The months prior to being jettisoned off to college were filled with barely contained excitement, constant research, and hours spent scouring college websites for every kind of dorm room knick-knack possible. Organizing containers, decor, you name it; I was determined to bring it. Come move in day, I sent my parents home with about half of what I brought. This is a list of what NOT to pack for college, so you don’t over pack your suitcase like I did mine.
1. School Supplies
Shopping for fun highlighters and pencil bags is the only silver lining in coming to terms with the reality of school starting up again. It’s hard to resist the temptation to hit up Target and go crazy. But going into your freshman year of college, you honestly have no idea what you’re going to need for each individual class. Some students take notes exclusively on their laptops, some only in notebooks. Some professors won’t allow laptops in class, and some talk too fast to write everything down. So go to your first couple days of classes, find your groove, and then go get all the goodies. But all the supplies are exactly what not to pack for college, you need to see for yourself first!
2. Your Entire Wardrobe
Dorm closets are small, it’s true. But packing light on the clothing front is less about saving space and more about simplicity. After a night of cramming for your French midterm, anything you can do to make a groggy start to the day easier should be taken advantage of. In college, it’s all about streamlining your existence. The fewer random sweaters strewn around your closet, the better.
Instead of wasting time deciding which of your five pairs of ripped jeans to throw on today, make yourself a cup of coffee. Bring your essentials for every season, don’t bring duplicates, and leave behind anything you haven’t worn in the past couple months. Not only will you not have space for all of that extra nonsense, you will also be grateful to make a few less decisions every day. This is definitely one of the best tips on what not to pack for college!
3. All the Heels.
Girls, I know. The temptation is real. You want to pack every pair of adorable pumps in your closet, but unfortunately it’s exactly what not to pack for college. But let me give you some advice; everybody in there is either rocking a solid pair of high top Chuck Taylors or some classic beat up Adidas kicks. Not only are heels going to take up unnecessary and precious space, they are also pretty nonexistent on a college campus.
There is of course an exception to every rule, and this one goes to the sorority hopefuls. If you plan on rushing, you will probably need a pair of heels for rush week dress code. In that case, pick your favorite pair and leave the rest at home. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
4. Throw Pillows
Fellow enthusiasts; if you are planning to bring your entire collection of TJ Maxx pillows to your dorm, you will invariably be doomed to constantly flinging them off the floor for the entirety of your freshman year. You’ve been warned, this is what not to pack for college.
5. Drying racks
Just don’t do it. Who needs a rack when you have perfectly good hangers to dry your delicates on?
6. Extra Sheets/Towels
At the risk of sounding unhygienic, you don’t need a bunch of extra towels and bed sheets.
School gets so busy, you won’t have time to wash everything every couple of days. When you do laundry, it’s much easier to do a load with all of your bed and bath stuff and then just go right back to using them. As a general rule, avoid extras if at all possible, though I would suggest maybe one extra towel.
8. Non-functional Room Decor
The temptation to turn your room into a Tumblr haven is real, but too much clutter only ends up making everything look haphazard. Not to mention things are going to get knocked over all the time.
You’ll want to bring items that are most authentic to your personality; a couple posters, a desk statue you really love. Spend some time picking ou a comforter that fits your vibe perfectly, a color scheme that makes you feel at home, and a few pictures you’ll actually look at and cherish rather than a ton of knick-knacks that don’t serve a purpose. No one has space for that, and you can still create a cute and cozy little home without going too crazy.
7. Enough Food to Feed a Small Village
It is DEFINITELY helpful to have a stockpile of food for the late mornings or lazy days when you don’t want to swing through the dining hall. That said, don’t bring it with on your first day.
Move in day is a cluster of nerves, frazzled parents, new people, and there is simply too much going on to worry about possibly smooshing your grapes in the trunk of your parents’ SUV and trying to organize your impossibly small mini-fridge. Get moved in, and then have mom and dad take you to the nearest grocery store. It makes everything so much simpler, and it gives your mom a little bit of extra time with you before saying teary goodbye’s. Everybody wins.
