Packing for College: Dos and Donts

Packing for college can be really stressful and overwhelming. As an extreme perfectionist and ultra-planner, I know I was really stressed about making sure I didn’t forget everything while still making sure I didn’t pack more than I could fit in my car or in my dorm room. However, I’ve now been through the process of packing for college, moving into a dorm room, and moving out of a dorm room and I’m about to do it all again in a couple of weeks. The past year has definitely taught me what you do and don’t need to bring to college, so here’s a short list of what I recommend you do and don’t bring with you. 

Dos - things you should definitely pack

  • Scissors - this may seem strange but almost everyone forgets to bring a pair and you’d be surprised how often you need them, not only during move-in day itself but also throughout the school year. 
  • Full length mirror - this is one of the things I was really happy I brought with me. This is super helpful for getting ready in the morning and many people don’t think to bring one. Make sure it’s in a secure spot though because towards the end of the year mine fell and shattered. 
  • First aid kit and lots of medicine - illness and injury is inevitable in college so it’s best to be prepared. I brought a small first aid kit and a couple of basic over-the-counter medications but I wish I had brought cold and flu medicine (which will be your best friend during the first few weeks of school) and more band-aids, not just for myself but also for other people. 
  • Fans - this was one thing I didn’t bring and seriously regretted not bringing the first few weeks. It can get pretty hot, especially since the dorms don’t have AC so having a couple of fans is essential to stay cool. I thought I wouldn’t have enough room for bigger fans in my room but I promise you’ll have enough room and it is 100% worth it to bring some. I’ve found that a box fan and a tower fan together are a pretty good combination that can really help cool down your room. 

My room last year (or at least my side of it). Since I packed pretty light, this all packed up fairly easily!

Don’ts - things you can probably skip 

  • Every piece of clothing you own - while it is nice to have lots of clothing options throughout the year, I saw people really struggle to pack all of their clothes during move out. You’ll probably procure more clothes throughout the year and it’s always nice to have a little extra room in your closet and your suitcase. Save space where you can and try to only bring the things you absolutely know you’ll wear. 
  • Brita pitcher - some people swear by these in college, but I never used mine. There are water bottle refilling stations in almost every building on campus so I would recommend investing in a good water bottle that you can bring everywhere instead. 
  • Tons of school supplies - while you’ll definitely need a laptop, pens and pencils, and a good calculator, many of the school supplies you had in high school are probably unnecessary in college and will take up lots of space. Things like big binders, lots of folders, and tons of paper are probably not the most important to bring since you’ll likely do most of your work on a laptop. 
  • Printer - this can be really convenient but it can also take up lots of desk space and can be pretty expensive, especially when you’re constantly having to buy ink. There are lots of printers on campus that you can print from for just a few cents so I would recommend skipping the printer unless you’re really committed to printing a lot all of the time

This is by no means an exhaustive list or an exact recipe for move-in day success, but this should give you a better idea of what types of things you should bring and what things you can probably leave at home. Having done this myself, I know that there’s a lot of factors to consider while packing but Yale has lots of move-in resources from FroCos who can answer all of your questions, to your Head of College office that can provide lists of recommended items or give you more information about what to bring. With all these resources in tow, moving in is much less stressful!