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9 things you shouldn’t bring to college

Published April 22, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Starting college and moving out on your own for the first time into a dorm can be so exciting, but it’s also a little overwhelming. Will you like your roommate? Will your roommate like you? Are you going to be homesick? And what on earth are you supposed to pack?

    We’ve all seen the packing lists and “college must-haves” guides, some with hundreds of items. But what if we told you that you didn’t need to pack 200 things to be prepared? And there are items you're actually better off skipping entirely.

    Here’s a list of things you likely don’t need to bring to college.

    1. Bulky luggage

    Dorm rooms are, for the most part, pretty small, which means storing large bulky luggage is going to be nearly impossible. Instead, you might want to pack your clothing in garbage bags (if you’re driving) or duffel bags (if you’re flying). This way, you can recycle your “luggage” once you unpack or easily fold it and store it for later use.

    2. Too many books

    This might sound silly, but you probably don’t want to bring your entire home library with you to college. Not only are books heavy, which will make them annoying to travel with, but they’ll also take up valuable space in your small dorm room. Instead, consider investing in an e-reader or checking out books from the campus library.

    3. Sentimental or irreplaceable items

    Unfortunately, taking those beautiful one-of-a-kind earrings your grandma gave you for your birthday to college is probably not a great idea. While you may be very trustworthy and responsible, you don’t know who might find their way into your dorm room, not to mention moving in and out of dorm rooms can make it easy to misplace items.

    If an item can’t be easily replaced and isn’t an absolute necessity, it’s usually best to leave it at home.

    4. Out-of-season clothing

    You likely want to make a great first impression, and that often starts with wearing outfits that make you feel confident. However, you shouldn’t bring all your clothes to campus, especially if you can go home throughout the year.

    School begins in the fall, so bring some fall and transitional winter clothing based on the climate of where you’re moving to start with. Take advantage of breaks and holidays to switch out winter for summer clothes. Packing a year’s worth of clothes into a small dorm closet is going to be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

    5. A printer

    Printers are going to take up key space in a dorm room, and for the most part, you won’t need one at college. That’s because there are usually printers available in the library and other locations on campus. Take advantage of them, and skip lugging a printer to school if you can.

    6. Furniture

    Most dorm rooms come fully equipped with furniture, meaning you shouldn’t waste your energy packing furniture for college. Even if you’re someone who wants to bring furniture to college, keep in mind that colleges are, for the most part, not going to be willing to remove the existing dorm furniture to make room for other furniture. Consider yourself stuck with what’s there and make do with it.

    7. Space heaters and electric blankets

    It might seem cozy to pack items like a space heater and an electric blanket, but these items can be fire hazards, and oftentimes, schools prohibit these items in dorm rooms. It’s usually best not to bring them.

    8. Kitchen appliances

    The same goes for kitchen appliances – many colleges have rules about kitchen appliances that might be fire hazards, like microwaves or toasters. Check the rules before packing any of these items.

    9. Shareable items

    Last but certainly not least, if you can speak with your roommate before moving in (if you’re going to have one), make a plan. This way, you can discuss who’s bringing what and avoid having duplicate items that could clutter your small room. There’s no need, for instance, to bring two TVs.

    Final thoughts

    It can be stressful to pack for college, but if you stay away from bringing things that likely aren’t allowed by your college or are going to be bulky and not useful, you’ll likely be in good shape. Happy packing!