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Overdoing the dorm move-in

College 101 - Beer Pong.jpgThis is the week when thousands of college students move into the dorms. Most of them show up with a moderate car full (or two) of stuff. But then there are the epic mover-inners -- college students who bring stuff that surprises residence hall directors and staffers who think they have already seen it all.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune had a story this weekend about a frosh who showed up to his Minnesota college (that went unnamed) with a semi. This was the same student whose parents asked if they could send an interior designer to take measurements of the room and do a complete makeover -- without asking for the roommate's opinion.

It's not the only odd move-in.

image003(2).jpgAt Albright College in Pennsylvania, a student once hauled his dorm stuff in the family Winnebago. (Photo courtesy of Dave Johnson of Albright College.)

At Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, a student tried moving a full-size refrigerator into his 14-foot-by-14-foot dorm room.

"I couldn't help but ask him what he could possibly need it for, given the fact that the hall had only one small kitchenette with only a microwave and sink," said Erica Stephenson, associate director of residence life. "I mean, he wasn't going to be able to bake or anything, so what was he going to fill that refrigerator with? Oh, wait, I think I know."

At the University of Iowa, massive flat-screen televisions have become the norm, according to the Associated Press.

At Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, housing staffers have fielded lots of odd requests to alter on-campus apartments: One mother wanted to install sliding shower doors. Some have asked if they can re-upholster the dorm furniture. One parent wanted to remove the carpet and install hardwood floors. Lots of parents have hired maids.

Mansfield University in Pennsylvania has seen lots of students trying to sneak pets (ferrets, tarantulas, boa constrictors, you name it) into the halls. And highway signs are a popular dorm decoration.

At Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, one student asked for permission to bring his own personal compact clothing dryer.

These examples are extreme, but there is a move-in crime that most students are guilty of: Bringing way too much stuff.

What not to pack:

Do not bring childhood mementos, like that first-grade trophy, advises the Oklahoma Daily.

Avoid bringing any more furniture, even an extra chair, because chances are it won't fit, suggests the Sun Sentinel.

Don't bring anything that might be forbidden -- "pets, firearms, unsanctioned microwaves and hot plates, unsafe loft building materials, explosives, halogen lamps, illegal drugs, proof of extraterrestrial life, etc.," says Jayce Scott of North Carolina State University.

Leave your book collection at home because you really won't have much time to read during the semester, and "no one will care that you read Ayn Rand in high school," advises Andy Boyle of the St. Petersburg Times.

Skip anything that you don't use all of the time, the Star Tribune suggests. "Most dorms barely have enough storage space for oft-needed items. Skis, golf clubs and the sousaphone are best left at home. ... If you have to choose between an ironing board or an Xbox, go with the latter."

Have you seen anything ridiculous hauled into a dorm? Any tips for what not to bring to campus? Let me know in the comments.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  August 16, 2010; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  College 101  | Tags: Albright College, Birmingham-Southern College, College 101, Mansfield University, North Carolina State University, Sewanee, Susquehanna University, University of Iowa  
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Comments

The fact that students are now being advised not to bring books to college encapsulates a lot of what is wrong with higher ed.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 16, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

jiji, I think this is more of an issue of space and book *collections* than anything else -- my room was so tiny the closet doors would only open if the desk chair was pushed in. But seriously, there is so much assigned reading in college I think students are much better off socializing or exercising in their limited free time than curling up with yet another book. Kids packing more than a handful of novels to college are not being realistic about the amount of work involved.

Posted by: stalkeyedfly | August 16, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Telling 18-year-olds not to bring their dead-tree book collection is as out-of-touch as telling them not to bring their cassette tape collection.

Many of these kids will bring 10,000 books with them. In their phone.

Posted by: kcx7 | August 17, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm a fairly recent grad and never had a TV in my room in college. If there was something worth watching, I went to the student union where there were plenty of TV sets. It was one of the best decisions I ever made in terms of helping me study AND experience everthing happening on campus.

Posted by: jfw9 | August 17, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

So many of the wacky examples in the article are the result of one thing: doting "helicopter" parents.

Maybe mom and dad, their money to pay for things like giant TV sets and interior designers, and their enormous vehicles to haul unneeded stuff are best left home.

