Confessions of a Dorm Packrat: Less is More

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a packrat. Okay, Okay… More like a major packrat.

Living two and a half hours away from campus makes it quite easy for me to be one since my main reliable form of transportation to and from campus is the Amtrak train, and my family usually only visits when I need help moving in and out of my dorm room.

My packrattiness  wasn’t so bad during my first year away from home. I shared a room with another girl and had to pretty much force myself to be cautious about what I brought. This past year was a lot worse because I had a room all to myself, and I made sure to take full advantage of it. By “full advantage,” I mean that almost every inch of space in my room was taken up.

Instead of following the essential golden rule of bringing only the most important items on campus, I acted as though as I was moving into my own mansion. I brought practically every article of clothing I owned for every season (yes, my wooly sweaters were with me when it was still a blazing drought outside), and I even made sure I had every pair of shoes to go along with them (you never know when there will be a blizzard, and you’ll need your trusty mukluks, right?).

That was only the beginning. I still had toiletries, my mini fridge, microwave, TV, printer, bedding, cookware, and a million other little odds and ends to move in. If that wasn’t already enough, I accumulated even more clothes and items throughout the year.

Fortunately, my mother was able to visit me a few weeks before school let out, and she took a decent amount of my stuff back with her. I thought that lightened the load enough to where moving the remaining items in my room would be pain-free. To my surprise, it wasn’t. I can’t tell you how many trips my mother and I made from my dorm room to her van and vice versa. We barely got everything inside of it. Had she not come up a few weeks prior, I wouldn’t have been able to bring all of my stuff back home.

While the phrase “refrain from bringing everything but the kitchen sink” is easier said than done, I learned the hard way that just because you have a room to yourself at college doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have more space. Did I really need to bring all of my winter clothing to school in September when the weather was still hot? On the other hand, did I need to have my shorts and tank tops with me when it’s a winter wonderland outside?

No. When it comes to college, less is always more. If you find yourself packing too much while getting ready for college, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  •  Am I going to be using this item a lot, or will it just be sitting around and taking up a lot of space most of the time?
  • Do I have too much of one type of item (for example, clothes) that could easily be cut down into a smaller amount?
  • Is this something I can come back and get later when I visit home or am on break?
  • Will my roommate (or anyone else on my floor) have this item that I could borrow occasionally (a microwave, for example)?

If you answered “no” to the first question, the item is probably not worth taking to college. If you answered “yes” to the last three questions, it’s better to cut down the amount of clothes you have, wait until you’re home to grab the items, and ask a fellow floor-mate if you can borrow something from them from time to time.

Keeping these tips in mind, you’re less likely to become a packrat like I did. Don’t be afraid to gradually take items home with you when you get a chance. It’ll make moving out a lot quicker, easier, and you can spend more time enjoying your break than stressing out about how you’re going to fit the extra twenty outfits that you decided to pack in your dad’s compact car.

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Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts is a senior at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois pursuing a degree in English Writing. She has been an Editor for the North Central Kindling humor magazine, Assistant News and Arts Editor for the North Central Chronicle newspaper, as well as a DJ and Rock News Reporter for WONC-FM 89.1, her college’s radio station. She enjoys listening to music and spending time with her friends, boyfriend, and his cat Willow.