Packing for University: Tip Four for the New Semester

When it comes to packing for university, making sure you have all the right things with you when you move can seem an impossible task, and something that all students get wrong in the first couple of terms. In the midst of the end-of-summer frenzy to prepare for university, many of us not only neglect things that we find we need once we are in our studies, but we also tend to pack things we find completely redundant that we, through lack of experience, thought were vital.

For many, going to university usually marks the first time that many students have lived away from home, and the first time they are living without any parent to look after them. It is the first time they are responsible for their own space, and with this it will be the first time they will have had to pack for a new home. When packing for university, the most experience many freshers will have had will have been for holidays and sleepovers, rather than long-term stays. Equally, for students further along in their university studies, whilst they may have worked out the hard way what needs to go with them in terms of the domestic side of living, what to take for their forthcoming academic journey can be just as much of a mystery.

There are some things that are necessary and should undoubtedly come with you. As already mentioned, you should have a collection of important documents that are together and are safe. On top of this, you should consider what things are learning essentials when you begin your studies. For nearly all students, the basics will be a laptop, a good assortment of pens and pencils, some notepads (perhaps an A5 notepad for lecture notes and an A4 one for written work), as well as other stationary that we tend to take for granted (rubber, stapler, holepunch, postit notes, etc.). Find out if your campus has a printer; it should do, but if it is known to be unreliable or out of the way, perhaps invest in your own printer. For students who are doing more technical courses such as maths, engineering and the sciences, you may need other equipment such as certain calculators, software and drawing materials, so make sure you have all of these before you go. For more hands-on courses, a wider range of equipment may be required; many universities will send students a list of required materials. However, these lists can be extensive, costly and overly comprehensive, so reach out to those already on your course to find out which items you genuinely need when packing for university.

It may not be necessary, but taking notes and books you already have can help you when you are learning some tricky topics in your subject. If you studied the subject at school, try and dig out some notes that may be of use to help you better understand things you have gone over in the past, and perhaps pack a textbook or two if you found it was good at explaining key concepts and definitions. University years do not happen in isolation, but tend to draw on topics you may have already studied in part whilst introducing you to new ones, so for students going into all years, look up reading lists and module guides for the year you are going to, so as to ascertain what notes from previous years you may want to take with you to help you get back up to speed. Whilst looking at reading lists may be useful to better work out what you will be studying in the upcoming academic year, avoid the temptation to buy books; many universities have extensive libraries that you can borrow from, and you will not know at this stage which books you will come to need the most and which ones you won’t.

For other things that you may need, such as toiletries, specialised medicine and utensils, one easy tip for making sure you have got everything is going into each room in your home and thinking of everything you do in that room in your day-to-day life, and what you need to perform those tasks, and work out what items from those rooms should then be packed.

Obviously, you need to pack clothes, but the temptation when packing for university is to pack for the entire year. Whilst many students may be moving into halls in one go, taking a year’s worth of clothes can fill up your luggage really quickly. If you are strapped for space, only take up clothes for that season. Since you are going up from September to December, pack clothes you wear during autumn and winter. When you go home for the holidays, bring the clothes you no longer need back, and take up ones you will want in the spring. And, when it comes to Easter, bring down the heavier winter clothes and take up summer clothes. This may seem extreme, but you will probably accrue garments over the course of the year, meaning you will have to take back more than what you went with if you try to do it all in one go.

Other things that should be avoided are lots of mementos and keepsakes. When you move away, to dodge feeling homesick you may want to take some things to make your room feel more homely – such as picture frames, souvenirs and soft toys – which are fine in moderation, but taking everything is unnecessary and impractical. Equally, try not to take food and household goods that you could buy when you get there, such as cleaning supplies, non-perishables and cookware. Your mum may want to make sure you are going away with good food, but it takes up space. Instead, make a list of everything you will need when you get there. Packing for university needn’t be difficult and doing it right can make all the diufference.


Make sure you check out the rest of the articles in our series on Tips for the perfect start for the next semester:

6 Tips for the Perfect Start to Your First Semester

Get Organised: Tip One for the New Semester

Hit the Ground Running: Tip Two for the New Semester

Tip Three for the New Semester – Do Your Research

Packing for University: Tip Four for the New Semester

Get a Student Diary and Stick To It: Tip Five for the New Semester

Pace Yourself: Tip Six for the New Semester


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