What Should I Not Bring to College?

Putting together an awesome college packing list can seem simple enough … until you take a second look and begin to question whether or not you really need all of that stuff. So how can you decide what to bring — and what to leave behind?

While each student’s situation is of course unique, there are some general don’t-bring-’em items that definitely shouldn’t be brought to college, whether you’re a first year student or a senior or at a large college or a super small one.

High school paraphernalia

You know those trophies, class rings, and other items that all symbolize your time in high school? They’re best left behind. While they may bring back great memories for you, they also make you look like you’re still stuck back in high school. Can you bring your lucky football cleats that helped you win the championship? Of course. Can you bring your championship trophy? Better not.

High school clothes

Of course, some of the clothes you wore in high school will work just fine in college. But some items, like those that advertise you were on JV Cheer your junior year, are probably best left at home. College campuses practically give t-shirts away through clubs, activities, and special events anyway, so rest assured that you won’t be without comfy tees for long.


If you’re living in the residence halls, these are rarely, if ever, allowed. And if you’re living in an off-campus apartment, chances are they aren’t allowed there, either. Be safe and leave the candles at home so you can avoid any potential conflicts with your RA or your landlord.

Large appliances

Try to keep things as compact as possible. So while that popcorn maker your favorite auntie got you seems pretty cool, it’s probably best left at home. Larger appliances will take up a ton of room and likely will only be used a few times a year — if at all. (Microwaves and mini fridges, of course, are the exception.)

Expensive equipment and electronics

You may have spent months saving up for some fancy shmancy stereo system. And as awesome as you think it is, the thief in the building next door likes it even more. Don’t tempt fate — or your fellow classmates — by bringing in equipment or electronics that stand out because of their high cost.

Hard-to-replace paperwork

While you might need things like your birth certificate and your social security card once or twice during your time in school, it’s better to bring it to campus, show it to whomever needs to see it (the financial aid office, for example), and then send or bring it back home. If items like these disappear, it can be a major pain in the brain to replace them — especially if someone’s stolen them and committed identity theft.

Off-season clothes

While figuring out which clothes to bring to college can be a challenge, one easy rule to go by is to leave off-season clothes behind. If you’re heading to school in August, for example, you can probably get your warmest winter jacket in a few months. There’s no need to have clothes you aren’t going to wear take up already-limited space in your room.

Duplicates of what your roommate has

There are quite a few things you can share with your roommate, so make sure to touch base with him or her before you pack. Two microwaves, for example, will steal a ton of space and be unnecessary. Figure out what each of you wants to bring and then divide and conquer.

Drugs and alcohol

This should go without saying, but moving into your residence hall room or apartment with drugs and/or alcohol is a pretty rough way to start out the year. Besides setting yourself up to focus on things other than academics (which is what you’re in college for at the end of the day), it can set you off on the wrong foot with an RA or landlord if anyone sees you. Don’t sabotage all the work you did to get to college by making a dumb mistake when you first arrive.