College Packing List

Here’s a tip about moving to college that seemingly no one will tell you.

It’s not that complicated

So many college packing lists out there are full of “just-in-cases” that just make the entire thing overwhelming.

In this college packing list, we will list the essentials that you need to bring with you to college as well as tips that will help you be the most confidently packed kid on campus.

Let’s start with the tips.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Your college packing list will vary depending on the university you attend and the housing you choose. So don’t be afraid to ask others what items they wish they would have brought and what was better off staying home! Contact your college and roommates with any questions you have.

What to ask your college

You’ll likely find information on your dorm or off-campus housing online, but you may still have questions. Before you decide what to pack when moving to college, ask your housing manager these questions:

  • Are the rooms furnished?
  • Are mattresses provided, and if so, what size is it (twin, extra-long, full, etc.)?
  • What is the size of the room and closet?
  • Are rugs and window coverings allowed?
  • What items are restricted?
  • Does the housing complex have laundry facilities?

What to ask your roommates

While talking to your university can resolve general housing questions, reaching out to your roommates will help you figure out the details. You can determine what items to share and how you want to furnish the apartment if it doesn’t come with furniture. It’s also a good idea to get to know them a bit before you move in. You may want to ask your roommates:

  • What are your likes and dislikes?
  • Do you have any allergies I need to be aware of?
  • What items are you bringing?
  • If I bring _____ to share, will you bring _____?

Ironing boards, coffee makers, shower caddies, and mini-fridges are some examples of things you don’t want to end up with multiples of taking up space.

Moving to College Resources

Assemble your college packing list

Once you have a better idea of what your dorm and roommates are providing, you can create a personalized college packing list. It’s important to pack light because dorm rooms are small, and you can’t take your entire room at your parent’s house with you. No one wants a cluttered room.

Track your activities for a month and take note of every item you use. This will help you see which belongings are necessary. The following sections should only give you ideas because you may not need each of the items listed.


University life keeps you busy, so having a comfortable bed is a must. Take bedding that’ll keep you comfy and warm, but will also show off your personal style!

  • Mattress cover
  • Sheets
  • Pillow and pillowcase
  • Comforter or duvet
  • Throw blanket


Clothes are a great form of self-expression, but your dorm closet will fill up fast. Bring your favorites for the season and the necessities. This includes everyday wear, dress clothes (for interviews and dates), loungewear, and athletic attire.

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Shirts/blouses
  • Pants/jeans
  • Pajamas
  • Sweaters
  • Jacket
  • Hat, scarf, gloves
  • Comfortable shoes
  • A professional outfit for presentations
  • Swimsuit

Kitchen supplies

If you’re using your college meal plan to cover food every day, you won’t need much in terms of kitchen supplies. However, eating in your dorm or apartment will require a few more items.

  • Cups
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Utensils
  • Microwave-safe containers
  • Can opener


Living on campus means that you’ll likely have a communal bathroom. Make sure you have everything you need to keep squeaky clean and healthy!

  • Towel
  • Shower shoes (flip flops)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body and face soap
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Lotion/moisturizer
  • Hair styling products
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Nail clippers
  • Cotton swabs
  • First aid kit

Cleaning Supplies

It’s time to put all those years of cleaning your room to use! Except for this time, you’ll be doing more than just picking your clothes up off the floor. With basic cleaning supplies, you’ll keep your dorm room tidy, free of germs, and an effective place to study.

  • Dish soap
  • Dish sponge or brush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer balls or sheets
  • Laundry basket or bag
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Small trash can
  • Small vacuum


No college packing list is complete without your electronics. You’ll do a lot of your homework from a computer, so you’ll need to keep everything charged and safe.

  • Laptop and charger (there are plenty of printers on campus)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Headphones
  • Portable charger
  • Surge protector

School supplies

When you aren’t doing schoolwork on your laptop, choose office supplies that will help you stay organized. Consider the classes you’re taking because some majors require different supplies.

Also, know yourself as a student. In my college days, all I ever used was a pen, paper, and my laptop. For math classes, I would have a pencil, a calculator, and maybe graphing paper.

  • Backpack
  • Textbooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Binder and loose-leaf paper
  • Sticky notes
  • Highlighter
  • Stapler and staples
  • Index cards
  • Scissors
  • Tape


One of the best parts of living away from your parents is decorating however you want! Make your room a refuge where you can relax at the end of the day.

  • Area rug
  • Pictures from home
  • Posters
  • Picture hangers (thumbtacks, double-sided tape, washi tape, etc.)

Important documents

You may need personal documents while you’re away at school, so create a file of those documents and keep them safe.

  • Debit and/or credit card
  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance cards
  • Financial aid documents


After you keep track of the items you use regularly, there’s bound to be some random odds-and-ends.

  • Umbrella
  • Sewing kit
  • Pain reliever and other medications
  • Bicycle, helmet, and bike lock (for quick travel around campus)

Get started early

To save yourself the stress of packing a few days before you head off to college, it’s important to start early. Compile your college packing list early in the summer, and start gathering items a few weeks before you move. You may even decide to buy certain items once you get to school. As you pack, keep everything in the same spot in your room so you don’t forget anything.

Your college packing list makes a huge difference

It sounds tedious taking the time to compile a college packing list, but you’ll be grateful you did! Moving out of your parent’s home and into a dorm room is full of uncertainty, and a packing list will at least remove one of your stressors. Once you have your belongings packed, you’re ready to rock your first semester as a college student! What’s on your list of college essentials? Tell us in the comments!

Not what you were looking for?

Check out other categories that can help you find the information you need!

See All
Hide All