Whether you’re getting ready to leave for college for the first time or heading back for another year, starting your college packing list might seem a little overwhelming. Fitting everything you need into a tiny apartment or dorm room is an art, and all it takes is a little foresight to make the most of your space and to create an atmosphere that’s equal-parts productive and homey.
Part of making this dream a reality is taking a good number of unnecessary things OFF your list. If you’re a returning student, start by thinking really hard about what you did and did not use last year. After you’ve done that, take a look at our list, below, for some additional items to leave at home.
The following are 10 things you may think you need at school—but probably really don’t:
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1. Your Printer
Yes, you’ll need to print things at school, but you don’t need to bring one of your own. Every university library on every campus across the country has wireless printers available for students to use. Many dorms and apartments also have printers in the student lounge, making it unnecessary to buy or bring a printer. Besides, you’ll end up spending more on ink than the printer cost anyway.
2. Cable TV
It’s likely you already watch movies and TV on your computer anyway, and if you don’t, guess what: there are a variety of ways to stream most of the shows and movies you want to watch. Many colleges also have TVs in lounges and meeting rooms throughout campus, which means your student fees are already paying for cable anyway. So make the most of it!
3. New Textbooks
This one should go without saying. Many universities are now offering rental programs for books, and U.S. News Money lists several ways that students can save on textbooks without buying them new. A few include buying earlier editions, downloading e-books, or even splitting the cost with another student in the class. Just be sure to check in with your professors to make sure you aren’t getting outdated books if you decide to save on older editions.
4. Big Meal Plans
Too many parents fear their kids won’t eat right when they’re away at school. Many of the larger on-campus meal plans, however, are actually pretty costly and some account for all three meals every day. The price between the largest meal plan and a smaller option is often substantial, and you might find you’d prefer to make breakfast at home most mornings. We’ve even got healthy breakfast recipes for you!
5. Private Loans
If you have to take out some kind of loan to get through college, it’s recommended to avoid private loans. According to the Department of Education, federal loans are almost always a better option than private ones. Federal loans normally have fixed interest rates and may offer repayment plans based on income. Be sure to check in with your high school and/or college advisor to get more tips on loans—their job is to help students and their parents navigate the confusing business of paying for college.
6. Credit Cards
Of course it’s a smart idea to build credit, but having multiple credit cards on campus is probably not a great idea. Diverse Issues in Higher Education points out that the lots of credit card companies have gotten rich off of college students. You don’t want to worry about making multiple payments on time each month. Having multiple credit cards is not only unwise, it’s also unnecessary. If you do have one, it’s probably a good idea to keep it somewhere other than your wallet so that it’s there in case of emergencies without tempting you to go on a shopping spree. For the most part, a debit card and cash is all you’ll need anyway.
7. Expensive Laptop
Laptops range from around $200 to well over $2,000. Most of what you’ll be doing on your laptop includes basic word processing, watching movies, and accessing the Internet. You really don’t need to pay for a high-end computer that does anything more than that, especially if you’re already working within a tight budget.
8. Bottled Water
Bottled water is expensive and oftentimes not any different from the water that comes out of the tap. Keeping a regular supply of bottled water in your dorm can take up a lot of room, not to mention the plastic waste that harms the environment. If you don’t want to drink the tap water, there are a variety of filters on the market that aren’t expensive.
9. Iron and Ironing Board
Ironing has gone the way of the cassette tape. It’s probably wiser to invest in wrinkle-free clothes than even a modestly priced iron and ironing board. For something that will rarely be used, an ironing board will simply take up too much space. Smart College Visit points out that wrinkle remover spray is an option that can keep clothes looking good.
10. Every piece of clothing you own
Chances are you won’t have room in a tiny dorm closet to fit your whole wardrobe. Depending on how often you’re able to visit your parents’ place, you can even pack seasonally. There’s no need for your puffy winter jacket to take up valuable space if it’s 80 degrees outside. If switching out clothes is more of a challenge, invest in a few cheap solutions like vacuum packed storage bags or under-the-bed plastic tubs for keeping little-used items out of the way.
If you carefully consider your space and only bring the essentials, you’ll be on your way to a more productive and less stressful semester! Learn more about decluttering your living space here.