As July comes to a close, it's time to start thinking about back-to-school shopping. Shopping for your first year of college is a much bigger endeavor than regular back-to-school shopping. When I left for college last summer, I took a whole lot more with me than a backpack full of fresh school supplies. Here are some tips to help you pack for your freshman year.
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You will need to bring your own bedding, towels, toiletries and other personal items. Most dorms have extra-long twin beds, but if you aren't sure, check with your school. You also should bring a mattress pad so you don't have to use the schools.
If you will be living farther from home, it's probably a good idea to pack your off-season clothes — you won't want to be stuck wearing shorts if the weather turns cold faster than you expected.
Carrie Yeatts of Mercersburg, Pa., said it is easy to forget very basic items.
"(Bring) Tylenol, Band-Aids, and things like that," said Yeatts, a senior at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. "You don't usually think about (those things) because you use (your mom's). Some of my friends forgot shampoo and stuff because they just didn't think about it."
"You need to be self-sufficient," said Brittney Stroud of Hagerstown, who's a sophomore at Liberty University in Virginia.
Depending on the layout of your dorm, you might need a way to transport your shower items from your room to the bathroom. While the canvas shower caddies are cute and colorful, they will inevitably get wet, and material will retain the moisture. Instead, choose a plastic caddy with holes for drainage or a small wire basket.
In a small crowded dorm room, space is at a premium. A little planning goes a long way to minimizing clutter and maximizing your space.
"Anything you can save space on is really important, because the rooms are small and you're sharing it with another person," Yeatts said.
Even if you are generally not an organized person, a few small investments can make your life (and your roommate's life) much easier.
Over-the-door organizers are a great way to store everything from shoes to food to a hairdryer. As an added bonus, these organizers can be hung out of sight on the inside of a closet door.
"One really good thing I did last year was I (bought) milk crates," Stroud said.
She said the plastic crates can be stacked to create shelving and can also be used to transport your belongings to and from school.
Plastic organizational drawers come in a variety of sizes and can store all sorts of belongings including clothes, DVDs, school supplies and jewelry.
Shoeboxes are a fun, economical way to maximize your storage space. Last year I used shoe boxes to store everything from athletic tape and soccer socks to graded papers, sunglasses and hair accessories.
If you remove the lid, a shoe box is the perfect drawer divider. For extra storage space, I wrapped a few shoe boxes in colorful wrapping paper and stored them on top of my dresser. The wrapping paper added a splash of color to my room and the lids kept my stuff clean and dust-free. Shoe boxes can also be neatly stacked on the floor of your closet. If you decide to use shoe boxes, look for the ones with a removable lid.
If you have walk-in closets, a shower bar can be a great way to double your hanging space. Set up the shower bar at about waist height so you have easy access to your clothes hanging in the back. This is especially useful if you and your roommate have to share a closet. Another way to maximize closet space is to invest in hangers that can hold multiple items of clothing.