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Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

By Roxana Hadad

June 04, 2008

Soon you’ll be packing your bags for college. But packing them with what?

Countless freshmen arrive at the dorms lugging massive boxes and suitcases only to discover that they brought too much or forgot something.

By bringing the right items with you, you’ll get a good start on the school year without worrying about buying or returning things.

What to Wear

The clothes you bring depend a lot on where your college is located. Find out the average climate for every season and bring what you need. Also think about the activities you like to participate in.

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes you can go to class in
  • One or two dressy outfits and shoes for more formal affairs
  • Work-out clothes and shoes
  • Bathing suit
  • Light jacket
  • Heavy coat, mittens, hat and scarf (if you’re going to a campus with a colder climate)
  • Rainwear
  • Slippers (for hanging out in the residence hall)

  • Stuff for Your Room

    Get a look at a dorm room or call the housing office beforehand and find out how big your room is and what it comes with. Not all halls have elevators, so it’s better to pack a lot of smaller boxes that one person can handle instead of a few big heavy ones.

    • Comforter/bedspread
    • Pillow
    • Bed linens (ask what size bed you’ll have)
    • Clothes hangers
    • Coffee mug
    • Drinking cups, dishes and silverware for snacks
    • Poster putty for hanging up decorations
    • Plastic containers with tight lids for storing snacks, detergent, etc.
    • Salt and pepper shakers
    • Headphones/ear buds (so your music doesn’t bother your roommate or neighbors)
    • MP3 Player/iPod
    • Cell phone chargers
    • Power strip approved by the housing office
    • Desk lamp or bed lamp
    • TV/DVD-Player (there’s usually a common area TV if you don’t bring one)
    • Stereo
    • Fan
    • Hair dryer
    • Alarm clock
    • Electric blanket
    • Small refrigerator/microwave (check with college for restrictions)
    • Crates or stacking containers
    • Paper towels, glass cleaner
    • Sewing kit, scissors, safety pins
    • Message board for your door

    Keep It Clean

    Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing your bathroom and laundry facilities with other students.

    • Bathrobe
    • Shower shoes
    • Towels, washcloths
    • Soap
    • Shampoo
    • Shaving cream and razors
    • Small bucket for carrying shower things
    • Facial tissues
    • Toilet paper
    • Laundry basket/bag
    • Laundry detergent
    • Dryer sheets
    • Dishwashing detergent
    • Roll of quarters
    • Band-Aids
    • Cold medicine
    • Aspirin
    • First-aid kit

    Stuff for School

    You can get this stuff once you’re on campus, but it can sometimes be cheaper to buy it during the back-to-school sales of off-campus stores.

    • Computer/laptop or blank CDs for the computer labs
    • Binders, folders
    • Paper
    • Writing utensils
    • Dictionary
    • Thesaurus
    • Backpack
    • Calculator
    • Day-planner

    Good Things to Have

    Think about your daily activities and hobbies and bring what you need with you.

    • Access to money (i.e. bank account, bank card, credit card, etc.)
    • Umbrella
    • Key ring
    • Flashlight
    • Camera
    • Batteries
    • Flashlight
    • Sports/recreation equipment
    • Pre-paid calling card
    • Snacks for your room

    Don’t Bring It

    As for what NOT to bring, you should contact your housing office and ask about the rules and regulations within the residence halls. Some schools don’t allow things like these:

    • Halogen bulbs and/or lamps
    • Hotplates, skillets, toasters, toaster ovens
    • Air conditioners
    • Extension cords
    • Candles
    • Pets, waterbeds, nail picture hangers

    You might want to contact some students currently in your prospective college and ask them what to bring. Write up a checklist a few weeks before you begin packing and add to it as you remember things you’ll need. Then, when it’s time to fill your suitcases, you’ll be ready to go to college with everything you need.


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