Minimize expense and maximize space

6 Things You Don't Need to Take to College

by Melissa Mayntz

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At graduation, many students eagerly anticipate moving to college and finally having their own place. To make that move easier, stores publish lists of necessities college students shouldn't be without, and because these same students haven't lived away from home before, they blindly buy these items without questioning whether or not they are really necessary. In fact, college dorms can be miniscule, and by avoiding unnecessary items, students can minimize both expense and luggage and maximize space without cramping their study habits.

Six items, in particular, frequently make these store-generated "must have" lists but the suggested items are practically useless to new college students, particularly dorm residents, and their costs can quickly add up. While apartments will have different concerns, the top six things students don't need to take to their college dorms include:

1. Extra Bedding - $30-100

An extra set of sheets and spare pillow top many stores' suggested lists, but why? Let's face it, most college students don't bother washing their sheets except when they return home. When the sheets are dirty, they get washed, and the same set of sheets can be put back on the bed that day. No spare set is necessary.

2. Kitchen Appliances - $30-150

While a dorm fridge and a microwave may be great luxuries and even necessities for late night snacks during a midterm cram session, a toaster, coffee maker, toaster oven, and popcorn maker are outrageous extras that usurp far too much space and money. Furthermore, many colleges and universities prohibit appliances with open heating elements, making them a housing violation as well.

3. Iron and Ironing Board - $20-60

Only experienced students with internship assignments may need these clothing care items. Even if that is the case, students are better off opting for wrinkle-free clothing because with studying, classes, and the typical rambunctious social life of a college student, who has time for ironing?

4. Vacuum or Broom - $15-200

The majority of college dorms are uncarpeted, making a vacuum unnecessary. Even if students do bring rugs to liven up their living space, small rugs can be taken outdoors and shaken instead of vacuumed. Brooms may be valuable for keeping dorm rooms neat, but most residence halls will loan basic cleaning supplies free from the front desk or housing office. Many dorms even have vacuums available if necessary.

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5. Tool Kit - $20-50

The only thing college students need to be concerned with fixing is their grades. While they should have any necessary tools to assemble and disassemble furniture they bring along, a full tool kit will quickly become nothing more than a heavy doorstop in college dorms. As with cleaning supplies, the front desk frequently has common tools like screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers that are available if needed. For major repairs, such as a collapsing desk, damaged bed, or broken window, the campus maintenance staff is well equipped without students' tools.

6. Desk and Chair - $50-250

At first glance, this list item seems to be a typo, but eager high school grads and their parents regularly buy student desks in fear that the dorm will not be setup for study needs. Granted, college dorms are not spacious, nor do they use interior design services, but they do have basic student furniture. The desk may not be as ergonomic as anticipated or the chair could have a rainbow of interesting stains, but they are functional pieces of furniture. Adding an extra bookshelf, lap desk, or chair pillow is a far more affordable and valuable choice for a college supply list than opting for an entire desk.

While the only way to know for certain what you do and don't need to take to college is to visit the dorm before you move in, it pays (in more ways than one) to adopt a minimalist attitude when packing for college. It's much easier to add supplies later than try to cram unnecessary and expensive items into a small dorm room, and eliminating the clutter can give students a chance to focus on the most important part of their college experience: the education and life experience it will give them.

Reviewed June 2017

Melissa Mayntz is a freelance writer and editor from Utah. She has written more than 1,500 articles for print and online markets, and she edits manuscripts for publishers and individual writers. Learn more at

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