The Real College List: Move It Or Lose It

When I told my Mom I was writing an article about efficient college packing, she laughed at me.


I’m not surprised or hurt by my mother’s skepticism. After all, I was the college freshman whose parents had to rent a Ford Excursion in order to attempt to bring all my stuff to school.

However, it’s due to my excessiveness that I’m really well versed in one thing: What not to pack … and what you absolutely can’t live without.

So, this time around I went through the Bed, Bath and Beyond “”EquipYourSpace”” college packing list to see what, after two years of college experience, I would cross out if I was accompanying my pre-frosh self shopping.

Can’t Live Without:

Towel wrap: While not on Bed, Beth and Beyond’s list, towel wraps are considered a necessary item by all my girlfriends at school. Walk down a co-ed hallway to the bathroom without fear of your towel dropping while you hold your shower caddy.

Mattress pads and good bedding: Your bed is your safe haven at school; your refuge from it all where you can feel at home, so bedding is where you want to splurge! Buy your mattress toppers, mattress pads and some of your other bulkier items online and then have them shipped to your mailing address at school, saving yourself packing space. Just remember: Twin XL when ordering sizes for dorm room beds.

Extra socks and underwear: Bring lots of extra socks and underwear to school—at least enough to last you a full month. Laundry is not something done often at college and socks and underwear are always the first thing you run out of or lose!

Drying rack: For all those items that cannot be dried a drying rack is necessary, and it can be easily folded up and stored under your bed.

The DirtDevil Cone: My roommates and I swear by this vacuum. It is a compact hand vacuum but if you get this you will never use your sweeper vacuum. It looks great in your room, takes up very little space and comes in a variety of colors.

Leave Behind (but check with school first):

Printer: Many schools have free printing. For example, my college, Colby, offers free black-and-white and color printing to all its students. So, check with your school, and if it has free printing, leave the printer at home. It’s cheaper to e-mail your papers to yourself and print them out on a school computer than to pay for ink cartridges.

Chair: Most schools will provide a desk chair. They usually aren’t the most comfortable. I know some of my friends bought their own office chairs because they study a lot in their room. However, I recommend having your space and study situation figured out before you purchase one. Also, a good way to save space and money is to buy a seat pad you can attach to your chair to make it more comfortable.

Over-the-door towel rack: Almost every dorm room will come with one of these, so you probably don’t need to purchase it.

Ditch It:

Robe: Leave the robe, they take up a lot of space packing and you hardly ever use them. Also, they’re a pain to wash. See the above note about towel wraps.

{loadposition incontent}Every pair of jeans you own: In high school you may have thought what you wore to school every day was the most important thing in the entire world and that outfit repeating was the greatest of all sins. In college … no one cares. Everyone is so busy that no one notices repeating jeans. If you’re a denim fanatic like I am, I recommend 5 favorite pairs: skinny jeans, straight legs, boot cuts, black jeans and a pair to wear with heels. Leave the rest behind.

Iron and ironing board: I purchased an ironing board and iron before my freshman year, and I have yet to use them. If you want something to get wrinkles out, purchase a hand-held steamer. They are compact and work as well as—if not better than—an iron.

Any clothes that are currently tight or too small: I made the foolish mistake of thinking that I would actually lose weight when I got to school my freshman year. HA! Between a new exposure to unlimited food dining halls, a healthy alcohol diet and a lot of late-night snacking, you will probably put on a couple of pounds (if you’re lucky). So leave behind any clothes that are tight or too small, they will only take up valuable space and sit in your closet mocking you in the process.

Blender: I got the cutest pink blender at the beginning of this year. While it perfectly accented the pink pillows my roommate had put on our futon that’s about the biggest use it got. We used it once, and then it sat underneath our bathroom sink growing mold the rest of the year.

Toaster: Same concept as the blender. I have personally never had a toaster but all my friends who have bought one seem to have used it only once

Glassware/dinnerware: While certain glassware may seem absolutely necessary to purchase while you are shopping for your college gear, the process of cleaning and storing is more hassle than they are worth. Paper plates and plastic cups are your friends.

Bookshelves: Some of my friends have them, but I have found that between a windowsill, a desk, a book bag and a storage bin next to my desk, I have never needed to purchase a bookshelf.

Landline phone: I did not even think of this until one of our other interns brought it up, but it’s a good point. You will never use your landline, and if you are ever without a cell phone, every single friend has a cell you can borrow. If your parents are insisting you set up a landline because they want a back-up plan for how to reach you, just give them your roommate(s) number(s) if they need to get an emergency number.

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