Some of my fondest memories of the summer before I came to Hopkins are the hours I spent meticulously planning out my freshman dorm decor. I can’t say how many times my mom and I walked through Target looking at different storage options, decorative pillows, and some unnecessary but completely necessary paperweight. In hindsight, I brought a lot of unnecessary things with me (printer, bulletin board, vacuum cleaner, a gold french bulldog tape dispenser, 10,000 pens/pencils/notebooks, shoes I never wore, an over the door towel hanger thing), and feel I have a bit more wisdom going in to sophomore year. So, whether you are an incoming freshman or a prospective student with a few more years to go, I hope this do and don’t list will get you excited for college life, while also making your life a bit easier once you get there. I spent my freshman year in a suite in Wolman, but most of these tips are applicable to any dorm. Also, these are tailored to my personal experience, so take everything with a grain of salt, and do what you think will work for you!
Do bring command strips. You’ll need them, and if you use them right they don’t rip the paint off the walls which is more important than you’d think.
Don’t bring (or at least use on the walls) tape that has the slightest chance of removing paint. Painters tape is a good call.
Do bring a ton of pictures from home. In college, you’re moving into an environment full of new people and new experiences, and though you should take full advantage of what is around you, it is nice to bring a bit of home with you. I find it also serves as a reminder to check in with friends from home every once in a while. Plus, you’ll get to see your gallery grow over the years, and I’m already picking out memories from my freshman year to get printed.
Don’t bring an excess of decorative pillows if you aren’t going to make your bed every morning. Yes, they are cute, but I learned a long time ago that I personally don’t believe in a perfectly made bed, and learned about a week into my freshman year that a ton of pillows just get in the way. If you have more self discipline than me, go for it.
Do bring a mattress pad. I never had to sleep directly on the dorm provided mattress, so I can’t attest to its intrinsic comfort, but I do know that I am a very light sleeper, and my Tempurpedic mattress is the most comfortable thing on the planet. It’s more comfortable than my bed at home.
Don’t bring a printer. At least in Wolman, and I’m sure in other dorms, we have a printer room downstairs, and there are printers in the library, so I never really used the printer I brought with me to school. It was loud, large, and ran out of ink very quickly. Printing on the school printers is very cheap, and in my opinion much easier than worrying about waking up your roommate or trying to order new printer ink.
Do coordinate what you are bringing with your roommates/suitemates. Especially if you are in a suite, there are a lot of things you’ll end up sharing, like bathroom storage, kitchen utensils, microwaves, cleaning supplies, etc. It is much easier to split up the responsibility of bringing these of things early than having everyone show up on move in day with four bathroom rugs.
Don’t bring a closet full of clothes you rarely wear at home… but
Do bring as much as you think you’ll really need. I had heard stories of people bringing too many clothes to school, and I may have been a bit stingy bringing clothes to school as a result. In reality, the closet and drawers provided by the school gave me plenty of room, so don’t worry about not being able to fit all of your stuff (within reason).
Don’t bring your own vacuum cleaner. The dorms have vacuums you can borrow free of charge, and though my cheap $20 vacuum worked perfectly the first couple of uses, it broke pretty quickly into the year. Using the dorm vacuum was much easier and reliable.
Do bring whatever you need to make your dorm feel like home. Whether this means a ton of blankets, string lights, or your favorite stuffed animal, remember that your dorm will be your home for the year, and it should most definitely be a happy place.