Thank me later.
Coming to college for the first time is exciting. It’s a whole new world. You’ll be with new people, have a new living space and experience an entirely new day to day life. Basically everything about your life changes. It can be overwhelming, to be honest. In my experience, one of the most overwhelming parts was deciding what to bring, and what not to bring. But from two years of living in the dorms, I can confidently say I have a pretty good idea of what you will need and what you won’t. So if you’re unsure what to bring and what to leave, here’s a little guide from my experience.
Things You Won’t Need...
Brita water filter
This item is quite controversial when discussing whether or not you need it, however, I firmly stand behind the idea that you don’t need it in your dorm. It will only cause you trouble, and become clutter. All of the dorms have water fountains where you can fill up your water bottles, cups, or whatever else you might need water for. The Brita will take up so much unnecessary space in your mini fridge, and it’s just a pain in general. Unless you are very specific about what kind of water you like, I’d leave this item at home.
Lots of silverware and cooking supplies
Bringing a lot of silverware, dishes, cooking supplies and cooking appliances is not necessary at all. For the most part, you’ll be eating at the dining halls. And even when you’re not, you won’t be cooking and baking extravagant meals in your dorm. Most dorms have a communal kitchen with all kinds of appliances, so if you do end up wanting to cook or bake, it’s there for you to use. Instead, consider bringing paper plates and bowls for when you do eat in your dorm, and maybe a set of silverware, but leave the blender and pans at home.
Lots of school supplies
Although your workload is going to be a lot larger than it was in highschool, ironically, you only need a fraction of the school supplies. Things like binders, folders, notebooks, erasers and rulers are just unnecessary. The majority of your school work will be done online, making these supplies useless. At most, bring a folder and a notebook, and if you find that you need more for your classes, then you can go out and get it.
Loads of books
Unless you’re an avid reader and make it a part of your daily routine already, don’t bring a lot of books to school. They’re bulky, and take up a lot of space, and to be frank, you most likely won’t have a lot of time to sit and read. Bring your favorite book, or maybe one that you plan on reading, but leave the library at home. If you do end up having loads of spare time to read and miss your books at home, have them shipped to you, or visit home to grab them.
Things you don’t already use daily, you really shouldn’t be bringing. So if you’re not an avid photographer, try and leave your giant DSLR at home. If you don’t use that old ipad, ipod or speaker, then just don’t bring it. All it’s going to do is clutter up your room and take up space that you really need. Along with that, don’t bring a printer. You can print whatever you need for just a few cents at your school’s library, and most dorms even have printers within the building. It might mean you may need to allot an extra five or ten minutes to make your way to a printer and print, but it’s worth it to not have a giant printer taking up space.
Extra bags and purses might sound like a good idea at first, but they’re going to take up space you don’t have. There’s no reason to have 15 different school bags, gym bags, overnight bags and purses to choose from. At most, you’ll need a backpack for class, a gym bag if you workout, and a purse.
Too many clothes
A good way to think about what clothes to bring to school is to basically just cut your closet in half. You don’t need every article of clothing you own, because you’re just not going to wear it, and your closet is very small. When you first move it, you’re really not going to need your giant winter jacket and boots. Try and just pack clothes that are in season, and a few sweatshirts or hoodies for if you get cold. Another note would be please, do not bring your old high school tee shirts. You’re in college now. It’s a new start, and you really don’t need to be dragging your old highschool gear around. And finally, do NOT bring your letterman jacket. Please.
As much as you’re going to want cute, delicious smelling candles, most dorms don’t allow them. And if your RA finds them, you can actually get in a bit of trouble. They can trigger the fire alarm, and you really don’t want to be that person that made your entire dorm evacuate because you lit a Bath and Body Works candle. Just do yourself a favor and leave them at home. Instead, opt for a little wallflower. They’re just as cute and will make your dorm smell great without being a fire hazard.
The golden rule: If you don’t already use it at home, you’re more than likely not going to use it at school.
Things You Definitely Need...
