Take It or Leave It

Take It or Leave It
Going off to college is a memorable experience for both teenager and parent. It's a time of planning and preparation for life away from home. Get ready with this list that will help you decide what to take to college, what to leave behind and what to purchase before you go.

Take It

No need to repurchase some of the items you invested in during your high school years if they’re still functional and in good shape. This list includes:

  • A laptop or desktop computer. A computer is essential for college success. A laptop is best because you can tote it to the library and around campus for convenient studying.
  • Alarm clock. Your alarm clock will be a necessity when Mom isn't there to wake you up for an 8 a.m. class.
  • A small radio or MP3 player. 
  • Headphones and earplugs. Take headphones so your roommate doesn’t have to listen to your music, and pack earplugs to ensure you don’t have to listen to your roommate’s music.
  • Organizational tools. Reuse old hanging shoe caddies, accessory organizers and file boxes with lids to store important school papers.
  • Bring a few of your favorite comfy casual clothes for class and studying, but don’t forget to pack a few dressier outfits for events and when family or friends visit.

Leave It

There are many things that are expensive to pack and ship or haul all the way to college. That means it's smarter to leave some things behind and purchase them once you arrive in your college town.

  • Photo albums, yearbooks and souvenirs that have accumulated over the years can stay home. One or two photos of friends and family and maybe a favorite poster should be enough. Limit these items because you won’t have much room to decorate — and you are in college to create new memories (over time you'll have plenty of new photos and mementos to display). Many of your photos are probably stored on your computer anyway.
  • A lot of your clothes and shoes. Just like packing for a trip, always bring as little as possible. Shopping for low-cost replacements in your new city will ensure your clothes are climate- and college-appropriate.
  • Bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, pillows and blankets. They may seem light and fluffy, but bedding is actually heavy and takes up a lot of packing space. Hit the nearest Walmart once you arrive at college for great, inexpensive supplies to outfit your new dorm room in style. Or, order what you need online and have it shipped to a Walmart near your new school with Site to Store.
  • Heating appliances. Not only do most schools prohibit toasters, warming plates and toaster ovens because they’re fire hazards, they aren't really necessary when the dining hall is steps away. Instead, purchase a small microwave and mini-fridge for a great way to have some food basics and snacks on hand. You won't want to haul these heavy items from home; the cost of shipping can be more than their actual value.
  • Food. Cans and boxes can be bulky to lug around so there’s no need to bring them from home. Plus, most perishables and even some non-perishables won’t survive the trip to college anyway. Instead, easily pick up what you need off-campus. This will also give Mom an excuse to send you frequent care packages filled with homemade goodies.
  • Toiletries and shower accessories. Nonslip waterproof sandals, robe, towels and a caddy to carry toiletries to the showers are a must. Personal toiletries for your dorm can easily be bought on campus or at a Walmart near campus where they’re affordable for a college student’s budget.

Don’t stress about what to leave and what to take to college. The point is to get to school and settle in. If you realize during your first semester that you have left something important behind, you can always ask your family to ship it to you or you can pick it up when you go home on break. The important thing is to get ready to have a great four years in what will be some of the most challenging, transformational and exciting years of your life.

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