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Simple, efficient college preparation

August 3, 2012
BY KAYLA VAN DYNE - The Scene , Times Leader

The summer is coming to a close, and will be officially over when kids go back to school. For some, if not most, the first day of school is full of mixed emotions, sadness as the first day of school means the end of summer freedom, excitement to see friends and maybe a little fear because it's a new grade, new teacher and harder material.

While elementary and high schoolers experience these emotions, freshmen and seniors feel the full impact - freshmen because they are starting high school and seniors because they are approaching their final year in high school. Perhaps recent high school grads, however, have the most anxiety as they are treading into new territory as college freshman.

There is a lot of thought that goes into going to college. Apart from deciding what you want to do, where you want to go and how far away from home you are willing to go, there is also paying tuition, figuring out financial aid and scholarships. Once you are beyond all these headaches (yes headaches, but it's all worth it in the end), there is a whole new batch of headaches waiting for you when it comes time to pack and figure out what to take.

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Most megastores send out special advertisements that cater to college students, which include bedding, storage and supplies like binders and notebooks. They also include a shopping checklist. These lists are like the list elementary schools pass out on steroids. Though they do give ideas of where to start, in the end, you really can't take everything they've suggested. While skimming their list for ideas, create your own of what you really need. Simplicity is essential in limited quarters.

Take into consideration space; the space of the room and of the car you have to pack. Also, remember you will not be alone, you may and probably will have a roommate. You have to be considerate of that roommate if you want a peaceful semester. It helps that when the school gives you your roommate's name and contact information, you contact that person and see what he or she is bringing.

Going back to the packing list. After reviewing an already made list, mark what you would use and need - and need is priority here. Think about what you actually use everyday, such as an alarm clock. But do you actually use an alarm clock or do you use your phone? If you already use your phone, then there is really no point of taking a bulky alarm clock.

When comes to making a list it helps to section it off into areas, such as bed area, desk, bathroom and miscellaneous for example. Until you have actually seen your room and met the roommate or mates, it is best to pack as light as possible. They have these great things called bed in a bag, which includes everything you need for a bed except for a pillow. Make sure to add that to the list. Keep the amount of bedding simple, a set of sheets (which it never hurts to have an extra set), a comforter and maybe an extra blanket.

Keep it simple with one or two pillows, decorative pillows are not necessary. Even if you do make your bed every single day, decorative pillows really just take up precious space. Your bed will become the center of your room. It is the one space in the room that is yours alone - it will become your couch, desk and sometimes dinner table.

Bed risers will provide extra space for storage underneath the bed. Plastic bins can be kept underneath for food storage, extra sheets and shoes, etc. A shower candy can keep all of your toiletries in one spot instead of scattered around the room.

Much like your bedding, clothes are a necessity, but you don't need every stitch from your current wardrobe. When returning home, you can get any pieces that you forgot or return things you don't need. While jeans are versatile, other items such as dresses or suits suits may not be needed as much.

Sweatpants and pajamas are a must, but keep in mind that sweats can also be worn as pjs. The amount of shoes should be kept to a minimal and the same for hoodies. With all these clothes, don't forget to bring a hamper and laundry detergent. If it is anything like the laundry facilities from my freshman year, bring a lot of quarters.

A lap top will take up less space then a desk top computer. These days, many books for classes can be also be found as e-books. Calling the school's bookstore ahead of time will be helpful. If you are old school and prefer to have an actual book, consult the bookstore for prices and ISBN numbers. They may be found cheaper online at websites like amazon or ebay. Another thing to remember is that music, movies and pictures can be uploaded on to your computer before you leave for college, which means less clutter.

Food and toiletries can be bought at a store close by after everything is unpacked. Milk crates, which can bought in stores, are great for packing and make-shift shelves. The most important part is to remember that less is more and the most important items, those which are used on a daily bases, should be packed first.

Van Dyne can be reached at



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