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How to Pack for College: 10 Tips for Your Freshman

Packing For School

The kid is finally heading to college. Despite mom’s requests, they made the choice to go across the country to experience new things. With that means they’ll need to start packing soon, and by they, we mean it’ll be the parents’ responsibility to plan the move.

Collegeboxes created 10 helpful tips for you and your freshman on how to pack for college.

1. How Long Before College Should My Freshman Pack

When should the packing process begin? Your child moving away from home will require plenty of decisions to be made. We generally suggest that the initial plan start about a month before move-in. It’s important to assess what needs to come with your freshman, what can be shipped, and what to buy later, which we touch on later in the following tips.

The month-long window allows you, the parent, to put together more ideas than your child probably will about his or her needs. Especially if you’re shipping items to your freshman’s university, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and ship early to ensure the packages arrive when you do too. The packing process shouldn’t take as long as one would think because it’s important that your child isn’t bringing everything they own to their freshman dorm, which we’ll outline in a later tip.

2. Location, Location, Location

Is your daughter leaving the Midwest for the palm walks in California or Florida? She’s not going to need that winter wardrobe. Dorm rooms are small and it’s important to help your freshman choose clothes that they’ll wear often as closet space is limited. Remind your child they’ll be back between semesters and can switch out a chunk of their clothing then if they truly need something.

It is also recommended that they invest in a nice pair of walking shoes, and if your freshman is headed for a snowy area, they’ll need a good pair of boots too.

3. How Much Clothes to Bring to College

The climate has already narrowed their clothes choices. While this might be the harder part of a college packing list for girls, it’s crucial to know how much clothes to bring to college. In most places, we recommend that you pack around two to three weeks of the essentials (underwear, socks, shirts). After that it’s a good idea to have them arrange outfits they could put together with various pants and jeans as we believe they’ll only need three-five choices for bottoms.

The additional items should be decided upon the location as mentioned above. Will they need more shorts or sweatshirts? There are also certain pieces that they’ll want to round out that closet such as a skirt or leather jacket. It’s also a good idea that your son or daughter has at least one business attire outfit for job interviews or any other occasion that calls for it.

4. How to Pack Clothes for College

The first tip to pack clothes for college is to have your moving boxes, luggage, or trunks ready. Gather other supplies like clear shoe boxes and packaging paper tape.

To save the time and effort folding, keep all shirts on hangers and put a trash bag around them or invest in a wardrobe box. For the other clothes that your child has decided to take to college, sort by pieces or materials. Don’t over-stuff your boxes when you pack non-hanging or folded clothing. This keeps your boxes light and prevents the bottom of the box from falling out. Finally, tape the boxes properly with our guide.

5. Organizing Dorm Room Essentials to be Shipped

What else does your freshman need? There’s a lot to a college packing list. The bedding will be the bulkiest item that will need to be shipped. However, most dorm room beds will be twin-size meaning it’ll be more compact than most.

Bathroom accessories such as an empty shower caddy, towels; both large and small, and even shoes for the shower will be needed as well. Your child will need their decorations for the room to personalize their space. This isn’t everything but a lot of the items that will need to be packed and shipped before leaving.

6. How to Pack Toiletries for College

Speaking of toiletries, how do they pack toiletries for college? And no, we don’t recommend cramming all of it in a box hoping it arrives intact. Start by categorizing the items. Your son or daughter should group the things to bring to college into categories such as appliances (blow dryer, ex.), cosmetics, hair products, medicine, and accessories.

To get creative for easier organization, use old shoe boxes and divide your items based on categories into specific shoe boxes. That way the boxes can be stacked into one moving box for easier shipment. It’s also vital for fragile items like perfume or cologne to use cushion foam and packing paper.

7. Things to Buy When Going to University When You Get There

There are certain items that it makes little sense to ship when it can be bought once you and your freshman arrive in their college town. The weight of a mini fridge, microwave, and dishes cost a lot to ship. Save yourself the effort and buy these items at a local store near the university.

But how are those heavy items going to return to your home once the school year is over? Store them! Collegeboxes offers college storage for your convenience. We pick up your belongings from your dorm room and store them in a nearby climate-controlled storage facility. When you return to campus, your items are delivered to your dorm room or off-campus housing.

8. Other Useful Thing to Have in College

There’s a handful of other items that the college dorm list doesn’t include. As a parent, telling your child they need a toolkit, a flashlight, and a supply of batteries never hurts to have. Certain things like a toolkit or even an extra set from dad’s garage can be shipped. If you’re buying batteries, it’s better to buy at the local store with the other items like the mini fridge.

9. Best Way to Ship Boxes to College

How is all their stuff getting to their college? Unfortunately, your freshman didn’t pick the university down the street, all those college necessities will need to be shipped. What are the best options? Collegeboxes offers ship to school.

The ship to school allows you to order a supply kit that you pack and we’ll deliver the packages straight to your freshman’s dorm room. With a discounted shipping rate, all that needs to be done after packing is to schedule a FedEx pickup at your home and provide your delivery information. Your belongings will be shipped to a U-Haul facility near campus where we will hold them until you move to campus.  

10. College Move-In Day is the First Party

Be prepared as much as possible because college move-in day can be chaotic. Construct a plan based upon the information given by the university. Bring your own cleaning supplies. Yes, the university is supposed to have the rooms clean but there’s a lot of rooms and there might be things for you to clean. Know when to be there, the best route to get there, and expect there to be delays in the process. Remember, you’re not the only anxious parent sending your kid off to college.

Lastly, don’t forget that as stressed as you are, your freshman is probably feeling the same way or worse in the moment. Be sure to comfort them as both of your lives are changing for the time being.

Need tips for moving your child into their dorm? Check out our article on 10 Tips For Moving Your Kid Into a College Dorm for helpful advice.

All these tips will help your college freshman. The resources mentioned can all be provided by Collegeboxes and its dorm room movers so sign up today! For more information on how to support your child moving to college, visit our Parents Page.