The summer before your freshman year of college, you’ll feel an emotional mix of excitement, nerves and mystery—kind of like the wee hours before a first date. While you already experience the overwhelming “feels” of moving out, you also need to deal with the stress of packing for college. Shelves and shelves of items cover stores like Target and suck you into the vast world of college shopping. In reality, most of those “necessary” items just crowd up your already tiny closet all semester. Rather than emptying your wallet on your packing list, follow this guide to save some money for Starbucks (I mean books, mom) and start your broke college student budget early.
1. Brita Filter
Pure, fresh water easily available at any time of day or night sounds great. Except…who will refill the Brita Filter once it’s empty? Maybe you and your roommate will do each other the favor in the beginning, but that will end once you’ve walked up two flights of stairs to the nearest sink just to empty the filter all over again after you refill one water bottle. Yep. Bye bye, Brita Filter, hello water fountains.
With the exception of a few hardcore coffee addicts out there, most freshman can survive without having coffee a few feet away from their beds. Remember, dining halls serve “free” coffee almost all day, and most campuses serve coffee in various cafes or convenience stores. When rushing out the door for your 8 a.m., filling up your Keurig with water and waiting for the coffee to brew falls to the bottom of your list of priorities. Also, K-Cups don’t last forever. Save your money and your time and leave your Keurig at home.
3. Your Entire Closet
But what about that one body-con dress I wore to homecoming in ninth grade? Nope. While you should plan ahead for unpredictable weather (raincoats and rain boots are a must), you’ll survive without every pair of jeans you own. Your tiny dorm dresser won’t hold that much clothes and you’ll never wear them all anyway. “If you’re in a traditional dorm, your closet space isn’t that big,” University of Maryland sophomore Isabelle Minkin said. “Bring what you’re going to be most comfortable in for class…then bring some outfits for going to parties…have a variety, but it’s not like you need your whole closet.” You typically find yourself resorting to your two or three favorite outfits, which eventually will turn into a cycle of re-wearing the same pair of leggings and your college sweatshirt for a week straight.
4. Multiple Water Bottles
Many college campuses seem to overflow with a supply of water. Everywhere you walk you see water fountains, water filler stations, water at the dining halls, water in the fountains—water is everywhere. You really only need one, maybe two water bottles to last the year. Most dorms will provide a sink where you can wash those water bottles, but an excessive amount of bottles will take up space you could use for more clothes.
5. Desk Lamp
There’s a slim chance you’ll study in your dorm room ever, especially late at night. Desk lamps seem like considerate alternatives while your roommate sleeps, but a desk lamp actually just feels like a police spotlight illuminating the entire room. “On every list of ‘things for college dorms,’ all of them said [to buy] a desk lamp. Being the anxious freshman, I decided that I needed to buy every single thing on every list,” UMD sophomore Hannah Borison said. “I soon realized that I didn’t even think about brining a light bulb so I just left the lamp on the desk. It stayed there for the entire year…and I never touched it.”
6. White Board Calendar
Close your eyes and imagine your typical college dorm. You see pictures and trendy posters covering the walls, a colorful bedspread and a perfectly organized desk with a calendar mapping out your monthly schedule. Some super organized people out there do use a calendar, but most dorms I walked into featured a sad, empty calendar stuffed between the desk and the foot of the bed. With the busy nature of college, buying a tiny planner that you can carry around with you in your backpack will help you out more.
7. A Surplus of Pillows
Think about it…how are you supposed to sleep with a mountain of pillows covering half of your bed? Your body won’t even fit on your tiny twin (excuse me, twin extra long) bed with that many pillows. Yeah, they look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog, but you know those pillows will end up covering the floor. And unless you make your bed every single day, those pillows will stay there too.
8. Every Single Pair of Shoes You Own
Again, your stiletto heels probably matched perfectly with your prom dress, but when will you ever need to wear a prom dress in college? Pack the shoes you actually wear. Boots for winter, flip flops for summer, tennis shoes, a few sandals and maybe a reliable pair of wedges and a pair of neutral heels for special occasions. “I tried to pack a pair of shoes for every situation, but ended up wearing my snow boots 24/7 because when it snows you don’t have too many options,” Wheaton College sophomore Anne Jekel said. “Think about where you are living and what the weather will be like.” Just like with clothing, you’ll most likely resort to wearing your Nike tennis shoes because walking around campus is not for the faint of heart.
9. Jewelry/Makeup Organizer
While some people swear by their makeup or jewelry organizers, try doing without them. Obviously you need to put your makeup and jewelry in something, but it doesn’t need to look like an elaborate organizer you find at The Container Store. “I thought I would wear my other necklaces but…I don’t wear that much jewelry and I kept my everyday jewelry (necklace and watch) on my dresser,” University of Tennessee sophomore Kaitlyn Golding said. Follow her advice; you’ll thank me later.
10. That Thing That Hangs on the Side of Your Bed and Holds Stuff
Wait…what? Exactly. UMD sophomore Jordana Blenden didn’t know the name of it, which means you probably don’t need it. “People will convince you to buy it saying it’s useful when honestly it’s not at all,” Blenden said. “You can easily put stuff on your desk next to you.” Most college dorms will provide you with a dresser, closet space, shelves and hooks to store more than enough, so you can leave those fancy hooks and crannies at the store. The floor or a windowsill in college replaces our bedside table from home. Again, if you didn’t use fancy storage containers at home, you don’t need to do so in college. Embrace the simplicity of college life.
What you will need…
Nyquil…lots and lots of Nyquil.