10 Things to Pack, 10 Things to Leave Behind: 2023 Edition

This article originally appeared in July 2019 on The Bell but has been updated for 2023.  

It’s that time of the year again. If you’re #GordonBound, you know that Move-in Day is August 18, and you’re probably wondering what to bring or buy for your new college dorm room. We’re here to save you some of the trouble—by identifying the 10 things you need to pack and the 10 you’re better off leaving behind.

The Essentials


New England winters hit hard, but your first cold-away-from-home will hit harder. Arm yourself with a Kleenex box or two so that you don’t end up rubbing your nose raw with rough napkins from the dining hall.


The holy grail of college supplies, this blue putty will stick with you through the ups and downs of your first year, and all the way to the end of second-semester exam week. (For optimum effect, mix the blue and white varieties.)

Tide Pods

You might think nothing of grabbing the big bottle of detergent you see on the shelf, but when you’re doing laundry after a long evening of homework, you’ll be grateful for the convenient, pre-portioned pods that save you a late-night call to Mom to ask how much you should use.


Even though you’ll eat most of your meals in the dining hall—where there are more than enough options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folks—it’s still nice to have the option of making yourself some mac and cheese, an omelet or a veggie stir fry, especially if you need a midnight snack or tend to sleep through breakfast on the weekend.


As you may have already guessed after reading the previous tip, you’re going to need someplace to put your leftovers, so bring a few food-safe containers and either store your leftovers in the lounge fridge or the mini-fridge you share with your roommate.

Mattress topper

Don’t believe the lies. College is not the time to skimp on sleep. If you want to ace life, buy a mattress topper and make those seven to nine hours of “shut-eye” even better.

Cold-weather survival kit

If you’re feeling under the weather, you can always go to Gordon’s Health Center, but for the common cold and more minor scrapes, pack yourself some Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, vitamin C, cough drops, herbal teas, and natural supplements or over-the-counter decongestants.


Especially when you’re on an upper level, the residence halls can get hot during the first few weeks of the fall semester. To keep your room cool and comfortable on those warm days, we recommend bringing a small but mighty fan.

Trash can

Gordon does provide recycling bins because we like the Earth (that’s why we’re in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges for the eighth year in a row). But if you want to keep trash off the floor, that’s up to you. To make it easy, buy yourself a trash can.


It turns out that college students wear backpacks like they do in the college viewbooks that used to fill your mailbox in high school. Make sure you get one that will keep your school supplies safe in rain or snow!

The Expendables

Your book collection

Bringing a few favorite books from home is okay, but don’t pack up your whole library. You won’t have enough space for them all, and you’ll be getting lots of new books for your classes that will need room on your shelf.


There’s one in almost every lounge or kitchen, so you won’t be without one. You might just have to take a few extra steps down the hall.

Your winter wardrobe

Before you stuff all of your winter coats into a box, remember that Christmas break will give you plenty of time to bring home your summer clothes and bring back your warmest New England winter wear.


Don’t worry, you won’t need it all. So, don’t pack it all. Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond are only a 10-minute drive from campus and you can usually find someone who is up for an outing.

Extra appliances

If your roommate is bringing a large minifridge or electric kettle, ask if you can share it. Teamwork makes the dream work—and also saves space and money.


Unless you have a hobby printing books, it’s more cost-effective to use the printers in Jenks Library.

Items you never wear

If you didn’t wear it in high school, there’s a good chance you won’t wear it in college. Don’t bring items that will sit in your wardrobe collecting dust—and leave more room for your real essentials.

Too many organizers

Organizers can be helpful, but if you end up with too many of them or with ones that don’t fit the dimensions of your drawers and closet space, then you may not be able to use them. It’s better to buy organizers once you’ve seen your room in person and have a better idea of what will suit your needs.

Extra seating

Residence hall rooms use space economically, which is to say there isn’t room for extra furniture. Unless you live in a two-room quad and are set on bringing a futon you can use to catch up on Stranger Things with your buddies, then plan on bringing some extra pillows and just using your bed and desk chair for lounging with friends.

Things that violate guidelines

Your candles, incense, dried flowers, Christmas lights, tapestries, etc. may have given your room a special ambience at home but know that they violate Gordon’s guidelines for room décor. Why? Because they’re flammable and we want to make sure that everyone on our campus is safe. Before you pack your bags or go shopping, double check that the items on your list are approved for use in your residence hall or you’ll have to send them home with your parents. Don’t let the rules scare you. There are many ways you can decorate and personalize your new home base in a fun, yet safe way.

And even if you forget something at home, you can always stop by the campus bookstore for essentials or borrow something from a friend until you can get a ride to the store. We hope you enjoy your last few weeks of summer and are looking forward to welcoming you to your new home!

Co-authored by Anna Kinkade ’22, Pike Scholar in Strategic Marketing and Communications and

Veronica Andreades ’20, English language and literature