What to buy and what to leave on the shelves for your first residence hall room

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

When packing clothes for college, you might be tempted to stuff your entire wardrobe into a few small boxes and suitcases, but space in residence halls is limited.

As you’re scrolling through online packing lists before move-in day, it can be tricky to determine if you really need all of the items stores deem essential.

From the iconic Thurston Hall to the Mount Vernon hillsides, there are items that every room needs, but students need to think critically about what’s crucial and what they can skip out on, because space is tight.

Here is a rundown of what to pack and what to leave at home for preparing to move into your first residence hall room.

Make sure to bring…

Lighting: Residence hall rooms notoriously have poor lighting, but most of GW’s residence halls have minimal fluorescent bulbs and can be quite dim. Bringing your own lights, like a desk lamp or string lights, can warm up your room and give it a cozier feel.

Electric kettle: Living in a freshman residence hall without a kitchen means you’ll have to get creative with your cooking methods. An electric kettle is a fast and easy way to boil water in your room instead of going to the shared kitchen everytime you want to make tea or ramen. Once your semester devolves into a diet of strictly Easy Mac, instant coffee and oatmeal, you’ll see that the kettle’s possibilities are endless.

Extra sheets: Let’s be honest, college students aren’t the cleanest. And residence hall rooms force you to use your bed as an all-in-one couch, dining room and study space. When you’re busy mid-semester and can’t fathom spending the time or money to get a clean load of laundry, a few extra sets of sheets will come in handy.

Organizational bins: It can be difficult finding a place for everything in your cramped, shared room, but organization bins can help maximize your space. Bins can be filled to the brim with extra clothes, bedding and shoes, or a plastic drawer set can serve as a second dresser. If you use bed risers to hoist your bed farther from the floor, you’ve opened up a new space for your storage containers.

First-aid kit: Your mom won’t be around to be your nurse while you’re at GW, but klutziness and sickness still carry on into college. In case of emergencies, put together a kit of stuff you may need like a thermometer, bandages, Neosporin and essential medicine like Tylenol, DayQuil and allergy medicine. You’ll be glad you did when the flu makes its rounds just in time for midterms.

Skip out on…

Elaborate decorating: While decked-out rooms look cool on Pinterest, they’re not worth the time, money or energy. Your freshman year will fly by, and before you know it, you’ll be scrambling to pack and store your decorations. Opt for a simple poster instead. You can get posters of your favorite bands or movies, or make your wall decor an ode to your home state or country. Adding simple personality to the walls will spark conversation with your floormates during the first awkward few days after move-in without requiring interior design expertise.

A giant wardrobe: When packing clothes for college, you might be tempted to stuff your entire wardrobe into a few small boxes. Freshman residence halls provide each student with some closet space and a few dresser drawers, but it might not be enough to hold everything you own. You won’t need every high school t-shirt you acquired over the years, so stow those away, and consider leaving heavier clothes behind to pick up over a break.

Bike: Not only is it a hassle to find places to park and store your bike, but it’s not necessary to bring one. You can get anywhere on Foggy Bottom on foot because the campus is just five square blocks of concrete, and the Vern Express can be used for travel between campuses. Plus, D.C.’s public transportation system allows you to explore the District at a low price. If you like biking, there are bikeshare systems in the District that you can rent without owning your own wheels. You can also try the dockless electric scooters parked around the city, if that’s more your speed.

Kitchen supplies: While it’s a good idea to bring a couple of bowls and plates to college, it’s not necessary to bring anything other than eating ware. Because you won’t have a personal kitchen, you’ll likely only be microwaving simple dishes for most of the semester. Any other supplies will take up extra space in your room or will risk being ruined by somebody else in the building’s community kitchen.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.