There are dozens of lists all over the internet of dorm room essentials, the best school supplies on the market, and anything and everything you could possibly need once you’ve entered the glittering gates of your college of choice. As an incoming freshman, I have probably read more of these lists than is healthy, but they are all so different from one another that the lists only managed to make my head spin faster than it already spins on its own (which is quite a feat, I’ll have you know).
After thinking about what I really wanted to learn, I contacted several friends with years of college experience under their belts to see what they had to say. After reading their responses, I saw that what you should bring to college varies significantly from person to person, but what not to bring to college is fairly consistent across the board. Here are my findings on things you should definitely not bring to college with you.
1. Your old high school T-shirts
Even if those shirts are the softest and cutest pieces of clothing you own, think twice before bringing them to college. Chances are you’ll receive plenty of free T-shirts during your first week of school, and those will hopefully ease the pain of separation. One of the biggest parts of college is maturing and developing your identity. You aren’t in high school anymore! Explore new people, activities, and ideas, and leave the high school merch at home (that goes for your letterman jacket too).
2. Your entire shoe collection
Guys, this one probably doesn’t apply to you, so ladies, listen up. I’m willing to bet you won’t be dressing up to go to prom every day of class. While it’s alright to bring a few pairs for fun, pack your pumps sparingly, and consider your very limited closet space. Heels don’t do well in tetris.
3. Your library
As a self-proclaimed book lover, I understand the appeal that comes with lovingly stacking those picture books you were given on your third birthday beside those 500-page novels that changed your life. Even so, limit yourself to very few books to take with you on this new journey. As a freshman, you’ll be so busy that you’ll have minimal time for leisure reading, and again, consider your space. Choose a few books you love or have been meaning to read, and leave the rest to wait for you when you visit home (especially if they have sentimental or monetary value).
4. A bunch of random school supplies
While it’s not a bad idea to bring a folder or spiral to your first day of class, wait and see whether your professors have any special requirements or preferences before you go all out. Just because Target is having a special office supplies blow-out sale doesn’t mean you’re required to spend money on things you won’t end up using. Test the waters before you cannonball.
5. Too many sheets and towels
It may be tempting to over-buy dorm bedding and toiletries, but you probably won’t need as much as you think. And again, you want to save the precious space in your bureau or closet for other stuff. Two pairs of sheets should be more than enough, and where exactly do you think you’re going to keep all those towels, anyway?
6. Iron and ironing board
Think very hard about how much you currently iron your clothing. Do you think you’ll be ironing more in college than you do right now? Somehow, I doubt it. If you have a wardrobe crisis and need a shirt to be wrinkle-free, hang it in your bathroom while you take a hot shower, or throw it in the dryer with a couple of ice cubes. Don’t psych yourself out about the small stuff. If it’s something you’ll only use once a month or less, it’s not worth the space it will take up in your dorm room.
7. Coffee maker
To all of you caffeine addicts out there, take a moment. If you aren’t going to actually wake up early to make coffee every morning then clean out the coffee maker, don’t bring it. There will be coffee in your cafeteria, and while it may not be the best, it will be there. Trust me, college campuses know you need your caffeine fix.
8. Out-of-season clothes
If you’re like me and live in Texas, there is no reason to bring a coat to college until November. Save yourself the closet space and only pack what makes sense to wear for now. Once the seasons start changing, switch out some clothes when you go home for a weekend or holiday break. There’s no reason to bring every article of clothing that you own to college.
9. A futon
Unless you have double- and triple-checked both your dorm room dimensions and with your roommate, do not bring any large pieces of furniture to college. You dorm room is tiny. Don’t do it. All you'll do is create fire hazards and introduce an atmosphere of cluttered frustration into your room (not a fun time). Being able to see your floor is important!
10. High school drama
This is the big one. You’re starting a new chapter of your life. Whatever rivalries or grievances you had with your former classmates, let them go. I don’t care if your arch nemesis followed you to the same college and enrolled in all the same classes as you for the express purpose of making your life miserable. Let it go. Move into this new space free from the hurts that have haunted you since the second grade about that one dumb thing you did that one time. There's no room for that anymore. Your dorm room is too small.
As you pack for college, think long and hard before you toss one more thing into your suitcase. Ask yourself: Will you use it? Do you need it? Does it bring you joy? If the answer to any of those is no, leave it at home. You'll feel a lot less stressed on move-in day and when you're all settled if you keep it simple.
Are you preparing for a semester abroad? Check out our Quick, Essential Packing List for Studying Abroad to see which items you should pack and what you can wait to buy once you land!