What should I pack for college academics, social, and dorm life? What do most students forget?

College Prep

Our counselors answered:

What should I pack for college academics, social, and dorm life? What do most students forget?

Alison Almasian
Director of Admissions St. Lawrence University

Time management skills reign supreme…...

When thinking about the most important things to bring to college, time management skills are at the top of my list. For most incoming first year students, the greatest change they will notice is the increased freedom. It is very easy to embrace that freedom without anticipating the consequences. Even though students likely will have much less actual class time, the amount of homework will be increased significantly. Students need to understand how to budget their time well in order to flourish both academically and socially.

Betsy Morgan
Founder College Matters LLC

You don’t need a U-Haul!...

Make the important distinction between necessities and accessories.  Pack the necessities and wait on the accessories.  Just as realtors advise new home owners to “live with it” for a while before making any radical changes or large purchases, approach moving into college the same way.  Yes, you will need towels, a comforter and extra long sheets.  You also need toiletries, school supplies and some snacks.  A few things that students often forget: an extension cord with surge protection, a wastebasket, poster putty, coat hangers, an umbrella, laundry detergent and a set of dishware and utensils.  Most of all, don’t forget to bring a sense of adventure and an open mind.  Enjoy!

Jim McCorkell
CEO Admission Possible

Letter to yourself about why a college degree is important...

One item you might not find on traditional college checklists is a letter you’ve written to yourself. Throughout your college experience, you may have days that frustrate you and make you wonder if you will ever get your degree. Write a letter to yourself now – when your excitement for this new adventure is fresh and your goals are clear. Why is going to college so important to you? What are your goals upon completion? Take this out when things get rough and you will remember that all your hard work and effort is indeed worth it.

Peter Brass
Director of Student Services & University Advisor St. John's Ravenscourt School

College life is all about change...

There is much talk about the change being felt in 21st Century Learning and much to be said about impending social and academic change as students move from high school to post-secondary education away from home. But these are quite secondary in their effect on your day to day life. In reality, the single most important change you will encounter over the next few months will be the importance of the change in your pocket which will go to feed the relentless demands of laundry and vending machine. You simply can never have enough available change so start saving it now.

Mitchell Lipton
Dean of Admissions & Records Registrar Cooper Union

Check in with your roommate ahead of time...

Check to see if your college will provide you with the contact information for your roommate.  This would enable you both to plan accordingly and more importantly get acquainted before school starts.  Also, ask your college if they can provide you with a list of recommended items.  If you have special needs/requests e.g. physical disability, check in now with your college to ensure a smoother transition this fall. 

Jeannie Borin
Founder & President College Connections

Designing your dorm room can be a creative adventure...

It’s easy to find lists of what to take to college on websites like College Board or stores like Bed Bath & Beyond. With all the electrical juice needed these days, it’s smart to take power strips, surge protectors and a few extension cords. Great plastic storage containers (Target) can fit right under your bed and work great for organization. The list goes on…music, headphones, flashlight, medical supplies, bathroom and laundry equipment. Roommates often share a TV, refrigerator and/or microwave to keep costs down. Think creative and add some great art to your walls. Enjoy!

Christine Greb
Dean of Enrollment Management Philadelphia University

Before you reserve the moving van…...

Most colleges provide a list of suggested (and prohibited) items – from shower shoes to computers – on their website or by mail for new students.  Ask current students – at orientation or other new student events - what items they “can’t live without.”  If you plan to live on campus, this is a great topic to kick-off a conversation with your new roommate(s).  After all, there probably won’t be room for more than one mini-fridge or other larger items.  Finally, while the “creature comforts” will help, college is a time of new beginnings - so bring an open mind and take advantage of every opportunity!

Craig Meister
President Tactical College Consulting

Bring the best you, not the best gadgets ...

Trends and their corresponding gadgets come and go; therefore, the most important item you should pack as you head off to college is confidence. As college life always brings the unexpected, it will be important for you to face new challenges with confidence in yourself and your value system. It takes confidence to register for exotic or tough courses. It takes confidence to reach out and make new friends. It takes confidence to actively participate in student groups, even if they appeal to your interests. Most of all, it takes confidence to reach your academic, social, and professional potential.

Doretta Goldberg
Founder College Directions

Someone to talk with who can help you navigate your first year...

I would recommend bringing contact info for a trusted and reliable mentor to whom you can turn for miscellaneous advice. It could be a teacher, older college or grad student you met at a summer program, a guidance counselor, college consultant, or even a family friend who works in a field you might someday like to enter. No matter how close you are with your parents, sometimes it's better to get an independent opinion. Most colleges work hard to provide a support network for their first year students, but with all the new experiences you will encounter, nothing beats a conversation with someone who already knows you.

Gael Casner
Founder CollegeFindEdu.com

Less is best, but…...

When thinking about what to pack for college, students should be guided by two factors: dorm/closet space and student-style.  A list of basic items can be found on the school’s website or on the Off-to-College Checklist at collegeboard.com.  A bedside lamp and power strip with surge protector and extension cord are often overlooked.   Hold back on bringing too many clothes, shoes, etc., as there will be styles and looks you’ll want to duplicate once you see what others are wearing.  Savvy shoppers will order items from their local Target, Walmart, or Bed, Bath and Beyond to be picked up at a store close to campus