For some high school graduates, the end of summer means the inevitable jump into the real world.
With most college classes scheduled to start in August, students don't have a lot of time to make the transition to dorm life, which requires changing their living pattern from a household sprawl to the confines of one room. Often, students have trouble deciding what to bring and what to leave behind.
Don't bring everything at once - just essentials such as bed linens and some bathroom gear - then pick up more items when you visit home, after you see how much will fit into the room, recommends Scott Anderson, the assistant director for housing at the University of Georgia in Athens.
"Typically, the first weekend with an away game in football, everyone will try to go home, and they can bring things back with them then," Mr. Anderson said. "We anticipate the weekend of Sept. 6 and 7 we'll see a lot of people going home, and they'll have been on campus for about three weeks at that point."
At the University of Georgia, incoming freshmen are invited to one of 12 orientation sessions and a special weekend orientation to get familiar with campus and dorm life.
With most college campuses offering a wide range of facilities and amenities, there's no need to feel stress about losing the creature comforts of home. Student centers often have game and arcade rooms, cinemas, spacious study areas complete with comfy couches, and soda and snack machines for low-budget dinners.
Throughout the summer, colleges send incoming freshmen information on dorm housing, meal plans, orientations and class registrations. Often, this information is sent in steps, arriving over the course of a few weeks, and usually requires immediate responses for the applications to be considered.
When all the paperwork is complete and the student finally has been awarded a spot on campus, the fun begins. Dorms generally open a full week before classes start. Students are sent the names and mailing addresses of their assigned roommates. It's a good idea to talk to your future roomie and see whose stereo and whose mini-fridge is going to make it into the room.
"We usually tell students one of the most important things is to make contact with their roommate," Mr. Anderson said. "The last thing you want to do is bring two of everything. Most college dorm rooms aren't large enough to accommodate two stereos, two mini-fridges, two of everything."
Also, students are encouraged to check with the college to see which items are banned or restricted. Most cooking appliances are banned, with the exception of microwaves. Some colleges ban lamps that use bulbs rated higher than 100 watts because they're considered fire hazards.
Clothing is a source of many headaches. Many people bring everything they own, severely straining closet space. Bring clothes appropriate for the season, then take them home to switch out your wardrobe when the weather starts cooling off.
Items to make life easier, if they're allowed:
A throw rug - most dorms have linoleum floors
A wastebasket - some schools provide them, but you never know. It can always double as storage.
Storage bins - you can never have enough storage in a dorm room
A small refrigerator for milk, soda and fruit
A small coffeemaker or electric teakettle - you also can use it to heat water for soup
A lamp - dorm lighting is notoriously bad
A lap desk to study and write letters while sitting on your bed
Throw pillows to use as cushions when you and friends sit on the bed or floor
A mattress cover and "egg crate" cushion so you can sleep better on what's likely to be an old mattress
A dry-erase message board and pen for your door, so people can leave messages when you're out
A bucket for your shower stuff
Towels and washcloths
Lots of lounging clothes, such as pajamas and sweats. It's true - no one cares what you look like in college.
A broom to get rid of dust bunnies
Air freshener. Communal living can be unfortunately stinky at times.
An extra blanket or sleeping bag, in case it gets cold or a friend stays over
One or two sets of bed linens. More than that will just sit in the closet.
A comforter to pull up over the messy bed when you're rushing off to class
An iron and a small ironing board
Dishes, preferably plastic, for cereal and soda
Quarters and laundry supplies, including detergent and a laundry basket. A mesh laundry bag that can hang behind a door will take up less space.
An alarm clock, to get you to class on time
A double jack for the telephone
A telephone. If you splurge on a cordless model, you won't be confined to your room while you talk.
An answering machine
A small television. Some dorms offer cable accounts in dorm rooms.
A computer. This is a luxury, and many colleges have computer rooms, but your own computer allows you more flexibility. Some colleges require that freshmen have a laptop.
Stuff from home. Don't go overboard, but posters, pictures and a favorite pillow can give the room a homier feel.
Academic supplies. Don't forget notebooks and pens.
Shower shoes and a comfortable robe, to make communal showering a better experience
Teen board member Jay James, 18, is a rising freshman at the University of Georgia in Athens.