9. Mugs on Mugs
If you’re a huge coffee drinker, it will feel natural to bring all your favorite coffee mugs. Unfortunately, mugs are cute but they are definitely not stackable. Limit it to one or two, and re-use, re-use, re-use!
10. A TV
All your friends will have TVs, so unless you have one lying around, don’t waste your money and invest in a Netflix subscription instead. Problem solved.
11. Non-Disposable Dishes
More than one set of plastic plates, bowls, or silverware is going to lie around while you neglect washing them for weeks. Pro tip? Bring a cutting board and a good knife, so that you can assemble gourmet dorm dishes, but use paper plates, utensils, and cups for everything else.
12. Your Wheels
This one depends on your school, but generally state and private schools charge hundreds of dollars to keep a car in long-term parking. If you’re on a city campus or near everything you need, walking and bus lines will take care of all your transportation needs. And if that isn’t enough, Ubers are going to be cheaper than parking and gas.
13. Excess Appliances
You’re picturing it now: curbing your post-workout appetite every afternoon with a kale smoothie. Or maybe you and the squad are saucing up some quesadillas on a hotplate.
Here’s the reality: neither of those things are ever going to happen. You’re going to be much too concerned with your power lectures to whip up any smoothies or quesadillas. So put the Ninja back on the shelf, and back away slowly. You can buy like 50 lattes with the price of that machine, we all know what the better value is there.
14. BRITA filter
The BRITA is so common in dorms that it warrants its own number. Coming from someone who has a BRITA in her mini-fridge right now, I can tell you the time involved in filling this dang thing up every couple of days isn’t worth it. I was told it would be oh-so-helpful to have fresh water all the time, but no one warned me about the 20 to 30 minutes it would take to let the filter do it’s thing. As a freshman you already have to worry about time for laundry and dishes, don’t even mess around with a water filter. Get some water bottles and call it a day, so much simpler.
15. Iron and Ironing Board
I think this one’s pretty self explanatory when it come to what not to pack for college.
There are sure to be dozens of printing stations scattered near and around, or even in your dorm building. Printers require too much upkeep buying ink and paper, and the cost isn’t worth it for how much you’ll need to print. Most schools are pretty electronic at this point anyways, so say it with me everybody: unnecessary.
17. Extra Furniture
I thought for the longest time bringing a bean bag to college would be clutch. But come move in day we bought a futon, bunked our beds, moved everything in, and just like that there was no space left for anything more. Maximize your beds for seating space, or invest in a futon or chair. But don’t try to do it all.
18. Duplicates OF ANYTHING (except a phone charger)
This is perhaps the most important rule. Do not, do not bring duplicates. I promise, you won’t need three pairs of boots, six purses, eight jackets, and a million different kinds of eyeliner. Think about what you use in your daily life, and bring your favorites or you’ll be drowning in a messy room by the weekend.
That said, one of the most valuable things you can do is bring two phone charges. You will never regret that one.
As a huge reader, I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without my collection of Harry Potter with me at school. Turns out, if you really want to know about what not to pack for college, it’s books. Shelf space is too valuable, and there’s no room for the tons of books you want to take up.
20. Your Significant Other
Hot take for what not to pack for college.
I am not by any means saying if you have a good thing going with your significant other you should end it just because of school. This one is more of a warning to be open minded. If you have a solid relationship, you know you do and there’s no reason to change anything.
Be aware, however, that college is a place where a relationship can hold you back, especially freshman year. It’s a time for self-development and exploration, meeting new people and taking advantage of the experiences set out in front of you. I have seen many a friend fall into frustration and spells of sadness because one half of the pair becomes upset about the direction the other is moving in.
If you are constantly worried about something going on miles, or hundreds of miles away, you won’t be focused on what’s important right in front of you. If you’re going into freshman year in a long distance relationship, take extra care to make sure you don’t let it hold you back from accomplishing everything you’re capable of. College has some beautiful things to offer, make sure you’ve opened yourself up to all of them. Good luck 🙂