Use common sense when deciding what to bring to college

As you load up the family vehicle or rental truck to take your child to college later this summer, leave the satellite dish off your packing list.

A little common sense goes a long way when determining what to pack for a student’s first, or any, year at school, says a residential housing director at Washington University in St. Louis.

Use common sense when deciding what to pack for college.
Use common sense when deciding what to pack for college.

“We tell families to think about everyday necessities and make sure the student has those,” says Tim Lempfert associate director of residential life. “Certainly, there is room for individuality and creativity, within reason. However, we have cable television in the residence halls, so it’s probably not necessary to bring a dish along.”

Family pets are off limits as well.

“We’ve had students ask to bring hamsters, cats and guinea pigs,” Lempfert says. “A student a few years ago even requested to bring his six-foot python in the residence hall. Obviously, we told him that would not work.”

While all colleges and universities have their own regulations on exactly what students should bring along, there are some essentials that remain constant.

According to Lempfert, those include:

• bedding (extra-long sheets)
• desk lamp
• alarm clock
• hangers
• small refrigerator
• towels
• wastebasket
• small fan
• laundry bag
• flashlight

Other sometimes-overlooked essentials include:

• first-aid kit
• checkbook
• identification (driver’s license)
• power strips
• cleaning supplies
• umbrella
• ironing board and iron

“The residence hall will be the student’s home for the year, so for the most part, if it’s something the student uses everyday, bring it along, within reason of course,” says Lempfert.

What to leave at home?

Lempfert says the list of objectionable items includes:

• electric appliances with exposed coils
• waterbeds
• halogen lamps (due to fire risk)
• gas or charcoal grills
• pets (other than fish)
• weapons (like decorative swords)

“A few summers ago, a student e-mailed us to ask if he could bring two samurai swords to hang on his wall in his room,” says Lempfert. “After consulting with our police chief, we agreed this would not be a good idea.”

Editor’s note: Lempfert is available for live or taped interviews using Washington University’s free VYVX or ISDN lines. Please contact Neil Schoenherr at (314) 935-5235 for assistance.