The dos and don’ts of college packing


Have you seen them yet? All those color coordinated items screaming at you from the shelves in Target and Walmart just begging you to buy them. If you’re an incoming college freshman or the parent of a new college student, it can be so tempting to buy every little gadget and item you see. From matching bed accessories to coordinating appliances, it’s an endless sea of college must-haves, or is it? In all honesty, most of the items that are advertised as ‘college essentials’ really aren’t all that essential. In fact, a lot of it may wind up shoved under a bed or in a closet, taking up precious space. So, how do you know what you should and shouldn’t pack this summer? Follow this list of college packing dos and don’ts to get the skinny on what really matters.

1. Appliances

Don’t run out and buy a mini-fridge, toaster oven, microwave, and blender. We know you probably have this image of creating a cool hangout space where friends can stop by for a smoothie and something to eat, but you may not have room for everything. Do contact your college to verify what appliances are allowed and how many can be placed in each room. Then, contact your roommate to see what he or she is bringing. This not only saves space, but also money.

2. Knickknacks

pack all your stuffed animals and every throw pillow on your bed. Candles are also a definite no-no, as they are on most colleges’ ‘not allowed’ lists. You may also want to leave behind collectibles or anything else of value. Accidents happen, and you’ll feel horrible when that music box from your great-grandmother smashes to a million pieces. If you treasure it, leave it behind.

Do bring along a few reminders of home, such as your favorite sweatshirt and one or two plush items. Instead of picture frames, bring along photos to put on a corkboard or use some (removable) adhesive frames to display them near your desk or bed.

3. Books

Don’t bring paperback or hardcover books with you to school. You will have plenty of textbooks taking up space in your room.

Do purchase an iPad or Kindle and download your favorite books. You may not have much time for pleasure reading, but at least they won’t take up as much space in a digital format.

4. Clothes

Don’t pack your entire closet. You won’t need your prom dress or every college shirt you purchased over the last year. It may also be a good idea to leave behind most of your shoes and accessories, too.

Do pack enough clothes for a two-week trip. Once they get dirty, you simply wash them. Your closet space may be minimal, so bring only those items you know you will wear often. As for shoes, bring a pair of flip flops (shower), sneakers (classes), and one dressy pair for special occasions.

5. Kitchen

Don’t bring along dinnerware for six or enough groceries for the next four months. You won’t need that many plates and cups, and your food will probably go bad before you eat it.

Do pack two of everything: plates, bowls, cups, forks, spoons and knives. Fewer dishes will mean there is less mess to clean. Wait until you get to campus and start using your meal plan to determine what edible items you may need in your room.

Packing Tips

Another thing you may want to leave at home when packing for college is your high school backpack. College students typically use a laptop bag to carry everything or nothing at all. You’ll also want to leave the lanyard behind, unless you want a neon sign pointing out that you are a new freshman. If your mom tries to buy you an iron, save her the money. Most students roll out of bed minutes before class; some even come to class in their pajamas. You probably won’t be ironing anything for quite some time.

One more thing, ditch the suitcases and use storage bins, as these will double for storage space after you move in. A good rule of thumb when packing for college is less is more. Once you see the size of your dorm room, you’ll completely understand and be grateful that you followed these rules.

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