Pack Smarter: What to Consider When Creating Your College Packing List

by John Montesi

Preparing for a move to a new place is never easy. That’s why there are countless websites out there claiming they have the ultimate college packing list to help lighten your load come fall. But instead of relying on a general list of items, it’s important to match your suitcase to the specific place you’re heading, as everything from the climate to housing policies to campus amenities will be a large factor in determining what you should bring.

If you’re heading to Azusa Pacific University this fall, here’s a look at what you should consider when packing for your first year of college.

Essential Creature Comforts

As you transition to a new place, it’s important to feel at home in your surroundings. First and foremost, you’ll want the obvious essentials—your favorite clothes for each occasion you may encounter (all with the mild Southern California climate in mind). Don’t let the sunshine and palm trees fool you, though; winter nights in SoCal can be deceptively chilly!

Then, think of the things that make you feel comfortable, like bedding that fits your provided dorm bed and a few familiar decorative touches. Some (non-damaging) wall art and desk accessories can provide just the personal flair you’re looking for, without having to move any large furniture.

Creating a cozy, home-like atmosphere will make all the difference in helping you get a good night’s sleep and enjoy spending time studying and lounging in your room. This list from the Office of Housing Services provides helpful reminders about what you’ll need—and what you can’t bring with you.

Pro tip: Don’t try to cram every possible item into a small space. If you’re not sure you’ll need something and it’s unessential, leave it behind. If you find yourself missing it, have your family ship it to you or remember to bring it back with you after break.

Shared Spaces and Common Areas

Moving into dorms means moving in with a roommate. Whether you’ve already met or won’t meet until move-in day, it’s helpful to coordinate with your roommate on your college packing list. You likely don’t need two mini fridges, two floor lamps, or two extra chairs for lounging. And, in the case of APU, communal lounge areas are provided throughout on-campus housing, further reducing the need for extra furniture or décor beyond what makes you feel comfortable.

It’s a common story: You show up at college committed to decorating, bring plenty of gear for every possible situation, and next thing you know, you blink and the school year is already over! Between classes and social life, the days fly by. You want your room to feel like home, but you’ll be amazed at how rarely you’re there.

Housing Policies

APU is committed to students’ success in academics as well as in their social and spiritual lives. That means it has unique requirements and policies for living in the community, which minimize distractions and the potential for behavior that goes against its code of conduct. This may not change your college packing list too much, but it’s important to remember what’s expected of you and how these policies can affect where (and how) you’ll spend your time.

Packing Smarter, Not More

Almost all college students end up feeling like they packed more than they needed for their freshman year. There’s no shortage of good-natured jokes about spotting first-years on campus because of their luggage.

Aside from school supplies and maybe a few in-room essentials like a mini fridge or a gaming system, there isn’t much you need for dorm life that you don’t already have or isn’t provided. The best-decorated dorm rooms are always the ones that are easy to clean and have plenty of space for moving around.

When it comes to your college packing list, think about the lifestyle, climate, and activities you’ll be experiencing. Instead of saying, “You never know, there might be an occasion where I’ll need my seventh grade Halloween costume!” simply take what you’ll need, and a few things that you’ll want.