To bring or not to bring: Wake Forest expert shares tips for college packing

It may be tempting for college freshmen to pack up their entire bedroom as they prepare for school, but a Wake Forest University expert says it is always better to scale down.

Connie Carson, director of residence life and housing at Wake Forest University, says freshmen should pack as lightly as possible. Although it can be tempting to bring clothes for every season and a CD collection that numbers in the hundreds, unnecessary items can lead to serious clutter and cause roommate conflicts.

“The first step is being realistic about the space you’re going to be in,” Carson says. “At Wake Forest, we provide students with a description of their new living area, including room dimensions, wall color and furnishings so that they know what to expect.”

Carson recommends that students who visit campus early ask to see a room in their residence hall. Many schools also offer floor plans and pictures on-line on their residence life Web sites, Carson said.

“Sometimes students try to bring a favorite piece of furniture from home, like a big reading chair, only to find that there’s no need for it or it doesn’t fit among the furniture that’s already there,” Carson said. “Seeing a room in person, or looking at one on-line gives you a better idea of what the living space will be like.”

Carson’s staff also provides students with a list of suggested items to bring to campus, and another list of items that are prohibited. That information is provided in a housing packet given to each student and also on-line, she said.

The first no-no, Carson said, are electrical cooking devices. These are prohibited at most schools because of their ability to cause fires. Many schools, including Wake Forest, now supply “micro-fridges” in each room to allow students to cook and store food safely. Micro-fridges are combination microwave/refrigerator/freezer units wired to be more energy efficient, thus lessening the load on the electrical supply which decreases the risk of fire.

At Wake Forest, other prohibited items include halogen lamps, extension cords and candles – even if they are used only for decoration. These items are banned to meet fire prevention regulations.

Suggested items to bring include UL power strips with circuit breakers, a shower bucket to carry toiletries to and from the bathroom, bed and bath linens, desk lamps, hair dryers, memo boards, clothes hangers, a laundry bag and plenty of laundry detergent.

One common mistake is bringing an entire semester’s supply of toiletries and groceries, Carson said. “Like most colleges, Wake Forest is not secluded from the city it is in, and we have on-campus stores which sell all kinds of supplies.”

The number one must-pack item is an alarm clock, “Because we all know how easily students get up in the morning,” Carson joked.

Categories: Campus Life, For Parents, Student