Packing for college is just one of those things you only learn how to do through hilarious trial and error, like going down a steep hill on a pogo stick, or juggling fire, or ordering a sandwich at Subway. And while knowing what to bring (e.g. towels, a microwave, clothes) is pretty significant, equally (if not more) important is what not to bring (e.g. an inflatable castle, a telescope, a mini horse). It seems obvious, but there’s still going to be the kid that tries to squash one or more of the following into his parents’ minivan:
1. Your entire wardrobe. Give it time—by the end of the semester, you’ll be wearing a single rotation of three or four wrinkled crap outfits just like the rest of us.
2. A printer. I’ve been doing battle with my printer for three years. In fact, I think I need to kill it before it kills me. If there’s a computer lab or library nearby with an accessible printer, leave yours at home. It will only create a vortex of misery in which you need something to be printed in a timely fashion, and the printer will not cooperate, and you will scream “WHY?” at it like a crazy person, and it will not reply because it’s a printer.
3. T-shirts. People will be chucking free t-shirts at you from the moment you set foot on campus, and you’ll wear them whether you like it or not. Case in point: a local bank suckered me into getting an account with them by offering me a free t-shirt. I have since had many negative encounters with said bank. In fact, I’m holding a lifelong grudge and it’s become my mission to bring them down, but I’ll be damned if I’m not still wearing that t-shirt.
4. The same stuff your roommate brings. All it takes is a simple Facebook message to decide who’s bringing what. The last thing you want is to have two futons taking up valuable space that could otherwise be used for things like ramen and Pop-Tarts.
5. The hardcover editions of all 7 Harry Potter books. Your dorm room will be smaller and less comfortable than the tiny cupboard where Harry once lived, so, though it will be agonizing to leave any of them behind, I suggest choosing your three favorite. That’s not to say you can’t make with the wizardry and try to fit them all under your bed, but you’re going to regret that decision when the elevators are jam-packed and you’re lugging your stuff up four flights of stairs and your dad’s been pinned to the wall by somebody’s mini-fridge for half an hour.
6. Candles. You don’t need candles. You may think you do, but you don’t. What you need is Febreeze, because not only will it make your room smell better, but you can also spray it all over your clothes if you don’t feel like doing laundry.
7. A microwave, if you’re not entirely sure how to operate one without setting off the fire alarm at 3 am, because seriously, the people will rise against you. Nothing unites a residential hall of sleep-deprived college students quite like fire alarms at ungodly hours.
8. A hamster. “Don’t hide a pet in the dorm” is a pretty solid rule, but for the love of God, if you have to do this, don’t make it a hamster. Fish, sure. Turtle, whatever. Hamster? What did your roommate ever do to you? Do you hate them? Did they besmirch your family’s honor?
9. Fondue pots, toasters, coffeemakers, etc. For every one person who brought their fondue pot and had a perfectly pleasant fondue experience, there’s another five that almost burned down the building.
10. High school stuff, like yearbooks. The past is in the past. Also, they’re heavy, weighing the rough equivalent of four years of misery and rejection and questionable hair decisions.
11. Stuffed animals. Let me just reiterate: limited space. You’ve made about seventeen trips to the car and back. Your dad’s trapped behind a mini-fridge. The teddy bear formerly known as Wallace McPlimpton will understand if you leave him at home (after he cries himself to sleep every night for a decade).
12. Your hopes and dreams. Welcome to college. (Just kidding. College is great. You’ll be fine.) (OR WILL YOU?) (You will.)