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Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

By Roxana Hadad

July 02, 2014

Soon you’ll be packing your bags for college. But packing them with what?

Countless freshmen arrive at the dorms lugging massive boxes and suitcases only to discover that they brought too much or forgot something.

By bringing the right items with you, you’ll get a good start on the school year without worrying about buying or returning items.

What to Wear

The clothes you bring depend a lot on where your college is located. Find out the average climate for every season and bring what you need. Also think about the activities you like to participate in.

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes you can go to class in
  • One or two dressy outfits and shoes for more formal affairs like internship interviews, presentations or formals
  • Work-out clothes and shoes
  • Bathing suit
  • Light jacket
  • Heavy coat, mittens, hat and scarf (if you’re going to a campus with a colder climate)
  • Rainwear
  • Slippers (for hanging out in the residence hall)


Stuff for Your Room

Get a look at a dorm room or call the housing office beforehand and find out how big your room is and what it comes with. Not all halls have elevators, so it’s better to pack a lot of smaller boxes that one person can handle instead of a few big heavy ones.

  • Comforter/bedspread
  • Pillow
  • Bed linens (ask what size bed you’ll have)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Coffee mug
  • Drinking cups, dishes and silverware for snacks
  • Poster putty for hanging up decorations (most schools will not allow you to nail artwork or photos into the wall)
  • Plastic containers with tight lids for storing snacks, detergent, etc.
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Headphones/ear buds (so your music doesn’t bother your roommate or neighbors)
  • iPod or smartphone
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Power strip approved by the housing office
  • Desk lamp or bed lamp
  • TV/DVD-Player (there’s usually a common area TV if you don’t bring one)
  • Fan
  • Hair dryer
  • Electric blanket
  • Small refrigerator/microwave (check with college for restrictions)
  • Crates or stacking containers
  • Paper towels, glass cleaner
  • Sewing kit, scissors, safety pins
  • Message board for your door so neighbors and friends can leave messages if you’re not in your room


Keep It Clean

Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing your bathroom and laundry facilities with other students.

  • Robe
  • Shower shoes
  • Towels, washcloths
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Small bucket for carrying shower things
  • Tissues
  • Laundry basket/bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Band-Aids
  • Cold medicine
  • Aspirin
  • First-aid kit

  • Stuff for School

    You can get this stuff once you’re on campus, but it can sometimes be cheaper to buy it during the back-to-school sales of off-campus stores.

    • Computer/laptop
    • Binders and folders
    • Paper
    • Writing utensils
    • Dictionary
    • Thesaurus
    • Backpack
    • Calculator
    • Day-planner


    Good Things to Have

    Think about your daily activities and hobbies and bring what you need with you.

    • Access to money (i.e. bank account, bank card, credit card, etc.)
    • Umbrella
    • Key ring
    • Flashlight
    • Camera
    • Batteries
    • Flashlight
    • Sports/recreation equipment
    • Snacks for your room


    Don’t Bring It

    As for what NOT to bring, you should contact your housing office and ask about the rules and regulations within the residence halls. Some schools don’t allow things like these:

    • Halogen bulbs and/or lamps
    • Hotplates, skillets, toasters, toaster ovens
    • Air conditioners
    • Extension cords
    • Candles
    • Pets
    • Waterbeds
    • Nail picture hangers
    • Printer (most campuses have printing labs so a printer is unnecessary)
    • Old high school T-shirts (you’ll get plenty of new college T’s now that you’re officially a college student)

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