The First-Year's Guide to Packing


Dear 2017'ers:


Hello there! :] I'm Emily, a rising sophomore at Olin. I hope you're all having wonderful summers thus far! It's hard to believe that it's already August - are you excited to begin your first year of college? If you (or your parental units) have started to ask about packing for college then you've come to the right place. Here's some guidelines on packing do's and don'ts:


General comments about packing:


  • You know yourself best, so if you want to bring something that's not mentioned, then you can figure out whether it'd be worthwhile to have it in your dorm room.

  • Olin is not in the middle of nowhere - Target/Walmart/etc are nearby in Natick (~20min drive). Find a friend with a car (or if you have a car, invite friends who don't have cars :D!) to shop for items you didn't bring from home.

    • Needham also has a CVS,  hardware store, and grocery stores (Volante Farms! Trader Joe's! Whole Foods! Roche Bros/Sudbury Farms!) that are easily accessed via bicycle (see note about GO bikes below) or car (5min drive).

  • Consider how much you are able to pack - I'm from the west coast so I had to fit belongings in two suitcases and go shopping during the first week on campus, but my friends who drove to Olin had considerably more space in their vehicle.




  • Less is more! You eventually have to pack up your room and put items in campus storage or take it back home at the end of the school year. Also you're probably going to accumulate more stuff via free swag from tech companies and other ventures. (The rule I heard was collect all the things you think you'll want.  Pick half to take. -Victoria)

  • Remember - you won't need winter clothes until winter time!  Things that you find you'll want during the year can always be sent to Olin and picked up at the mailroom for your convenience. -V

  • Remember to coordinate with your roommate so you don't bring doubles of things!! - Alex

Things you want to bring from home or shop for when you arrive:


  • For you and your room

    • Bedsheets and blankets and pillows! - Olin mattresses are twin XL.

    • Mattress topper - If you choose to buy one, order this online and have it shipped to campus.

    • Extra lighting - desk/room lamp for latenight studying/tinkering...

    • Decorations! - soon Olin will become a home outside of home. Personalize your living space to your heart's content. Last year my roommate and I had a beach and ocean theme - with seashells and turtle lights and other items.

    • Pictures of family/pets/friends - guaranteed to help brighten your day and add a personal touch to your room setup. :-)  



      Sibb poster, turtle lights, pictures from home, and other ocean decorations dangling on the wall via command strip mini-hooks. :-)
    • Clothes - winter clothes don't need to be brought during the summer/fall, parents can send them or you can take them from home during Thanksgiving - Alex.

    • Fancy clothes! - for career fairs and end-of-semester EXPO presentations and other occasions!

    • Hangers

    • Cash - small bills and loose change are useful for splitting the bill for off-campus dinner or late-night pizza with friends. Venmo is also a handy app/website for reimbursing friends for purchases.

    • Laundry basket/bag and detergent (The machines take quarters, but you can also put money on your Olin OneCard, a process that will be explained shortly after your arrival to Olin -Victoria)

    • Utensils - spork, chopsticks, bowl, or plate - whatever you like to eat with when you or your friends decide to have a midnight kitchen adventure.  

    • School supplies - pencils, pens, notebooks, binders - choose whatever works best for your studying style.

    • Dry-erase markers - all of the rooms have mini-whiteboards next to the door. Optimal for writing messages or doodling.

    • Backpack - to carry your laptop and circuit breadboards and projects.
    • Alarm clock - you don't want to miss class! (or worse... skip breakfast)

    • First-aid kit - you never know when this'll come in handy.

    • Zip lock bags, trash bags, and duct tape are just generally a good things to have for things that may come up - Alex

  • For your bathroom - coordinate this with your roommate!

    • Thin bathmat - there's not much clearance between the door and the shower floor; if the bathmat is too thick/fluffy you won't be able to close the door easily.

    • Shower caddy

    • Towels - at least two (so when one of them is being washed you can use the other).

    • Cleaning supplies - beware of bathroom inspections at the end of semesters. Also, you can find toilet paper, paper towels, vacuums, and plungers in the trash/recycling rooms on each floor. - Alex

  • Misc electronics for your room and/or Olin laptop (which you get during orientation):

    • Mouse - SolidWorks/CADing without a mouse can be painful.

    • Power strip

    • Ethernet cable

    • Flash drives!!!!! - Alex. Handy for things like backing up small amounts of files or an Ubuntu bootstick. :)

    • External hard drive - not everybody has one but its a good idea just in case your computer dies. Additionally, some students get a docking station for their laptop so they can hook it up easily to a monitor/external drive. - Alex

    • Phone and charger

    • Camera and charger - to capture all the fun memories! ~pass no record~

    • Speakers/headphones - Olin laptop speakers aren't that great. If you're an audiophile or watch movies frequently you should consider bringing speakers or headphones. :]

    • LAPTOP STICKERS!!!! all Olin laptops are identical. Put some swag on yours so you can identify it. - Alex



Emily: Alternatively, buy a whiteboard laptop sticker and doodle on it. :-) Also useful for quick project sketches and problem solving.



Things you might want but aren't necessary:

  • For your room

    • Tall mirror - There's a small mirror in the bathroom but a tall mirror is convenient for overall outfit checks (i.e. situations that call for fancy clothes).

