Make sure you have everything you need for the semester ahead. (Illustration by Nick Spearman, Savannah College of Art and Design)
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Make sure you have everything you need for the semester ahead. (Illustration by Nick Spearman, Savannah College of Art and Design)

Time to get out of your childhood bedroom and back onto campus!

The fall semester is upon us, and that means it’s time to start packing everything up to move back in. Whether you’re returning to the cramped, smelly dorms, jumping into the hustle and bustle of a sorority or fraternity house or you’ve found your very own apartment, it should be a very exciting time for any college student.

This guide will help you get everything together in an orderly fashion, so you don’t forget anything at home or feel super messy and rushed. What follows is my (admittedly, pretty amateur) list of tips.

1. Never Unpack

Okay, so this first one isn’t really a packing tip; it’s more of a suggestion to keep in mind for next year, in case you didn’t do it this year. Just don’t unpack. Leave everything (except maybe your clothes) in the boxes, bags and suitcases you brought them home in, and if you end up needing them, put them back right after using them. This will ensure that nothing gets left behind, because everything is in a visible pile that you can easily collect when it comes time to load up the car.

I know this might be a little irksome to you neat freaks (trust me, I feel the same way), but it really is worth it. You know that, when you arrive, you’ll want to have everything all decorated and finished as quickly as possible, and if you can’t find that one knick-knack or pair of sunglasses, you’re just going to feel anxious and incomplete until they turn up and your parents can send them over. Plus, I think you can survive the eyesore for a few months if it means being ready to go in just a few hours.

2. Sort Through All Your Clothes

This is why I said clothing was the exception to my last tip. It will be a grueling task, but it’s for the best.

I will be the first to admit that I have a bit of a fashion obsession. I like to be fun and noticeable with my style, so I find myself collecting a lot of clothing items, and they’re the kind of things that most people would buy for an Instagram shoot, and then never wear again after the photo is snapped. Now, this wasn’t much of a problem in high school. I varied what I wore more often then, because I knew that if I was uncomfortable I could just go home and change in a few short hours.

But college is a whole different story. I realized that I had to be in public for every single thing, from eating meals to studying to doing laundry. I couldn’t wear my nice clothes all day, so, rather than wearing them to class and then confusing my friends by changing into my comfy clothes later in the day, I would often choose to just go comfy the entire day. (Plus, I was waking up near noon and just being lazy about it.)

All this means that I brought way too many clothes to school the first time around, and I think it’s safe to assume that most of you did the same thing. So, instead of packing up your whole closet, it’s best to sort through every single item you brought the year before and ask yourself, “Will I ever actually wear this?” If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” then you should not bring it. It will save you so much weight and work. Instead, simply leave it at home or consider donating it.

3. Clean Before You Go

No one wants to have to stop to do laundry or wipe down picture frames when they’re arriving back at school. They want to get everything done fast, so that they can go see their friends again. That means that before you leave, you should make sure everything is clean. Dust your decorations, throw a load in the washing machine and give your dishes a good bubble bath before packing them up, so you aren’t starting off your semester cleaning or throwing things aside to do later (procrastinating already, huh?).

And, dear God, please do not put those dirty sheets that have been balled up on your floor all summer back onto your mattress. I can tell you’re thinking about it and just … do not. Go wash them first.

4. Consider Shipping

For those of you that have to fly to school (or if you just have a small car), shipping can be an easy way to get everything you need to campus if you can’t take it on your person. While it might be scary to put your valuables in the hands of strangers, who could easily take one wrong step and drop them, there really is no better option, unless you want to buy new stuff locally all over again or live without said stuff.

Unless you were able to store your things at school before you left, shipping should probably be your go-to, and with new technology, like package tracking and one- to two-day shipping, it’s only getting easier. Make sure to check with your college or university to see when you’re allowed to start getting things delivered, and you’ll be well on your way to getting all moved in.

5. Take Your Time

This is my most important tip, so I saved it for last. I had a poor experience trying to move out of the dorms last semester; my dad rushed us to get everything in the car in just about an hour so we could get back home in time to pick up my sister from the bus stop. This led to things getting a little bit bumped around, squashed or even broken. On top of that, I had been studying for finals and procrastinated packing for a while, so I really only got everything together the night before I left. The whole thing was very stressful, and I never want to experience anything like that again.

This time around, I know better, and I’m here to tell you about it. Take a few days — maybe even a week. You really don’t need to begin the semester with so much stress; it’s going to get stressful enough without packing problems. So relax, breathe and take your time. Try to put most of your stuff in the car the day before, and let yourself have a few hours to find the best configuration of boxes and suitcases so that nothing is too tight. Give yourself those extra few minutes to carry that one heavy box out with the help of a parent or sibling, rather than trying (and failing) to do it alone because you don’t want to wait for them.

Overall, just don’t stress. It’s going to be okay, everything will work out and you’ll soon be back at school, having the time of your life. There’s no need to hurry and no need to worry; you’ve got this. I’d wish you luck, but you won’t need it.

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