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Moving on Out: When You Can't Take It with You

Updated on June 20, 2013

Some dormitory students may wonder what to do with their unwanted things once they are ready to move out at the end of the semester. Accumulated items tend to pile up and soon you have more stuff than you can cram back into your numerous backpacks, trunks, etc. While there are some ways of donating or transferring unwanted items, most of the time much of it ends up in the dumpster. Everything must be out of the dorm when you leave or you will be billed for its removal. Here are some ways to avoid that.

Text books are by far the number one item returned at the end of each semester; after all, it's probably the one thing you didn't move in with if you didn't get prior notice from your professors to buy in advance. In some cases you will decide keep a book or two forever if they mean something to you, but more often than not they are pitched or passed off to the next person. If your school's book store does not have a return-for-cash policy, your best chance is eBay (specifically, which caters to such items). However, sometimes your books just won't sell, and in this case there may even be some book donation bins either inside your school's book store or student center or somewhere within your community. If there is just no space for you to pack it home in, find someone who is going to need it next semester, either a fellow student or the professor who ordered it for your class in the first place. If you strike out there, your only other options are to donate it to the university library or chuck it in the dumpster (I strongly recommend the former as literature does not belong in the garbage).

Dumpster diving is illegal or at least frowned upon by the government and other officials. Still, there are people who do it and don't get caught. While I don't recommend you do this, I know others who have come across hidden treasures (mostly at a nicer campus than the one they attended) in the garbage. Mostly, however, you will find gross takeout boxes and rotten food stuffs plus the odd broken appliance or mirror. To spare yourself a trip to the university medical office or emergency room (or even jail), just don't do it.

Forgetfulness is your enemy. Take one final look around your dorm room before leaving. Make sure you have checked all the drawers and hiding places you can possibly think of or remember. It's bad enough to be billed for the items you accidentally leave behind, but it's even worse to be fined on top of that for items you borrowed but forgot to return if they didn't belong to you in the first place. This applies to university-owned items as well as things you have borrowed from your friends and colleagues. Finally, remember to carefully remove as much tape or poster gum from the walls as possible - as previously mentioned, they will get you on anything, even damages that weren't your fault to begin with. Clear tape left behind is better than peeled paint, though, but use your best judgment.

To conclude, don't leave anything behind you don't want to be billed for or don't want the next tenant finding (such as undergarments). Waste not, want not - dumpsters are already overflowing with normal garbage, so don't unnecessarily add salvageable items to the mix. Someone somewhere will have a good use for your items, and while you may not stand to receive much money (if any) back from the school book store, it may be worth the hassle of taking an extra bag or two home with you if you can sell your items online or pass them along to someone else who can use them.

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