Packing for college can be a long stressful process. Although looking around your room at home and deciding what to bring, what to buy and what to leave can seem overwhelming, the key is to take the big move one step at a time.
To help you make decisions along the way, we have provided a detailed list of essential items incoming college students need. The list is broken down into 10 categories to simplify the packing experience.
Each college or university may give students a specific list of items they are permitted to bring as well as items not allowed. Also, certain colleges will provide furniture such as a bed, desk, chair and dresser or closet. Pay particular attention to the furniture and storage sizes to avoid overpacking your dorm room.
1) Room Furnishings
Make your room comfortable as a place to study and hang out with friends.
Desk lamp and bulb
Wall decorations (posters, white boards, photographs)
2) Laundry and Cleaning Supplies
Keeping your belongings clean can help you focus and relax in your room.
Laundry bag or basket
Laundry detergent, dryer sheets and stain remover
Quarters for washers and dryers
Clothes drying rack
Iron and mini ironing board
Non-abrasive cleaning supplies
3) Clothing and Accessories
If you live in a state with a steady climate year round, you may need to prepare for all four seasons depending on where your college is located.
Everyday footwear and dress shoes
Shower shoes (flip-flops)
Light and heavy jackets, and a raincoat
Hat, gloves and scarf
A set of business-casual clothes
A set of formal clothes for special events
Exercise and sports clothing
Pajamas and a robe
Sometimes you just need a snack or quick meal in your room instead of going to the cafeteria. Here are a few suggestions for easily stored and prepared foods and useful kitchen supplies:
Coffee, tea and hot chocolate
Granola and protein bars
Macaroni and cheese
Plates, cups and silverware
Electric hot water pot
5) Bed and Bath
Check your bed and bathroom setup so you can pack specifically for your needs.
Bed sheets (Be sure to take note of the mattress size.)
6) Personal Items
Taking care of yourself marks the beginning of a successful college experience.
Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Medical insurance information
As you know, electronic devices are useful for coursework and entertainment.
Printer, printer paper and ink
Extension cord/power strip (UL approved)
Laptop and charger
Hard drive and flash drive
8) Classroom Supplies
Going back to school would not be the same without stocking up on basic classroom supplies to ensure you begin college on the right note.
Notebooks, note cards
Writing utensils (pencils and erasers, pens, markers, highlighters, permanent marker)
Mini stapler and staples
These are items you will need in certain situations:
Medical insurance information
Sunglasses and umbrella
10) Optional Items
Finally, these are extra items you might want or need:
Small refrigerator (keeping in mind any size requirements)
Use this list to effectively pack dorm room and college-life essentials. There is no need to stress about the packing process if you are following a detailed list to remind you of any items you may need.
Remember to double-check your college's guidelines for what you can bring—or not—and do not be afraid to ask your admissions counselor for the top items every student takes to college.
Sarah Cushing works in the Office of Marketing at the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
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