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College Packing List: What NOT to Bring to School This Year

Colleges have a lot of rules about what you can, and can’t bring into the dorms. Most often, schools ban items that can create fire hazards, so many electronics and appliances can be found on these lists. Use this list as a guide and check out your specific school’s banned list to save you money from not buying pointless items.

Banned Electronics in College Dorms

A survey by MONEY of more than 50 colleges found that basically every single school in the entire country banned halogen lamps in student rooms, citing them a huge potential fire hazard.

Most schools also ban:

  • Multi-head lamps with plastic shades
  • String lights, such as miniature Christmas lights
  • Extension cords
  • Cooking appliances, such as hot plates and toaster ovens
  • Air conditioners or space heaters
  • Electric blankets

When you signed up for residence life during your college registration process, you may not have realized that you signed an agreement to abide by these regulations about electronics and appliances in your dorm. However, your school will take proper caution as much as possible, with many schools posting reminders like these online:

Activation of the fire system, such as a smoke detector, even if on accident may result in disciplinary action by the University and Fire Department.  

For safety purposes, smoke detectors are sensitive.

If the use of your item poses a health or safety concern, causes a disruption to the community, causes property damage or property loss, regardless of whether the item is approved, you may be subject to disciplinary action and associated costs or sanctions.

Some schools have specific (and unusual) things on their no-go list, so make sure you read the fine print. Examples include vacuums, fish, and at the Olin College of Engineering — a suburb of Boston — recommends you leave “any paraphernalia supporting the New York Yankees,” at home.

What electronics and appliances can I bring to school?

In most cases, your school probably allows students to bring electronics and appliances deemed not a fire hazard, though sometimes with caveats. Most school permit:

  • Coffee Makers: As long as your coffee maker doesn’t use a warming plate to keep the coffee warm, you can use it in your room— and you’re going to need it!
  • Clothes irons, curling irons, hot curlers and flat irons: These items are permitted as long as they are used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Power strips or a plug multiplier: Power strips and plug multipliers must have built in circuit breaker to be permitted within the residence halls.
  • Fans: All fans are usually permitted, which is good, especially in the early fall.
  • Televisions: TVs are allowed, just as long as you don’t mount them to the wall.

What else should I know before I pack?

Beyond the obvious fire hazards that many electronics and appliances present, did you know that many dormitories provide appliances for everyone’s use? Common areas on your dorm floor often have:

  • Televisions
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves and ovens
  • Microwaves
  • Printers

The lesson: Always look into what your room comes with before shopping for your college packing list. You’ll save a bundle and stay safe in your new room!

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