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What Not to Pack for College in NYC

By Maya Shwayder | August 17, 2012 5:26pm
Students are faced with tough choices when it comes to what to bring with them to college, and what to leave at home.
Students are faced with tough choices when it comes to what to bring with them to college, and what to leave at home.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

NEW YORK CITY Many national retailers put out their own version of a college packing list. Most include all sorts of furniture, clothes and tchotchkes that are conveniently available for purchase in their store. And most of the items you will not use, much less have room for, in your tiny dorm room in New York City.

"Most people think about the life they normally lead, and they try to bring as much of that stuff with them as possible so that as little as possible will change," said Doug Dyment, the founder of Onebag.com, a website devoted to teaching people to pack light.

"Someone going off to college is going to be leading a different life than they were leading at home with Mom and Dad. They shouldn't be thinking about replicating their life at home."

Here's a suggested guideline of what you, as a first-time college-packer, should avoid throwing into your suitcase.

Do not pack all of your clothes. Remember, you will go shopping when you arrive at school, so be very judicious when choosing your wardrobe.

That one shirt at the back of your closet that you've rediscovered and are TOTALLY going to wear now? Chances are that shirt will go on to languish, unworn, in your dorm room, too. Likewise, do not pack every sweatshirt, pair of jeans or T-shirt you own.

Dyment said the best way to pack is to make a list and then pare it down multiple times. "Look for lighter versions of the things you already have," he said.

Do not pack all of your shoes. You will need, most likely, four pairs of shoes: sneakers, sandals, winter/rainboots and something nice for parties. Most important is to pack shoes that are comfortable and durable. Again, remember, you will go shopping when you arrive in town.

Do not pack all those knick-knacks from your room at home. You will not have room for them, and after a month, you will probably forget they're even there. If you must, take one favorite stuffed animal, a favorite poster and one or two framed photographs.

"Think about what is the minimum amount of stuff you need to be comfortable," Dyment said. "If you need one or two things to establish your identity, that's fine."

Do not pack all of your books. You have many books you need to buy for class, and you will have nowhere in your tiny dorm room to put them all.

And remember, books are very heavy. Packing those up at the end of the year will be even more annoying than packing up all your pairs of shoes.