What to Bring to College: An Ultimate Packing List of Everything You Really Need
College bound girls! Ready to rock move-in day?
Prepping for freshman move-in day is exciting and in all the excitement you may forget to pack a few things. That’s why I put together this ultimate college packing list of everything you really need to bring.
On the other end of the spectrum you may end up bringing TOO MUCH stuff. Too much, too little what things should you actually take to college?
It’s an important question to ask when going out on your own for the first time, and luckily I have it all figured out.
I have narrowed it down to exactly what things you need to take with you to college, so you can avoid over packing.
I’ve listed what I consider to be essential to college dorm living; as well as some things that are nice to have, but not essential. Plus, 8 things to avoid bringing to college.
Want the condensed version? Grab my free printable college packing checklist at the end of this post!
P.S. Did you know that college students can get 6 months FREE with Amazon Prime??
Everything you REALLY need to bring to college and none of the items that you don’t need.
First up on my ultimate college packing list are dorm specific things to get. These are all items that will be used in your dorm for sure and won’t be a waste of space.
Bathroom & Personal Care Items
- Robe – really nice to have when trekking to and from the showers or just lounging around in your dorm.
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Floss
- Eye Glasses
- Towels – bring a few so you always have a clean or dry one.
- Shower Caddy – this makes carrying everything you need to and from the bathroom super easy (one like this would be perfect).
- Shower Flip Flops – communal showers are NOT super clean. Avoid things like athlete’s foot and stepping in something gross by wearing shower shoes.
- Medicine – it’s always a plus to have Advil, Midol, Tylenol or cold medicine handy when sickness strikes. Bring prescriptions and inhalers, as well.
- Body Wash & Face Wash
- Makeup & Makeup Remover
- Nail Clippers
- Hair Products & Tools
- Bobby Pins & Hair Ties
- Razor & Shaving Cream
Dorm Room Items
- Pillows – bring as many as you need. Body pillows are nice, too.
- 2 Sets of Sheets & Pillowcases – if something gets spilled on your bed you wouldn’t be forced to clean your sheets ASAP.
- Laundry Basket
- Hangers – consider buying these WHEN you get to college, as they can take up a lot of space when packing.
- Desk or Standing Lamp – the lighting in a dorm room can be less than ideal. Change the feel of a room with lamps or string lights.
- Command Hooks – adds additional places to hang jackets, purses or keys. Great for maximizing minimal space in a dorm room.
- Plenty of Underwear & Bras – Bring enough so that you won’t need to do laundry super often.
- Jeans – 1 or 2 pairs will do.
- Leggings – if these are a staple in your wardrobe bring 2+ pairs, if not then one is enough.
- Shorts – one pair is enough for colder areas, more pairs may be needed for warmer places.
- T-Shirts, Tank Tops, Cardigans – don’t go over board here, just bring enough for a week or two worth of outfit rotations.
- Exercise Clothing
- 1 Nice Formal Outfit – if you have an event to attend this will be needed. I suggest something black as it can be worn to any event.
- Swim Suit
- Light Jacket
- Waterproof Jacket
- Sweatpants/Yoga Pants – these will be worn often. ?
- Shoes – Take one a pair of each (or less): casual, formal, sneakers, boots, flats, heels, sandals/flip flops.
Also Read: How to Dress Well in College on a Budget
With cleaning supplies, you may be better off buying them once you’re at college. It’ll save you some space when packing.
- Laundry Detergent
- Dryer Sheets/Dryer Balls
- Paper Towels – there will be spills, be prepared!
- Small Broom & Dustpan
- Disinfecting Wipes – do your best to ward off sickness by wiping down doorknobs, desks, etc.
- Small Trash Bags – plastic shopping bags work well and they don’t cost anything extra.
- Laptop, Charger & Case
- Mouse – I prefer to use a mouse instead of the touch-pad on a laptop.
- Phone Charger
- Power Strip/Surge Protector
School Related Things
- Backpack – make sure you have one that is big enough to carry everything you want to take to class.
- Planner – this will help a lot with school! It can be a physical planner or an app, but make it a priority to keep track of your schedule, when assignments are due, etc.
Check out the best CHEAP planners for college students here.
- Calculator – alternatively there are apps you can use on your phone. However, phones are usually not allowed during testing.
- Sticky Notes
- Paper Clips
- Birth Certificate
- Drivers License
- Student ID
- Social Security Card
- Checks – some bills can’t be paid in cash or with a card. Plus, if you need to set up direct deposit, checks have the routing and bank account numbers.
- Banking Information
- Car Registration & Insurance – make sure this is up to date!
- Medical & Dental Insurance Cards
- Kleenex – the flu & other sicknesses always seem to make their way around to everyone.
- Suitcase/Trunk – eventually you’ll make some trips back home and a trunk can double as storage.
- Brita Filter Pitcher – it’s SO much more convenient to have drinking water in your room, instead of having to venture out for some.
