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College Advice

20 Things You Should Not Bring To College: A Quick Guide

DormEssentials November 25, 2020

One of the most exciting parts of going to college is being able to have your own space as you start living alone. Since you’re new to the concept you may want to bring anything and everything to feel at home. However, it’s advisable to bring only the necessities as the living space will be small in the college dorm. You can always buy or order more things on amazon and ship them to your dorm!

Plus, you can always go back home during the weekends or semester breaks to bring any added essentials. Your dorm room should not be filled with things you can do without. To guide you on what not to bring to college, we have curated a list of things that you should consider leaving at home. Remember that our list is just recommendations, so some things might be more important to take with you than others! Just remember the small and usually shared dorm size so you should try to pack light.

20 Things You Should Not Bring To College 

1. Bulky Luggage 

Since you’ll have to go home during semester breaks, you’d need to keep luggage to carry your clothing, books, and electronics home. However, the smart thing to do is to not carry a bulky luggage that would take up a lot of space in your dorm room. You can of course use them to bring stuff when you’re moving into the dorm, but you must also bring extra collapsible luggage that you can use to transport things when you’re going on vacation.

Collapsible luggage can easily be folded and stored in narrow spaces like under the bed or next to the closet. You can also carry one or two duffle bags as it should be enough to carry whatever you need in your breaks. If your parents are dropping you off at college, they may also consider taking the luggage or containers back with them.

2. Out-Of-Season Clothes

Bringing in every article of clothing to college is definitely not a smart move. For example, if you’re moving into a warmer climate, refrain from bringing your heavy-duty jackets and coats. You can bring in those during a holiday break before fall is right around the corner. This way, you can save a lot of closet space throughout the year when you wouldn’t need warm clothes. Check the weather before packing and arriving.

3. Pots, Pans, and Dishware Sets

While you may think you’ll have time to cook for yourself, you’d come to realize that most of the time you’d end up having your meals in the dining hall or ordering takeout. Therefore, there’s no point in bringing in pots or pans because let’s get this straight, even if you cook something you’ll have to wash the dishes in the communal sink and nobody really wants that. 

You should also not bring full dishware sets to college because first of all, they’ll be heavy and secondly, you’ll never end up using all of them. What you can do is bring a few small bowls and plates which will come useful when you order takeout. You can also fully switch to disposable plates if you prefer. 

4. Iron and Ironing Board

Based on the limited amount of clothing you’ll be bringing to college, it’s worth avoiding an iron or ironing board from the list. Think this way: do you really use iron frequently even at home? Then, why would you need them in college when the amount of clothes is reduced in half. Therefore, you shouldn’t bring an iron or an ironing board to college.

If you absolutely need to make a shirt wrinkle-free, try hanging it in your bathroom when you’re taking a hot shower, or add a few ice cubes and throw it in the dryer. If that doesn’t work, you can always borrow an iron from someone in the dorm who wasn’t smart enough to not bring it to college. 

5. Toaster

Most dorms do not allow toasters due to the fire hazard, so we recommend instead to get a microwave and electric kettle for hot water that will get you an oatmeal breakfast or a ramen snack through the day. For coffee and tea, pod based systems or simple electric kettles are better options.

6. Blender

If you are someone who loves making their own smoothies or green juices in the morning, a blender might be an essential appliance for you. However, it may not be a dorm-friendly choice because of how noisy it can be. College dorms usually have thin walls so using your blender before class may not be the best thing to do to your roommates.

Also, if a smoothie is your breakfast option you’d have to stock up on fresh fruits and the mini-fridge available in the dorm may take up too much space with the fruits. Instead, you could switch to a college-friendly breakfast and grab smoothies once in a while from nearby cafes. You can also make tea at night and add a few ice cubes to it in the morning to have iced tea instead of a smoothie.

7. Formal Tuxedos & Dresses

Although you’d need formal dresses for a few parties and events in college, most of these events won’t take place until the end of the first year. Usually, as a freshman, you’d most likely be busy finding clubs to join, and not attend formal events. As for going out on weekends, you’d want to wear casual attire. Therefore, do not bring formal dresses when you’re moving into college for the first time. While business attire will be needed for interviews, presentations through the year, a full on tuxedo or ball dress is probably not needed. You might find you can borrow something that’s missing too.

8. Impractical Shoes

If you are a lover of trendy shoes, you might find it really hard to leave your favorite pairs at home. But practically, that’s exactly what you should do. In college, a pair of good sneakers should be your best friend, be it for classes or to run errands. You can bring one pair of fancy shoes for night outs and a formal pair for work. But other than that, do not bring any impractical shoes to college because you will never find the right occasion to wear them.

9. Desktop Computer

We do not recommend bringing your desktop computer. A desktop computer, especially if its a gaming PC, will be large, loud, heavy, and produce a lot of heat in the small dorm room. We instead recommend that you bring a laptop to college as its more portable to bring to classes and keep in the dorm room.

