What to Pack For Your First Semester of College (And What to Leave Home)

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Mai La Yang gives tips on what you need - and what you don't - in the res halls this fall.
You know school is right around the corner when every store you walk into has that giant “Back to School” sign hanging from the ceiling. The feeling of summer is coming to an end, and now it’s time to put our thinking caps back on.

To help you get back into gear for the start of the new school year, here’s a list of what you should pack – and not pack – with you for school.

What to Pack For Your First Semester:

1. Pencils, pens, highlighters and more pencils. Pencils will be your best friend for the rest of the year, as they will stick with you through thick and thin during exam week. Stocking up on pencils is also a good idea because there’s always that one person next to you in class, who asks to borrow a pencil and you know you can’t say no (unless you can come up with a really good excuse).

2. A shower caddy. In the residence halls, that morning walk to the bathroom can seem long when trying to carry multiple items in your hands. It’s worth the small investment in a plastic shower caddy to hold all your things!

3. Deodorant. No one likes the smell of bad body odor, and no one wants to smell like bad body odor.

4. A USB flash drive. A USB flash drive is great for transferring data back and forth from computers in campus labs to a laptop. They are especially convenient when you don’t want to carry your own laptop around. On top of that, you will probably be writing a lot of essays and maybe even spending late hours at the library brainstorming, where a trusty flash drive will be handy.

5. A fan. When early fall still feels summer-like outside, you and your roomie will be keeping cool indoors.


What to Leave Home:

1. Most of your entire closet. Your room in the residence hall is a shared space, and the closet provided may be smaller than what you’re accustomed to at home. Fortunately, you will have a closet as well as a dresser, where you can place some of your non-hanging clothes.

2. Expensive jewelry. You won’t need it and won’t want to worry about losing it.

3. Candles. Candles are pretty and smell nice, but more importantly they’re a fire hazard. Let’s keep everyone safe in the halls!

4. Pets (except fish). Unfortunately, your pets have to stay home. But you can visit them on weekends! If you need a service animal, you may contact Disability Services.

5. Hot plates. There’s a kitchen on your res hall floor, if you ever need to cook. At the front desk of your hall, you can also check out pots, pans and other kitchen items, as long as you show your Pointer I.D. card to the desk attendant.


From experience, these are my top five do’s and don’ts. I hope this post will make your life a little easier as move-in day approaches. Don’t forget, the university also has a school store where you can do additional shopping if you need to.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and these last few days!

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