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NSOP is only three weeks away! As the start of the school year gets closer, you’ll have to figure out what should go on your packing list. Don’t weigh down your luggage with unnecessary items—plan to pack half of the things you’ll eventually need in your dorm, and expect to buy the rest once you get to the city.

Full disclaimer now: This article will probably be most useful for new first-years who have to fly in from across the country (or into the country). If you’re fortunate enough to be able to drive to the city, then you can easily pack everything you’ll ever need into your car.

Winter clothes: Depends

It really depends on your situation. If you already own winter clothes but don’t live close enough to go home for fall break in November, bring them all now. If you don’t own a warm coat or snow boots, don’t bother finding them at home and carrying them all the way to New York: It makes more sense to wait until October or November to buy your winter gear in New York.

Bedding: Buy at home, pick it up in NYC

Bed Bath & Beyond* lets you buy bedding, furniture, and everything else you may need at a store near you and pick it all up in a different store across the country. If you have access to a BB&B, then pick all of your bedding and dorm supplies in-person (one of the sales associates will give you a barcode scanner to browse the store and select items that you want to pick up in NYC), buy it, and then pick it up in NYC. If there’s no BB&B near you, then buy everything in NYC.

Pro tip: When you’re choosing a store to have your items shipped to, chose the one on 66th Street and Broadway (near Lincoln Center). Even though the one on 125th Street may seem closer, it’s difficult to get there via public transportation, whereas the one on 66th Street is a direct ride on the 1 train.

*Note: We mentioned BB&B just because it’s pretty convenient and many students seem to use this service, but of course there are other options out there, such as Dorm Co, Target, Roomify, The Container Store, and Walmart, just to name a few.

School supplies: Buy in NYC

There’s no point in making your luggage heavier, so leave all of your notebooks and other supplies behind. Buy all your school stuff once you’ve actually gone to the classes in question, so you’ll have an idea of what you’ll actually need. The same goes for textbooks. Wait until you’ve been to the first lecture before ordering or renting them—you might end up dropping the class altogether, or an upperclassman who’s taken the class might tell you that you don’t really need the book at all.

Electronics: Depends

They say size doesn’t matter, but in the case of luggage, size is everything. If you plan on bringing a laptop, tablet, video game console, speakers, or any other electronics to college, then you should really only bring them if they’re small enough to fit in your carry-on (you don’t want to risk losing or breaking your valuables in checked baggage)—wait to purchase larger items (like a TV if you want one) in NYC.

Furniture and decorations: Buy in NYC

Although decorations, such as lights, photos and posters, can be easily brought with you on your trip, you should wait to get anything that you don’t already own. Large items like fans and storage bins will take up more space in your suitcase than you’d expect, they might get damaged in transit, and you’ll want to see what space you have to work with in your dorm room before you start decorating.

Kitchen supplies: Buy in NYC

Mini fridges, coffee makers, water filters, mugs, plates, etc. should all be bought in NYC. Bringing brand new appliances will only weigh you down (or get broken on the flight over, especially if they’re made out of glass). Besides, you should wait to get any of these things anyway to see if you really need them in the first place—while we all tell ourselves we’ll cook for ourselves when we’re in college, chances are you’ll only do it a couple times a semester since you’ll be on a large meal plan.

Pro tip: You’ll be able to buy most kitchen supplies (including mini fridges) for much cheaper second-hand at the Green Sale, an event hosted by Columbia EcoReps at the beginning of the school year.

Medication: Bring from home

If you use prescription medication, or any other important medicine, then be sure to bring everything with you on your trip. Don’t put your health in jeopardy just so you can make your carry-on a couple ounces lighter.

Hopefully this will make packing much easier, as you won’t have to worry about bringing unnecessary, bulky items with you. Be sure to start packing now so you have enough time to plan and get everything you need.


Got any other packing related questions for us? Have any other questions? Ask us here, or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Huber Gonzalez is a Columbia College junior and Spectrum’s deputy editor. He only brought clothes and his PS4 when he came from LA, and he turned out fine. Don’t worry if you think you’re bringing too little! Reach him at

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