10. Your Entire Library 

Avid readers might be tempted to bring all their favorite novels to college but you have to keep in might that you’ll have access to one of the best libraries in the state; you can choose from a myriad of books and return them once you’re done reading.

So there’s no point in bringing your entire library to college because first of all, you won’t have all the time in the world to finish reading them before the first holiday. Plus, they will take up a lot of space on your desk or closet, wherever you choose to keep them. 

11. Too Many Sheets and Towels

Bringing a bunch of sheets to college will just end up taking a lot of space, and you won’t even end up using all of them. The key to live in college is saving as much space as you can, and extra bedding shouldn’t be counted in the list of things you must bring. Basic bedding and two sets of sheets are enough to last a few months as you can put the used one to wash and replace it with the other one. The same goes for towels; do not bring more than two bath towels and two hand towels to college.

12. Random School Supplies

Although having the minimum stationery items are great to have when you start college, you’ll most likely not end up using all of them. Depending on your classes and the professors’ requirements you may need some school supplies like the basic ones: pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. But remember it’s not high school anymore, so refrain from bringing your geometry set, color pencils, and everything in between.

13. Furniture Pieces

Bringing any furniture piece without being fully aware of the dimensions of your dorm room is certainly a bad move. Even if you are aware of the size of the room, some furniture pieces may not even look good in a tiny room. You may have a picture in your head and before you know it you’ve brought a large piece of furniture that sits oddly no matter where you put it in your room. Spare yourself from the cluttered atmosphere, or contention with a roommate about space. You can always buy more later once you’ve planned where that extra night standdorm chair or rug will actually go.

14. Full-sized Vacuum

Compact tools are the key to live efficiently in college and a full-sized vacuum surely doesn’t fall under that. It’s important to keep your living space clean, but try to purchase a smaller model that gets the job done but doesn’t take up too much space in your dorm room. Plus smaller models can easily get into the nooks and crannies of your dorm room as opposed to a full-sized vacuum which will just be chaotic. You can also get basic cleaning supplies for keeping the room clean.

15. Large Sports Equipment 

Staying active in college is great! But you can do so by utilizing the sports gear your college offers. If you have a lot of sports gear at home you might be tempted to bring them all to college but how often are you going to find time to have a quick game of tennis after class or a basketball match after you hand in your assignment? That’s right, not too often. So, even if you get a chance to play your favorite sports, borrow gear from the athletic department instead of bringing your own to college. Consider smaller and more social sports equipment instead of large rackets, balls, etc.

16. Too Many Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are a great way to spice up the décor of a room. Plus, they’re aesthetically pleasing. However, you should stick to bringing only one when you’re moving to college. Bringing multiple throw pillows will just take up too much space on your bed and when you want to lounge around you wouldn’t know where to put them! You’ll most likely use one while taking pictures but other than that, these cute fluffs have no functionality. 

17. Candles 

If you are a fan of scented candles, sorry to burst your bubble but candles are prohibited in almost all college dorms due to the possibility of fire hazards in the tiny rooms. Therefore, leave all your favorite candles back at home and replace them with an electric scent diffuser if you absolutely need fragrance in your living space. There are a number of candle alternatives we recommend here.

18. Duplicates with your Roommate 

The most unnecessary things to bring to a college are the items your roommate is already bringing. This is why it’s so important to communicate with your would-be roommate beforehand. This will allow you to divide the number of items that both of you can get use out of like a microwave, hairdryer, or décor items. This is extremely important for electronics like printers or fans and humidifiers.

19. Items that hold Sentimental Value

Bringing items that hold sentimental value could be risky when you’re moving into college, as theft is one of the most common dorm crimes. Therefore, if you have a pair of diamond earrings given by your mother as a birthday gift or a vintage painting given by your uncle as a graduation gift, do not bring them to college. 

Although college dorms are quite secure, you can’t always control who comes in and out of the dorm room since you’ll be sharing it with a roommate. While you can replace any stolen item by purchasing a new one, losing something that holds sentimental value is irreplaceable.

20. High School Memorabilia and Drama 

While you may have created the best memories in high school, college is a new chapter. It’s important to leave behind any sort of grievances you’ve had with your former classes especially if all of you end up taking the same classes. Moving into a new space itself should give you a chance to let it go if not make amends with the past. There shouldn’t be any room for high school drama when you move into college; just like there’s not space for nothing but essentials in your tiny dorm room. 

Things That You Don’t Think You Need to Bring to College but You Should 

So, we told you 20 things not to bring to the dorms in college. What does that leave on the list? Our dorm essentials checklist can be found here.

We’ve also covered a more extensive list of the unexpected things you’ll need for college here, but here are some other considerations that may not have crossed your mind.

1. A Pair of Shower Shoes

Living in the dorm means you’ll have to take showers in the communal bathroom (unless your dorm is fancy enough to have a bathroom attached). Therefore, a pair of shower shoes is mandatory if you want to keep your feet protected and germ-free in the universal shower stations.  

