Packing for college is hard. For a lot of people, it’s the first time they’re leaving home, so it can be difficult to decide what to bring and what not to bring.
But fear not, because as someone who has packed up for college three times now (two in a residence hall), I am here to share my self-proclaimed expertise. This is not an extensive list, just things I thought wouldn’t be as obvious, so don’t blame me if you forget your shower shoes or laptop.
5 things you should bring
1. Brita water pitcher
I originally didn’t bring a Brita to college because I figured it wouldn’t fit in the mini fridge, plus there’s water fountains everywhere. But, my roommate did. Once I started using it (don’t worry, I always refilled it), I realized that it was so much more convenient than walking down the hall every time I wanted a little bit of water.
A Brita will save you precious seconds when you get thirsty while studying in your residence hall room. Just make sure you get one that fits in your fridge. My ten-cup one fit if I rearranged the shelves a bit, but they also sell smaller sizes.
2. Grocery run before move-in
Stocking up on whatever groceries you can before you come to campus will save a trip to a crowded Kroger during move-in weekend and the expensive markets on campus. Get your cereal, ramen, popcorn, etc. before you come to Oxford. Just don’t go overboard if you’re in a residence hall because you have limited space.
3. Some kind of planner or calendar
Whatever your style of keeping track of assignments, events and other important things is, bring one! Whether it’s a planner, whiteboard calendar or a bullet journal (my favorite), make sure you have one and keep it updated throughout the semester. If you’ve never used something to stay organized, you should start now.
Most professors start the semester with every assignment on the syllabus already, so I like to sit down the first week and write down every major assignment so I know what to expect week-to-week.
4. Step stool
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You might be thinking: the lofted beds in the residence hall rooms don’t look that tall. Well, they are. I’m 5’4” and getting onto my bed without a step stool was always a struggle. I bought one of those storage ottoman seats and used that as my step stool (extra storage was a bonus!), but there are also regular step stools you can get. Trust me, even if you’re taller, it’ll save you so much energy stepping up to your bed rather than jumping. The top shelf of your closet will also prove to be a vertical challenge for those of us under 6 ft.
Chances are you’ve been living in your parents house up until now, and a pair of scissors was only a trip to the junk drawer away. Scissors are one of those things that you never know when you need a pair, but if you need it and you don’t have it, you’re screwed. Buy a pair of scissors and thank me later. Same goes for tape.
5 things you could do without
1. Every pair of shoes you own
If you’re anything like me, you probably cycle through the same three pairs of shoes, but when it comes time to pack, you think “Well, I’ll bring these just in case.” And even though I’ve brought shoes to school that didn’t see the light of day all semester, I still fall for it.
There is no “just in case.”
Be frugal with your shoes, especially because of limited storage. You probably don’t need more than one pair of nice shoes. And because you’ll likely be walking all around campus, make sure the ones you do bring are comfortable.
2. Too many dishes
As much as you like to think you’re going to cook dinner in your communal residence hall kitchen every night, you’re probably going to end up in the dining hall more often than not. I’m not saying don’t bring any dishes or cooking supplies, but again, be frugal. You can get away with one or two plates and bowls and one set of silverware. Personally, I brought a few tupperware containers, because they doubled as bowls and storage.
3. Unnecessary school supplies
There’s no school supply list for college, so it can be hard to figure out what you should bring. Luckily, I’m here to tell you. It mostly depends on what will work best for you. My suggestion would be notebooks. I get a notebook for each class I plan on taking handwritten notes for. Some people get the big five-subject notebook, and others take notes on their laptop.
If you’re a laptop person, I’d still make sure to have at least one notebook. You never know when you’ll need a piece of paper, and some professors don’t allow laptops during class. Folders are mostly irrelevant; you don’t get as many handouts or worksheets in college (at least in my experience). I just use one for important documents.
As convenient as it sounds to have your own printer, it won’t be worth it. It’ll take up prime real estate in your residence hall room, and you’ll spend more money on ink than you would printing on campus. It only costs 10 cents per page to print at King Library and Armstrong Student Center, and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had to print out an assignment.
5. Decorative pillows
I know, you’ve been looking all over Pinterest for room decoration inspiration and seen the picture perfect college rooms. But the beds in those pictures have way too many pillows. Don’t forget, your space is limited, and that includes space on your twin XL bed. Uncomfortable decorative throw pillows are going to be just that, thrown to the side.