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Forget-Me-Not: Don’t Forget to Pack _______!

Ah, returning to college. There is no experience quite as joyful as being back on campus, seeing all of your friends after a summer apart, and embracing the heady rush of independence!  But nothing brings you back down to Earth as suddenly and painfully as realizing that you left your vital _______ in your hometown! Here’s a last-minute checklist of the important things you may have forgotten. Shove these in your suitcase to keep your first days back on campus worry-free.

  • Charging cords. I don’t know about you, but the electrical sockets in my home are completely overrun with phone chargers, extension cords, iPod docking stations, alarm clocks, and a hopeless Gordian knot of wires I can’t even begin to untangle. It’s important that you check all the outlets in your house to make sure you haven’t forgotten the only charger that is compatible with your favorite device! Believe me: technology-deprived is not a positive way to begin your year.
  • Medicines and essential health products. Yeah, we all know inhalers aren’t cool (unless you’re Mikey in ‘The Goonies’, and even that is debatable) but using one when you need it is a whole lot smoother than beginning to asphyxiate on the treadmill next to the cute guy from your chemistry lab. Keep your prescriptions handy, and be ready to drop them off at a nearby pharmacy for refills to prevent suffering.
  • Shower shoes. Flip-flops may just be a buck at the dollar store, but you will never stop regretting the one time you had to shower barefoot. If communal showers are even a vague possibility, pack these!
  • Your planner/calendar/piece of paper with important dates on it. Lots of events happen in the wide world outside of the ‘college bubble’, including the birthdays of your family members and doctor’s appointments you scheduled months ago. Plan to remember, and be a step ahead of the game by being ready to write down anything that comes up in the first few days back (club meetings, rehearsals, etc.)
  • Retainers. If you were born in the past two decades, chances are pretty high that you had braces at some point. Don’t let that gorgeous smile of yours start to shift!
  • Any information from last year that you’ll need to use again. I always try to keep my textbooks from introductory classes handy when I dive into the upper levels. That way, I can refer back quickly and easily to confusing concepts! This is also important for clubs or organizations (particularly if you are a leader!). Uniforms and club t-shirts are an added bonus.
  • Social security information/birth certificate/driver’s licence. Obviously, if you are driving to school, this last one will be hard to forget. But some colleges require that you have this information before applying for a job on-campus, and you never know what kind of background checks off-campus jobs will want to run. Just remember: KEEP ALL INFORMATION PERTAINING TO YOUR IDENTITY SAFE. Identity theft is a dismal way to kick off the year!
  • Clothing to help you maintain modesty and decorum. For the first few weeks of my freshman year, I wished every single day that I’d thought to pack a robe. Walking down a long, co-ed hallway in nothing but a towel is a recipe for disaster! This is a hard one to remember, because most of us enjoyed the secure environment of our homes over the summer. Wardrobe malfunctions didn’t really matter when you and your cat Pickles were the only ones home! Whether it is an extra sports bra or another pair of athletic shorts, remember to bring the items you need to preserve your privacy!
  • A sewing kit. Gender stereotypes are so last century. Bring a needle and a spool of thread so that you aren’t the student rushing to an interview with a rip in the back of your dress pants. Rest assured, if you don’t know how to sew, someone in your dorm would be happy to teach you (or you can check out the awesome craft videos on Youtube. I recommend this link!
  • Thumbtacks and tape. On move-in day, these items are like the Holy Grail. Keep yours close!
  • Your camera. Memories are priceless. Even the ones you shouldn’t be uploading on Facebook.
  • Safety supplies. You define what this means. Perhaps it is a can of pepper spray (don’t try to get that on to a plane though!) or a box of condoms or an epi pen. Remember what you use to keep you safe in case of an emergency of any sort, and bring it along!
  • An overnight/gym bag. Dragging your humongous suitcase across campus is not healthy for your back, or for your image! Throw some sort of satchel, Indian Jones-style, into your suitcase for those sleepovers/early morning workouts/walks of shame/camping trips/etc.
  • Entertainment technology you can’t live without. My roommate last year was passionately devoted to music, and she kept her fancy headphones within arm’s reach at all times. Do you have a Netflix account? Bring your account information, and become the most sought-after person on your hall! Other suggestions include: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series on DVD, your older brother’s Xbox, an external hard drive to back up your music files, etc.
  • Whatever it is that makes you feel the most at home. I can’t sleep without at least 3 books under my pillow, an idiosyncrasy that I am certain will cause me neck problems later in life. My best friend keeps a childhood blanket at the foot of her bed. Another friend of mine has to sleep with her long-distance boyfriend’s sweatshirt. No matter what item (and no matter how strange!) if it make you feel at home, it is worth bringing it to school.
  • Luggage tags. If you are like my mother, you’ll have six or seven luggage tags all over your bag in case it gets lost between airports. I don’t use quite that many on my own luggage, but I do knot a colorful bandana around the handle to distinguish my nondescript black bag from its thousands of counterparts.

Wishing you a safe journey back to whatever college you attend—with everything you need packed up safely!