What NOT To Pack For College

There are a few things you should not pack for college

Flickr user Adam Kuban

As you’re making your packing list of what to bring to college this year, you’ll probably write down quite a few items that you end up not wanting to bring or you shouldn’t be taking to the dorm at all. Here are a few things you should definitely not pack for college:

Prohibited Items

Your college no doubt has a list of prohibited items. This list varies from school to school, so it’s important to research this topic to ensure you’re not bringing any of them. RA’s will often come into your room to inspect and you can get in trouble if you have a prohibited item.

Prohibited items often include things like:

  • candles
  • space heaters
  • hot plates
  • irons
  • toasters
  • electric frying pans
  • electric stoves
  • and incense

These tend to be banned due to the fact that they are fire hazards. Some colleges can also ban nails or screws to hang up pictures or posters, and if you use one of these, you could be charged with a repair fee at the end of the year. We recommend using tape or something similar for your dorm room posters.

Other schools can ban things like microwaves, wallpaper, decals, plug in air fresheners, and waterbeds. Always check your school’s list of prohibited items before you even start packing. If you can’t find this list online or in your paperwork, make sure you call the housing department on campus.


Pets also tend to be prohibited, but some students try to sneak them in anyway. You absolutely won’t be able to hide a cat or a dog in your dorm for very long! On top of that, your pets will be unhappy cooped up in such a small area.

Of course, other students think they can hide those smaller animals such as fish, lizards, and gerbils. While you might be able to hide them a little longer than a cat or a dog, you will likely still get caught. It’s not worth the risk – you can be hit with fees and other punishments and be forced to rehome your animal.

However, pets aren’t banned on every campus! There are plenty of pet friendly colleges that are more than happy to accept you with your furry or scaly companion.

Sports Gear

If you play sports, you might be tempted to bring everything you need to have a game. Or you might want to bring dumbbells or weights with you. However, dorm room space is limited and workout equipment tends to take up a lot of it.

Your school most likely has a gym for you to use. Heading there is a great way to meet other athletes or to find a workout buddy.

Large Luggage

You might bring large luggage pieces with you to carry your clothes on move-in day, but unless you absolutely need to, we recommend sending those cumbersome suitcases back with your parents or guardian. As mentioned previously, space is tough to come by, and your luggage will take up a lot of it!

If you have to keep the suitcases with you, make sure to use up that storage space – don’t let it sit empty just taking up valuable real estate.


We can’t stress this enough – space is limited in a dorm room. You likely won’t be able to fit much if any furniture in your dorm room or suite space, and most come with all the furniture you’ll need. Your dorm should come with at least a bed, desk, and dresser. Your suite, if you have one, should include a couch and table at the very least.

If you have any questions about what your dorm room comes with, double check with your housing department.

Everything You Own

Over-packing is one of the top mistakes students make when moving to their college dorm. While you want to bring necessities and a few things related to your hobbies, you don’t want to pack everything you have. For example, you most likely have quite a few books; don’t pack them all. Pick and choose a few favorites or novels you haven’t read yet.

This suggestion goes for most hobbies. If you play video games, you don’t need to bring three consoles and the 100 games you own. Or every single craft you enjoy taking part in in your free time. You’ll always be able to bring stuff back to your home after the first semester and take new things with you after the winter break.

This suggestion also has to do with any collections you may have. Whether it’s knick knacks, Funko figurines, or 10 seasons of your favorite TV show, leave them at home. You can absolutely bring one or two things like this, but taking everything will help you run out of space quickly. Knick knacks in particular will take up your valuable desk space.

Dorm rooms don’t tend to be spacious and you likely will have to share this tiny space with another person. Be respectful and pack smart. It’s important to be realistic about the free time you will have, the space available, and not pack every single item you have or enjoy.

Students should also keep in mind that prohibited lists do vary from school to school. For example, there are several colleges and universities that allow you to bring dogs, cats, fish, and more with you. If you want to learn more about these schools, be sure to use our College Match tool to see your chances of getting accepted.

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