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On the Road to College

Updated on June 22, 2012
HLKeeley profile image

HL Keeley has received a Bachelors degree in middle grade education. She is currently teaching high school.

Freshman Heather getting ready to load up car.
Freshman Heather getting ready to load up car.
My mother's car packed up. The only thing in my car was a hanging mirror.
My mother's car packed up. The only thing in my car was a hanging mirror.

Packing Up

One of the hardest moments for freshman is packing.

"What do I need? How big is the room? Mom stop crying, I will be back for break. Dad stop celebrating, I will be back for break."

Well most colleges give a basic list of the essentials to bring, but most importantly what NOT to bring.

What to Bring to College: (Essentials)

  1. Box Fan Mini Refrigerator
  2. Microwave
  3. XL Twin Sheets and comforter
  4. Egg Carton or any other mattress pad
  5. Flip flops (for shower)
  6. A carrier for shampoo, conditioner, soap (most bathrooms are community, so you want to keep your shower supplies in your room)
  7. A tiny safe or a combination lock to keep safe the things from robbery by roommate or other (NOT KIDDING!)
  8. VERY ANNOYING ALARM CLOCK! You need to wake up. They have alarm clocks that roll now...also battery operated in case the power goes out
  9. Bins for under the bed...your room will be tiny and the most room to put things is under your bed (unless you have a lofted bed, then get a Plastic Cabinet with 3-4 drawers.
  10. Last A VERY LARGE suitcase, this has saved me a lot of space in my car

What NOT to Bring (Western Carolina University's LONG list)

  1. air conditioners;
  2. amplifiers;
  3. aquariums (larger than 10 gallons);
  4. archery equipment;
  5. ceiling fans;
  6. cooking appliances with open coils (toasters, toaster ovens, hot plates, coffee makers);
  7. darts;
  8. decorations placed over lights/lamps;
  9. decorative weapons;
  10. electric blankets;
  11. electrical items that are not U.L. approved;
  12. explosives or combustible substances (including gasoline, kerosene, etc.);
  13. fireworks;
  14. halogen lights or lamps;
  15. indoor grill or broiler;
  16. kegs, party balls, funnels, bongs, and other drug paraphernalia;
  17. paper lanterns;
  18. pets (other than fish);
  19. power tools;
  20. refrigerators larger than 5 amps;
  21. smoke/fog machines;
  22. space heaters (electric, ceramic or kerosene);
  23. toy weapons (guns, knives, etc.) that could be mistaken for real; (we got away with nerf guns)
  24. waterbeds;
  25. weapons (including, but not limited to: knives, BB guns, air/gas pistols or rifles, firearms of any type, pressurized guns, paint ball guns, stun-guns or martial arts weapons, ammunition);
  26. weights for body building or other large exercise equipment (you most likely have a gym use that)
  27. Trust me there is probably more you will learn about like not hanging stuff on the ceilings

It is easy to get around all these things, so if you absolutely need one of these, most likely there is one on campus. For example: coffee machine= cafeteria or Starbucks weights=gym or toy guns because we all know that is an essential, Walmart and then store in a suitcase. Let's stick on the subject of guns, if you are going to have a toy gun do not let it be real looking. Get the absurd ones that look like they are from the future! Also, if you are going to use a residence hall kitchen, make sure you know how to cook. No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes a fire drill at 3 am because you want to make bacon.

Now that you know what you need, it is time to pack. This is the absolute worse part of college, especially when you live in a dorm. When you leave for summer, so does ALL of your things. It does not matter if you will have the same room next year. The dorms are used in the summer for summer classes, freshman orientation, sports, and more. So you will get used to packing. I am an expert at this now. I moved out of 4 houses, 3 I packed myself. One of those times was to college. I have moved out of my college room four times (changed rooms).

Things to take into consideration

  1. How much you need
  2. How much room in the car
  3. How many cars are driving up (aka Mom and Dad)
  4. How far away college is

My college is three hours from home in the mountains. One trip is desired. Moving into my rooms, my mom was there for the first day to help bring all my stuff, but moving out it was all me and my Nissan Altima '05. The car is small. My mom has an SUV, so it works.

When packing, you first need to take all your new things out of the boxes. Boxes take up space. One suitcase full of clothes. If you are a girl who needs to bring her whole closet, get the biggest suitcase you have. Keep in mind that takes up more space. There are breaks when you can switch out clothes as well, so do not bring your winter clothes before Thanksgiving break. My freshman year we got moving boxes and packed those up with all the new things: desk light, clip-on lamp for the bed, comforter, sheets, pillows...etc.

Boxes=little things.

The bigger stuff was left alone: hanging mirror for door, plastic rolling cabinet, two storage bins for under the bed packed with pens, pencils, decorations, etc, butterfly chair, refrigerator, microwave. If the bigger stuff can hold little things, than pack it in. You need space and you need to be able to see out the back window.

I have seen U-Hauls brought to campus. These are seriously not needed. If you have a car big enough to attach a U-Haul to, you have enough room. Keep in mind that breaks are best to get stuff from home if you cannot buy it. There has to be a Walmart near you!

Walmart=College students dream, SO not kidding!

When packing up the car, think of a puzzle or Tetris. Boxes are ideal because they fit next to each well. The first thing to put in car would be the fridge. It is most likely the biggest box. Next is the suitcase, lying down. There should not be anything breakable in that bag, so a box can be put on top. Then put the rest of the boxes in. Then all the big items. Usually the last thing I put in my car is the mirror, since when it lays on top of things it does not add much or it could lean on a box before the door closes.

With my little Nissan, it usually takes two trips. At the end of the school year, I use Easter break to bring home my first half: the non-essentials. At the end of the school year, you will see you had accumulated a lot more than you first brought: a rug or another fan. The last trip is usually the big things: suitcase, mirror, etc. Another thing, all those boxes you had are most likely gone now. I have used my laundry hamper, refrigerator, microwave, storage bins, and brought another suitcase from home to fit everything.

What you will notice is this:

  1. more stuff in the car=more weight=more gas used
  2. it will be harder to see out the windows
  3. Do not pile so you cannot see out windows, you will get pulled over or in an accident

Do not stress because in the end, all your stuff will get home. You will learn by trial and error. My school has GoodWill bins set up for the people who cannot bring everything home. Get rid of whatever you do not need or never used. A lot of desk chairs and mattress pads are thrown in there. It is also a good time to do trading if you have the room.

One more thing: Box TVs (the ones with a huge back) are seriously a pain in the neck (or shall i say back) moving. If you can get a little plasma, get that. They also connect with your computer, so you can watch Netflix or Hulu.

Everyone has different tactics in packing because everyone has a different car or situation. Just remember to stay safe and be smart. After all, you are in college.


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    • Sethughes profile image


      6 years ago

      This is really good. Thanks! I went off to college and brought a list of things the college recommended. Haha. Not a good idea. Good hub


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