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Packing for college, where the average student will spend about seven months out of the year, can seem daunting, according to Lisa Brown Cornelius, the director of residence life at John Carroll University in University Heights, and Gina DeMart-Kraus, director of housing and residence life at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike.

They spoke about biggest do’s and don’ts for what students should include in their suitcases.

“Students need to take a look at the policies that are put in place for the different residence halls that they’re living because different places have different requirements for sizes of items,” Brown Cornelius said.

“Your dorm room is not that big,” DeMart-Kraus said. “One time we saw someone bringing in a full-size couch and end table. And we were just standing there watching and thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to fit in your room with your bed.’”

Brown Cornelius said, “I think students tend to bring everything that they think they might need, forgetting that there may be opportunities where they may return home during a break period or that they can pick up at a later date. We encourage students to think about it as their space and we know that students study in many different capacities. So, if they want to bring something that they are more comfortable with, they’re encouraged to.”

DeMart-Kraus explained how college becomes a student’s new home, but they forget to bring the things that aren’t typically found on a “college dorm-room aesthetic” Pinterest board.

“I think it’s some of the most basic things that people don’t think to bring, like hangers, a flashlight and umbrella,” she said. “Like those everyday things that you don’t think about until you need it.”

When asked what she believed to be the biggest waste of money, Brown Cornelius excused herself to go survey her staff members who work primarily in the residence halls with students.

“The first thing they said was printer,” Brown Cornelius said. “At John Carroll, we have printers in each of the residence halls that students can access easily 24/7 when they’re in the residence halls. And that’s in addition to printers that are at other locations around campus.”

“They also talked about superfluous appliances like coffee makers, Keurigs and things like that,” Brown Cornelius said. “Are students really going to use those in their rooms? I know Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and all of the stores have the 'this is everything you need for your residence hall' promotions, but students, is that part of your typical routine at home? Is that really going to change when you go to college? Don’t bring things that you wouldn’t typically use because odds are, you’re not going to use them once you’re in school.”

Discussing dorm room don’ts, DeMart-Kraus said, “No structural changes. We had someone who wanted to build a loft or a bookcase over their headboard and we had parents bring electrical tools and we had someone drill a hole in their headboard to put some wire through and it’s just not acceptable. So yeah, leave your power tools at home.”

How is a student supposed to know what is deemed appropriate?

“Each institution is different, and so students and families and parents should really educate themselves on what the rules are for different institutions and requirements so that they don’t spend money on something that is going to end up not being permitted in the residence hall where they’re living,” Brown Cornelius said.


Amanda Schenk is the Violet Spevack Editorial at the Cleveland Jewish News.

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