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Myths of What You Need For University (But Don't)


Packing for my first year at university was an exciting, albeit stressful, time in my life. I had to figure out what to buy, how to pack it, where to store it... It was an overwhelming time, scrolling through Pinterest, searching for the "Ultimate College Packing Guide" for freshman year must haves.

However, after finishing my third semester at American University I believe I have a few pointers on what you may or may not need for college.

*Disclaimer: Universities across the nation and internationally all differ in their housing accommodations. Before taking any advice to heart, I would recommend looking into your campus' residency program*

1. Furniture

Most dorms are all ready furnished and bringing any more would be unnecessary and likely annoying. My first semester at AU, I was in a triple and if I would have brought any furniture it would have been a disaster. We barely had enough room to accommodate three people, let alone a futon or a coffee table.

2. Printer

This is a semester by semester issue. My first semester, I barely had anything to print out. Second semester, however, most of my classes required us to print out our readings and annotate them (since electronics were not allowed in class). And my third semester I printed frequently enough but not excessively. Again, AU has 'printing dollars' for the library printers which is a relatively common aspect that many universities have begun implementing. If printing is free, then forget having a printer. Take into account not just costs of the printer but also the ink, which in itself could be an additional unnecessary cost.

3. Paper plates/utensils

Depending on how your meal plan is when you first go to college, you may have far too many meal swipes or not nearly enough. Usually schools allow a 'trial' period for you to gauge how many meal swipes a week you may use. However, if you're the typical college kid (and believe me, you likely will be), you will order in every now and again, go out and bring back leftovers, or sneak food out of the dining hall. Therefore, having ceramic plates or bowls as well as metal utensils are a far better way to go. For example, let's say your meal plan allows you to have about 2 meals per day, if you're not planning on going grocery shopping frequently, you could buy a few boxes of cereal for the month and use your dishes to eat breakfast. While you may have to add to your load on dishes, it's cheaper (and greener) in the long run rather than having paper plates or plastic utensils.

4. Excessive Decor

Bring the essentials that may help override home-sickness: photos to hang or mementos to keep up. Depending on your living arrangements you may be able to get away with a few throw pillows and framed photos but keep it simple. Pick a theme or bring things that make you smile when you see them. Similarly, my first year dorm room had carpet inside so having a rug would have been pointless, if not annoying. However this year, my floor is the fake-wood, tile-type material so a rug makes it feel a little bit more cozy.

5. Office Caddy

Shower caddies? A must for communal bathrooms. And while some desk organization is necessary (don't just fling your books and pens across a table - were you raised in a barn?), you won't need one of those complex office organizers unless you frequently use one at home.

And you might be thinking - Katya, this goes against my Pinterest pins!

Well, now here are a list of things you should certainly consider bringing with you to college:

1. Keurig or Coffee Maker

Now some schools (mine included) said they were not allowed in the dorm rooms, unless they are unplugged (aha! Loophole!). But if you're a frequent coffee drinker like I am, it will help out your wallet to invest in a coffee maker or Keurig. If you're a tea drinker, a Keurig or a hot water dispenser could be useful as well!

2. Vacuum and/or Swiffer

Regardless of what kind of material your floor is made of, you'll learn rather quickly that you'll need to clean it up more frequently than you figured you would.

3. Hamper

As 'appealing' as throwing your laundry on the floor until you need to carry it to the laundry room sounds, your clean-freak roommate may not appreciate that. Just buy a hamper that can go in a corner or at the end of your bed. For this year, since my roommate and I have a room with a private bathroom, we keep our hampers in the bathroom.

4. Mattress Pad

Apparently it's a universal rule for college dorm rooms to have the most uncomfortable mattresses they could possibly find. So buy a mattress topper, a mattress pad, and a set of sheets so you'll be good to go.

5. Reading Lamp/Night Light attached to bed frame

Sometimes your roommate may be falling asleep and you still have a few chapters to finish off for the next morning (don't procrastinate by the way) and a reading lamp that clips onto your bed frame will solve that problem almost instantly. It's relatively limited light to finish off your reading and allows for your roommate's circadian rhythm to stay in tact.

So there we have it, 5 overrated and 5 underrated items on college packing lists. I hope this was helpful but what do you think are some items you may never touch vs the ones you'll always use? Or if you've completed your first year, what are your anecdotal experiences?

#college #blog #student #university #opinion