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Pack or Scrap? A Guide to Purging After College Graduation

Pack or Scrap? A Guide to Purging After College Graduation
The landmark moment you have been anticipating for years — and maybe fearing just a little— has finally arrived: college graduation!

Whether it took you four years or ten to earn that cap and gown, you’ve got a whole world of exciting possibilities ahead.

But one unexciting aspect of graduating may still stand between you and the future: sorting through all the stuff you’ve accumulated throughout your degree, and figuring out what to pack and what to scrap.

Whatever your next steps may be, we’ve got advice to help make moving one of the easiest challenges to tackle during this time of great change. Below we help you figure out what to pack and what to scrap, so you’re not scrambling to make big decisions on moving day.



In this instance,scrapping doesn’t have to mean throwing away your textbooks. While burning your books may seem like a glorious way to say goodbye to school work, there’s a 90% chance you’re going to need every bit of cash from textbook sales that you can get.

If you can’t sell your textbooks back through your school’s buyback program (like this one at the University of Colorado Boulder), or online through sites like Amazon or Textbook Rush, you can look into donating. Better World Books has drop boxes all over the country, or you can donate them to your local library.

Dry erase board/bulletin board

By now, your bulletin board with past exam schedules — and weekly bar specials — has probably taken on more marker stains and pushpin holes than it can handle. Donate worn dry erase and bulletin boards to your local thrift store, or check if the material is recyclable and add it to your recycle pile.


These days, a printer is the office equivalent to a DVD player. They may come in handy once in a blue moon, but since you won’t be printing off essays anymore, go ahead and thank your printer for its duties and donate or recycle it (it will probably cost you more time to sell a printer than the profit is worth).. If you choose to recycle, remember that electronics can cause hazardous waste if not disposed of properly. Leave it to electronic recycling professionals.

Plastic Drawers

You might think, “but plastic drawers are so light and convenient!” These features make them a great initial purchase, but plastic furniture was never meant to be a long-term investment. If you need those flimsy, stained, bent drawers to replace cardboard boxes for your move, go for it. Afterwards, give them the boot.


Bookshelves aren’t the easiest items to move, and are overall easily replaceable. Check and see if any underclassmen are in need, or donate your bookshelf to a thrift store.

Decorations Recycle your unframed posters and scrapbook-style wall hangings. Trust that the memories these frames held will carry on, and make wall space for your next adventures.


While the string lights and bendy lamps were fun and functional during your college years, it’s time to bid them adieu and seek out lighting that suits your new lifestyle. Lighting can be a tricky thing to recycle depending on the material, so it may be best to turn to professionals like Colorado Lighting.


In college, there’s a T-shirt for everything. Say a fond farewell to most of these — their only hope for the future is to be worn as pajamas. Too attached to donate them, and not enough time to get crafty? Turn them into a quilt.


Save one pair for working out or loungewear- yes, just one. It was easy to grow attached to your collection throughout college, and they may have been part of the reason you were able to make it to class in time. College was the one era in your life that an abundance of sweats makes sense. Let all those extra sweats go to other kids who will appreciate their comfort. Plus, your new boss will thank you.

Bed linen and towels

If your bed linens are in decent condition and you’re just looking for a change, check and see if your school has any donation programs in place for these items. If they’re a bit worn, there are other ways to put them to good use.


A bed can be either scrapped or packed, depending on its condition. If your bed has seen it’s last days, your bed frame can be donated to any thrift store, or find a list of places that will upcycle your mattress and box spring. But your mattress and box spring are still in good shape, it can be worth it to store it or take it with you to your new home.

Area rug

Your poor rug probably bears more than a stain or two from your college years. Luckily, it can still prove useful one last time. Use it to help you move big furniture and prevent damage on floors and furniture, then go ahead and let it go.


School Supplies

Despite the fact that you’re probably ready to chuck those school supplies out the window , it’s best to resist the urge to throw them all out. There are some supplies you may thank yourself for saving, and some that could be worth donating or even selling for extra post-graduation cash.

Pens, unused notebooks, staplers, envelops, stamps, sticky notes — they’re all easy to store or pack, and will end proving useful in your everyday life. Whether you’re headed straight into a new gig and want to impress your boss with on-the-spot note taking, or you just don’t want to borrow one more thing from mom and dad, keeping these supplies will help you stay organized.


If your backpack is still in decent shape, hold on to it. It’s easy to bring along, and will come in handy as a carry-on bag for any future travels.

Functional furniture and decor

If you were tasteful enough to skip out on the inflatable furniture and choose a quality futon that has a life beyond college, keep it in storage! But those trippy tapestries and beer posters should be left behind with your college years, as should your stained bucket seat and torn Lovesac. Donate any worn-out furniture to a thrift store or a program like Habitat for Humanity’s “Restore.

As far as organizational and functional decor goes, you’ll be surprised how handy that small wall shelf and coat hanger are once you start collecting items again, and you’ll be thankful for all the extra space they provide.

Desk and chair

If you own a desk that’s both functional and fashionable, count your blessings and keep it for your transition into the professional realm. You can keep it safe in a reliable short-term storage unit until you’re settled.

Kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances can come in handy once you have a place of your own or if you decide to hit the road RV style. If down the road you change your mind, there are plenty of charities that take appliance donations.

Humidifiers/air purifiers/fans

While these items may seem bulky now, they could be the key to comfort in the future. You may end up in an apartment without A/C, or moving somewhere a bit dry for your skin’s liking.

End table

You’ll want to be as comfortable as possible in your new living scenario, and a big factor in making this happen is having all your comfort items within arms’ reach as you settle into bed. If your nightstand has survived the wear-and-tear of college, go ahead and bring it with you.

Ironing board

An ironing board is one of those items we tend to take for granted until we really need it. Not only is it light and easy to transport, it could be your saving grace while preparing for job interviews, your new office job, or just classy nights out as a new professional.

Photos and frames

Photos are one of the best ways to reminisce, but they’re not always necessary to have by your side. Condense your loose photos into albums and store them safely until they have a permanent home. You can also scan them to print later.

Same with picture frames — store or pack a few frames so you can quickly make your new house, apartment, or room feel like home, but scrap whatever doesn’t make it into your top three or four.

Sentimental knick-knacks

Choose a small box of sentimental items to bring to your new living situation that will make you feel like yourself, no matter where you are. This could be an heirloom, a jewelry box from a family member, a childhood football, etc.

College threads

Clothing and linens are a staple to every day. It can get easy to get attached to things like your trusty college sweater or beach towel, and some of these items will indeed help you in your next endeavors.

Workout gear

Remember when you and your roommate committed to jogging campus once a week, or you decided to balance out the study breaks with trying out Crossfit? These commitments (however long they last) will carry on throughout your life. Bring any nice workout gear along with you as a reminder to keep up your motivation.

Professional attire

Even if you’ve already got a job lined up, there’s no telling what other career opportunities might come your way. Be prepared for your dream interview or for an important meeting by keeping your office-appropriate outfits handy.

Fancy attire

After college comes weddings. If not for you, for many of your friends. Save a nice dress or tux you have hanging around from your Greek formal, music recital, or graduation pictures for future events where a classy look is needed in a pinch.

Staple items

If your trusty jeans, warm winter coat, and tennis shoes still fit, bring them along! These staple items will be all you need to kick off your new wardrobe.

Moving is exciting and overwhelming, and it helps to tackle each task step by step. Plan ahead so you can do all your recycling and donating at the same time. Once those are complete, your work is practically done!

Get help storing, shipping and scrapping when you graduate college >