What to Bring to College-College Packing List

What to Bring to College-College Packing List

Congratulations, you are on your way to experiencing a significant milestone in your adult life. Yes, I'm talking about college life. For some, it's the first time that you will be away from home for an extended amount of time. For others, this will be the first time that you'll be responsible for your meals, laundry, and getting up on time. This is also a particular time of recognizing the kind of person you are and who you want to become. You'll meet new people who may become life-long friends.

College is where you find your voice and focus on your vision. Maybe you'll take on a leadership role around campus, or perhaps you'll decide to study abroad for a semester, or maybe you'll decide to do both — your options are endless! But before you take one step on campus or into your dorm room, you need to know what to pack, how to pack it, and how to make the most of your space.

What to Bring to College - The Essential College Packing List

If you ask a seasoned college student, they will probably tell you that one of the most stressful and exciting parts of heading to college is packing. It's completely normal to think that you should take everything you own because you're not sure what you will need, but you'll soon realize that there is not enough space to carry everything you own. So, what do you need to take? We're glad you asked.

Here's our Welcome to College Packing List, your friendly, season-to-season guide to everything you need at college for the year. Whether you're moving into your first dorm or off-campus housing, creating a space that feels like your personality is the best way to start your college life off on a fresh note. From essential items like bedding and snacks (yes, you'll need to stock up on snacks, thank us later), there are a few elements that you will need to consider when packing for college. Let's review must-have essentials first and then work our way into nice-to-haves. Not having what you need can be extremely annoying, especially if you need an item and have to shell out money that you hadn't expected to part with so soon.

Room Essentials

Whether you're heading to your college dorm or your first off-campus apartment, you'll want your place to look and feel like home. Depending on the size of your room, your bed will be the nucleus of your experience. From sleeping and studying to watching Netflix or texting, you'll probably do most of that from your bed, so make sure you're comfortable with a mattress pad. While you're at it, don't forget additional pillows to maximize your bed's comfort. Good pillows are great for reading or while working on a laptop. No bed is complete without a couple of sheet sets and a cozy comforter.

Additional Room Item Essentials to Consider:

Kitchen Items

While you may enjoy the many selections in the dining halls and restaurants around campus, you'll still need some basic kitchen essentials in your dorm room. Here's what you'll need for a quick breakfast boost, a mid-day pick-me-up, late-night snacks, study sessions, and more.

If you read nothing else under this section, read this carefully: you need a refrigerator. Maybe you overslept and couldn't make it to a dining hall for breakfast. Maybe you're pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper and need some brain food, and everything is closed for a quick pick-me-up snack. No worries for you because, you guessed it, you have a refrigerator. The next highly suggested appliance is a microwave; whether you're heating up a breakfast sandwich or getting popcorn together to binge your favorite show, you'll appreciate these modern conveniences soon enough. Next, consider bringing a canvas storage bin that can store your favorite non-perishable foods and utensils. You will quickly learn that dorm space is finite, so storage containers of any kind are essential.

Additional Kitchen Essentials:

Clothing Items

We get it; it's hard to plan what to pack when the weather changes every day, but you can't go home every day either. Remember, it's always better to bring less than to bring too much! If you're moving to a new climate, be sure to pack weather-appropriate outer clothes like a warm winter coat and other cold-weather essentials, including rain and winter boots. You also want to be mindful of space again. Lastly, consider investing in a clothing rack to make additional space for garments that can be packed away. They're a great way to keep your clothing organized, which helps to keep everything organized. Here are a few more suggestions to consider when packing.

  • Variety of Shirts: Include a few basic shirts, button-downs, blouses (if applicable), and depending on the weather, be sure to combine short and long-sleeve options.
  • Casual Dresses: Some days, you'll want to change up jeans for a dress, so be sure you pack a few dresses that are comfortable and easy to care for without a whole lot of effort.
  • Assorted Jeans: There's no question that jeans are a wardrobe staple and come in various styles. Be sure to pack a few pairs in different types. You don't have to bring everything, but bring enough so that you don't have to do laundry every two days.
  • Skirts: Again, this will depend on how often you wear dresses, but they can be very versatile.
  • Shorts: Again, this depends on your climate. If you're in a warmer state, you can wear shorts year-round. If you're on the East Coast, it probably won't make sense to pack 20 pairs of shorts if you will only wear them for a few weeks in the fall.
  • Light Jacket: A women's lightweight jacket is perfect for a chilly fall day in-between classes.
  • Sweaters: Cozy women's sweater are perfect for chilly classrooms and colder days when you don't need a coat.
  • Plenty of Undergarments: You want an ample supply of underwear for a variety of reasons. One includes waiting too long to do laundry. Secondly, again depending on your climate, you may need longer, heavier undergarments to endure the cold temps.
  • Backpack: This is not technically a clothing item, but it will be a part of your wardrobe. Books are heavy, so be sure you have a sturdy backpack to hold them and protect them from weather elements.


