Moving out of a college dorm or apartment is vastly different than moving in freshman year and requires more than just “how-to” tips. Freshman year was filled with new sheets, towels, and mattress toppers that somehow magically fit in its original packaging. Now, those sheets and towels have seen better days and that mattress topper has been folded every which way and shoved into a tiny box or sometimes with saran wrap (for real, my roommate did this in the middle of our living room. It surprisingly worked well and fit in her car perfectly). It is also common for parents to help the anxious yet excited freshman to move into their tiny new room that sometimes may seem to resemble a prison cell before decorated. And on that note, that leads to tip #1 for moving out of a college forever.
1. Move out on your own.
Let’s talk logistics of the moving out process before we get into the mushy stuff. Move out day is normally right after graduation. This means that the nights leading up to this moment of “oh shit, I have nothing packed” probably ended a little before the sun came up whether if it was studying for finals or beginning the celebration of graduation before the actual ceremony. So, parents it’s okay to not help this time. You got to help out plenty during this four year run.
2. 5 piles and check the freezer *early*
Before starting to sort through anything, walk on over to the freezer and take a look all the way into the back. It’s easy to always buy frozen meals or snacks, thinking that eventually they’ll get eaten. But between eating on and off campus, sometimes you just forget. You’ll want to start eating those so you don’t have to eat 10 pounds of edamame in a couple days or waste food. Once the freezer is in the clear, check the fridge and be weary of how many days you have to eat the perishable stuff. After you’ve checked the freezer and fridge, designate 5 compact trash bags or boxes for “give away/donate”, “keep”, “figure out what to do with later”, return, and my favorite…. “trash”.
If you haven’t worn it within the last six months, donate it. Make a pile that is designated for returning textbooks and your friend’s sweater. All of those empty wine bottles and handles of vodka that proudly stand on top of the refrigerator or outline the entire room can be placed into the trash pile and recycled later. The “figure out what to do with later pile” entails the accumulation of stuff that you’ve needed throughout your four years but maybe won’t need until you move into a place of your own again. And for trash, don’t be afraid to throw things out
3. Label everything.
Let’s be real, packing won’t start until last minute even though it’s highly suggested to start sooner rather than later. When throwing everything into a box, make sure to label the box “dresser” or “desk”. It will end up being very useful later, so don’t lose your sharpie!
4. Keep a special place for your keys.
Everything is boxed and the car is (or suitcases if flying) filled at an unsafe amount. It’s time to turn in the keys and you remember you last saw them before packing, but now that everything’s in a box… it’s all a blur. You don’t want to get charged for the keys you used all year, so do yourself a favor and put them in a special place BEFORE you start packing.
5. Don’t put all the heavy stuff in one box.
Remember that once the heavy box is loaded, it will have to be unloaded. Your back will thank you later.
6. Use trash bags as garment bags.
Big trash bags are a great way to keep your clothes more compact and protected while moving. Simply put the trash bag over X amount of hangers and tie off on the hangers. It’s also easier to move from dorm/apartment into the car.
7. Keep it clean… most of the time.
It’s your last year. It’s time to start showing more of your adult side. Yes, life gets busy but when the dishes start to pile up, just clean them. You’ll feel better.
8. Encourage spring cleaning.
Spring break is the marker of school coming to a close and graduation time beginning. So, take it upon yourself after mid-terms and before going off on spring break to begin to throw away things you don’t need and give the place a good cleaning. You don’t realize how gross it can (does!) get, even with those who consider themselves clean.
9. Embrace college living.
Never again will you be in such close quarters with some of the people that mean the most to you and will learn the biggest life lessons from. You don’t want to share a room or bathroom with someone else? Too bad.
When will you ever have only one side of the room that’s yours again? You’ll have the rest of your life to be your own roommate. You don’t want to miss out on the possibility of creating a bond with a roommate that will stay with you forever. Send that good luck text when you know your roommate has just pulled two all-nighters and you know she can ace that test. Create traditions for Sunday night dinners or night-time routines. You’ll keep those memories with you.
10. Don’t forget about the future.
One minute, you’re crunching the fall leaves on your way to class with friends as the oldest kids on campus and the next you’re decorating your cap for graduation day, looking towards the future like a deer in the headlights. It’s so easy to focus on the present and just live senior year. And you should. But this doesn’t mean that you have to put the future on the back-burner. Try to think ahead of map with a start and finish line with directions on how to get there.
