College Un-Checklist: 10 Things Not to Bring to Campus

As the first days of school approach, many new college students are trying to figure out what to bring – and what not to bring – to college. Unfortunately, the list of supplies can grow long for students who have never stepped foot in a tiny dorm room, and sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Here’s an example: Michelle from reports that a friend of hers insisted on bringing a 70-inch flat screen TV into their tiny 12-by-19-foot cell. How’d that go exactly? Well, according to Michelle, the TV was “smashed in by drunken frat boys within three months.” Sounds about right.

But that’s not all. Grayson Bell from recently shared how a friend’s commitment to staying fit made their dorm room almost uninhabitable. “I knew someone who brought a full-sized treadmill into a room that was only big enough for two beds and a desk,” said Grayson. And apparently, that treadmill made it nearly impossible for that friend to have friends over. “We never hung out in that person’s dorm room,” he said.

Jim Wang of and, on the other hand, points to cars as the top item you should never bring to school. During his time at CMU, he says, a few of his friends who had cars could never find parking and rarely drove for that reason. And with plentiful public transportation nearby, a car wasn’t necessary anyway. “For some schools, a car is a must, but for many it’s more hassle than help,” says Wang.

10 Things You Really Don’t Need to Bring to College

Obviously, those are a few extreme examples of things students should never bring to a college dorm – at least without confirming there is a real need first. Here are 10 more items no one needs to bring to school — like, ever.


Want to bring your own toaster oven, Ninja blender, and coffee maker to college? Chances are, you won’t need them. According to Eric Rosenberg of, he’s seen a lot of people bring expensive appliances into dorms that already supplied them.

“Some ended up just stashing them in their tiny closets for the year, wasting both money and precious dorm room space,” explains Eric. The lesson: Always look into what your room comes with before shopping.

Excessive Dorm Décor

Although it may be tempting to pack up your Taylor Swift collages and friend boards for college, you should probably think long and hard before you do. Furthermore, you definitely don’t need matching bedding so you coordinate with your roommate, says Kayla Sloan of

“You don’t have to buy all new bedding and decor for only nine months of school, “says Kayla. “Chances are it won’t be used again after you move out of the dorm.”

Your Entire Wardrobe

Cathy Derus from remembers when, during her first tour of her college dorm, one girl made a remark about the closet not even being big enough to hold her shoes. Since your dorm room will be small, you can only expect your shared side of the closet to be equally tiny.

To combat this issue, Derus suggests changing out wardrobes during trips home from school breaks. “Also, girls can rent formal dresses from Rent the Runway if they need something a little fancier,” says Derus. “It saves on space and the cost of buying a new dress!”

A Printer

Before you lug your giant printer up the stairs to your college dorm room, take a moment to think if that decision makes any sense at all. Although having your own private printing station might seem ideal, your school probably has a printing lab, right?

Plus, printers are big and bulky — having your own will likely take up too much space. So leave the printer at home, and instead, get used to footing it to the computer lab downstairs when you need to print out a paper.

Something to Organize Everything

If you love The Container Store and the organization section at Target, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, those type of purchases could be a huge waste of money depending on your dorm room and how it’s set up.

This is exactly what happened to Leah Ingram of after she helped her daughter pick out under-bed rolling storage units for school.

“It never occurred to us that her bed wouldn’t have legs nor would there be any room underneath,” admitted Leah. “Her dorm bed turned out to be more like a trundle bed with drawers where the extra bed would be.”

Leah’s advice: Scope out your dorm room before you start buying anything that is meant to save space.

An Ironing Board

Seems like a good idea. You want your clothes to look good, right? Unfortunately, you may have trouble finding the right spot for your iron and ironing board in the average dorm room, which is only 228 square feet.

Plus, how many college students actually end up ironing their clothes anyway? That’s a good question, and one Kate Horrell, Military Finance Coach, admits was relevant when she was in college. According to Kate, most college students mostly stick to jeans, shirts, and sweatshirts. “Unless you have an ironing habit now, you probably won’t pick one up in college,” she says.

Fancy Dishes and Cutlery

You might envision eating a lot of meals in your room when you head off to college, but that doesn’t mean you need full-on china and cutlery. You’ll probably eat the majority of your dorm-room meals on your bed, after all.

Instead of splurging for a dish set, invest in some disposables or easy-to-rinse plastic plates, silverware, and cups. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time doing dishes, nor will you have many places available to wash them anyway.

Sports Gear

Thinking you’re going to play a quick game of tennis and flag football with your friends at college and actually doing it are two entirely different things. And in a college dorm room, the last thing you need is a bunch of sports gear taking up precious space.

If you’re sporty, try borrowing stuff from dorm neighbors who weren’t wise enough to follow this advice. Or consider borrowing from your school’s athletic department.

Bulky Luggage

Since you’ll be returning home for college breaks, you’ll need luggage to transport your clothing, books, and other belongings. But here’s what you don’t need – bulky, oversized luggage that doesn’t bend or fold for storage.

Instead, opt for duffel bags or suitcases that fold down when not in use. You’ll save a ton of room that way, and still be able to bring your stuff home every few months.

Duplicate Items

But, what’s the worst thing you can bring to college? According to Linsey Knerl from, it’s “anything your roommate is bringing already.”

As Knerl notes, modern technology has made coordinating who is bringing what much easier than it was say, 20 years ago. “Before we could meet our roommates online via Facebook or chat, it was more than a bit awkward to both show up with fridges or a TV,” says Knerl. “I don’t know what the modern day equivalent would be for that, but you definitely don’t need to be the dorm with 2 Xboxes.”

And that goes for all the other “big” stuff too.

What is the most wasteful thing you brought to college? Are you or someone you know guilty of any of these?

Related Articles:

Holly Johnson

Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.