What a Guy should Pack for College…

It has been almost a year since I was helping get Meredith ready to leave for college…and since that little turn of events is basically what started this blog, we know what a girl packs for college…EVERYTHING…I think the guys deserve equal time.   And here is a flashback of some of Mer Mer’s clothes she had set aside (only half of them, as there were no jeans, pants, skirts of shorts here).  And this is a Packing DON’T, btw…

So… you are going away to college, and going to live in a dorm?   The college kids are extremely excited, while the mother’s are secretly crying themselves to sleep every night…so let’s try to make the packing go as smooth and efficiently as possible, to lighten the stress load on your poor Mom…and I’m not saying that Father’s aren’t upset either, but speaking from our situation, I don’t think Kevin was crying while going for a morning run the day we were heading to take her to school (of course I could be mistaken, but I think not).

Going away to college there are a few staples that every student should have. There are tons of checklists for the obvious things.




But I asked some friends for their overlooked essentials, and came up with the following list:

I am aware that some of these items depend on your dorm’s policy.

Pack your clothing.  Bring only three weeks of clothes since you won’t be able to fit everything you own into one dorm.  ( Of course, don’t use Meredith as an example as it was like shoving clowns into a phone booth).  Also, make sure you have at least one nice outfit. Two nice outfits are best, especially if one is more conservative and the other outfit is more funky. You never know when you will have to  go to a job or internship interview, a fancy restaurant, or a religious service . Don’t forget clothes hangers .  Meredith’s room did Not have a dresser.  I found that really strange, but we bought 2 sets of plastic 3-drawer carts from The Container Store, which were a god send!  If possible try to rotate seasonal clothes back and forth from dorm to home.

A Microwave/refrigerator Combo
You can rent one of these combo models, or you can buy one at Target.  This is a necessity.  You will not always be able to get a snack at the cafeteria, whenever you wish.  Your meal plan is either very expensive or very limited, and you will not feel like walking to a store at 1am. Do yourself a favor and pack some Easy Mac or some lean cuisines (:) )to heat up.  Microwave Popcorn is always a crowd pleaser, and basically the simplest thing to prepare.  Just make sure you know how to nuke popcorn without setting off the fire alarms.  Many colleges offer a refrigerator/microwave rental…It’s up to you if you want to rent it for $75 and have the luxury of having it waiting in your room (my recommendation), or buy it at Target, for $150 or so, then be responsible for getting it to and from.

Laptop, Printer, Paper, School Supplies

And make sure you have everything backed up on an external hard drive!


XL Twin Sheets, a Blanket or Comforter, Mattress Pad and your pillows.  And bring an extra set, because it’s my experience that guys did NOT change their sheets…As a matter of face, it’s also my experience that girls did NOT change their sheets either. 🙂

Toiletries – I’m not going to elaborate here, because you know what you need…But make a list, and make sure you bring everything you have on your list.

Medications – and have copies of your prescriptions.  And make sure you have your own insurance card.

Aspirin; Tylenol; Advil; Pepto Bismol; Allergy Medicine; Cough Medicine; Cough Drops; First Aid Kit


iPod/iPad; Chargers; Batteries; Alarm Clock; TV; iPod speakers

Flip Flops/Shower Shoes ;Towels

Clearly guys will not wear “Shower Shoes”…but you really should wear flip Flops into the shower.  These are essential.  Do not walk around barefoot in a public washroom.  I have 2 words for you:  Athlete’s Feet.  I have 1 word for you:  Gross!  Wear flip-flops.  And I’m aware (based on feedback from my friends) that guys will probably not wear flip flops into the shower, but it really would be a good idea.

Cleaning Supplies/Laundry Supplies

Clorox Wipes are the bomb!  I used them to clean Mer’s room when we packed her up to leave.  Bring 2 containers.  And if you can, a small hand-held vacuum will be handy.  And you will be doing laundry, so have laundry detergent, a laundry basket or bag, and fabric softener sheets.  When we were going through orientation at Indiana, someone asked about the “laundry service” for the students.  One of the student aides, suggested skipping the laundry service, as  “doing laundry is a good skill to have”.  I couldn’t agree more!


