Student Life

Packing List: What to Bring to College Dorms

There are so many choices to make when it comes to moving into your college dorm. Here are a few items to take off the packing list to make it a bit easier.

Student Contributor, Rachel Lechwar

May 14, 2022

Packing List: What to Bring to College Dorms
Leave these five things at home.
When packing for your first year of college, it can be overwhelming to decide what is most important to take with you. Most dorms will have a packing list of college essentials, and there will be certain items you want to take to simulate home as much as possible. However, it’s important to recognize that the dorm is a limited space, and you will be sharing it with at least one other person. I still remember the chaos of move-in day with both me and my roommate taking numerous trips with giant carts, the whole place barely walkable between all our stuff spread across the floor to both pairs of parents along with siblings. To make this the unpacking process easier, here are some items you can leave at home.

Should I bring a TV to college?

People have varying stances on this item. My suitemates were able to make room for one in their place, but my roommate and I decided not to bring one. Unless you have an extra piece of furniture or are able to arrange existing nightstands into a TV stand, it’s hard to make it work. Whenever I wanted to watch something, I pulled up a streaming platform on my laptop and even set it up on my roommate's bed as a makeshift TV whenever we had friends over. It’s not ideal, but we made good use of what we had. I also had friends who brought a projector and displayed shows on the ceiling, so if you have one of those, it might be easier to store than a TV.

How to pack clothes for college?

I get it- you don’t know what you might want to wear! You need to be prepared for any kind of weather or occasion… but remember that your closet in the dorm will not have as much room as you might be used to. If you’re traveling to a new area of the country, research the weather and bring enough to be comfortable. If you are close enough to travel home on weekends or during breaks, you can bring more clothes later. You can also take back summer clothes and exchange them for winter attire.
Towards the end of the semester, it also helps to take things back gradually. If you keep bringing things, you’ll forget how stuffed your car might have been when you first came. Remember, you have to move all that stuff out.

Can I bring candles to college?

I also have a constantly growing collection of candles. But most dorms outlaw candles, and the reason is simple enough: it’s a fire hazard. Instead, try for room fresheners, sprays, or essential oil diffusers. If you end up moving to an apartment after your first year, you’ll be free to burn those candles, but for now, leave them at home.

Can I hang artwork from the walls?

Check with your specific university or dorm hall with this one. Most don’t want you to cause any sort of damage to the walls, which makes sense, so try to find alternatives. I used command strips to hang up decorations, but when it came time to take everything down, it ripped some of the paint. My roommate and I ended up having to pay for paint repairs when the RA came around to inspect our rooms. So, just be careful. Another alternative for the less heavy decorations is sticky tack. I’ve been using it to hang pictures in my room, and it comes off without taking any paint with it.

Should I bring a printer to college?

This is another item that is not allowed in the dorms. It has the potential to interfere with the campus’ wireless network. If you really want to bring a printer, choose one with a USB cable, though I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve had to print something for a class over the course of two years. It depends on the professor, but most assignments in my classes are completed virtually, saving paper and time. Also, take advantage of campus resources like free printing at the library or even in the dorm. Ultimately, what you decide to bring is up to you. Make sure to check with your specific university to see if they have recommendations on what to take or leave behind. Moving away from home for the first time can be a simultaneously exciting and stressful time, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible. This list could go on, and there’s an even longer list of essentials, but check with people who have also been through the same experience, and remember that this will be a temporary home. When move-out day comes along, you might realize that you did not use all the items you thought would be important.

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