The Suburbanite
  • Even a pro needs advice for college prep

  • Although Saundra Wright of Jackson Township is a professional organizer, when it came time to organize her son’s packing for his first year of college, she needed help. For advice she went to those who had been there, done that. She shares their tips here.

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  • Saundra Wright is a professional organizer, but found herself floundering this summer when faced with the all the organization decisions needed to get her oldest child ready to leave for college.  
    “It was a little out of my comfort zone,” she admitted.
    So she went to fellow organizers for advice, then called moms who already had sent kids to college and picked their brains.  
    “Who better to ask than those who have already walked this path?” asked Wright, the Jackson Township owner of Organize Wright LLC.
    Her first lesson: Knowledge is power. The more you know about your child’s soon-to-be home, the more efficiently you can shop and pack.
    “Know everything about the student’s room beforehand — the layout, dimensions,” Wright said. “At Kent (State University) they had a mock setup of each of the dorm rooms in the student center, showing what type of furniture is in it. You can take measurements, take pictures.”
    Knowing the number of dresser drawers and exact size of the closet can prevent overpacking.
    “A lot of moms said that kids take too much with them,” Wright said.  
    Check college websites for specific dorm room information. Is there a light built in above the desk, or will a lamp be needed? Is lofting a bed allowed? What size are the beds?
    The University of Mount Union website includes “what to pack” and “what not to pack” lists under “frequently asked questions.” Malone University’s “student life” web page offers yes, maybe and no lists, and advises students to wait to purchase some items until after they move in.
    For more help, Wright suggests checking out the packing lists at www.
    Space will be limited, no matter where the student lives, so organization counts. Wright suggests space savers like under-bed storage boxes.
    “You can create under-bed storage with risers. Some risers on the market now have USB ports built into them.”
    Consider a back-of-the-door shoe organizer, which can be used for many things other than shoes.
    “It can hold office supplies like post-it notes, staplers, tape,” Wright said. “Girls could use it for hair products, scarves. Even your first aid kit or flashlight could fit.”
    Because shoe organizers are plastic, they can easily be cut to fit any size door.   
    Students can save space by avoiding duplication.
    “Like I said, knowledge is power, so if you have the opportunity to speak with your future roommate and join forces, maybe you can bring only one printer, one TV, one Xbox.”
    Wright’s friends told her one essential is a vented laundry hamper that allows air flow.
    “One mom told me her son called and said, ‘Something’s wrong with the water here. It’s leaving these black dots all over my clothes.’ She said, ‘Oh, that would be mold.’ He had left his wet gym things in the hamper.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Wright suggests using packing time as an opportunity to do some decluttering in your child’s bedroom.
    “I’m doing this with my son as we go through his room,” she said. “His style has changed, things that were important are not important to him anymore.”  
    If you don’t clear it out now, you might still be housing it years from now, warns Wright. She has been called by clients for help decluttering and finds they are storing “old school papers and stuff the kids don’t even care about.”  
    Looking ahead to the end of the school year, Wright suggests parents of students who are going far away to school consider renting a storage unit.
    “Instead of hauling all the furniture and stuff back home at the end of each year, they can rent a small unit for a fairly reasonable cost,” Wright said. “And if you could split that (cost) with another family, that’s a great option.”
    Reach Saimi at 330-580-8493
    or saimi.bergmann@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: sbergmannREP