How Do I Get My Mail and Packages as a College Student?
It can be tricky for college students to figure out how to receive mail and packages in a timely manner when you’re splitting your time between home and university…not to mention studying abroad!
Congratulations, college student! You’re off on one of the most exciting adventures life has to offer. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being a little nervous to leave home. It’s a big change and it comes with big stress and new challenges.
One thing that shouldn’t be stressful? Getting encouraging letters and care packages from family and friends. So let’s dive in and get you tutored in the latest ways to receive mail and packages as a college student!
Use your In-School Mailing System
Colleges and universities really do function like small societies—complete with an internal mailing system! At most schools, when you register as a freshman, you’ll receive a few keys: one of which should unlock your personal school mailbox. These mailboxes line a central mail room—usually in your student center—and you can swing by any time to check in on letters and packages.
The trick is getting your address right!
It’s not enough for loved ones to send your care package to your school address. If you’re headed off to a massive school with thousands of students, you might not be the only person with your name. No administrator wants to sort out which John Smith was supposed to get a tin of homemade cookies.
Instead, your family and friends will need to send small tastes of home to your specific mailbox. That usually means your address will look something like this:
Your name: John L. Smith (middle initial included)
Mailroom building: Student Center Mail Room
Mailbox #: Mailbox 4396
School’s main address: 1234 Main Street, College Town, OH, 00000
The more specific you can make your mailing address, the better! In most cases, college mail comes in bulk deliveries from USPS that then get sorted by fellow college students on work-study hours. If you’re new to work study, trust us, mistakes get made when you’re that exhausted.
Pros and cons of the in-school mailing system?
The in-school mailing system serves students valiantly, but it’s not perfect. Here are a few pros and cons:
Your mail arrives on campus! If you have to be in the area for classes anyway, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to grab your mail.
It’s free (sort of)! Your in-school mailbox comes as part of your tuition package, so it’s not free, per se, but it doesn’t require any additional fees.
Your school mailbox is pretty tiny. If you know you’ll be getting a bunch of letters, you’ll likely need to check your box every single day.
Receiving packages can get time consuming! Packages don’t fit in student mailboxes. That means that if you get a package, you have to stand in a long line in the mail room to pick it up from the main window. Those are precious moments you could be spending studying…or partying.
You’ll have to make sure Grandpa and Grandma and all your friends back home know when to send things to school, and when to send them to your home address. Doing the math on whether holiday gifts should be sent to your school address or hometown address can get complicated.
Studying abroad? You’ll have to update your forwarding address for every person and institution you expect to receive mail from. That can cause major headaches. The last thing you want is to get back to an on-campus mailbox overflowing with time-sensitive letters and expired birthday checks.
Set Up Shop at your Local Post Office
If your school doesn’t have a mail system or you don’t want to use the mail system, you have other options!
Start at your local post office. If you’re in a school in a small town, chances are, your post office isn’t very far away. That means you have two choices:
Use the post office as your address
Set up a P.O. Box
Using the Post Office as your Address
Fun fact: if you don’t have an address, you can ask people to send your mail directly to your local post office! It’s not a commonly used tactic—largely because it can be a hassle for the post office—but if it’s your only option, go ahead and use it. All you’ll have to do is send your mail to General Delivery at this address:
CITY STATE ZIP
After that, you can swing by the post office to pick up your mail within 10 days of arrival with your ID.
The major con to general delivery is that you have to pick up your mail during post office hours, which usually clash with the average class schedule.
Setting up a PO Box
Alternatively, if your post office has available PO boxes, you can register for one and use it as your temporary mailbox!
Setting up a PO box is nice and simple. Just go online to the USPS website, apply online, and pick up your keys. You can pick up mail any time from your box and renew/cancel your subscription as needed depending on vacations and graduation dates.
Unfortunately, while establishing your box might be simple, finding one isn’t always a walk in the park. With so many students on one campus, you might find yourself fresh out of boxes by the time you arrive.
Register for a Virtual Mailbox and Mail Forwarding Service
Snail mail is so 2010s. Instead of worrying about picking up your mail, just send it to your phone! With a virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service like Traveling Mailbox, your mail fits in the palm of your hand.
How does it work? When you sign up for a virtual mailbox, you’ll get a unique address you can give everyone, no matter where you’re living. All your mail gets sent to a secure remote mail facility, where we’ll scan each and every piece and upload the pictures to your personal online portal.
From there, you have full, hands-on control. Sort through your mail online and send your instructions back to our team. With your go-ahead, we’ll toss junk mail, scan precious letters, open time-sensitive bills, and even deposit checks from home on your behalf.
Care package on its way? We’ve got that covered as well. We’re happy to forward any packages to the address of your choice, whether that’s a school mailbox, a post office, a home address, or even an international study-abroad destination!