Your College UN-Packing List

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Trying to balance preparedness with practicality can make for a confusing packing experience before your first year at UW-Madison. It is difficult to know what you will really need until a situation calls for it; and after scouring the Internet for the “ultimate college packing list,” there will likely be no situation you are unprepared for.

However, as veteran Badgers can tell you, some of those items that seem like such a good idea when you packing them can actually take up more space than they are worth. Once you glance over and see the bulky three-hole punch that has been gathering dust on your desk for months or the cleaning supplies and gaming systems you could have just borrowed from your hall’s front desk, you will realize that somethings weren’t worth the Pinterest hype.

To help you consider what is best left at home for your first-year on-campus, current UW-Madison student have told us some of their ultimate UN-packing list items.  Check them out to avoid the inconvenience of another heavy box or extra dollars spent.

1. School Supplies

“I really didn’t need that many paperclips, sticky notes, etc. (no matter how cute they were). I would’ve traded all that I brought for binder clips during finals,” – Catherine UW-Madison Junior

2. Seasonal Clothing

“I brought all of my “winter” clothes with me: cardigans, sweaters, jackets, fleece lined sweatpants, etc. I was nervous about moving to Madison from a warm climate, so I brought everything that was warm. Turns out all, I needed was a good winter parka and lots of thin layers. I’ve been gradually toting my winter stuff home for the past couple of semesters.” – Tess, UW-Madison Senior

3. Excessive Room Décor

I brought a ton of dorm decorations, and it just made packing and unpacking even more difficult. It would have been better if I’d just chosen a few big things, rather than 500 random little decorations.” – Ali, UW-Madison Junior

4. Television

“My roommate and I thought that a tv would be a necessity; but we both ended up hanging out in our den so much with out floor mates and friends for fun, that in our free time, we never used it.” – Kaia, UW-Madison Graduate

5. Junk

“It’s hard to downsize when first leaving home; because you’re so used to having a bedroom, closet, bathroom, kitchen (basically an entire house) to store your things. However, anything you can donate, toss, or give away to a friend will make the move so much easier. Don’t make extra work for yourself by crowding your already small residence hall rooms full of junk you don’t need. Having less makes moving out and feeling at home much easier.” – Darby, UW-Madison Senior


These are only a few of the unpack-able items many new students tend to bring. Obviously #FutureBadgers will have their own unique needs when arriving at UW-Madison. Maybe you really do need those extra photos of friends from home, because those happy memories are what will make the transition easiest for you. Perhaps bringing a boat load of school supplies is key for you to stay organized in your new college classes. No matter whether you pack or unpack our suggested items, the key is to critically consider what you will get use out of in the coming year and what will remain untouched until you move out next May.

For questions about residence halls, desk resources, and other housing-related questions, contact the Division of University Housing.

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