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The Dos and Don’ts of College Packing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

As the school year is winding down—in less than a month, we will be done, that is crazy!—move-in preparations for next year have already started! College packing can be stressful when figuring out what you need and what you can leave at home. I made this list of the items that I brought that made life easier or harder in order to help you begin your dreaded college packing list. Whether you are an incoming freshman, sophomore moving back on campus, living in an off-campus apartment, or finding yourself randomly clicking on this article, you are sure to appreciate these much-needed—or unnecessary—items for a successful college dorm room!

Do: A Quality Mattress Pad

I cannot stress this item enough because to survive as a college student, we all know that you need all the sleep that you can get! An uncomfortable bed will not allow you to do that, and I guarantee that the mattresses the college or apartment complex provides will not cut it. My bed was extremely comfortable thanks to this mattress pad I found on Amazon. Let me tell you, it is so soft and comfortable. Just a warning: it is a little pricey; however, a top-quality mattress is something well worth the splurge!

Do: Mini Keurig

My roommate brought a mini Keurig for our little kitchen area this year, and not to be dramatic, it saved me. A Keurig is a must need—no matter if you are in an apartment, suite-style dorm with a kitchen, or a regular dorm room—because you will not want to walk to the dining hall before an 8 am class to fulfill your caffeine addiction. Having it right in the dorm room will give you easy access to coffee, tea, and whatever beverage you desire at any time you want! Having this will also prevent you from wanting to go to Starbucks or the local coffee shop every morning—save that money, girl!

Do: Decorations

As you probably already know, the most exciting part of moving into a college dorm room or apartment is decorating it! I had so much fun picking a theme and decorating my room with pictures, lights, pillows—all the goods! I definitely suggest bringing printed-out photos of your friends, family, and places in your hometown that you love because it helps cure your homesickness by looking at them! Posters and tapestries are also a must-need so you can cover large parts of the plain walls in your room, because who likes a bare wall? And do not forget about bathroom rugs—for around the toilet, shower, and sink area—because it helps liven it and makes it feel cleaner! Decorations are essential, but don’t go too overboard on purchasing things that you will not use for more than one year.

Do: Cleaning Supplies

I cannot stress this one enough. College dorms are often not the cleanest places in the world, so bringing your own cleaning supplies—especially during COVID-19—is extremely necessary not just for the look of your room, but for your health! For college, my mom bought me a mini 3-in-one vacuum, a Swiffer, plenty of hand wipes, a table cleaner like Fantastic, and a duster. As she packed it, I was laughing at her because I did not think that I, of all people, would be deep-cleaning my room. However, I ended up using them all the time, so much that I am adding them to this list! Even if you think you are not going to clean, you will learn that you will have to keep your living space, well, liveable! Bring plenty of cleaning supplies so when you finally cave in, you can keep that room clean.

Do: Lots Of Storage Containers

Storage is sooo important, especially if you are staying in a dorm next year as they can be small and can get very tight. Under-the-bed storage is a lifesaver as I have many containers under my bed—thanks to these bed risers—holding extra sheets, my shoes, cleaning supplies, extra toiletries; literally everything. I also have plastic drawers and towers on my desk that hold my makeup and jewelry, so it is all in one place and can be stored away if I need to make more room! Moral of the story: you cannot go wrong with too many storage containers.

Do: Lights

A lot of dorm rooms only have one overhead ceiling light, and that is it. So, additional lights are greatly needed. I have a table lamp on my desk and fairy lights strung around my room which adds a cute touch to the homey-ness and comfy atmosphere. If fairy lights aren’t your thing, LED strip lights are also very popular. They add a fun flair to your room as you can change the colors depending on your mood! Overall, lighting is very necessary for dorm rooms, especially if you want to control the brightness!

Don’t: Bring Doubles

Coordinate with your roommates! This is a key aspect of college packing as the whole goal is to simply bring items that you absolutely need! Figure out who is going to bring what, especially the large objects such as a TV, Keurig, shower curtain, and rugs. Communication is required here because trust me, there is no reason to have two TVs in a dorm room that will take up a bunch of space!


Don’t: Overpack Clothes

The dreaded topic: clothes. The key to making sure that you have everything you want to wear and need while also making sure you aren’t bringing unnecessary items is to take it slow rather than throwing all the clothes from your closet onto the floor. If you are going to school in the South—like CofC!—you do not need to pack three winter coats and every single one of your 25 sweaters. One coat will be sufficient and at least five sweaters for the winter! Pack for the climate and for what you think you are actually going to wear more than once.

Don’t: Bring Too Many Pairs of Shoes

There is no reason to bring every single pair of shoes that you own because, in reality, you are most likely going to be wearing the same pairs of shoes daily. In my rotation, I have a couple of pairs of sneakers—Air Forces and gym shoes—flip flops, Birkenstocks, and a pair of sandals for when I am feeling fancy. That is it. Also, if you can take anything away from this: bring an old pair of shoes that you do not care about for going out because they will get extremely dirty!!

Don’t: Forget to Look At Your School’s Prohibited Items

Make sure that you look at your school’s prohibited item list if you are living on-campus next year. Some of the things that are on the list could be extension cords, candles, anything with an open flame, pets, toasters, etc. Do this before you start going out and purchasing your items to save you some time and money because if you can’t bring them and use them, then why buy them?

Hopefully, this list has inspired you to start planning your college packing list for the upcoming school year! I know this process can be stressful; however, if you do your research and pack over a longer period of time, rather than the day before, you are bound to be successful!

Kiley is currently a junior at the College of Charleston and pursuing a major in Communication and minoring in Dance and Marketing. She is from Ocean City, New Jersey, and loves the summer and going to the beach. Whenever she is not dancing, she is usually hanging out with friends and family, going on long walks, getting coffee, or listening to good music!