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Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

Make sure you're prepared for college with dorm room essentials.

Learn what to bring college, as well as what not to bring, with our college packing list.
Pack It Up: What to Bring to College
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 to college, you’ll start the school year off worrying about what truly matters: finding your classes, staying on top of homework, and making friends.
Whether you’re ready to start shopping now to spread out the cost over time or you plan to do one massive shopping spree, our College Packing List will ensure that you’re prepared for the school year ahead. College Dorm Checklist: Download PDF

What to Pack for College

What to Wear

The clothes you bring to college depend a lot on where your school is located. Find out the average climate for every season on your campus and bring what you need to wear in college. Also think about the college campus 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
• Pajamas/loungewear for the dorms • Bathing suit
• Light jacket
• Heavy coat, mittens, hat and scarf (if you’re going to a campus with a colder climate)
• Rain gear
• Slippers (for hanging out in the residence hall)

Dorm Room Essentials

Call the housing office or check out photos online of your college’s dorm rooms. Ask questions about the size as well as what is included in the dorm room. Not all residence 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. From there, you can create dorm room ideas that will be both functional and aesthetically pleasing to you and your college roommate. • 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/Streaming device (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
• Vacuum • Sewing kit, scissors, safety pins
• Message board for your door so neighbors and friends can leave messages if you’re not in your room

Toiletries for the Dorm

Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing your residence hall bathroom and laundry facilities with other students. • Robe
• Shower shoes
• Towels, washcloths
• Soap
• Shampoo/Conditioner
• Shaving cream and razors
• Small tote for carrying shower things
• Tissues
• Laundry basket/bag
• Laundry detergent
• Dryer sheets
• Dishwashing soap
• Band-Aids
• Cold medicine
• Aspirin
• First-aid kit

College School Supplies

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 at off-campus stores. • Computer/laptop
• Binders and folders
• Notebook/Paper
• Writing utensils
• Dictionary
• Thesaurus
• Backpack
• Calculator
• Day-planner

Must-Have Items for College Life

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
• Sports/recreation equipment
• Snacks for your room

What NOT to Bring to College

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 tees now that you’re officially a college student)

Where to Buy Dorm Room Essentials

Over the summer, you’ll see college dorm room products popping up all over your favorite stores. Some of the best places to buy dorm room products are Target, Dormify, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. At Target, you will find everything you need for your college life experience. In addition to bedding, décor, and appliances, you’ll also be able to shop for school supplies, toiletries, and cleaning essentials. Dormify is a favorite with the college crowd. You can find bedding, décor, and storage options that are made specifically for dorm rooms. Their site also features The Design Lab, which allows you to visualize your bedding and wall décor before actually purchasing it. Bed, Bath and Beyond is a staple for many soon-to-be college students. Why? Because they have all of the dorm room essentials. With over 1,500 products to shop online, you’ll be sure to show up on campus fully equipped for dorm life. Finally, Etsy is a fun place to shop for one-of-a-kind dorm room products. Items can be customized with names, college, or anything else that you could think of. A great strategy for outfitting your dorm room is to shop slowly over the summer, unless you plan to work and save your money to spend all at once. Another great resource for dorm room shopping may be Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You can find gently used appliances for a fraction of the cost. If you go through the dorm room shopping process and find that we’ve left anything off our college packing list, let us know in the comments. Dorm life is always changing, and we want to stay on top of must-haves and wants!

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