Those can change later on, but you’ll thank yourself later. Be proactive. Ask for help. Talk to your professors, counselors, faculty, and use your friends’ family members at graduation as sounding boards with connections. Go on informational interviews and make sure to to make the most out of your time by asking the right questions (before doing this, make sure to research how to professionally and politely ask for one!). Talk to anyone you can as it’s all about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.
*Start early. And remember that having a secured job after graduation does not automatically serve a recipe for success or happiness.*
11. But… don’t forget about the present.
Now, I know that I just said to make sure to plan for the future a little bit each week throughout your senior year but it is also just as important, if not more to just enjoy your senior year. Because that stress of what’s going to happen at the end of senior year and in post-grad life will be there regardless if you think you have everything planned out. You will find that you will come to resent the post-graduation question after the 50th time you hear it and that your friends will either obsess over the future or avoid the topic altogether.
Take the time to admire your campus, go those favorite spots you found freshman year but haven’t been to in a while. Have a holiday party that requires planning and cooking with your friends. Celebrate each other’s birthdays’ and successes. Go to the basketball games, decked out in school gear and cheer each other. Don’t look at this year as being just school because it’s so much more.
12. Don’t settle.
If you have the option of not settling for a job that you’re going to hate, don’t. Take a risk on yourself. Now is the time to learn what you’re made of. Find something that’s going to make you want to learn more and see post-grad life as exciting. However, if money or other circumstances are a factor take the job and view it as a learning experience and resume builder until you can find something more suitable.
13. Senioritis is a thing.
A little senioritis isn’t a bad thing (and natural), but letting it go too far and really being able to say you have it, that’s when you have to watch out. It can be fun to slide on a few assignments, especially if that’s something that you would have never done in the past. But, you’ve worked so hard these last few years and now is the time to end on a strong note. Education is a gift (and super expensive). Don’t waste it.
14. Don’t be the one who is too cool for school.
Ahh.. the one who says they don’t think they want to walk across the stage on graduation day or finds all of the senior activities lame. Well, they very well maybe lame but don’t be that person who misses all of them. Go to one or two. You did go to this school for one reason or another. You’re apart of this class of ____ and that’s something to be proud of.
15. …or the one just trying to pass.
This goes back to diagnosis of senioritis. We get it. “C’s get degrees” as they say. But when classes aren’t putting your brain into overdrive and they are manageable, put in the effort to do more than just pass. You’re going to have to do more than just pass in the real world, so getting the practice in now isn’t a bad idea.
16. Let this year be your year.
Let this year be the year of ultimate growth, memories, and make saying goodbye harder than it would have been junior year and the year that you find yourself through the emotional roller-coaster that is senior year. Make this be the year you look back and understand why they say college is “the best time of your life”.
17. Everyone will be on a different page — and that’s okay.
Mentally prepare for post-grad life. Some will have corporate jobs right away and some will be with startups, some will be living at home and some will go abroad, others will decide to stay single and some will get married. Everyone that was once within a five minute radius of you will be on a different page. Some will start studying for the GRE and some will be entering graduate school right away. Others may be wanting summer forever and are petrified of the real world and others couldn’t be more excited. But remember, it’s okay.
18. Friends can change.
Some of the friends you made freshman year may not be the same come senior year, but the real ones will have stayed. Typically by senior year, you have settled into certain friendships that were made by random roommate pairings, meeting each other in class, or at a party (that one probably starts off with an embarrassing story). Be open to making new friendships throughout the year. The magic of meeting each other last minute may end up holding you two together and keep you begging for more time. You’ll see friends being tested with the stressors of real life coming at a million miles a minute or the emotions of having to say goodbye. Sometimes, it can be too much.
19. It takes two to tango.
Get good at communicating now. Learn to let go of your pride every once in awhile because as much as you may be staring at your phone waiting for that one friend to text you, they could be doing the same. It’s not worth losing a friendship over. It’s simple. Both put in the effort and throw away the, “I’m so bad at texting” excuse. It’s not going to work. Be the friend who still shows up. Be the one that your friend wants to call on her way home from her new job or be the one she called before and after the interview. They say you make your real friends in college. Don’t screw it up