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What to bring to college

Residence hall setup

Amelia Conti
August 07, 2017

When I got my first college acceptance letter, I started thinking about how I wanted to decorate my room and stay organized while sharing a space with a roommate I didn’t yet know. As the end of my senior year approached, I looked at all the lists and Pinterest pages, trying to figure out what I needed to bring with me to college in the fall. Over the summer, my mom and I took more trips to Target than you can count on one hand, and I spent hours searching the depths of the internet to find just the right stuff.

I bought it all and brought it all. I had seemingly everything a college student could need, from the smallest soap dispenser to the biggest bungee chair.

But as I unpacked that fall, I realized there were many things I had forgotten, as well as many things that I was not going to need.

Here are the top things I wish I had brought — or left at home.

Bring it:

Two sets of sheets

Do you want to stay up washing your one set of sheets, waiting in line for a dryer, when all you want to be doing is sleeping? I know I don’t want that. (Side note: Check with your residence hall to see whether you'll need twin or extra-long twin bedding.)

Desk or bedside lamp

The lights in residence halls tend to be very bright, so a desk lamp is useful for late-night studying when you don’t want to wake your sleeping roommate. If you have to study in your room at 1 a.m., at least be a thoughtful roommate.

Pictures from home

You will probably get homesick at some point, and some pictures from great times you've had with your family are always a good thing to boost your spirits. Plus, you can make some really great collages or wall art out of photographs.

Leave it:

Desktop computer

Your campus almost definitely has computer labs and computers in the library for your use. A laptop that you can take to and from class is a better bet.


There will also be printers on campus, and a printer takes up valuable space in your room. At UNC, you get $8 of printing credit for the year and can buy more if you need it. UNC also has a program called Bear Print where you can print from your personal devices. 

Off-season clothing

You don’t need all of your clothes all at once. Your wardrobe or closet probably won't be big enough to hold everything. Pick up your cold-weather clothing on a fall trip home, or have your parents drop them off. (But of course, if you won't be going home during the semester, plan to bring some items for each season you'll be at school.)