Monday, August 22, 2011

College or BUST!

I realize I may be a little late with this list, but I'm hoping it will help someone somewhere.  Recently, I was cleaning off some files on my computer and ran across this list.  I know there's got to be some anxious moms and/or OCD new students getting ready to start college, so I figured I'd share what I have.  A few years ago, a family friend of ours had a daughter getting ready to go off to college.  The mom asked for my help to compile a list of what I thought was necessary for a college student to have on campus if they are away from home so that they can feel comfortable and prepared.  Well, if you know me (or have been keeping up with my blog), you probably have learned that I am someone who likes to be ready overly prepared for just about anything. On top of just having what I need for life at college, I also was  Resident Advisor (RA) for two years.  So, that gave me a self-appointed responsibility to have anything a girl would need should someone come to me for some help with something.  So, after looking back on my original packing list from my Freshman year and adding to it things I've collected/added to my "stuff"/found necessary for life as a co-ed, I compiled this list to send to our friend (who loves being prepared and organized as much, if not more than I do).

Here's a little background just to set the scene.  When I was going to college, I was moving two hours away from home (Franklin, TN) to a small little college town (Murray, KY).  Murray is a very small town, and at the time I went there, there was only one Wal-Mart within driving distance.  If I forgot something I needed from Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, the mall, etc. I'd have to wait until my next trip home.  So, I tried to get as much as possible before moving.  My best friend from high school was my "suite-mate"...we had different roommates, but our rooms shared a bathroom.  So, we had a little time to talk and coordinate what we were bringing.  I later roomed with her, and it wasn't until my junior year that I lived on my own.  As an RA at Murray State, I had the privilege of living in my own room with my own bathroom.  So I started by just bringing the bare minimum, but once I got to living on my own, I needed EVERYTHING.  So, if you are using this list for yourself or your own college student, you may want/need to bring it down a couple notches.  Just wanted to give you that warning so this list doesn't completely overwhelm you.  Ready?  GO!

Refrigerator - Check with your residential hall for any size restrictions they might have.  
Hot Plate/George Foreman grill - Check with your residential hall on restrictions.  We  weren't allowed hot plates at Murray
Microwave - Check these rules as well.  Most colleges will have wattage restrictions.  
Plastic set (4) of bowls/cups/plates 
Coffee maker and mugs
Can opener
Chip clips
Dish scrub brush
Dish towels
Oven Mitt
Pizza Cutter
Plastic containers (Tupperware, Gladware disposable containers)
Water filter
Bowl for popcorn, chips, etc
Plastic pitcher
Favorite recipes from home
Cookie Sheet
Saucepan (3qt or 4 qt), other cooking utensils

Basic Foods:
Bottled Water
Packaged Foods
Favorite Snacks
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Granola Bars
Ramen Noodles
Easy Mac

Shower tote
Shower flip-flops
Hair products
Shower gel or bath soap
Face soap
Traveling-soap containers
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Dental floss
Nail Clippers/file/polish
Razor and shaving cream
Hair dryer
Hair straightener/curling iron, etc
Facial moisturizer
Cotton balls and cotton swabs
Bath towels (2-4)
Hand/face towels
Shower cap
Possibly shower caddy or over-shower head shelves for storage
Bathroom cup
Shower Curtain

Medicine to have on-hand:
Aspirin or ibuprofen
Vitamin C
Stomach relief (Pepto-Bismol)
Cough drops
Cold medicine (like Dayquill/Nyquill)
Vapor rub
Eye drops
Ice packs
Heating pad
Basic first-aid kit
Rubbing alcohol
Hydrogen peroxide

Drying Rack
Iron and Ironing Board
Laundry bag/basket
Laundry marking pen
Stain stick/stain remover
Sewing kit
Rolls of quarters
Lint brush
Clothes hangers
Safety pins

Two sets of sheets and pillowcases
Two pillows
Two blankets
Mattress pad
Stuffed animal
Alarm clock
Bedside lamp (some clip onto the bed)

Clothing Guidelines
Socks (more if you'll be playing sports)
Shirts/blouses…casual and also dressy for going out
Slippers and/or flip-flops
Sweaters and/or sweatshirts
Light/heavy jackets
1 pair of boots
2 pairs of sneakers or comfortable/walking shoes
1 pair of dress shoes
1 set of business attire
1 set of semi-formal attire (optional)
Dress Clothes
Jewelry & Watch
Swim Suit
Workout Clothes

School Supplies
CD–ROMs/Keychain Flash Drives 
Phone/address book
Assignment book
Heavy-duty stapler and staples
Pens and pencils
Pencil holder and sharpener
Notebook Paper
Pocket folders
3 x 5 cards
Post-it® notes
Paper clips
Rubber bands
Scotch tape
Masking tape
Highlighter pens (multiple colors)
Dictionary and thesaurus
Internet Access / Modem
Mouse & Pad
Phone Cord
Printer / Printer Paper
Printer Cartridge
Surge Protector
Cell Phone / Electronic Services
Desk Lamp
Three-hole Punch
Waste Basket

DVD/VCR player
Radio/CD player
Phone with answering machine (cordless is best) - Most buildings will have a phone system so you'll need this to call room-to-room.  
Extension cords
Surge protectors
Portable vacuum cleaner
Camera and charger
Batteries (AAA, AA, C, and D)
Flashlight with batteries

Room Needs, Decorations, and Storage
Milk crates or other sturdy storage cubes (a collapsible crate also comes in handy for carrying laundry or other things)
Stacking baskets
Under-the-bed storage trays
Adhesive hooks, tacky adhesive, and mounting tape (3M brand)
Bulletin board and push pins
Dry erase board and markers
Area rug
Family Photos
Holiday Decorations
Folding chair/bean bag chair
Fly Swatter

