Packing Tips from the Pros

By Susan Dragone P’14; Atlanta, GA

Exciting but daunting best describes a parent or guardian’s mindset when preparing for a child’s first year at boarding school. Relax, we have been there and are here to help. Below is some advice gathered from veteran Deerfield parents to help you with lists of what you need and equally importantly, what not to pack. 

Be Prepared

Keep it simple and do not over-pack. Rooms are small and storage/closet space is limited. Many parents end up lugging home suitcases filled with overflow items. Every room is fully furnished, with an explicit request from the Dean’s Office that it remain that way, has window curtains and a mirror, and most have carpeting. Refer to the very specific Packing List on The Bulletin before you begin loading up duffel bags.

Here is what you do need bring from home to simplify set-up on move-in day: a screwdriver, a hammer, scissors, tape for labeling and storage, a laundry marker and a permanent marker for labeling clothes and other belongings.

Other essential room items include: hangers, a smart strip surge protector, energy-efficient light bulbs, plastic storage bins, a desk lamp or a standing lamp, alarm clock, batteries and adhesive hooks. Dorm rooms are not air-conditioned so a space-saving window fan will be appreciated in September and again in May. Check with the Dean of Students Office before purchasing bed risers, which can be used in certain dorms but not where the beds have built-in storage drawers underneath. Check out the room and its dimensions before purchasing an additional rug or storage unit. School supplies are available at Hitchcock House on campus; there is a Big Y supermarket, BJs and Staples in Greenfield, and a Target, JCPenney and more at the Hampshire Mall in nearby Hadley. Don’t worry if you can’t get there when dropping your child off. The school’s Green Key Program will provide shuttles to and from these locations on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 8th.

Basics for the Boys

All male students are required to wear a sport coat, collared shirt and tie to class. See the Dress Code for specifics. While some girls spend time thinking about what to wear each day, most boys don’t. In fact, many boys are likely to wear the same blazer for weeks at a time. So pack light, include a couple of blazers, several button-down shirts, ties, shorts, pants, sneakers, dress shoes and flip-flops. Let them discover what else they need and you can send it along later. While most boys don’t want décor, other than unframed posters for the walls, they do want food. Plan to store favorite snacks and beverages in their room. Please note that monitors larger than 27 inches are not allowed, and the school strongly discourages students from bringing gaming systems.

Girls Just Want to Have…

Colorful posters (a great website is, bulletin boards and pictures of friends and family to adorn the walls. In years past, DA has had a poster sale on campus in the first two weeks of classes. The girls also like throw blankets, extra pillows, and simple, inexpensive curtains to add warmth to the room. Ditto full-length mirrors. Bathroom caddy baskets labeled with their names and pre-packed with favorite toiletries are a must. Again, refer to the Dress Code for clothing specifics but know that cardigan sweaters, dresses (for fall and spring), rain boots and a rain jacket are necessities. “Two layers” should be the guide for back-to-school shopping for girls.

Flyers Take Note

Good news for those of you who are not within driving distance – you can ship ahead. The always-helpful folks in DA’s Shipping and Receiving office will start accepting packages in mid-August. Visit Shipping and Receiving for more about their services during move-in and throughout the school year. Also, Boomerang Storage Company, which provides summer storage, is for the first time accepting incoming students’ packages before school starts. Boomerang will receive and store items and then deliver directly to your child’s dorm room. Contact Boomerang Storage at (413) 586-2666 or

Back to School | Who’s Who in the Dean of Students Office

Leave a Reply

Please note: Your comments will be displayed on this page after they are approved.