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What to Bring to College: Your Dorm Room Checklist


Living away from home for the first time ever is challenging. It means meeting new people, sharing a room with strangers, and – yes – even doing your own laundry (sorry, can’t escape that one!). With this in mind, college freshman need to be extra prepared for moving into a college dorm room. After all, the more prepared you are, the less stress you’ll feel during the move-in process.

Keep in mind, college dorm rooms are generally teeny tiny. Some come outfitted with only a bed and desk. Many college dorms also require residents to share a large bathroom with the students living in their hallway. If this is the case, freshman will need to bring a few extra bathroom supplies. Those sharing a kitchenette with roommates will want to bring supplies and tools for cooking as well. Before packing, all students should double-check their university’s housing department’s policy on prohibited and hazardous dorm room items.

Overall, those moving into a college dorm room should focus on bringing small items that can easily be folded and stored away under a bed or on a shelf. Given the size of a college dorm room, there won’t be much space for storing unnecessary items. Unless you’re able to rent a storage unit during the year, you’ll need to make some compromises when packing up belongings. Be sure to check with your new roommate on the list of dorm room needs.

By bringing the right items with you, you’ll get a good start on the school year without worrying about buying or returning items. But don’t fret! Here are some helpful tips and list that you need before you move in to your college dorm.


What to Bring to College: Your Dorm Room Checklist

Before even packing your clothes, make sure you’ve done your research on your school’s location - your wardrobe choices will heavily depend on this! Also think about what activities you plan to do for an entire semester. But always consider the fact that college can be a stressful environment, and there’s nothing else you’d rather be in than comfortable clothing.

You may also check your school’s website or ask an adviser to see what clothing requirements your major has because they may also require specific types of clothing.

For instance, students in the science department may be required to wear close-toed shoes on lab days and business students may need a nice suit for presentations.

  • Comfortable clothes (Jeans, T-shirts, Tank tops) and shoes (Sneakers, Tennis shoes, close-toed shoes)
  • Semi-formal and business attire
  • Work-out clothes and shoes
  • Bathing suit
  • Light jacket, Heavy coat
  • Slippers

Dorm Room Essentials

What to Bring to College: Your Dorm Room Checklist

Aside from personal needs such as clothing, you will also be needing stuff for your dorm room. But before packing, make sure you know how big your room is and what it comes with. This will give you an idea of what to pack and how to pack your dorm room essentials.

  • Toiletries

While most universities do have a communal bathroom, not all do. Check with your university to find out what your bathroom situation will be. If you will be using a communal bathroom, pack accordingly by bringing shoes you can wear to/from (and in) the shower, a shower caddy with ample room, and a robe to wear to and from the shower.

Bring towels and washcloths. Pack at least three of each so you will have clean ones to use without having to do laundry constantly.  Ensure you bring all the toiletries you use on a daily basis, like shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer, razors, shaving cream, and so on.

  • Laundry supplies

You will be responsible for washing all your clothes and linens at college, so you’ll need the appropriate supplies.

Pack laundry detergent, fabric softener, and stain remover. Look for smaller-sized jugs of laundry detergent and consider using dryer sheets instead of fabric softener.

Bring a drying rack for any clothes that can’t be put in the dryer. Get a rack that folds up so you can store it easily between uses.

Bring hangers for your wardrobe. While your university will probably provide a place to hang up clothes, you’ll need to bring your own hangers.

  • Bed essentials

Find out the dimensions of the beds in your dormitory before buying sheets. This information should be available on your university’s website or in your orientation documents. Many schools have extra-long twin beds.

Be sure to bring at least two sets of sheets so you have a backup when one is dirty.

You may also want to bring a mattress pad for your bed, as university beds are not always super comfortable.

Also, remember to bring the rest of your bedding, like blankets, pillows, and a comforter.

  • Snacks

You’ll need to keep a few snacks in your room for in between meals even you’ll most likely be eating most of your meals in the cafeteria.

Bring cookies, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix that you can store in small bins.

You can also bring drinks for your mini-fridge, like water, soda, and juice, as well as items like string cheese and yogurt that don’t require any preparation.

You’ll likely have access to a microwave so bring items like popcorn, Easy Mac, soup, and premade dinners.  

  • Check out school’s recommendations. 

Most universities have a list of items they recommend students bring to their dorm rooms, as well as a list of restricted items. This information should be available on the school’s website or in your orientation or housing documents.

