The Final Countdown to College

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

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The final countdown to shipping out and starting anew as a college student can feel like the end of the world. You start to panic, realizing you are still a kid!

How do I clean a toilet? What’s the difference between hot and cold laundry? And do not tell me I have to SHARE a closet?

First rule, don’t panic. By breaking down your countdown by the months, weeks and days to departure, you can make a clean getaway to campus and a lighter load in your laundry for the week!

Final Month: Make the Most of Mom and Dad

Take some time out of your busy and frenetic schedule to just hang out with mom and dad. Just sitting down for a quiet family meal or talking about any concerns before shipping out can potentially offer great pearls of wisdom. While your parents may wax on about how quickly you grew up and pull out the baby pictures, spending that last month before you leave the nest will be something special to reflect on. This last month is also a great time to soak up all those delicious homemade meals your parents are far superior in crafting than you are.

Final Weeks: Lessons in Housekeeping

Confession: I did not learn how to wash a single load of laundry until my freshman year of college. Hey, I’m not alone out there as plenty of college kids get used to the luxury laundry service dear old mom and dad provide on a weekly basis. But it’s time to come to terms with your lack of cleaning prowess and get friendly with your laundry machine.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask your family for tips, and it helps to take notes like I did. It may seem silly, but it will save you that moment of terror when your favorite white top comes out a rich shade of pink! Getting used to a life with a clean routine also sets you up for a healthy lifestyle whether in the dorms or off campus. Don’t look at your new college digs as an endless list of household chores, see it as a crash course to navigating the nitty-gritty real world.

Final Days: Get Crafty With Room Decor

Get out your nervous energy and make some handmade decorations for your new humble abode. Framed collages of friends and family are a cheap way to bring a piece of home with you to school. Get even more creative and make some framed art that will make your cinder block dorm room look like a gallery.

Try some of these fun Pinterest crafts that will look even better as framed pieces! For those who are more adept at the sewing machine, make a fun T-shirt quilt of old tees that have a sentimental value to it. Collect any old athletic tops, gym clothes or spirit week outfits to make a giant quilt for your dorm room bed. It’s a fun way to get those T-shirts collecting dust out of your drawers!

Overnight: Don’t Overthink The Packing

Perhaps my biggest fear of heading off to school wasn’t leaving behind my hometown, but rather my closet! The thought of packing an entire year's worth of wardrobe choices, accessories, shoes, you name it, put me into a hot sweat of panic. But no matter if you are heading to a new climate or driving an hour outside your home, packing for school should be like packing for a trip: keep it simple! It’s good to pack more summer-oriented clothing when you head off to campus in the month of August/September. Shorts, tank tops and flip-flops go a long way, and for many colleges, you can recycle outfits long into the month of October.

Attending school in D.C., I thought the seasons would be exactly like my town in Connecticut, but boy, was I wrong. Too many coats, pants and sweaters were stuffed in my drawers waiting to bust out! Do a little research if you are traveling outside your hometown for school. You never know what seasons, or lack thereof, exist at school. It’s also important to note that you will see your clothes again, so don’t fret! The best time of the year to make season exchanges are holiday breaks. Try to pack up as many warmer weather pieces to bring home for Thanksgiving break, that way you can make an easy exchange for winter wear when you head back home!

Finally, always remind yourselves that whatever goes there, must come home. If you are heading back home for the summer from college, remember that all those clothes, books and bedding have to go right back into the family car. Investigate your school to see if they have on-campus storing available, making it an even easier transition for the the fall, so you can store your bigger pieces like bedding or furniture that you won’t need back at home. Plus, it will put a giant smile on Mom and Dad’s face when they’re able to safely put the car in reverse and head home without your year’s supply of jeans in the way!

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