- Mug/Cup – use this for coffee, cocoa, tea and other drinks you have in your dorm.
- Water Bottle – hydration is important, take a water bottle with you everywhere.
These are items on my list of what to bring to college which are nice to have, but are totally optional! They can make a dorm room more comfortable or make your life a little easier.
Bathroom & Personal Care Items
- Sunscreen – you’ll probably be spending a lot of time indoors, wait to buy this until you need it during warmer months.
- Makeup Mirror – really convenient to have in your dorm room VS hovering over a bathroom mirror. Getting a makeup mirror like this made SUCH a difference in my routine.
Dorm Room Items
- Full Length Mirror – I like to see my full outfit in front of a mirror and bathroom mirrors just don’t cut it.
- Black Out Curtains – these make sleeping in much easier, use with caution if you have early morning classes.
- Mattress Topper – this will make your bed so much comfier! This is one of the best ones.
- Throw Blanket – easy to grab when watching a night sporting event or having a picnic outside.
- Shoe Organizer/Over the Door Storage – if you are bringing quite a few pairs of shoes, then I HIGHLY suggest getting one of these. Even if you don’t, dorms are small and all the pockets will help you maximize your living space.
- Under the Bed Storage – back to what I was saying above, you may be surprised at how limited the space is! Create more room for your stuff by utilizing the area under your bed.
- Drawer Organizers – be SUPER organized with these.
- Storage Ottoman – more storage = better!
- Dry Erase/Cork Board
- Rug – talk to your roommate before buying as they may already have one.
- Lock Box – you can keep your important documents or other items in here.
- Coffeemaker – soooo much cheaper than going out for coffee and no need to go the cafeteria first thing in the morning.
- Snack Food – you may have a meal plan but it’s nice to have something when a snacking mood strikes.
- Wall Calendar
Also Read: The Best List of Healthy Dorm Snack Ideas
- Air Freshener – dorms can get smelly when the laundry piles up and just in general.
- Windex – you really will only have one window (if that), so you can coordinate with your roommate before buying this.
- Printer & Ink – there is always somewhere you can print around campus, however if you already own a printer it is nice to able to print in your room.
School Related Items
- Scissors – depending on your major you may or may not use these very often.
- White Out – nice to have when you spot an error at the last minute.
- Desk Organizer – an organized room will feel bigger than a messy one. Your desk can be organized without one, but a desk organizer is helpful.
- Umbrella – this may end up being more of an essential item if you are going to college in a rainy city. Either way, an umbrella is nice to have when it pours.
- Weekender Bag – use a bag like this for those spontaneous weekend trips to the beach and other fun places.
- Sleeping Bag – this goes hand in hand with a weekender bag. Great to have when camping, crashing at a friends place or sleeping in your car.
- Ear Plugs – a dorm floor can be a noisy place; ear plugs can come in handy when trying to fall asleep or when just trying to focus on studying.
- Board Games – bring a couple if your idea of fun is gathered around a game with friends. They aren’t that big which means they can fit into a small dorm room. Quelf is one my favs.
- Decorations & Push Pins/Sticky Tack – you can bring decorations & pictures from home to liven up the bare walls. Or you can give yourself one less thing to pack and buy them when you get to college. Avoid damaging the walls by using push pins or sticky tack.
And finally on this ultimate college packing list, here are the things that I would recommend not taking to college.
They won’t be used, are bulky or unnecessary.
Dorm Room Items
- Iron & Ironing Board – if you’re like me, you never iron your clothing anyway.
- Sewing Kit – the likely hood of actually needing to use this item is low. If a button does end up coming off, stores like Target have sewing kits for cheap.
- Plates/Bowls/Utensils – if you have a meal plan everything you need for eating will be in the cafeteria.
- Trash Can – a waste basket is typically already provided in a dorm room. If not, buy one at the dollar store when you get to campus. This is just one less bulky item to pack.
- Alarm Clock – it’s important to make it to class on time but buying an alarm clock would be superfluous as you can use your phone’s built-in alarms.
- Mini Fridge/Microwave – some dorms include these in the room or offer to let you rent one at a reasonable price. Some campuses don’t allow them, it would be a real bummer to bring one only to find out you can’t keep it there. If you are going to get a microwave or mini fridge, wait until you get there so you can weigh out your options.
- TV – with limited dorm space, a TV can make your small room feel cramped. Instead of bringing a TV, stream your favorite shows on your laptop, tablet or phone. You can even make a projector pretty easily.
- DVD Player – if you’re not bringing a TV to college then you can definitely leave a DVD player at home. Most laptops can play DVDs, as well.
That’s everything you should bring to college, consider bringing to college and completely avoid taking to college.
Now you don’t have to wonder just what to bring to college.
There are a lot of things to get and bring! It can be easy to let a few items slip your mind.
Use this printable college packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.
What are some things you wish you had or hadn’t brought to college?