10 Packing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Picture of Snow's dorm room with bed, wall tapestry, and storage boxes.

Snow's dorm room set up during the first week of school.

I always get things done ahead of time and pack precisely and perfectly for trips, so I had it in the bag when it came time to pack for college... just kidding! I am terrible at packing. I remember it being 3 AM the night before I left for school and I had barely started packing up for college.

This brings us to this article’s first tip: do NOT pack the night before you go to school. Trust me. No matter how well you think you do under pressure, packing the night before will lead to some unnecessary items ending up in your dorm, as well as missing some items that you will need. I also discovered that there is a difference between dorm room wants and needs. Be sure to read to the end to see dorm room necessities that you actually should pack! But first, here are ten common items that you should not bring with you to college. 

10. You don’t need a library of books.

I was an avid reader growing up. I always had a book in my hands and I have multiple bookshelves at home. With that being said, I packed 10-15 books. I can confidently say that I have opened maybe three of them since coming to school. My love of reading hasn’t changed; I just am busy with coursework and other campus activities that I haven’t dedicated the time to read 15 books. I would recommend bringing a few; if you get through those, you can always check out the public library or the Wallace Library Center on campus! Books take up room and dorm space is limited, so checking out from the library is the way to go!

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9. You don’t need the entire stock of a shoe store.

I packed a HUGE variety of shoes for my first semester. Since I thought it would be important to have shoes for every occasion. I had three different pairs of converse, sneakers, flip-flops, different styles of heels, vans, rain boots, wedge style heels, birks, crocs, and others. Needless to say, my shoe rack was overflowing. I ended up bringing home all my shoes over winter break and narrowed down my collection. I now have; one pair of converse, Timbs, my field hockey turf shoes, sneakers, a pair of professional heels, shower flip flops, and a pair of slides. People won’t judge you if you wear the same shoes. You don’t need every style of your favorite brand of shoes. Just wear what’s comfortable for you. You are limited on space, so less is better!

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8. Printing from your dorm room, highly unlikely.

RIT has a variety of computer labs with printer capability, which you can find here. The Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry computer lab is right on the dorm side, and it’s free to print your first 500 pages! I go there all the time to print scripts for my fundamentals of screenwriting class. Since RIT uses myCourses many of your assignments will allow online submissions, and most professors even prefer it. Save your money and print at a lab on campus when needed.

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7. Yes, the rug is cute for Instagram, but it’s actually gross.

I got a rug for my dorm room since it was SO CUTE and fit perfectly between me and my roommate’s beds. The downside is,  it’s a pain to keep clean. I find little things like crumbs, paperclips, tape, and countless other things nestled in the rug. It can also smell if you don’t wash it every week. If you are considering a rug, make sure you realize the work that goes into keeping it clean. It is cute but not practical since it requires more work than you might have initially bargained for.

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6. Cute decorative pillows get in the way.

I love having decorative pillows at home, but the dorm beds are small. If you bring an excessive amount of decorative pillows, your bed will look like the bed in the children's book No Room For Sarah. One or two is cute, but any more is just something you’ll have to move at the end of the day before you fall asleep. They take up space and add time.

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5. Television, lost counter space.

I personally don’t have a television in my room, but I know many people with them. Although having a television is a must for some people, I see it as a waste of counter space. I prefer to use my laptop or desktop to watch shows on streaming services. I highly recommend trying to leave your horizontal surfaces clear/less clutter so your room feels bigger. If you have something on every countertop, your room will feel cramped. 

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4. Wall tapestry, aka a fire hazard.

I thought I was hilarious bringing a SpongeBob wall tapestry into my dorm, but my RA quickly called me out. Wall flags are a fire hazard and against dorm room policy. From the 2021-2022 RIT Housing Terms and Conditions section 13.07: “Fabric materials, such as curtains, banners, flags, and tapestries are prohibited.” Save yourself money and don’t buy a flag for your dorm room.

Usefulness Rating: Zero stars.


3. Summer clothes, think again.

I packed last minute, so cut me some slack, but I overpacked summer outfits. I brought dresses, skirts, cute tank tops, and nice jean shorts. When I went to college, I told myself I would dress up more because it was a fresh start. 1. if you want to wear sweatpants every day, no one will judge you. 2. It’s Rochester. It is boiling in August and some of September, then the temperatures drop. It’s now April and they’re rising again, but I still rely on my sweatshirts. You only have your dresser and closet space, so I recommend bringing clothes you will wear and can rely on for a variety of temperatures.

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2. Extra seating means less space.

At home, I have multiple chairs that I love to sit in and lounge around. With that being said, you don’t need an extra bean bag, or cozy chair for your dorm room. RIT has a great offering of furniture for your room including; your bed, mattress, a dresser, a small set of drawers, a desk, a desk chair, closet space, and additional closet shelving. A full list of dorm items can be found here. There are now micro-fridges (microwave and fridge unit) in all dorm rooms too! If you choose to bring a chair, know that it will take away from space. 

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1. Duplicate items with your roommate.

You’ll have a roommate, which is great since you can divide and conquer items. You can split items that you both will use like a water filter pitcher, a coffee maker, and anything else. You don’t need two coffee makers in your room, and honestly, there are tons of coffee shops on campus, so a coffee maker isn’t a dorm room-must. If you have duplicate items with your roommate, one of those will take up unwanted space and just be sitting there unused.

Usefulness Rating: Again, zero stars.

Now here are some things you should have in your dorm room:

  • A desk lamp for late-night studying and additional lighting.

  • Surge protected
 extension cords.
  • A step stool to get into your bed if you’re short like me
  • Pictures. They are small and a simple way to make your dorm room feel more like home
  • A fan. It may get hot and stuffy in your room, so a fan is great for air circulation.

  • Hooks to hang items on your wall. Stores sell a variety of hooks that are easily removable at the end of the year.

This is a reflection of my personal experience here at RIT; if your heart desires it, go for it. My word isn’t final, it’s just some advice from an older student. Make sure you think about items when you pack. Think, “is it something I need to have in my dorm room, or is it something that I want?” You have limited space in your room, so make the most of it. Good luck packing!

About the author

First-Year Student
Film and Animation - Production Option

Hey guys! I am Michelle Snow, my friends call me Snow :wink:. I love dogs, movies, and hanging out with my friends! I can’t wait to share my RIT experience with you! 

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