ORIENTATION GUIDE: What to bring to college

Editors note: Every year, The Daily News produces the orientation guide for incoming freshman. This story first appeared in The Cardinal Field Guide printed in May 2017. To read the full issue, click here.

Soon you’ll be packing your bags for your first year of college. The reality is many freshmen arrive to the dorms with massive luggage, boxes and suitcases over stuffed only to discover that they brought too much or forgot something. Don’t be that person.

It can be a little scary at first, but here’s a guide on the do’s and don'ts on what to pack.

Do pack:

  • Clothes for the summer and fall
  • Clothes hangers
  • Shoes: but not too many. We know you only wear the same two or three pairs. Plus you will need shoes to keep you comfortable walking to class.
  • Bed essentials: comforter/bedspread, pillow(s), bed linens and a blanket
  • Eating essentials: coffee mug, drinking cups, dishes and silverware for snacks. Plastic silverware can replace regular silverware to avoid cleanup.
  • Bathroom essentials: robe, shower shoes, towels, washcloths, soap, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream and razors and a small bucket for carrying it all to the shower.
  • Laundry essentials: laundry basket/bag, laundry detergent, dryer sheets and spare change.
  • School essentials: computer/laptop but the library is available with computers for students to access and resident halls have their own computer labs. Binders, folders, paper, writing utensils, backpack, calculator and an agenda planner.

Don't pack:

  • Air conditioners: Most dorms require a doctors note to use one and charge you.
  • Extension cords: Depending on how many electronics you have.
  • Candles
  • Pets
  • Printer: Free printing on campus, duh.
  • Halogen bulbs and/or lamps
  • Excessive dorm décor
  • An ironing board
  • Bulky luggage
  • Hotplates, skillets, toasters, toaster ovens
  • A desk chair: Dorms come with chairs.
  • Your collection of… it doesn’t matter what you collect, if it takes up room, you should just leave it at home.
  • Stereotypical college food. Leave the easy mac, ramen, and potato chips behind. Those foods may fill you up, but they are likely to leave you feeling slow and tired and won’t help you prevent freshman 15.
  • Anything fancy or too nice. Buy the cheap stuff because nice things will likely get ruined.
  • More than two sets of bowls plates and silverware: If you have more, you will just dirty them up and ignore the clean up and that can get stinky.
  • Old high school T-shirts: You’ll get plenty of new college T-shirts now that you’re officially a college student.
  • Winter clothes: If you are going home in the fall at any point in time, it’s not needed and will take up too much space in your room.
  • Anything your roommate already has. Check with them before moving in, it’ll save a lot of hassle moving and organizing.


  • Fan
  • Flashlight
  • Umbrella
  • Batteries
  • Cell phone charger(s)
  • Extra power strip
  • Desk or bed lamp
  • Sewing kit, but learn how to sew before you bring it.
  • Poster putty or command strips to hang up posters and pictures. Tacks and nails are not allowed to be used in the dorms. (Some even have cement walls so it won’t get you far.
  • Headphone/ear buds: so your music doesn’t bother your roommate.
  • Speaker(s): so you and your roommate can jam out.
  • TV/DVD-Player/Streaming device: There’s usually a common area TV if you don’t bring one, but having one in your room is always a bonus.
  • Mini-fridge/microwave: Check with your future roommate about possibly sharing. Two microwaves aren’t necessary and will take up room and two mini-fridges definitely aren’t necessary.
  • Snacks for your room: But don’t over do it. That’s the whole point of having a meal plan. But then again, no one ever complained about there being too much food, right?
  • Crates or stacking containers: It’ll make storing things in your room so much easier.
  • Paper towels, glass cleaner: Cleaning wipes are also a plus to have in the dorms.
  • Dishwashing soap: If you didn’t buy plastic silverware.
  • Band-Aids and a first-aid kit
  • Cold medicine/aspirin: You will get sick and have to go to class, be prepared for it.


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