Cleaning Supplies
All-purpose cleaner
Toilet cleaner/brush
Rubber gloves
Windex wipes
Air freshener (spray, and plug-in)

Miscellaneous Needs
Beach Towel
Board Games
Bug Spray
Duct Tape
Sports Equipment
Water Bottle

Important Documents to Have
Bank Account / Checks
Pre-Paid Credit Card
Driver’s License
Financial Aid Forms
Medical Insurance Card
Registration Information
Renter’s Insurance
Social Security Card
Student ID

Buy when you get there:
Ziploc Bags (sandwich and gallon size)
Paper Towels
Trash Bags
Light Bulbs
All-purpose cleaners
Laundry Detergent/Fabric Softener
Dish Soap
Hand Soap
Wet Wipes
Toilet Paper

I'm sure some of this seems like common sense, but I guarantee if you shop without a list, you'll miss something basic.  It's overwhelming to shop and make sure to get everything you need, so using a list will give you something visual and concrete you can check off as you go.  

Something else I wanted to share with you is a few pictures of my room.  Dorm rooms are GROSS and plain and small.  It's hard when you walk in on that first day and see this: imagine that it will be any kind of cute and comfortable.  But, with some creativity and hard work, you can make it unique, homey, and your own little oasis.  There are a TON of great ideas out there.  I've seen lots of great ideas on Pinterest for organizing and making your dorm room nice.  Here are some of the ways I made mine work for me (Most of these are from when I was an RA and had my own space, but you can still transfer some ideas to a shared space):

The TV stand was actually a cheap find at Goodwill that my mom restored for me.  She hand-painted the flowers and added some detail to match my "shabby-chic" look.  As an RA, I was able to set up the room the way I wanted, so I pushed my beds together.  This was perfect for movie nights and card games with a bunch of friends.  You can fit a LOT of people on that bed!  Plus, it gives you TONS of under-bed storage...a need at college!  Some girls did this even if they were roomies to give them more flexibility in their room.  

I got the sheer single-panel curtain and beading valance on clearance at TJ Maxx.  Since my window was so narrow, I only needed one, so clearance was the best place to look for cute stuff that didn't have a partner.  The signs above my bed are metal...I got them at a shoppe I worked at in the summer.  They are just hung with ribbon on 3M hooks.  My college had an annual poster sale, which is where I got the print of the famous Wars End Kiss.  I just stuck it on the wall with sticky tac.

Don't forget to bring closet hanging shelves!  They were a HUGE space saver and kept me organized!  It's also important to have a trash can with a lid.  That's a small space and you don't want your leftover lunch to be stinkin' up the joint.  For me, I was able to fit one of the tall plastic drawers under my pedestal sink for extra bath storage.  That laundry hamper was great, too because you could detach the bag and carry it straight to the laundry room!  If you notice, I got a couple of large binder rings and hung them on the wall with another 3M hook to hold my necklaces and bracelets without getting tangled.  

Here you can see my mom's awesome painting detail better.  :o)  Also...I brought lots of picture frames.  Not all my loved ones where in KY with me, but I still got to look at their beautiful faces every day!  Also...most colleges have a candle restriction.  The tea lights on top my TV were glass holders with battery-operated flameless lights.  Perfect for the candle vibe without the fire hazard.  

I got the matching shower curtain to go with my shabby chic sheet set.  I also hung a ceramic "love" sign with pretty ribbon guessed it!  Another 3M hook!

I don't remember where I got them, but I put up these vintage bath signs for a little extra decor in the dull bathroom.  

If you are going to have a bathroom attached to your room, you will DEFINITELY want an over-the-toilet shelf for extra storage.  You'll notice not only here, but in my room also, that I used vintage doilies and table covers to soften the space.  Also, a sign I got at TJ Maxx and more pictures.  The bowl has fresh lavendar in it.  I kept my cleaning stuff on the floor on either side of the toilet.  

Be creative with your room set up.  Not everything has to go up against the wall.  I turned my desk and put my fridge on the other side to leave more room close to my door.  Any blank space on the wall should be filled with something colorful, whether it's a poster, pictures, or clothing.  I used more vintage prints above my bookshelves and a beach print in the tiny space between my shelves and my closet.  Put a 3M hook right inside your door so you always know where your keys will hang.  I HIGHLY recommend some kind of calendar, too.  I put a dry-erase one on the back of my door with two months, and couldn't have survived without it.  The back of the door was also a great place to put class calendars, due dates, sports schedules, and reminders of campus events.

 I was fortunate enough to get a hand-me-down loveseat from my parents for extra seating.  I can't tell you how many textbooks I read, phone conversations, counseling sessions, roommate debates, and gossip sessions were spent on that couch!  I got a jersey-knit slip cover to match my room.  It didn't perfectly fit, but did the job!  If your college sells sweatshirt blankets...GET ONE!  I still use mine to this day, it's one of my favorites.  The little iron shelf next to the couch is actually for the bathroom, but I got it cheap at Goodwill.  It was the perfect size for a side table, and held a couple more blankets for friend that came to visit.  I tacked paper lanterns on the wall.  You'll want as much lighting as you can manage. I hardly ever used the harsh neon lights and would just turn on all my lamps.  Nothing makes a place feel more like home like soft lighting.  :o)

WHEW!  That ended up being a lot longer than I expected!  Hopefully it will help you college kids get started and at least inspire you to think outside the box.  You CAN make it your just have to be creative!

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