Packing 101 | The Basics of What You Need and Don’t Need

It’s only July, but move-in day will be here before you know it! And before that, you’re going to start asking yourself this question: “What do I need to pack?” Target and Walmart can give you lots of cool ideas for ways to organize your room, but you might feel in the dark about what you really need.  

That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top items that you need or don’t need.  

Need: A Fan 

We love our dorms, but they aren’t air-conditioned. Now, before you gasp and fear dying in the heat, remember, you’re going to live in Wisconsin. It’s not known for being hot most of the year. But for a few weeks in late summer and maybe the last few days in the spring, your room can get a little stuffy.  

A basic box fan is going to give you some airflow and get that fresh Wisconsin air into your room. And don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like cows (most of the time).  

Don’t Need: Excessive school supplies 

You’re going to find that you do school differently in college. That means fewer notebooks, folders, crayons, and maybe even pencils. I found that 1 good 5 subject notebook, a binder or paper portfolio, some quality pens, a few highlighters, one pencil, and a high-quality laptop were all that I needed.  

If you minimize your physical school supplies, carrying them around to grab a few moments of extra study here and there isn’t as much of a hassle. And while we are on the topic, get a good backpack as well.  

Need: An Extra Blanket 

We don’t give this advice just because it’s cold (though an extra blanket for bundling up at night is a nice addition). This easy item can serve a dual purpose. If you’re lucky enough to get a bottom bunk, you can hang your extra blanket from the upper bunk as a curtain for a little extra privacy.  

Living with roommates is great, but sometimes you might want to go to bed earlier or just have some quiet time. A blanket curtain is an easy way to signal to your roommates that you need some privacy for a time.  

Don’t Need: Your collection of fiction novels 

These might be hard to leave behind, but you’re not going to have a lot of extra time for pleasure reading. Personally, after I finished all my required reading for class, I wanted to have a break from that activity and try something else like exercising, social interaction, playing the piano, or just watching a movie.  

We suggest bringing 2-4 books for pleasure reading your first semester. Getting through any of them is going to be a huge accomplishment. After your first semester, you can gauge how many you will actually be able to read in a semester and pack accordingly.  

Need: Winter Gear 

This includes a good coat, boots, gloves, hat, scarf, and other clothing that keeps you warm. You might be used to the climate if you live up north. But many students don’t realize just how cold it can get. While packing, consider that temperatures can drop well below zero with gusty winds and lots and lots of snow. In addition, you’re going to walk to class in some of those conditions.  

Here at MBU, we are firm believers that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Be prepared or make a visit to the nearby outlets for good winter gear that is going to keep you comfortable all winter long. 

Don’t Need: Everything You Own 

Unless you’re already living the minimalist life, there needs to be some picking and choosing with what you bring to college. As we said earlier, space is oftentimes limited. But don’t think of that as a restriction, but rather an opportunity. When you’re not worried about your stuff, you can focus more on the things that really matter like a growing relationship with the Lord, building lasting friendships, and investing the proper time and energy into your education and ministry.  

A good way to cut back is to quell multiples. You don’t need 6 pairs of sandals, you need 1-2 pairs. You don’t need 10 towels you need 3-4. You don’t need a bunch of decorative bed pillows, but one or two is nice. Bringing less isn’t about restricting the things you need but appreciating the things you don’t need.  

That being said, if you’re worried about bringing too much stuff, don’t be. You probably will your first time around, but in the following semesters, you’ll figure out what you do and don’t need and you can cut back and pack accordingly.  

It’s all about learning and adjusting. You’ll probably find some must-haves for yourself that we don’t include in this list. Bottom line – don’t stress about it. But think about it.  

For more help with packing, email for a complete packing list.