Whether it be flip flops, Crocs, or just waterproof shoes you don’t mind getting a bit icky, you’re going to need them. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a bathroom in your dorm, you’re going to be using the communal showers, which can be gross. There are thousands of people who have showered there before you, and as clean as maintenance might try and keep it, you don’t want to take the risk.
Scissors and tape
While this might contradict the school supplies note, these two things are going to come in handy, and normally not for school work. Whether you need to crop a tee shirt, hang up a poster, or really anything, these two items are going to be a necessity for little things you wouldn’t think about. You’d be surprised how many things you need to cut and tape in your little dorm.
If you get hot easily, please do yourself a favor and get a small fan. Some dorms have AC, but a lot of them do not. But even if yours does, get a fan. Your dorm might control the temperature, making it hotter than you’d like, or you might be able to control it from your dorm, but have a roommate who likes it a bit warmer. Either way, getting a fan is a good idea.
Shoes you don’t care about getting dirty
You’re most likely going to be going to bars and frat parties, and when I tell you the floors of those places are where COVID-19 came from, I am not exaggerating. They are disgusting, sticky and just foul as a whole. However, it’s part of the college experience and you’re more than likely going to find yourself in one of these places at some point. And when that happens, you don’t want to be wearing your nice shoes, because trust me, they will become unwearable in public.
Please get a planner. I’ve seen many people saying they’re unnecessary and that you won’t use it, but don’t listen to that. A planner is going to keep you sane. In college, you have so many things going on from classes, to work, to when homework is due, and any other engagements you may have. To keep yourself from missing things, get yourself a planner, and write everything down. You’ll thank yourself later.
It’s going to rain. It just is. And while normally that wouldn’t be too big of a deal when you just have to run from your door to the car, you more than likely won’t be driving a lot during your freshman year. Your main mode of transportation will be walking. And walking across campus in the rain is not fun. Get an umbrella that collapses so you can store it easily, and walk across campus with ease.
Portable laundry basket
You’re obviously going to need a laundry basket for dirty clothes, same as at home. But the washer and dryer aren’t just down the hall anymore. Normally, your dorm’s washer and dryer will be in the basement, and let me tell you, it is not fun lugging an entire basket of laundry down four flights of stairs. Get a laundry basket with wheels, so it’s easy to take it to wherever you need to wash your clothes. It seems like a little thing, but it’ll save your time and energy and make doing laundry a whole lot easier.
The mattress you’ll be sleeping on in your dorm feels like a large flat rock. It is the least comfortable thing to sleep on, and not getting sleep is the last thing you want in college. You’re going to need a nice place to sleep and take naps, so you’re definitely going to want a mattress topper. It makes your bed so much more comfortable and will make your time sleeping so much better.
Again, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a bathroom in your dorm, you’re going to be using the communal showers. College can already feel awkward and uncomfortable enough, so the last thing you need is walking from the bathroom to your dorm in a tiny towel, passing what could be your new friends. Get a long robe so that you can walk from the bathroom to your dorm without feeling uncomfortable. Side note, if the fire alarm goes off while you’re in the shower and you’re forced to go outside, it’s a lot less embarrassing standing in front of your entire dorm in a robe than in a tiny bath towel. I unfortunately have learned from experience.
Extension cord and power strip
You have approximately two outlets in your dorm. Both of which will most likely be in the worst possible places. Get yourself an extension cord so you can actually use your outlets. Whether you want to have your phone plugged in while in bed, or really anything else where you’d like to actually use what you have plugged in, you're going to want an extension cord. A power strip will also help this problem. You’re probably going to want to plug in more than two things at once, so the power strip will come in handy.
One more time, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a bathroom in your dorm, you’re going to be using the communal showers. You obviously can’t keep all of your shower stuff in showers, so having a little shower caddy will help carry everything from your room to the shower. It also helps keep all of your shower stuff organized and together, so you won’t have to search for it in your closet when you need to shower.
First Aid Kit
One of the things a lot of people don’t think about bringing to school is basic first aid, because you always just have it somewhere at home. You don’t need to have the supplies to perform surgery, but having a few bandaids and some antiseptic cream is nice.
The other golden rule: If you end up needing it, you can always go out and get it.