Dear Freshmen, Here’s What NOT to Pack for College

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Whether you’re beginning your first year at Penn State or sadly preparing for your last, we all need to start packing. Picking up your entire life and moving into a 12 by 15 foot room in East Halls can definitely be intimidating — not to mention you’ll be sharing that space with another person. While there are plenty of “freshman year packing lists” available online, they can be misleading. Remember, space is very limited and there are some items you think you need but will never use. Everyone is different and some people may find these items to be essential, but VALLEY suggests careful consideration of the following items:


Firstly, you need to be truthful with yourself when it comes to clothes and especially when it comes to shoes. While packing you may find a cute pair of shoes that you never really wore at home but you swear you’re going to wear at school. In reality, it usually comes down to a rotation of about five pairs of shoes. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking, so a good pair of practical, comfortable sneakers are a must. Besides, if you find yourself wishing you had brought more you can always have mom or dad send some from home.

Alarm Clock

The next item that you don’t really need to bring to school is an alarm clock.  That’s what phones are for! Did you need an alarm clock in high school? If so, be sure to bring it. But if you’re able to wake up from several consecutive alarms set on your phone then leave the alarm clock at home. Try using the vibration setting too. Your roommate will greatly appreciate it if you have any 8 a.m. classes.

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While you may want to be as prepared as possible for your classes, be smart about purchasing textbooks. You can check the bookstore website to see which textbooks are required for your courses, but resist the urge to purchase/rent them immediately. Waiting until after the first week of classes is a safer bet because you may have to change your schedule and switch some classes. You don’t want to be stuck with an Italian 2 textbook if you switch to Spanish 1. Besides, textbooks can take up valuable packing space. Professors will likely grant you a “grace period” if you inform them that you are still waiting for your textbooks to arrive at the bookstore.


For many people, college is the first time you’ll be living away from home. So rightfully, you want to make your dorm room reflect who you are as a person. Color schemes and themes can be great ways to personalize your room, but try to avoid excessive decorating. Loads of knickknacks can take up the precious surface area on your desk or bedside area.  You can also collect items and decor from your experiences throughout your first year at Penn State!

Side Bags

As we said, you’re going to be walking a lot. Trust us, East Halls is a hike from just about anywhere on campus. You’re also going to be schlepping around your laptop, notebooks, textbooks, chargers and so much more. It’s a good time to invest in a true backpack that can hold all of your belongings and not kill your back. Maybe backpacks weren’t “cool” in high school, but for a college the size of Penn State they just make sense.

These are just some suggestions for items you don’t need to jam into the car. By the time your first year is over, you’ll probably discover even more things you packed but didn’t need. Let us know what those are on Twitter or Instagram @VALLEYmag!


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