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How to Clean Out Your Room & Pack Up After Graduation, According to Someone Who’s Been There

That’s right, you’ve made it to the finish line, and you’re off to college! All that’s left is just to empty your locker, say a fond farewell to your favorite teachers, and march across the stage to get that diploma you’ve worked so hard for.

But if you’re moving away for college, once that diploma is in your hand, you’re going to have another huge feat: cleaning out your bedroom. You’ll want to make a whole new home for yourself once your away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean picking up the contents of your whole room and moving it into a tiny dorm or less-than-spacious apartment.

Fear not though, because with these tips cleaning out your room will be a breeze, and you can go back to jumping for joy at finally being done with high school!

Think about the differences between high school and college life.

When cleaning out your room to move away to college, you’re really going to have to rethink your life entirely. I mean, you’re going from having a lot of things provided to you by your parents to being completely on your own. And your bedroom needs to be a combination of your own personal space as well as a functional living space, especially if you’re going to live in a dorm. Keep these differences in mind while you figure out which items are trash and which are treasures for college life.

While cleaning and sorting your belongings, you could find some items that mattered to you in high school have no use in college, and vice versa. For example, maybe your own stapler has been collecting dust in your drawer because you always had one in your classrooms to staple your essays together. But in college, you do not want to trek around campus trying to find a stapler for a paper.

Try making broad categories to guide you in sorting out your belongings, like “organizational”, “decor”, “stationary” and other keywords.

Related: What to Do When Your Parents Are Too Involved in the College Process

Only the most special mementos should come along.

If your room is filled with tons of sentimental items, like picture frames, friendship bracelets, and pep rally baubles, then you’ll have to decide what to throw and what to take with you to college.

What you also need to remember is that college is where you’re going to be making new memories, so you need to keep space for things like new photos with friends, artwork and school swag from football games to cherish. Only take a select few pieces of sentimental value, and put away all the rest in storage.

An easy tip is to have a set number of sentimental belongings to take. For example, only limit yourself to five items – no more, no less. That could amount to one framed photo of family, one of your best friends, a painting your grandma made, a trophy from a debate competition, and a present from your significant other. This way packing light leaves more room for adding special mementos you’ll gain from college life, while also allowing you to figure out which things really matter the most to you.

Related: How to Fully Embrace College If You Loved High School & Are Afraid to Move On

Condense your wardrobe.

Try to resist the temptation to take every piece of clothing you own with you because chances are you will regret it. A big theme you’ll see throughout all these tips is to not carry all of your high school life with you to college – this goes for clothes as well! Your style will definitely evolve as you go through college, and of course, you’ll want to buy new pieces while you’re there, so do yourself a favor now and cut down your wardrobe to just the essentials and your favorites, then donate the rest. Also, don’t forget to keep all the seasonal essentials! For cold days, you’ll need at least two or three jackets or coats, sweaters for those cooler days, and some thinner cotton options for the heat.

For seasonal clothes, you can also swap out pieces when you go home for winter and spring break. Finally, if you already have one or two formal options, pack those for any interviews or events you may attend. Keep in mind you’ll shop when you’re in college, but one or two pieces will come in handy for any sudden events in the beginning of the school year.

Firstly, sort out any clothes that are just too worn out and old, and donate them if they’re in nice enough condition. Next, go through your closet and sort your clothes into three categories: love, like and hate. You might not “hate” some of your clothes, but any that haven’t been worn much or at all, means you basically don’t like them enough to wear them. Then whatever is in the “like” category, you will need to relocate to either your hate or love pile.

If you have a lot of similar pieces that you love, then only take a few of your absolute favorite ones. For example, if you have six similar striped crop tops (cuz that’s just your branding, no shame in that), then try to only take two or three of your favorite ones max. Also, really invest in pieces that can work for multiple outfits, like a denim jacket or a corduroy skirt.

Take these tips as suggestions and apply them where you see fit, but also remember you can apply them to every big move in life. Moving from one place to another, whether for school, for a job, or for family life really requires you to face the changes in your life head-on. As you pack and stow away things, take this opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come in high school and where you’ll go in your surely amazing college life.

Iesha Ismail studied as a double major in English and Women's Studies at the University of Florida. Iesha is the High School/Her Future editor, a Feature Writer, and Style Blogger for Her Campus National. She was also the senior editor for Her Campus UFL and senior content editor for UF's Sparks Magazine. She is currently working in editorial for a financial research publication firm, and a guest contributor for Muslim Women Professionals. Iesha loves to observe nature and fashion as inspiration for all kinds writing she's into. Fashion, culture, drawing, and animation are just a few of the passions she plays with on the daily. Whether it's writing colorful stories or sketching in her worn out sketchbooks, Iesha always dabbles in anything art.
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