What NOT to pack for college

Hi everyone!

So I just returned back from my summer vacation trip in China, and it is almost the time for school to begin. After spending hours unpacking (since I just got back from China), I now have to spend even more hours *packing* for Wash U.

To help make packing easier for everyone, I have a couple pieces of advice on what NOT to pack. I’m sure you all know the “must-bring” items, like school supplies and a pillow. Well…the thing is, some of the “must-bring” items are not entirely necessary! I learned this the hard way last year as a first-year student, and now I’ll share some useful tips with you.

Before I begin, I would like to share a picture of my dorm last year:


My room was pretty colorful, but also very packed with a lot of stuff I did not end up using (or used just once or twice)…

Now, here is my personal list of the top 5 items that I shouldn’t have brought to college:

1. (Lots of) Clothes/Shoes/Makeup/Shampoo. Etc. 

I packed my wardrobe and only wore 40% of my clothes. College is stressful—I doubt many students have the time to wake up an hour early to look pretty for class. Plus, who would choose to give up an extra 15 minutes of sleep to spend more time picking out an outfit for class? In addition, you’ll probably get a lot of free T-shirts from floor events or student groups that you join. Those clothes sure do pile up!

In addition, you can buy a lot of your daily hygiene items in campus stores like Bear Necessities and the Book Store. Instead of packing extra shampoo or tissue boxes, just buy them here once you’re on campus! It saves a LOT of space in your suitcases.

2. (Extra) Instruments/Stands

Okay, this one was a tough one for me to admit. I am a musician myself and play five different instruments. Even though I know that I won’t be focusing on music as much in college, I still thought that I could make the time to play in my free time. I ended up bringing my electric piano, guitar, violin, music stands, and a bunch of music books.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about how much space those items take up. Yes, it’s a lot. I ended up not even playing my piano and guitar that much. The only thing from the list I actually used on a weekly basis was my violin, and that’s because I was in a couple of string orchestras and ensembles that required me to play my violin. Whenever I had to practice piano, I went to the practice rooms (which could be found in the first floor of most modern dorms, the music building across from the DUC, and the 560 Music Center).

3. High School Souvenirs (eg. Yearbook, Frames, Photo Albums, etc.)

Now you might think that the picture frame of you and your best friend from back home is super adorable, but think about how much space that takes up! How often will you actually pick up that frame and stare at the picture when you can simply click Chrome on your laptop and go to Facebook? I made the mistake last year and brought my gigantic yearbook. I only looked at it once while I was bored for a few seconds. My advice is to bring a couple (less than 10!) pictures to hang up around your room. Keep in mind that throughout the school year, you’ll make new friends and take a bunch of new pictures to add on to the wall as well.

4. Microwave and Fridge

I didn’t have them last year and realized that I didn’t need them. All the modern dorms have a shared fridge and microwave in the floor kitchen. All the traditional dorms have a fridge and microwave in the ground floor. Also, if you’re on the South 40, I know that there is also a microwave in Paws and Go. You can simply walk in and use it. And as long as you label your food that you put in the fridge with a sticky note saying, “DO NOT EAT,” no one’s going to take it. Why buy and bring something that is already there for you to use?

5. Textbooks and Heavy School Supplies

I know that the Wash U bookstore has the option of shipping your textbooks to your house. DO NOT DO THAT. Beside the “shipping to your house” option, there is also one that ships the books to the bookstore for FREE. DO THIS. It saves packing space and is free of charge.

Similar advice goes for heavy school supplies like big binders or 5-subject notebooks. You can buy them from the bookstore/Bear Necessities once you get here. Another option is to use your Metro pass and visit Target/Staples/Office Depot and buy them. Target is only a few stops away.


Lots of smiles,

Nancy <3