”There isn't a child who hasn't gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn't return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes. ” -Art Buchwald
Starting college is one of the greatest and scariest days of any young person’s life. The summer before college you spend all your summer job money buying stuff for your dorm and getting ready for the big day. But the lists that colleges give out are not always the end all be all of dorm preparations. When I went to college in New York, I was traveling from California. I was so terrified that I would forget something that I ended up with 4 suitcases filled with everything I could possibly need. By the middle of the year, I realized I didn’t need more than half I bought and needed to buy what I did need. So in order to save you from needlessly over packing or underpacking, here is a “buy this, skip that” list for college essentials from a college dorm veteran.
The Bed: You’d be surprised how much time I spent in my bed in my college years. I watched TV, studied, read and of course, napped as much as I possibly could. The mattresses for college dorms are uncomfortable at best. Invest in a few things to make your bed away from home the most comfortable it can be.
- Mattress protector
- Foam mattress pad
- Comfortable pillows (2 or more)Back rest pillow
- Extra set of sheets
- Extension cord/power strip for chargers
- String lights to help avoid fluorescent lighting over your bed
For the “Kitchen”: Most dorms do not come stocked with a kitchen so knowing bringing certain items will help keep you going. Some dorms come stocked with a microwave and fridge but some don’t so do your research and coordinate with your roommates so you can be prepared.
- Food storage containers to sneak food out of dining hall
- Electric kettle for Ramen, soup, etc
- Reusable water bottle and thermos mug
- Non-perishable snacks
- Instant coffee and tea
- Basic cleaning wipes and air fresheners
For Everything Else: There are a few items that you are going to find yourself needing that you will be grateful in the long run. Items that you would never think you would ever use that become your best friend.
- Sewing kit for when you need to Macgyver a repair
- Extra towels
- Rolling laundry bag or cart, trust me on this one, you will NEED it!
- Hanging shoe storage for closet
- Either a small safe or a trunk with a padlock on it
- Semi formal or formal wear for presentations, job fairs, interviews and formal parties
- Copies of important documents on password protected flash drive
- Emergency cash (for ACTUAL emergencies)
The packing list hasn’t changed much in the last decade except for the addition of laptops but there are items on the list that you will bring and never use. These items are a waste of money and precious space in your cramped dorm room. When it comes to large items like TV’s, appliances, gaming systems, etc, talk to your roommates during the summer and figure out who is bringing what so you can coordinate and avoid duplicates. At the end of the day, the best advice for college freshman is to pack smart and do not over pack.
- A printer, I promise you will never use it.
- Too many school supplies, if you find yourself needing more than the basics, buy it later!
- Excessive storage items, bed risers, under the bed storage, over the door hangers. Wait until you move in to see if these items will fit and be useful before you waste money on them.
- Alarm Clock, use your phone!
- Excessive dorm decor, you will regret it when you have to pack it up
- Your entire closet, be mindful of space and what you are actually going to need and wear
- A year’s worth of toiletries, GO TO THE STORE
- Excessive luggage, you won’t have space to store it
The most important thing to bring to college:
A good attitude! Don’t be too cool for school, college is one of the most exciting times in life and you get to start over from high school and be whoever you want to be. Enjoy it, try something new, meet new people, make a mistake and make it again, take lots of pictures, find your calling and change your mind and make memories you are going to hold onto for a lifetime. The next 4 years are a time to explore the world and explore yourself as a person, make the most of it! Because when college is over, the real world can feel like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.
And call your parents, they are worried.
”Learn as much as you can while you are young, since life becomes too busy later.” -Dana Stewart Scott