any appliances that have to stay plugged in—like a mini-refrigerator or microwave—because of potential fire hazards.

Check with your roommate

As you make your packing list, think about those items that you and your roommate can share, like a refrigerator, coffee maker, stereo system or television. You probably don't need two of these "space takers" in one small room. It's a good idea to find out in advance what your roommate is planning to bring, so you don't have too many repeat items. There are plenty of details to consider when you're getting ready to go off to college. Start planning early, make lots of lists, and be sure to check and recheck those lists. The time between high school graduation and the first day of college will fly by, so don't wait until the last minute. Once you're all packed and ready, relax. Have a great year!

Written by Kathryn McManus with Sarah McManus

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