2. A Electric Kettle

Although it’s not advisable to bring a hefty coffee maker to college, a kettle is a great alternative for coffee and tea lovers. Ideal to make both powder based coffee and tea, this tiny tool can easily be stored without taking too much space. 

3. Food Storage Containers

No matter whether you’re weekly meal prepping or ordering takeout most of the time, you’d need a bunch of food storage containers. Your dorm usually has a mini fridge and microwave. Bring multiple ones in different sizes that are microwave-friendly so that you can heat the leftovers and have your lunch or dinner when you’re on the go.

4. A Shower Caddy

It’s easy to remember to bring your hygiene products, but not a shower caddy which is essential in college dorm since you’ll be taking showers in the communal bathroom. Usually, you’ll have one or two located on your floor. Therefore, you’ll need to carry all your bath products to the bathroom everyday (back and forth). A shower caddy comes in handy as you can transport all the products in it.

5. A Thermos Flask

A thermos flask is quite useful in a college dorm to store your hot drinks or soups for hours. These stainless steel insulated bottles can keep your drinks hot or cold for up to 12 hours, so when you’re pulling an all-nighter, a thermos flask will be your best friend.


How do you Avoid Packing Too Much For College?

As you are moving into your own space with no family around for the first time in life, you’ll be going through a rollercoaster of emotions. With so many changes going on, it might be hard to stick to practicality. 

The last thing you need when you move to a new place (a tiny dorm room) is an array of unnecessary items that you won’t end up using. This is why it’s important to have a plan on what not to bring to college so that your small dorm room doesn’t turn into a pile of unwanted items. Here are a few ways you can avoid packing more than what you need in college. 

Form a List 

Making a list of the essentials will help you understand what you absolutely need. Make sure you add the items that you use daily such as hygiene products, basic clothing, your favorite blanket, etc. This list shouldn’t be made overnight, therefore start forming the list a few weeks before you have to move into college. That way, you can add things to the list as you would like. Also, include items that you would use for self-care and hobbies. We have a pretty comprehensive dorm essentials checklist which you can print and check out here.

Ask Your Friends and Siblings Who Have Recently Moved to College

Talking to someone who has recently moved to college can be of great help when it comes to avoiding what to bring. Since they have gone through the process of moving, they will be able to guide you. Sometimes you may completely forget about a few things to add to the list such as cleaning supplies or school supplies, so taking their help to create the list can be quite helpful. 

Narrow Down the List 

The list you have initially created will definitely be quite long even if you think those are the most essentials items you cannot do without. However, you should take a close look at the list, and consider removing items that you may not need for the next few months. For example, if you’re starting college in the fall, do not bring any summer clothes or dresses because you won’t need them for the next few months.

Also, if you love reading books, consider taking only two or three out of your collection, or if you love painting, do not carry all your painting supplies to college. It’s not like you’ll get a use out of everything in one semester. You can always get more things when you go for your semester break, but bringing everything to college as a freshman will be an absolute disaster.

The Importance of Knowing What Your College Provides and Prohibits

Before you start packing for college, find out from your college the appliances or electronic items that they will provide. For example, some schools provide a microwave and a mini-fridge in the dorm rooms, while others don’t. If your dorm room doesn’t have either of those, you can discuss with your roommate what each one of you should bring so that you can avoid duplicates.

Also, every school has a list of items that they prohibit. While alcohol, drugs, and weapons are a big NO everywhere, other items can fall under the list such as extension cords, space heaters, candles, hot plates, etc.

If you’re already aware of the list of things that are prohibited or provided by your school, you wouldn’t take up space in your luggage or transportation to carry those. Plus, there are some things which you shouldn’t carry even if it’s not mentioned by your school such as school supplies or clothing and accessories for the whole year. You can buy school supplies from the campus and you’d need clothes for only the next three months.

What to Pack Your Stuff In 

As you create a checklist of things you’re carrying to college, put a list of similar stuff under headings such as Box No. 1, Box No. 2, etc. The idea is to put similar things in one box. Doing so will make it easier to organize them when you’re unpacking as well. You can put all your toiletries and hygiene products in one, bedding and pillow in another one, etc. 

With that being said, there are a few basic things to note down when it comes to what to use for packing. You should use cardboard boxes that can be recycled or stored to use in the future. Storage bins are a great alternative to cardboard boxes as well. These bins can be later utilized to store miscellaneous items in your dorm room.

If you’re transporting to college in your car, make sure to place heavier items in the bottom and pile up the lighter things on top. Once space gets filled up, you can use the backseat to carry lighter items such as clothing.


The goal to have in mind while packing for college is to bring items that you can efficiently use in the limited space. Think of it this way- your room and closet space at home is most likely bigger than that of your dorm room. Therefore, you should not bring anything and everything from home to college. With that being said, we are positive that this guide will help you not to bring unnecessary items to college. Here’s to college and years of fun!



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