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The College Necessities: To Bring or Not to Bring?

October 23, 2013

Anna Vernon ’17

The two weeks before orientation were pretty hectic for me, as I began my college shopping exactly fifteen days before driving up to Oberlin. And somehow, in those fifteen days, I managed to completely over pack. I didn't realize this until a week into my classes, because it initially wasn't that obvious. It wasn't that I had boxes overflowing in my room and no floor space—I had everything in storage bins under my bed, so space was never a problem. It was just that, during any given situation, I realized that I had something that somebody else needed. Dishsoap? Boiling pot? Stamps? I could have started a convenience store out of my dorm room—and I probably would have had a good business.

Call it good packing or good planning (but, really, I did neither) because somehow I arrived at Oberlin with a full kitchen set, a clothes drying rack, two fans, three water bottles, four rolls of paper towels, an advanced tool and sewing kit (among other non-necessities), and a million other things I'm yet to use. Compared to my roommate's non-necessities (a quilt and one box of tissues) the amount of luggage I brought was hilarious. So, now that I know better, I compiled a list of the five best and five worst things to bring to college. While this list is of course subjective, I've found that it's true for most students I've talked to.

5 Worst Things to Bring to College

  1. Fragile or expensive objects. College is a contact sport. You have a roommate. You have floor mates. You do not want to file a lawsuit against your roommate because she damaged the family pearls. In addition, try to avoid glass decorations whenever possible.
  2. A box of stuffed animals. I get it. College can be overwhelming, and sometimes we all want that special friend to cuddle with in the absence of a significant other. But you do not want to be that kid who has a bed full of stuffed animals. Ever.
  3. Junk food. Trust me, there are plenty of other ways to get that freshman fifteen (fourth meal for starters). While keeping some food in your room is a good idea for when you can't make it to the dining halls, try to avoid giving yourself (and others) easy access to a lot of snacks. Your sophomore self will thank you!
  4. Excess high school memorabilia. This should be pretty self-explanatory: college is a new place, and dwelling on high school days can keep you trapped in senior year forever. A yearbook or two is all right, but don't bring every sports trophy or drama award you've ever received.
  5. Your entire room from home. While it might be comforting to see most of your belongings in your college dorm room, this creates an issue when you return home over breaks and see your mostly-empty bedroom looking bare and depressing. Simply put, let your dorm room be your dorm room and let your bedroom be your bedroom.

5 Best Things to Bring to College

  1. A fan. I cannot emphasize this point enough. While Ohio does become super chilly in the winter, September in Oberlin is warm and the dorm rooms are even warmer. Most first year residence halls do not have air conditioning. Trust me, you will be much happier in September if you have a cool room to return to after walking across campus in 90 degree heat.
  2. Cooking equipment. Chances are you will likely make at least one meal for yourself in the dorm kitchen, and this can require more equipment than you would assume. I recommend bringing a pot, a microwavable bowl, a mug, eating utensils, a water bottle, dish soap, and a sponge. In addition, bring paper towels, as the kitchen will run out.
  3. Sports equipment and attire. This should also be self-explanatory: bring balls, racquets, Frisbees, and a bike if you have one. In addition, make sure you bring clothes to work out in and also clothes that can get dirty.
  4. Pictures from home. Many students stick pictures directly onto their dorm walls to give the walls a little color. Interestingly enough, this is one item that can be hard to bring in excess, as you might want to change out pictures over the year or replace pictures that get damaged. Pictures are also a good icebreaker between your roommate and you or just visiting friends.
  5. A variety of clothing. Depending on where you come from, you may not be used to the intense seasons Oberlin experiences. In my first month on campus, temperatures fluctuated between 56 and 90 degrees. To conclude: you will need pants, fleece, and summer clothes all in your closet when you arrive on campus. A rain jacket is a good idea as well.

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