And I agree with the comments about taking more than about 10 books TO college. Anything more than that IS a waste of space in a dorm room. Any other books anyone needs are available at the library or can be sent from home.

Posted by: jfw9 | August 17, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I had two large bookshelves full of books and read them all the time. What sort of college experience does Mr. Boyle think students will have that doesn't include some free time to read books? Given that most academic programs in the United States have less than half of the weekly hours of instruction of similar programs in other countries, particularly Latin America, our students would seem to be blessed with time in which to read Ayn Rand.

Posted by: ALoyolaCC | August 17, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse


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Posted by: strade21 | August 17, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I agree that if you have a well-stocked college library nearby, it's not such a good use of dorm space to bring books from home. But the idea that going to college means that you won't have time to read for pleasure is ridiculous. If you are a true reader, you find the time for it, no matter how much reading you have to do for class, or how many parties there are to go to, etc. (Those of you who are true readers know what I mean! And if you don't get this, you probably aren't really a reader.)

Posted by: bubba777 | August 17, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

A moving company delivered my stuff to college, but I have a good excuse. My parents were military and we were in the process of moving back to the US at the same time I was preparing to go off to college. The Air Force had to ship our household items via cargo ship, and my college-bound life was packed seperately. My shipping crate was delivered directly to my dorm. There wasn't anything particularly out of the ordinary in there, though.

Posted by: clvande | August 17, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

How terribly sad that only one post thus far has come anywhere near decrying the nauseating consumerism and narcissism displayed by these students (and their helicopter parents). As one who teaches and mentors these young people, I know the enormous barriers these attitudes present to their real learning and personal growth.

Posted by: CellBioProf | August 17, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that the article is for bringing an X-box but not books. When I was in college, I was very social and also got good grades but always found a few minutes a day to read. And sometimes it's nice to have your favorite books right at hand. A few extra books can be fit in your easily. The problem is big screen TVs, your own furniture etc. But even then I dont really think it's an issue. People are materialistic-so what? Not like kids aren't going to deal with this after college. My freshman roomie was wealthy and came with all kinds of things I had never even owned and it didn't hurt me. Lastly, maybe the kids whose parents wanted to hardwood the floors had bad allergies. Wood is better for that.

Posted by: sunflower571 | August 17, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I think the ones who overdo it make news because they are UNusual.

Posted by: Snowball2 | August 17, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Here's a great series of articles written by a Mom of 4 college kids: http://www.celebrationideasonline.com/index.html Tells you more of what you need and what you can leave at home plus a great article on what parents need to do before the kids leave. #5 on health insurance and proxies is really important and I had no idea about it.

Posted by: amy3e | August 17, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

You can cram plenty of wacky stuff into a dorm room without having crazy rich materialistic helicopter parents. Back in college, one friend of mine salvaged a couple of ancient coffee-table-sized computers the school had surplussed, and used them as a stand for the two ancient (but working) TVs he'd also scavenged from a junk heap. Then he purchased components to build a soda fountain off ebay, and cobbled that together in the same dorm room. 50lb CO2 tank from the local welding store, boxed soda syrup from Sam's Club, and a 50 gallon Gatorade water cooler gravity feeding the whole system. Now that was a fun project.

I bought a standard fluorescent ceiling light and installed it in my room's drop ceiling, because the room's original lighting was so terrible. Total expenditure: $50. Then there was the spring break I spent soldering together a theremin.

By their sophomore year, this year's freshmen will know what's worth keeping and what's not. It's a learning experience, kind of like college as a whole.

Posted by: theGelf | August 17, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Glad my kid isn't going to the college where they don't have time to read.

Posted by: markfromark | August 17, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I took five or six books with to college, and that was plenty. When I did have time to read for fun, I used the library. It's easier than dragging boxes of books around when you move every year and takes up less space because you only have a few at a time. Students usually qualify for borrowing privileges at the local public library, too, so that's something to look into.

Posted by: KUGuardChica | August 19, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I have a close friend whose daughter (and her mother) bought so much stuff for her to take to college this fall that he had to load it into a horse trailer. He has a large SUV, and he said they could not fit it all into his SUV and his daughter's car. His child's mother also consulted a decorator on her dorm room decor. And we wonder what is wrong with kids now...

Posted by: jkh461 | August 23, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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