This entry is a little late. I wrote it around Tuesday, when lots of incoming first-years were probably doing school shopping and packing for their first year in college. I then went to Cross Country Camp for five days without putting it up on the web. New students are moving in in approximately one day, so its already dubious usefulness grows more dubious the longer it takes you to read it. This entry's dynamite, though (don't get your hopes up too high), so I'm putting it out there anyway. Think of it as a 'list of things to leave in the car if you have to make a choice on the matter' instead of a 'packing list,' if you want.
The basic premise here: you aren't living a comfortable existence. You are living a college student's existence. Think like a Spartan. There's going to be a TON of wrestling, after all. The rooms are pretty small, free time is scarce, and people don't care that much about what you look like. With these things in mind, here are some things:
You Will Want to Bring:
Everything! Mom's renting a UHaul, dorm rooms are nearly infinite in storage capacity, and free time is boundless in college! You'll be able to do everything you did when you were home over the summer when you had tons of free time plus everything new and exciting there is to do in Oberlin. Plus, tons of cute outfits! And your late-20s era sousaphone as a conversation piece! Let's hope my ironic tone is coming through here!
Maybe you know in your head that this isn't possible, but 'what if?' packing tends to take over when there are so many things you don't know about where you're going. You have interests, hobbies, pet projects, and outfits you want to enjoy and show off to your new friends. You also want to be able to have all the comforts of home at your new home, and all your Death Cab posters on top of it all.
(you may want to bring everything I mentioned, but here are some things...)
You Shouldn't Bring:
A fridge. You won't really need it much. Every floor in every dorm has a communal fridge, and people will leave your food alone if you write your name on it. I had a fridge for part of last year, and I found myself walking down to the kitchen in Burton a lot to heat things up in the microwave, located a mere eight feet from the communal fridge, where I could have been keeping my things cold. Fridges take up more room than you might think.
The athletes organize every fall to help move in the freshmen into their dorm rooms, and this athlete in particular will appreciate not having to carry your mini-fridge to the third floor. Your parents might feel the same way.
Don't bring your bookshelf full of leather-bound first editions (this happened last year). You probably won't read them, they take up space, and books are for nerds so the ladies aren't going to be impressed.
Leave your really space-consuming hobbies at home. Your massive rock candy stalactite-making operation may be your pride and joy, but you must consider roommate diplomacy as well as diminishing returns on rock candy consumption.
A line chart plots happiness (y-axis) vs. rock candy pounds per day (x-axis). The rising slope is labelled, "S'all good, sweet tooth!" Just after the peak, "Tummy ache." On the downward slope, "Tooth decay," and as happiness descends toward zero, "Blood clots become blood crystals."
Clothes: Okay, bring some clothes. But you really don't need as many as you think you do (see below). I have brought fewer and fewer clothes to college every year I've gone. This year it's just going to be a trash bag filled with culottes. Simplify, people.
An instrument you never play. Or a snowboard you'll never use. I've seen all these and more.
A TV. Hall TVs are better ways to find friends who enjoy your shows anyway.
You Should Bring:
Clothes--bring the basics, stress underwear and socks (if you wear them. Socks, that is. Bring underwear no matter what. Hell, who am I to judge? Don't bring underwear if you don't swing that way. Then again, you may swing a different way... I'll stop now). Also, you may need fancy clothes if you're a performer in the Conservatory, or a suit if you're going to be a member of the Business Scholars or some such organization. Otherwise, a set of interview clothes is enough.
(A sidenote from Ma'ayan - the amount of socks and underwear you bring to college thoroughly defines how often you have to do laundry. Plan accordingly.)
A costume-- You will be able to buy some costume pieces in Oberlin, but if you've got a killer Clifford the Dog suit, maybe take the time to pack it.
Board games, movies, etc.-- things you can use to have fun with other people. These are things you will probably use and will help you get to know the people around you.