When college kids return home for the summer, they typically bring with them a pile of laundry, a voracious appetite, a bit of an attitude and…stuff.

Toss, Move or Store?

With many college living situations changing from year to year, say, from dorm to apartment, the end of the year inevitably brings the question of what to do with all the stuff: whether it makes more sense to move belongings home or store them for the interim.

Whatever your choice, encourage your child not to overlook this opportunity to clean out their space so they are not moving or storing items they don‘t need.

Without some direction, kids are apt to just pack everything up rather than surveying it with a critical eye, finds Jodi Rosenshein Atkin, an independent college admissions counselor and mom to four college graduates.

She reminds her kids to really consider each item before they throw it in a box to move from one location to another.

“If you didn’t need it this year, chances are good you won’t need it next year either, so donate it,” Atkin said.

Mess on the sill

Home Goods vs. Dorm Goods

Deciding what to move home rather than store can be more challenging. Her rule of thumb for her kids: “If it was a book, I don’t want it coming back to my house unless I specifically asked to borrow it to read. If it was off-season clothing, I didn’t want to see it. If it was bedding, I promised to provide a pillow, blanket and other necessary linens, so guess what? I didn’t want to see it.”

If it’s something used purely for school or dorm room, pack it and send it to storage, concurs Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer in the Chicago area. Examples include dishes purchased solely for your dorm room, school supplies and personal items like blowdryers of which you have a duplicate at home.

However, she urges students to be mindful of their summer activities as they pack, and take anything that they think they will need or want to use, whether it’s a tennis racket or a suitcase.

“It quickly becomes a nuisance to run back and forth to the storage facility for small items that were left behind,” she says, assuming that you are even close enough to do so,” Trager said.

disgusted mom

Store it Right

What with finals and goodbyes, many college kids might not pack their belongings as carefully as you might hope. But Trager recommends encouraging them to pack items for storage that have been cleaned and are ready for use when unpacked.

“There’s nothing worse than opening up a plastic bin that’s been sitting for three months and realizing it’s filled with dirty laundry,” Trager said.

Atkin advises parents who are assisting their children move items from the dorm to a storage facility to pack a sense of humor – and some hand sanitizer.

“Be prepared to see all of their possessions, regardless of value, wrapped in garbage bags, and/or in repurposed grocery boxes that are not quite the right size or shape.”

Picking a facility relatively close to campus is key, says Atkin, since it is likely that you will have to make multiple trips to get stuff in and out of the storage unit.

“What you save by renting something farther out, you will more than spend in time and gas,” Atkin said.


A New Solution to Storage Woes

Another new option to consider is what’s known as full-service storage, where a company manages the pick-up, storage and retrieval of your items. As one such company, Clutter, describes the process: “We arrive at your location with a vehicle and a team of movers to pack and itemize your items, apply unique barcodes to each item, photograph every item being stored and transport your items to our secure storage facility.”

Other providers in the space include MakeSpace, Zippy Shell, Closetbox and Box Butler–all of which can be compared and booked through SpareFoot.

Whenever you want your items returned, whether it’s those great sandals you accidentally stored or your whole room, you can log back in to select what you need and they will return it.

Cathie Ericson