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Top five things to bring to college and what to leave at home


When preparing to leave for college, I packed way. Too. Much. 

My Honda CR-V was filled from bottom to top with clothes, dorm room decor, blankets, pictures — you name it. While moving into my dorm, I realized I had made a crucial mistake. I couldn’t fit everything I owned into my shoebox dorm room. Even worse, I hadn’t brought what I really needed for my room. 

After some reflection, I’ve decided that not everything needs to make the trip from home to college. 

So, here are the top five essentials to bring with you this year as you prepare to move in to Miami University.

Vacuum cleaner

All first-years should buy a vacuum cleaner before moving into their dorm. The amount of dust, crumbs and trash that accumulates between two roommates is both astounding and disgusting. Every weekend, bring out that $30 vacuum cleaner from Amazon for your Sunday dorm room reset. 

Shoe rack

The shoe rack saved my life as a first-year. My roommate’s one rule was to remove shoes when entering the room. Not only did having a shoe rack give me an easy location to store my shoes, but taking them off allowed me to keep our room clean throughout the week. 


It’s going to get hot in your dorm, especially during the late summer months. I didn’t bring a fan my first year, and I wish I did. Instead of purchasing a fan, I kept opening and closing my window to circulate cool air. Unbeknownst to me, opening the dorm window shuts off your air conditioning which, by the way, only goes down to 70 degrees on your thermostat. Trust me, buy a fan if you don’t want to sweat every day. 

Drying rack

Warning! The dryers may rip holes in your clothes. And that’s OK … unless it’s Lululemon or your Free People onesie or the same pair of leather pants that you wear to Brick Street every weekend. On second thought, buy a drying rack for your delicate clothing items.

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After some time, your room is probably going to smell a little funky. No matter what the source of the smell is, you need to eliminate it. Want to burn a candle? Too bad; we can’t let you burn the building down. Use a diffuser instead with your favorite essential oils or scents. 

In order to make space for your five necessities, you’re going to need to leave some stuff behind. Say goodbye to your 200 sweatshirts and 500 colored Sharpies because here’s what should stay at home.


The amount of clothing you bring to school depends on where you live. If you’re an in-state student or live within a reasonable distance of campus, leave your winter clothes at home before the start of the school year. When temperatures drop this fall, grab warmer clothes over fall break or a long weekend.

If you live further away and don’t travel home often, bring a few winter clothing items to school, including a winter coat, pants, long sleeves, etc. Grab more clothes during fall break or Thanksgiving break, but don’t overflow your room with winter wear in August; you won’t have room for it all. 

Room decor

We all want to live in a cool dorm room with a color scheme and exciting decor, but this isn’t Ole Miss or Alabama. There simply isn’t enough space in your dorm room for a hundred pictures, posters, pillows and plants. Bring some special mementos along with you from home and collect more throughout the year. 


It’s a cashless campus, so even if you wanted to pay cash, the university won’t accept it. Mulaa and Declining Dollars have you covered, so don’t waste your time carrying around cash, except for Bagel and Deli, of course. 

School supplies

It’s not elementary school anymore, so the innumerable pens, pencils and notebooks you have need to stay at home. Bring a few writing utensils and a couple of notebooks; STEM majors bring a little more. For the rest of you, most of your work will be done online. 

Furthermore, no professor wants to read your notes on ionic bonds written in calligraphy in 27 different shades of pink. 

Looking back, if I had followed this advice as a first-year, I probably wouldn’t have had to throw my millions of pillows in a corner every night before bed. I wouldn’t have had to dust off my fake potted plants, organize my pens and pencils or fold baskets upon baskets of laundry every Sunday night. 

We tend to get caught up in what we own or don’t own, what to buy for college or what not to buy. As you prepare for school, remember why you’re going … not for a dorm room or a cool closet, but for experiences, education and friendships. Keep these in mind as you go dorm shopping this August.