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How to pack: College essentials

Packing for college can be easier than you think.

Packing for college can be easier than you think.

It's almost time to go off to college, and there's so much to do. But don't stress about about packing - it's a lot easier to get ready for college than you might think.

First, the furniture. Most college freshmen live in dorms that come with a desk, closet and bed, and that's pretty much everything a first-year undergrad will need as far as furniture goes. Some dorms come with a small refrigerator and a microwave, and a lucky few will even have TV sets in their room, but more likely than not you'll have to supply your own food and entertainment equipment. Bring your lap top or desktop computer, as well. Most schools have a computer lab, but it's more fun to do homework (read: play video games) on your own machine.

Make sure you've got the right wardrobe for school. You'll be there over the winter, so if you're studying forestry at Northern Michigan University, you might want to bring a few extra sweatshirts and some hefty boots for those cold walks through the woods. If, however, you've decided to major in marine biology in Hawaii, Bermuda shorts and a healthy selection of t-shirts might be more apropos. Shoes are optional.

Most dorm rooms are roughly the size of a spacious phone booth or a mid-size family sedan, so don't underestimate the value of a good storage solution. Bins for under the bed, cans for the closet and drawer dividers for the desk will be essential when it comes to keeping the room free from debris. Though, for college freshmen, there may not be much chance of room cleanliness to begin with.

One thing you can - and really, really should - keep clean is yourself. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and anti-perspirant are all college essentials. If your dorm has a private bathroom and shower area, lucky you. Odds are, though, you'll wind up in a communal shower at some point. Flip-flops and a bathrobe will help keep you modest and foot-fungus-free. Be sure to pack some laundry detergent and a whole heap of quarters so you can keep your clothes clean, too. Otherwise those showers will have been in vain.

Those are among the college essentials - furniture, clothes, storage and cleaning supplies. You'll be able to figure out what other stuff you need and get it at a store on or near campus. You can do it - after all, you're in college now.