It’s a good idea to make the acquisition of “college stuff” an ongoing summer project rather than scrambling in August. It’s also smart to consider the realities of space when your student gets to college. Yes, she may want all of her familiar, comfortable items around her, yet she may need to pick and choose—or rotate items during trips home—in order to avoid a crowded, cramped room.
For instance, consider furniture. Your student will be provided with the necessities (bed, desk, chair) within her residence hall room. To augment this, maybe a large couch isn’t such a good idea! Instead, she can bring along two large floor pillows (that can be stashed on the bed when not in use), a video game chair that sits on the floor, a beanbag, a futon, or one of those inflatable chairs. They all provide comfort while not eating up valuable room space.
Once your student knows her roommate(s), it’s important for them to communicate before they arrive on campus. That way, they can avoid duplicate rugs, TVs, stereos, fridges and more.
Help your student think about her wardrobe. Those bulky sweaters that provide such a reprieve in December will only serve to take up closet and dresser space during the warmer months. So, can she pick up winter clothing during a break period instead? Or can it be mailed to her? Another option is making sure she has space to stash a suitcase full of winter clothes below her bed, out of the way until needed.
When it comes to books and papers, help your student remember that she’ll be acquiring a lot of them when purchasing class materials at the campus bookstore. The shelves and files will fill up quickly! It’s okay to bring along some favorite books and papers from home—just not too many. And maybe that huge dictionary isn’t the most practical… it could be time to opt for the medium-size version instead.
An area where many students get hung up is “personal stuff,” from framed photos to graduation gifts to knick-knacks with meaning. There is no way that all of this can fit in one residence hall room, plus, when there’s too much, it can make things seem less special. Encourage your student to pick and choose carefully —and to leave things that are really valuable at home.
The great stuff sort-through is part of the packing process. Encourage your student to start simple, without excessive stuff, until she is familiar with her roommate and their living space. She can always add things in. This way, she won’t get frustrated and you won’t be left with a car full of items to truck back home once moving day is over!