    • Additional seating (foldable chair or mini-couch) - if you have the space for it. Optimal for when friends come to hang out and watch a movie in your room.

    • Command strips/hooks - convenient for hanging up posters and coats, be careful to make sure they don't peel off wall paint.

    • Extra shelves - The room comes with shelf sets already, but some students like having more compartments to organize stuff. I suggest waiting until you move in before buying new furniture.

    • Step stool - Olin beds are usually raised fairly high; step stools are convenient if you're not the world's best at jumping into bed. (Speaking of beds with height, here's a link to lofting guidelines if you're interested.)

    • Shower curtain - the shower comes with its own curtain but it's fun to bring your own to personalize your bathroom. :]

    • Hobby items - frisbee, your favorite board game, baking supplies (the kitchen usually has a lot of equipment but if you bake often you might want to bring your own set), cards, etc. for a fun study break with friends! The ball room in west hall also has a bunch of sports items.

  • More electronics

    • Projector/Monitor - convenient for spontaneous movie nights in your room! Projectors can also be borrowed from the IT department for short periods of time.

    • Video games - Pokemon nostalgia study break? ;D 


        • Many people also bring their video game consoles to leave in the lounges for others to play. - Alex

    • Water boiler / rice cooker - The room already comes equipped with a microwave/minifridge/freezer, and there are appliances in the dorm kitchen on the first floor. It's best to use these in the kitchen to prevent fire alarm mishaps. Stay safe!

  • Other

    • Instruments!! - there are many ways to continue music activities at Olin (shameless plugs for Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO)! Olin Rock Orchestra (ORO) and other combos are pretty fun too.). Spontaneous jam sessions are highly encouraged.

    • Iron: There are irons in the laundry room in case you need to smoothen out your spiffy shirts and the like. Depending on how often you iron your clothes it may or may not be useful to have your own. :-)

    • Bikes! - there are GO (Greening Olin) bikes in the east hall bike room which are convenient for trips to Needham/Wellesley/etc and open to anyone to use, so don't stress out about buying a new bike for college. However, if you're a hardcore biker and/or know you'll be biking really often, it might be worth bringing your bicycle and storing it on campus.

    • Tent/sleeping bag - Alex reminded me about the annual camping trips organized by the Olin Outing club. Highly recommended for a fun weekend in nature and meeting upperclassmen! I believe it's scheduled for the first weekend after classes start in September.


Things you probably do not need to bring:

  • Printer/scanner - Olin is sprinkled with printers and scanners throughout campus that students can use for free.

  • Wireless router - Students are not allowed to set up their own wireless networks in the dorms. It tends to make the dorm wifi sporadic and is rage-inducing (ask any sophomore about the cube).

  • Another computer - Unless you're a super hardcore gamer, don't bring your desktop. Your Olin student laptop should be more than enough to keep you occupied.

    • People do bring other laptops if they prefer macs or just want to have another laptop around, but it is required that you buy your Olin laptop. -Alex

  • Fridge, microwave, or freezer -they come with the dorms!! - Alex

  • TV: Most people who have a telly in their room say it just occupies space. The lounges have TVs which work well for video games, movie nights, or watching shows with friends.

  • Hot plate - The fire alarms at Olin are fairly sensitive; we encourage all cooking adventures to happen in the first floor student kitchen, not in your rooms.

  • Clothes you never wear - This speaks for itself, I think.

  • Reference Books/Textbooks/Materials from relevant high school classes - Your call on this one. One of my best friends brought the Feynman Lectures on Physics textbooks (because he's a Physics:E) . Most people didn't need highschoolera materials for Olin classes. I would wait to ship these from home if absolutely necessary.

  • Books you rarely read - The Needham and Wellesley libraries are easily a bike ride away if you can't find a book of interest in the college library.

  • Pets - technically only fish are allowed as pets in the dorms. :\

  • Craigslist/Street furniture - the student handbook says ": In an effort to avoid the health and financial issues associated with a bedbug or other pest infestation, the College prohibits upholstered furniture from unaccountable places such as craigslist, town dumps and second-hand shops. New furniture and furniture of confirmed quality (e.g., from family or close friends) is acceptable". Stay safe with your extra seating!


More information on dorm rules can be found in appendix C of the student handbook. You'll get a copy of the most recent version when you arrive on campus. :-)


Well, I believe that's all I have to say for now about packing for west hall. Hopefully that helped a bit with your preparations for arrival day! Feel free to email me (emily [dot] wang [at] students [dot] olin [dot] edu) or make a post in the class Facebook group with any questions/comments/concerns. Your sibb, parent volunteers, and Nick Tatar (the assistant dean of student life) are also great resources for move-in advice.


Major thanks to Victoria Preston ('2016, WH1 resident resource) and Alex Crease ('2016, robotics and pun engineer) for the helpful comments and catching things that I forgot to mention. :-)


Finally, best of luck with the rest of your summer adventures and preparations! See you soon on campus (and be sure to talk to upperclassmen! we're all super excited to meet you in September). Thanks again for reading! c:


-Emily Wang ('2016)

Posted in: Class of 2016