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BlogDorms & Living

Not Your Typical Dorm Packing List

When I packed for college, I wasn’t sure what I needed and what I didn’t, so I packed up just about my entire room. My tiny dorm was so overcrowded and messy! To avoid making the same mistake, here is a list of items you might not need to pack or buy:

What you should consider NOT packing:

  • Too many clothes. Most people don’t even wear many of the clothes they bring to college, so here are some tips for packing what you need:
      1. Pack for the weather and season. Look up the average weather/temperature around the college that you are moving to, and pack accordingly. If you visit home before the season changes, then pick up your winter clothes when you drop off your summer clothes.
      2. Only pack a couple of T-shirts since you will probably receive tons of new T-shirts within the first couple of weeks.
      3. Bring more comfy clothes than fancy clothes. Some freshmen dress up for class every day but usually switch to leggings, shorts, and sweatpants after the first couple of weeks just like most of the upperclassmen.
  • An iron and ironing board. Most clothes don’t need to be ironed, and, if you really need to get the wrinkles out of something, try hanging it in the bathroom while you take a hot shower.
  • Extra appliances like a toaster and a blender. You probably won’t use these enough to justify the space that they take up.
  • Extra bedding, towels, and hand towels. You probably won’t need more than three or four of each, since you can wash one while you’re using the other.
  • All of your school supplies. If you’re like me, you probably received enough pens, pencils, and sticky notes to last you a lifetime after graduation, but you’ll probably only need a handful of each in college.
  • Candles. They are prohibited in many dorms as a fire hazard. Maybe consider a scented wax melter or essential oil diffuser if your dorm allows.
  • Sentimental and valuable items. While moving in and out of dorms so frequently, it is easy to lose belongings.
  • Printer. Most college campuses offer access to printers in computer labs, and you will turn in most of your assignments digitally anyway.
  • Refrigerator. If you purchased a meal plan, and plan on eating all or most of your meals there, you probably won’t need a refrigerator.

While we are on the topic of things you don't really need at college, here is something that isn't packed, but you can do without:

The biggest meal plan. College cafeterias don’t have a reputation for offering the best food. You may not be able to tolerate eating every meal at your school’s cafeteria so consider a smaller plan.

What you SHOULD consider packing:

After you’ve cleared some space on your packing list, look at the list below for some items that could improve dorm life.

  • Bungee clothesline. Usually used for campings, these are a good alternative to drying racks, since bungee clotheslines take up very little space in storage and are easy to hang up in your dorm room.
  • Rice cooker. Since I didn’t have access to a kitchen in my dorm, my roommate’s rice cooker was a lifesaver! Every week, after cooking the rice, we heated up beans in the microwave with cumin, dried minced onion, and salt and topped it all off with shredded cheese and hot sauce to make super cheap and tasty beans and rice.
  • A Good and Cheap Cookbook. This cookbook shows how to eat on four dollars a day, (although, if you don’t have access to a kitchen then a cookbook won’t be much help). Here’s a free PDF of this cookbook!
  • Tablet keyboard. If you are going to use a tablet to complete all of your homework, you should consider buying a magnetic keyboard and case. I especially like this one, because it functions like a laptop, increasing the ease of typing papers or watching YouTube.
  • A handheld vacuum. Full-size vacuums take up a lot of space in tiny dorms, and a handheld vacuum is usually enough to clean such a tiny space.
  • A mattress topper. Mattresses in college dorms are often pretty uncomfortable, so mattress toppers make a huge difference.
  • A rolling hamper. Since you will probably have to use the community washing machine down the hall, a rolling hamper makes transporting your heavy laundry so much easier.
  • Car blankets. University buildings can be cold, so keeping a couple of blankets in your car might save you during late-night study sessions. You can also use the blankets for impromptu picnics!
  • Plants. Dorms can feel pretty bleak, but a few plants can contribute some much-needed life to your dorm. Sansevieria (Snake Plant), Pothos, and any succulents are usually pretty easy to care for as long as you remember that they don’t like too much water and that you need to let their soil dry out completely between waterings.

Check with your roommate to make sure you aren’t bringing duplicates. Every individual is different, and only you know what belongings you can ditch and which you can’t live without. Bring whatever will make you feel comfortable in such a new environment! You probably won’t know exactly what you need until sophomore year, and that’s okay.

Katelyn is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior at Faulkner University where she studies English. She enjoys writing and she is excited to work with Potential to share her experience and research about college life, self-improvement, budgeting, etc.

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