College packing 101

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By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Ah…’tis the season for first-year students to clear the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target in preparation for the big move to college. It’s a daunting and, at times, overwhelming task to pack up your life and move into a much smaller (and usually shared) living space.

Don’t stress, we are here to help! (By the way, that’s true not just for packing advice, but for any problem you encounter while you’re here. Never be afraid to ask for help!)

Keys to success

The keys to packing for college are the same things that will help you be successful once you get here:

  1. Do the research.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Keep track of what you need to get done.
  4. Do not procrastinate.

What to bring

Now, the good news: We’ve done the research for you on what to bring.

Here’s the official list from Penn State’s Housing and Food Services Department:

  • Address book, stamps, stationery
  • Alarm clock
  • Backpack
  • Baskets for toiletries and storage
  • Bed Linen: sheets (extra-long twin), mattress pad (extra-long twin), bedspread/blanket, and pillow
  • Bike and bike lock
  • Cleaning supplies (cleaner, paper towels)
  • Clothing (bathrobe)
  • Computer, printer, and cables
  • Desk items (lamp, pens/pencils/highlighters, calendar, calculator, tape, scissors, stapler, paperclips)
  • Fan (portable)
  • Financial items (checking/savings account, credit/debit card, health insurance card, Social Security card, driver’s license or photo ID)
  • First Aid items (band aids, cotton balls, cotton swabs, cold/cough medicine, first-aid kit, aspirin)
  • Food items (can opener, bottled beverages, coffee maker with automatic shutoff, one set of silverware/plates/bowls/glasses, condiments, napkins, snacks, dish detergent/ towel)
  • Games (cards, board games)
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket/bag, detergent, iron
  • Padlocks (desk, laptop, and bike)
  • Room decorations (note that posters/photos must be hung with plastic tack)
  • Sewing kit/safety pins
  • Snow shovel/snow brush to store in your car
  • Stereo system (CD player, radio, mini disc player, headphones, CDs, etc.)
  • Television
  • Toiletry Items
  • Towels
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum Cleaner (although vacuums are available in each residence area, it is suggested that you bring a small one with you, such as a “stick” vacuum, if your room is carpeted)
  • VCR or DVD player (with cables)

Especially for Behrend bound students

There are some additional things you should add to your shopping list if you’re bound for Behrend. We asked current Behrend students, recent alumni, and staff and faculty members what they would add to the list. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Bring winter clothes/brush/gear with you. Last year, a good majority of people were caught surprised by a foot of snow the week before Thanksgiving break. — Zachary McCauley
  • A scientific calculator. — Robert Durbin
  • A flashlight. — Amanda VanBuskirk
  • Swiffer, dust rag, dish soap, and a sponge. — Megan Dunlap
  • Yaktrax (traction cleats designed that pull on over your shoes) give you better traction on ice. — Lauren Minner
  • A sleeping bag for staying in friends’ rooms. — Alysha Simmons
  • A boot mat to put wet footwear on and something to clean the floor with, such as a Swiffer. — Savannah Martin
  • Desk lamp. — Megan Dunlap
  • A small wash bin to do dishes. It’s easier than trying to do them in the sink. — Ashlyn Kelly
  • A warm scarf to cover your face in winter as you walk around campus, good winter boots, a sturdy umbrella, and rain boots, too. — Valeri Maye
  • Bring a pair of old shoes or boots that you can get dirty during walks in the gorge. — Jackie Gowen
  • A boot dryer. —Amanda Hall (Editor’s note: Oooh, good one, Amanda. Very smart investment!)
  • Extension cords and multi-plug outlet adapters. — Carol Brandon