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College Dorm Packing List! Things to Take to College Freshman Year!

Last updated August 21, 2023

College Dorm Packing List! Things to Take to College Freshman Year!

Heading off to college for the first time can be overwhelming, especially if you plan to live in a dorm or apartment close to campus. What do you bring with you? What can’t you bring with you? How are you going to get all of your stuff there? Don't worry! Whether you're going to college near your hometown or moving to another state, we created a college dorm packing list with the essential items you'll need for your freshman year of college!

Before You Pack

Check your college’s restrictions on approved and prohibited items

Most schools provide a list of approved and prohibited dorm items on their websites in the residential or housing section. Make sure you have that list on hand while you’re packing to make sure you’re in line with the given restrictions before you get to campus. If you show up with restricted items you may be asked to take them back home.

Decide what to pack based on your travel plans

Figuring out how you plan to get to college plays a big role in deciding what to pack with you. If you're going to a college nearby or planning to drive, you'll probably be able to fit most of the stuff on our list in just one or two trips.

However if you plan on taking a plane, bus, or train to college, you won’t be able to bring all of these items with you. Consider packing only the essentials such as clothing, important documents, and other small items from home to keep with you in case you get homesick like photos or things of sentimental value. Once you get to campus, you can shop for all the items listed below or have someone from back home mail you things you can’t travel with.

When it comes to packing your clothes, it’s a good idea to keep it simple and consider only packing for one season at a time, then switch items when you go home during your breaks. For example, if you’re heading to college during the summer or fall, focus on packing your lightweight clothing and things that you can layer. Once the colder months roll in, you can swap out those items for warmer layers, jackets, and boots when you visit home during winter break. While it might feel tempting to pack your entire wardrobe, it can be a hassle trying to find space for everything!

College Dorm Packing List

Here is a comprehensive list of what to bring for college! If you have roommates, reach out to them prior to move-in day to get on the same page on who is bringing shared items (mini-fridges, rugs, TV, etc). You do NOT need everything on this list. You can adjust it as needed to your specific needs and dorm setup. 

Download a printable version of this list by clicking the image below!Preview of college dorm packing list

Download button for College Dorm Packing List

Important Documents

  • Banking information
  • Copy of your Social Security Card
  • Credit and/or debit card
  • Driver’s license
  • Emergency contact list
  • Government-issued ID
  • Health insurance card (if applicable)
  • Student ID (if you have it already)

Bedding

  • Comforter (Size Twin/Twin XL)
  • Foam mattress pad (Size Twin/Twin XL)
  • Pillow cases
  • Pillows
  • Sheet set (Size Twin/Twin XL)
  • Throw blanket (optional)

Bathroom

Depending on your dorm, the bathroom setups can generally be divided into two types: communal (shared with all residents) and private (shared with your roommates or suitemates only). Let's break down the essentials you'll need for each of these setups:

Communal:

  • Shower caddy
  • Shower shoes

Private:

  • Air freshener/sanitizer
  • Bathroom rug
  • Cleaning sponge
  • Hand mirror (optional)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Shower curtain & rings
  • Shower mat
  • Toilet brush/cleaner
  • Toilet paper

Both (Items you’ll need for both setups):

  • Bath towels
  • Bathrobe
  • Flat iron/blow dryer
  • Shower cap (optional)
  • Washcloths

Laundry

In college dorms, the laundry setup generally consists of a shared laundry room equipped with multiple washers and dryers, where you’re typically required to bring your own laundry supplies.

  • Detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Fabric softener
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Laundry hamper/basket
  • Lint roller
  • Rolls of quarters
  • Sewing kit
  • Stain remover

Dorm Room

  • Adhesive hooks
  • Air freshener
  • Alarm clock
  • Area rug
  • Bulletin/dry erase board
  • Closet organizer
  • Curtains
  • Desk lamp
  • Fan
  • Floor lamp
  • Hangers
  • Over-the-door storage unit
  • Plastic storage bins
  • Posters/wall art
  • Shoe rack/organizer
  • Step up ladder
  • Trash can
  • Wall/full length mirror

Tech & Appliances

These items may or may not be allowed on your campus. If they are allowed, there may be some restrictions in reference to the kind or type of the item. Typically, students are allotted a certain amount of energy usage per room that you’ll have to share with your roommate. Some of the items listed tend to use more energy than what is usually permitted and are therefore banned on some campuses. To find out the specifics, check your school’s housing site or call the residential office.

  • Adapters
  • Device chargers & batteries
  • Ethernet cable
  • External hard drive (500+GB)
  • HDMI cable
  • Headphones
  • Laptop & laptop case
  • Mini Fridge
  • Mouse & mouse pad
  • Portable water boiler
  • Printer & ink
  • Ring light (optional)
  • Speakers
  • Surge protector
  • TV
  • Video games/console (optional)

Items that can be purchased after moving in

Here's a list of items that you might find useful for your dorm, but it's often better to purchase them after you've moved in. Be sure to customize these lists according to your specific needs and preferences.

Toiletries

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Body lotion
  • Body wash/bar soap
  • Comb/brush
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer/Antibacterial gel
  • Insect repellent
  • Lip balm/chapstick
  • Makeup
  • Menstrual care products
  • Mouthwash
  • Oral hygiene products
  • Over-the-counter medicine
  • Prescription meds (if applicable)
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Shaving razor
  • Sleeping cap
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toothpaste

School Supplies

  • Backpack or tote bag
  • Calculator
  • Desk organizer
  • Double-sided tape
  • Envelopes/stamps
  • File folders
  • Highlighters (multicolored)
  • Index cards
  • Notebooks/paper
  • Pens (blue and black ink)
  • Planner
  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie markers
  • Stapler & staples/staple remover
  • White out

Kitchen & Cleaning

Even if your dorm room is not an apartment style room with a kitchen in it, there will likely be a kitchen in your dorm hall that will be accessible to all residents. If you like to cook, you’ll be able to utilize this space! Just be sure to keep all of your cooking supplies in your room for safekeeping.

  • Broom & dust pan
  • Can opener
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cups/bowls/plates (plastic or reusable)
  • Dish drying rack
  • Dish soap & towels
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Mop
  • Paper towels
  • Pots & pans
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Salt, pepper, and other seasonings
  • Seasonings
  • Silverware like forks/knives/spoons (plastic or reusable)
  • Surface cleaner
  • Tupperware/Ziploc bags
  • Water filter pitcher

Snacks

Non perishable (or shelf-stable) snacks are good to keep in your room for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking, going to the cafeteria, or want something quick to eat between classes.

  • Bottled water
  • Bread
  • Bulk snacks (chips, granola, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Cereal
  • Microwavable nonperishable meals (Mac and cheese, ramen, cup noodles, instant oatmeal, etc.)
  • PB&J
  • Popcorn
  • Sugar packets

Packing up for your college dorm may feel stressful, but remember, you're not alone in this journey. We're here to support you every step of the way and make this transition as smooth and exciting as possible! Any questions for us about packing for college? Text us! Send #Hello to 33-55-77 to speak with one of our college advisors, or click here to have the text message set up for you!

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