College 101: What To Bring To Your New Dorm

Aug 9, 2004

The Bottom Line Good ideas for incoming freshman living on campus.

It's the beginning of August-- Time for incoming freshman to start their packing and move into their new dorms away from home. A lot of new freshmen and their parents make the mistake of bringing everything but the kitchen sink for the dorm. While this is understandable -- you want all the comforts of home -- it really isn't practical.

There is no reason to bring oodles of snacks, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent,and so on. You can always buy the items in the new city. Research before you leave and find out if there's a Costco, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, or any other discount or wholesale store nearby. Buying things is easy. Buying them at home, packing them up and moving them to the new location is a lot harder-- and a lot of unnecessary work.

However, there are indeed items that you should bring with you rather than purchase once you get to school. While purchasing items once you're in the new location is easier, it cuts into the time that you have to move into your dorm. Colleges usually give 3 - 5 days for students to move in before classes start. During that time, you have to explore your campus, locate your classrooms, meet new people, assure your parents that you're going to be fine, and so on. You don't want to waste time shopping.

So, what exactly do you bring rather than buy? Use common sense. You're not going on vacation-- you're moving, and probably for the first time. Think about what you need versus what you want in your dorm.

An Alarm Clock. It doesn't seem like it's important now, but you certainly need one. Bring the one you have from home. That way, you are familiar with how it works and know that you can rely on it. You don't want a faulty alarm clock-- especially when you've got an early class.

Bedding. Sure, you can purchase bedding anywhere. However, it is better that you bring the bedding from home for a few reasons. First of all, it's clean. Even if you buy it before you move, you have the opportunity to wash it first. You'll have nice, clean sheets for your bed. If they're new, they're usually quite stiff and uncomfortable. That leads me to my second point about bringing bedding from home: Comfort. You know that your bedding is comfortable. You have slept on it before, and know that you will be able to sleep on it in your new home. Finally, it is best to bring bedding from home because of familiarity. It has the smells of home. It has the look of home. It has the memories of home. You might think that you don't need all that. Trust me, when you get sick for the first time, you're just going to want to surround yourself in your blanket from home until you're better.

Money. I'm talking about cash, not a checking account. (It's always good to open a checking account with a bank on or near campus, but that's another article entirely.) I'm not saying that you need to have wads of cash on hand - it's probably a good idea not to - but have between $30 and $60 with you when you go. Yes, even if Mom or Dad are around, you want to have some money in your wallet. You never know when a new friend is going to want to get something to eat, and it's pretty embarassing to ask your parents for some dough. You're supposed to be an adult now, remember?

Pictures. Preferably in frames. Even if you're not a photo person, even one photo of your family will bring you comfort when you just catch a glimpse of it. You want the frames so that the photos don't get ruined. It's usually best to have the type of frames that stand on their own, especially if you live in a dorm. You don't want to get charged for holes that are poked in the walls to nail up your frames.

Clothes. Well, duh. This is a no-brainer. However, if you live far away from home and don't expect to go back very often, bring the clothes that you know you are going to wear until you next go home again. In other words, pay attention to the change of seasons. It's a good idea to bring your clothes in those big RubberMaid storage chests. They will fit nicely in your room-- They can even act as a table to keep them out of the way. Suitcases just take up space. However...

Suitcase. It's always good to have a suitcase on hand. It's better to have a smaller suitcase on hand for spontaneous overnight trips, but a duffel bag will do for that. However, you never know when you have to go home, so have that larger suitcase around. It's good to store some out-of-season clothes in it (under your bed or something), but you might need it at the drop of a hat in case something happens at home.

Shoes. One would think that this would fall under the "Clothes" category, but it doesn't. There are four types of shoes you need: Sneakers (or Athletic shoes), Dress shoes, Loafers (or your comfy shoes that aren't sneakers) and Slippers. The Slippers are for bumming around the dorm, the loafers for class, the dress shoes for the special occasions, and I think the Sneakers are pretty self-explanatory.

Backpack. You will have a lot of books while in college-- especially during your first semester. Before you leave for college, find a backpack that you like. Break it in a little. Make sure that it's comfortable. You're going to use it quite a bit once you hit your bookstore.

That about sums it all up. Sure, there are probably other items that you want to bring to school that are necessary for you, but that's a personal thing. You don't want to overcrowd your room with knick-knacks, especially if you're going to have a roommate. A couple of things are fine. Just don't go crazy. Use common sense- Would you want your roommate bringing all of his/her stuff from their bedroom at home? Remember that your dorm room is your apartment. It's not just a bedroom. You will spend a lot of time in this room. Make sure it's liveable for you and, if applicable, your roommate.

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