The boxes and suitcases lie open on your bed as you survey your strewn belongings around the room. What to take and what to leave behind? The temptation is to just take everything, to literally move your room at home to your room at college. But, if you do that, besides being really cramped for space, you’ll miss out on growing through change. By adapting to a new environment that is rich in academia and lean in toys, you’ll be making a huge step toward succeeding in your educational goals.
So, let’s leave behind a few things before we start packing the physical and mental bags. You don’t need a television. It’s a distraction to you and any roommates. There’s probably a bigger one in the lounge anyway. You don’t need computer games. If you’re easily tempted, remove the ones already on your hard drive. You don’t need a year’s worth of clothing. Washers and dryers work fine at college. You don’t need all the knickknacks acquired over 18 years, although you should take a few mentioned below.
Here are 10 essentials to take with you. Some of them are physical objects; some of them are philosophical ideals.
1. Goals. What is it you want to accomplish in your four or more years? Write them down and post the list where you’ll see it every day. Help aid: a folder with inspirational cards you received on graduation;
2. A plan. Map it all out as far as you’re able. What classes will you be taking each term? What will your study schedule be? Will you be working and how will it fit into your schedule? Help aid: a good alarm clock so you’re on time to class and a good watch to keep you on track during the day.
3. A budget. Plastic peril is one of the many temptations of college. Suddenly, the world can be yours by just signing your name. Make a realistic budget and put it where you can review it frequently. Just like balancing a checkbook, taking stock of whether you’re staying within your budget will help you eliminate financial stress from your college experience. Try to pay cash with either paper money or a debit card. Help aid: If you must use a credit card, try a pre-loaded one with a certain amount of money each term so you can’t possibly go over.
4. Connections. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated at college. Remind yourself of the important people in your life. Take along their photos and put them on your desk. Sometimes just looking at the face of someone who has inspired you will overcome a passing self-doubt. Resolve to seek out mentors at college right away. Make friends with a professor in your major area and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Help aid: phone and email communication with home.
5. Good health. It’s all too easy to give up exercise unless you engage in team sports. Make time for exercise in your daily routine. Make a physical education class or activity part of every term even after you’ve fulfilled the requirements. Resolve to get enough sleep, nutritious food, and medical care when needed. Help aid: vitamins, running shoes, swimsuit, tennis racket, etc.
6. Study tools. A computer is almost essential in college. Laptops that allow you to take notes in class are the best choice, but take plenty of good old-fashioned notebooks, pens, and paper as well. The computer replaces the need for a dictionary and thesaurus, but if you have any comprehensive reference books in your subject area, take them. Help aid: a small file cabinet to keep you organized.
7. Knowledge of drugs and alcohol. Even if you’ve not been exposed to alcohol in high school because of strict parents, religious guidelines or whatever, you will be in college. Drinking and college parties go hand and hand or rather mouth and hand. Even though you don’t like to ask your parent’s advice, talk to them or another adult about this issue. Likewise with drugs. Expecting to go to college without being tempted by alcohol and drugs is like expecting to drive a car on a freeway with no traffic. They simply will be there, so take along knowledge of substance abuse and don’t allow either drugs or alcohol to get in the way of your college success. Help aid: commonsense.
8. An open mind. Don’t expect or want to do things the way you always have. Expect your world to be broadened by diversity of people, thoughts, and practices. Go to college with anticipation about learning from and about others. Help aid: a good sense of who you are.
9. Comfort items: Let’s face it. There will be times when you need cheering up or relaxing. Whether it’s a favorite pillow, a favorite CD or a popcorn popper, little things can often change your mood. Help aid: comfy pj’s.
10. Faith. College is often the time when students re-enforce or reject their faith. If you have no religious affiliation or belief, at least go with curiosity about learning about the faith of others. Help aid: Bible or other religious books.
So there you have it. As you pack these items and more into your bags, look forward to pulling each item out and using it wisely. You’ve got everything you need. Your college admission is your ticket to where you’re heading and your baggage, packed with essentials, will speed your journey. Bon Voyage!