When it comes to laundry, most students dread the idea of waiting for a washer, the actual washing, and folding their clothes. While we can agree that doing laundry isn't the most thrilling activity to do, it's a necessary one. Be sure to invest in a sturdy clothes hamper with a lid.

Purchase a good detergent, as it pays off when your clothes last much longer than they would've had you used a harsher formula. Take a look at the other items listed below:

  • Laundry hamper and/or bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover stick
  • Iron or steamer
  • Ironing board
  • Starch
  • Lint brush

Toiletries and Bathroom Supplies

If you're fortunate enough to have a private bathroom in your dorm, congratulations. However, for the majority of college students, they will enjoy the oh-so-wonderful communal bathroom experience. In most scenarios, the bathroom and showers are down the hall from your room, so you want to be sure to have these essentials in your toiletry and bathroom arsenal:

  • A shower caddy to carry personal hygiene items to the bathroom
  • A pair of slippers for trips to the bathroom, shower, or just lounging in your room.
  • Shower shoes to prevent fungal infections
  • Several kinds of bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Toilet Paper
  • Cleaning Products

Dorm Appliances, Electronics, and Accessories

No matter your course load, you will need a functioning laptop or desktop computer. If you don't have one, though, no worries: most colleges have computer labs scattered throughout the campus. If possible, consider grabbing yourself some noise-canceling headphones. Whether you want to listen to music while you study or block out your roommate's snoring, trust us, you'll be glad you have them. Lastly, while it's not a must-have, a smartphone provides a great resource to students, and not just for texting and social media.

These days, college administrators and staff send essential messages when they need to reach students immediately. You don't want to be out of the loop when news and updates are happening. Lastly, consider entertainment devices, like a television and a streaming device like a Fire TV Stick to stream your favorite shows. If you want to get fancy, go ahead and bring Alexa along, too, so that you can access your favorite music and stay organized. Also, make sure to bring along all of the chargers that you'll need, including the ones for your laptop and cell phone.

Most Important School Supplies

College is fun, for sure, but you are there to do work. The truth is managing a full course load, plus extracurricular activities, and possibly a part-time job will sometimes be stressful. So, you must implement a top-notch organization system. Keep up with assignments, exams, and other important dates with these suggested supplies.

  • Planner (Notebook or electronic)
  • Wall calendar
  • Notebooks
  • Memory cards and USB flash drives
  • Stapler and staples
  • Pens and pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Folder with pockets
  • 3 × 5 index cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Paper clips and binder clips
  • Highlighter pens (multiple colors)
  • Stackable desk trays (at least 4)

Extras That Make College Better

Now that we've covered your core basics, let's dive into some nice-to-haves. Depending on the college you attend, you will be provided with standard dorm furniture that consists of a bed, desk, and small wardrobe closet. Here are a few extras that will definitely add to your room's "homey" feel.

  • Dorm Room Rugs: Add some color to drab carpeting with fun dorm rugs. Place one by your bed and maybe a welcome mat outside your dorm door.
  • Add Some Light: We've already mentioned adding a desk lamp to your list, but you may want to consider adding a floor lamp for additional light. If you don't want to bring a floor lamp, try using Christmas lights to add another cool element to your side of your dorm room.
  • A Comfortable Chair: There is nothing like being in a study zone and having to stop because you can't seem to get comfortable. If possible, bring an ergonomic or another comfortable chair to help you stay focused. And add a cozy throw blanket for days when you just want to wind down and relax. 
  • Clothing Storage Bins: Okay, okay, if you decide you can't decide what to bring and end up bringing your entire wardrobe, invest in storage bins or seagrass baskets. Label each bin with a season, so you'll stay organized and can place the unused containers neatly against a wall.
  • Tea Machine: We mentioned a coffee maker earlier, but if you're not into coffee, go ahead and grab yourself a few boxes of your favorite tea.
  • Room Décor: Every room needs a little personality. Don't forget to bring picture frames, posters, and other trinkets that remind you of home. If allowed, see if you can add peelable wallpaper to the walls to give your room an HGTV-worthy makeover.

Embrace The Space

Yes, your dorm room will probably be smaller than your room back home. If you know who your roommate will be, see if you can coordinate on larger items like refrigerators and microwaves, so you don't end up having a room with two of every appliance. Be sure to make your stuff doesn't spill over into your roommate's area either; by using proper storage, packing what you need, and staying organized, you should be well on your way to a comfortable dorm room life.

Your college years will be some of the best years of your life. Enjoy every minute.


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