Generally, schools do not allow students to have candles, halogen lamps, or certain electronic appliances, like space heaters or toaster ovens, because they can pose a fire hazard.

Pack items to help you stay organized in a small space. Dorm rooms are known for being tiny. Therefore, to be able to fit everything you need into yours, you’ll likely need some items that are designed for maximizing storage in small spaces.

Bed lifts are great for maximizing space. Depending how much extra room you need, you can find lifts that raise your bed a few inches to a few feet.

Under-the-bed boxes are helpful for storing items you don’t use on a daily basis, like supplies for hobbies, extra shoes, or snack food.

  • Comforter/bedspread
  • Pillows
  • Bed linens (be sure you know what size the bed is!)
  • Clothing hangers
  • Laundry hamper
  • Iron
  • Foldable ironing board
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softeners
  • Drying rack for clothes that can’t be put in the dryer
  • Soap and/or body wash
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Robe
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies
  • Tissues
  • Toiletries (Moisturizer, Deodorant, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss)
  • Coffee pot
  • Tea kettle for boiling water
  • Instant coffee
  • Creamer
  • Ramen
  • Canned foods
  • Bottled water or water filter
  • Snacks
  • Paper towels
  • Frying pan
  • Utensils
  • Plates and bowls
  • Cups and mugs

School Needs and Supplies

What to Bring to College: Your Dorm Room Checklist

Starting a new semester won’t feel complete without your school supplies. But remember, in college, you won’t be needing a lot of it.

  • Stationery and writing supplies

You’ll at least want to make sure you bring a planner, calculator, binders, notebooks, post-it notes, paper clips,  folders, flash drive, and lots of pens and highlighters.

  • Study aids

Study aids will help you focus and most likely help you to perform well in your classes. While these can be different for every person, there are a few general aids that will help you be successful.

Laptop “feet” raise the bottom of your laptop so that it is in a more comfortable position to work.

An extension cord will give you the freedom to work anywhere in your room that you feel comfortable.

Just in case your roommate is not on your schedule, it is a good idea to bring a small reading light so you can continue studying while they are sleeping.

  • Electronics

While you may have any number of small electronic gadgets, in general, you’ll want to make sure you have the following:

Laptop computer. When searching for a laptop, make sure it has all the capabilities you’ll need to complete your work, including the right operating system, enough storage, and the appropriate inputs.

Portable speakers are another common electronic college students should have. This will allow you to play music or re-play a lecture. Remember to bring headphones too so you can do this without disturbing your roommate.

Make sure you bring your cellphone as well. You’ll need to keep in touch with friends, family, and your classmates.

Also bring extension cords, surge protectors, and 3-2 prong adapters. This will give you the versatility to work from wherever you’re most comfortable.

Check with your college to figure out if your room is equipped with wireless internet and if there are on-campus printers you can use. If not, be sure to bring an Ethernet cable and a printer.

  • Obtain a list of required supplies for your major. 

You should be able to find a list of any special requirements for your major on your university’s website. If not, try contacting your adviser to find out any special items you might need.

For example, those studying Fine Arts will likely need a case for art supplies and their own sketch pads while Journalism majors might need a voice recorder or AP Style guide.

In addition, review your class list and course descriptions to see if you need any special materials, like a certain software program or specialized calculator.

Emergency Essentials

What to Bring to College: Your Dorm Room Checklist

Students sometimes tend to experience illnesses and accidents. As they say, prevention is better than cure. 

  • First aid kit

Since you may not have easy access to transportation or a pharmacy within walking distance, bring a small first aid kit so you can take care of any minor medical emergencies that crop up.

Band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, and Neosporin for minor cuts and scrapes are needed. Bring cold and flu medicine, pain medicine, cough drops, and vitamin C to treat common colds or sore throats. Pack also medicines for upset stomachs.

  • Tool kit

Keeping a few basic tools around can be helpful as well. Although you won’t be allowed to put nail or screw holes in the wall, you may need these for other quick fixes, like a loose screw in your desk chair.

Hammer, a pair of pliers and a few nails should be in your kit. Bring a small screwdriver with several different types of heads.

  • Sewing kit

You may run into wardrobe malfunctions while you’re at school that can’t wait until you go home for break. Bringing a basic sewing kit will help you fix these in a pinch.

Bring a few neutral-colored spools of thread such as black and white. Sewing needles in several different sizes are also needed and throw in a few pins to keep whatever you’re sewing in place.

Accomodation Guide

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