You can buy a great fan for $25.  Money well spent for keeping cool, as Not all dorms have air conditioning.

More Tips:

Try and buy your textbooks on eBay or Amazon, and not through the student center.  If you can get the list of books required prior to school, you can save loads by getting them online.

If you cannot “Loft your beds”, you can buy bed risers, to raise your bed by 8″ to give you more space to store your things.

A great way to make some extra money for college, is to offer to help others move, and charge $10/hour.  I would have happily thrown a “hundo” to someone to help load, and unload the large laundry cart we were using to move Meredith into her dorm.  And think ahead to next year, put out some flyers with your cell phone and e-mail , and schedule yourself for the entire week.  I’m sure it will More than pay for the pitchers of beer. 🙂

Please remember to call home.  With cell phones, laptops, iPads, and skype…you have No reason Not to stay in touch with your family.  Your family will miss you, and you may (or may) miss them as well…Even if you don’t, tell them you miss them and love them.

And here are Moving Tips, courtesy of Mayflower:

  1. Be realistic and clutter-free: Let the size of the space you are moving into, not your emotions, determine what to bring.
  2. Think ahead, buy green: Most of the new stuff you buy before school will be thrown out when you move out in May. Purchase green items such as organic sheets and natural material furniture to reduce your carbon footprint. Donate your used items to local nonprofits.
  3. Roommate basics: Coordinate with your roommates before the move. Share decorating ideas and plan what items each roommate should bring, so you don’t waste money and end up with duplicates.
  4. Priority packing: Organize your belongings in boxes by priority. The most important items, such as medicines, toiletries, valuable jewelry and paperwork, etc., should be packed clearly marked boxes.
  5. Survival kit: Pack a clearly marked “essential trip kit” that includes items that you will need for the first night in case you arrive late or are too tired to unpack. This will save you from rifling through boxes to find your toothbrush or pajamas.
  6. Wrapping: Save time by NOT using newspaper for wrapping like your parents did. The ink can rub off and damage or dirty your valuables.  Use clean, white newsprint which you can get from moving companies or at office supply stores.
  7. Label it: Whether you move into a dorm room, apartment or house, label boxes by location, so you know where each box should go.
  8. Decorating essentials: Pack a small toolkit with items like a screwdriver removable adhesive strips to hang pictures and decorate your new place without damaging the walls.
  9. Function first: Personalizing a new space is important, but make sure furniture is moved before unpacking personal items.
  10. Take a break: Take short breaks throughout moving day to avoid burnout. Meals and sightseeing on campus are great ways to stay refreshed throughout the day.

And for those of you who are saying to yourself (Cinda)…”Yeah, when I think of someone to ask advice on what a guy should pack for college, I automomatically think of Terry O’Brien…since she has had One girl go to college, and she totally overpacked”.  This blog was based on “research”, not personal experience…and for those of you who are saying, “I’m sitting here with her, and two of us have had two sons go to college, did she call us”?   No I did not.  Again, Note to self…don’t publish a blog while sitting with a group of girls on a girl’s weekend. 🙂

Oh, and here’s another Tip…when developing a taste for beer (as I’m sure you never partook in high school), try to stick with a cheaper beer…aka, Keystone Light, Coors Light, and other more inexpensive beers…My recommendation is Not to develop a taste for “Chimay” Ale.  This is the beverage of choice, of one of my all time favorite people (former, actually, but that’s another blog).  A case of this will set you back $141.99.  A case of Keystone Light (which is the beer of choice for beer bongs) will cost you $15, and probably for 30 cans.  You’re in college now.  You do the math.

Enjoy!  You are about to have the time of your life!  I’m jealous!!



Related Posts:  What a Girl Packs for College, http://dressedtoat.blog/2010/08/22/what-does-a-girl-pack-for-college/


    • I was thinking Meredith wasn’t learning from last year’s “packing faux pas”, but it looks like she has indeed “lightened the load”…we shall see when we pack up the 2 cars to leave tomorrow…

  1. Oh Terry, please promise me you’ll rerun this next July…I’ll need it! How do you know so much about the beer of choice for beer pong? You mean they don’t use Stella? One more Friday fun blog. Thanks sweetie.

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