School’s Out For Summer

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Simple storage solutions to organize your teen’s trip home from college

You hear all the time the best ways to pack up your teen’s life into two suitcases as you prepare to ship them off to college. Over the course of the year, they somehow manage to multiply their initial belongings to come home with more bags and boxes than they arrived with. So how does one organize a dorm room to come home from college for the summer? HGTV organizing expert Jill Pollack weighs in on how to minimize the mess of the homebound college student.

The best way to bring everything home with as little bags and boxes as possible is to do a purge. Although organization may not be what college students are known for, a good clean is always a good idea before heading home.

“Get rid of any clothes that you didn’t wear all year,” said Pollack of the stained sweatshirts and abundance of T-shirts that students accumulate throughout the year. “Toss anything you don’t think you’ll see again. For items that you simply don’t need anymore, Goodwill stores, student unions, donation bins and even your school’s sororities, fraternities and clubs usually have an event to hold collections.”

come home from collegeIn terms of books, Pollack recommends holding onto them for a while, because you’ll never know when you might need them for a reference. Although many colleges digitize lessons, print books shouldn’t be tossed so easily, but stored in a box until school is over.

“Storage is key and this goes for the trip back home as well. Definitely bring a hockey bag or two, that’s easier than a suitcase sometimes. One can be for bedding and the other can fit clothes,” she said. “For larger items like furniture, refrigerators or televisions that will make the cut for the next semester, consider renting a storage unit for a few months. Or if someone is interested in using that item for the summer, rent it out to them. It’s a good idea to rent for a temporary short-term thing.”

As for sending items straight to the garbage, Pollack says to get rid of anything that you know you can get new. For example, an over-the-door shoe hanger that ripped, a plastic box with a crack in it, an old bath mat with stains on it, etc.

“When it comes to decorations, unless you’re wedded to your décor that you had that year, maybe you’ll want a new look. Treat yourself to some new items next year.”

When it comes time to organize belongings for the ride home, maximizing storage space is your best bet. Storing items inside of another item saves space. If you are driving home and don’t have a sizable car to fit everything, including yourself and your parents, invest in a roof rack.

Car loaded for college move out

“Keep the computer, phone, books and clothes, and anything that can be recycled or donated, bag it and send it away,” said Pollack. “Garbage bags are where it’s at because honestly, they always mush well in a couple of plastic containers; great for delicate and breakable stuff.”

Some parents will bring a U-Haul and others will have their kids get on a plane to come home. Pollack notes that for students who have to fly home, bulk rate shipping may be the best bet, or they can choose to ship their items in parts over the course of a few days.

“You want to be as streamlined and as cost-effective as possible. You’re going to wash everything when you get home and the things you still plan to use, make sure you store it carefully,” she said of taking lightbulbs out of lamps and wrapping glass breakables in socks or bedding. “Moving is the greatest time to purge stuff, and when you’re a student, you pretty much have to be nimble wherever you go.”

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