Leave It at Home: What NOT to Bring to College



Between stalking your new dormmate on Facebook and getting tons of info from your future alma mater, you and your parents are about to be inundated with college life information. You’ll be tempted to make checklist upon checklist upon checklist of things to bring with you, what to buy, and which stuffed animals should travel with you. Don’t. What you need are two easy lists:  What to bring with you and what NOT to bring with you. Because over the last 18 years, you’ve accumulated way too much stuff, and dorms, in case you haven’t realized, are tiny.

Trust us when we say, don’t let your parents load you down with things you don’t need (like a separate wardrobe for every season). And know that some items are useless, while others should be brought in only after you’ve seen what your roommate has or what your space is like.

Iron and Ironing Board 

There’s something new in town (OK, not that new) that’s way more portable and storable than a board and iron — it’s called a steamer. They come cheap at any home goods store and they’ll get wrinkles out of your best dresses in no time. It just takes water, an outlet, a hanger and something to hang your clothes from, like a door. Also, for the truly ingenious, your shower’s steam can do wonders on wrinkles.

Hanging Shower Caddy (for the Shower) 

If you’re going to deal with communal showers, you definitely don’t want to leave your stuff in the bathroom. A shower tote you can carry with you is your best bet. Having said that, a hanging shower caddy can provide extra storage space on dorm room walls. 

Stacks of Notebooks and Reams of Paper 

If you have yet to spring for a tablet, now may be the time to bite the bullet and do it. They’re great for taking notes during class. Or opt for a small, lightweight laptop. Even if those aren’t possible, loading yourself down with tons of paper and notebooks isn’t necessary. Better to bring one for each class the first semester at most. That way you can use paper on an as-needed basis, which is better for the planet and your budget.

Credit Card 

It’s a classic scenario and many of us have fallen prey to it: You get a credit card in your own name or your parents put you on one of their accounts “for emergencies.” Suddenly, all night pizza parties are on you. Welcome to debtsville. We know four years is a long time to look ahead, but you won’t regret not racking up credit card bills. There’s always Western Union when you’re in a pinch. And these days, your parents can transfer money via their phones. 

TV or Cable 

In this generation, cable might be a thing of the past because of Netflix and Hulu. Save yourself (or your parents) a bundle and use these instead of traditional cable scrips. You can live without Showtime. Shouldn’t you be studying anyway?

Bed Risers 

Bed risers are what the most naive freshman come with. They don’t raise your bed much, they look cheap and you’ll end up with just enough space to lose your dirty clothes in, rather than a place to store anything.

Anything from High School 

The best part about college is the ability to reinvent yourself. So why bring any of that high school baggage with you? Leave your letterman jacket and swim trophies at home. You’ve got new school colors now.


You’ll want to see what your roommate has first. Maybe you can go in on a small loveseat and save a few bucks or get something from Craigslist for next-to-nothing. Futons are common in dorms and first apartments, it’s true, but they also invite people to stay over and crash. And remember: Unless you lucked out, you’re in a shared space. Leave the La-Z-Boy at home.

Entertainment Collections 

Whether you’re obsessed with Jane Austen or every movie Keira Knightley has ever been in, don’t cart your collections with you. There just isn’t space. You’ll learn to live without them, trust. It goes without saying that any knickknacks you’re partial to or stuffed animals, should also be left at home. Don’t be that girl.

Extra Lighting and Storage Bins 

There’s a pretty good chance you could use a desk lamp in your room or some type of extra lighting. And a box to store things isn’t out of the question. But many freshman make the mistake of bringing these before they set up everything else. Don’t be one of them. Wait until you actually see your room before deciding how big of a storage bin you need or what type of lamp (desk or floor) will work best.

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