By now you’ve heard a hundred variations on the phrase: “But you’ll be so far away!” And all you can think when you hear it is, “REALLY?! I’m going to be hundreds/thousands of miles away? I totally did not realize that!” Your underclassmen munchkins are giving you puppy dog eyes, your parents made you physically sign a contract to come back over break, and everyone’s already planning periodic Skype dates to keep in touch.

Ever since you SIR-ed, you’ve been getting yourself ready. You’ve got buddies on the Facebook group, you’ve bought all the college gear, and you’ve even started working on your accent (…oh, that’s just me?). It’s a month or so until you haul yourself and all your stuff out north/east/south/west and you’re ready beyond belief…until you realize, you’re hauling yourself and everything you’ll need to live for a year to somewhere brand new. You need a guide? Here at The Prospect, we’ve got you.

Get Comfy

Plane tickets don’t come cheap (if they do, tell me your secrets!), and one downside of being thousands of miles from school is probably not having visited or been around as often as a school local to you. If you haven’t been able to visit campus yet, get as close as you can! The internet is full of wonderful things. Stalk YouTube for videos of your school made by both students and the university; rummage through the Tumblr and Instagram hashtags; check if there’s an iPhone or Android app for either prospective or current students (photos, videos, and maps galore); or if you know someone going to the school, ask them to wear a GoPro for a day as they go through their classes and social life (I kid you not! Or just ask them to take photos of their day, that works too.). Or, bring the school to you! I was a tiny bit excited when I found out I could do Google Maps Street View of my campus. (Read: I spent 2 hours virtually walking around the grounds and silently fangirling at three in the morning.)

Being virtually acquainted with the campus might make you feel like screaming, “I’M HOME!” once you step foot there in real life, and even gives you a sense of ownership when you’re walking around and are pointing out buildings and landmarks as if you’ve resided there for years.

Moving Yourself

Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away…the most popular way of getting to school for XC students is flying out. Buy your tickets (whoo hoo, did you say one-way ticket?!) early: your move in day is somewhere in mid-August to late-September, which is right at the end of summer, and is still part of the high-fare peak season. The later you buy your tickets, the higher your price!

But say your school allows you to take your car on campus. While you can find many a shipping service to have your car sent to you, you may want to make it a roadtrip! By taking your own transportation, you can take as many boxes as you want and can hold without those ridiculous baggage fees that airlines charge.

What You’ll Need

Regardless of your college, dorm, or state, these are the essentials for move-in: bedding for twin XL mattresses, clothes, towels, clothes hangers, Ethernet cord, UL Approved power strips with built in circuit breakers, toiletries.

Bed Bath & Beyond created a very handy checklist with a comprehensive list of things you’ll both need, sorta-need, and want to guide you. In the following sections, we’ll divide up these whatnots into what you’ll bring,what you’ll buy, and how to do both.

What to Bring

1. Clothes. Don’t pack everything though; if you’re coming from anywhere that snows to a school somewhere like Florida or SoCal, you can leave that parka at home. Put together a box for clothes to be hand-me-downs or donated! Vice versa, if you’re coming from a state with basically one season (cough-California-cough) and going to a school with the epitome of all four seasons (cough-New York-cough) bring all your gear, and be prepared to buy more for seasons you’re not used to.

If you’ll have friends or family close to your school, see if you can store things with them this summer! Either you can ship them via post, or if you’re going to be in the area before hand (summer orientation, just touring, vacation) pack a bag and leave it!

2. Personal items (Rule of Thumb: Personalized = too difficult/impossible to simply buy again). One example is electronics; things like your phone, laptop and respective chargers are a must bring! Before you make the move, use a hard drive or cloud service such as Google Drive or Microsoft’s SkyDrive to back up important documents or move over your music library (this is applicable to all students leaving for school). Personal effects, which are little things to remind you of home (cards, trinkets, photo collages), are great to combat homesickness.

What Not to Bring (Or, What to Buy)

Don’t bring anything you can buy there. Bedding, fans, mirrors, toiletries, seasonal-specific clothes, etc. Minimize what you’re lugging out to school. You want to avoid as many over-charged fees as you can, and definitely want to avoid having to send your parents back with extra stuff! And unlike your friends who are closer to home for college, you won’t be able to call up your parents to bring anything you’ve left behind the next time they visit. Talk to your roommate(s) as soon as possible to divide up who will be bringing what, and check your school’s approved list of appliances and items for the dorm.

For example, if you don’t have a mini-fridge already, don’t buy one now! Buy it in the closest town when you get to college (or rent one from the college!). As it’s national, friendly, and familiar, Target is about to become your new best friend (hint: their giftcards also makes for great grad and moving-away gifts). Bed Bath and Beyond hosts “Moving Solutions for Freshmen” where you can either shop in-store and pick up at the closest BB&B to your college, or order online and have it all shipped to school by the date you choose. Consider adventuring the local shops by your school to hunt for unique pieces for your dorm; national chain stores are fantastic for well-priced, familiar stuff, but you know half the dorm will also be getting decor there.

For the things you already have, but decide not to bring, give to friends or leave with family, or donate!

Me and my gigantic bag full of winter clothes (well, CA’s winter, NY’s autumn) to store back east when I went to Fordham University’s Summer Orientation.

Transporting Your ‘Whatnots’

U-Haul provides a shipping & storage service unique to college students called College BoxesEverything from boxes pick-up, storing for the summer, and delivery to your dorm is included in the service, and is a great way to do your first move-in to college.

If you don’t plan to pack until the end of summer, you can always go with the trusty ol’ shipping companies like FedEx or UPS to send your stuff out.

Things that you’ll want to ship and not carry in luggage are heavy items: appliances (mini-fridge, TV), bikes, seasonal clothes (ie: autumn/winter clothes can be packed in large boxes, shipped, and kept in those boxes in your dorm until after summer weather passes).

And there it is. Not so bad, hm? You’re all set to move-in cross-country. Now go adventuring. 

Footnotes: Kudos to fellow Prospect writers Clarissa GallardoSteven Gu, and Lili Borland for their information in the research for this article!

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the author

Jo is in her first year of studying biology at Fordham University, with interests in the social sciences, business management, and world domination. Recently returned to New York from 12 years in California, you'll most likely find her adventuring around the city. Residences include the science and humanities departments, running trails, and every coffee shop from here to Narnia. Nobody’s quite sure if she has a heart, but she’s got some sort of pump that moves around the black sludge that is espresso through her veins.

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  1. Mollie Yacano on July 3, 2013

    Also take advantage of the programs bed bath and container store have where you can go pick out stuff you want and they’ll have it at the closest bed bath to your school when you get there. You don’t pay until you pick the stuff up AND you can choose not to buy stuff that you had originally wanted if you realize you don’t need it!

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