You are currently viewing What to Bring to College: The Ultimate Checklist for Students

What to Bring to College: The Ultimate Checklist for Students

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:July 6, 2024

What to Bring to College: The Ultimate Checklist for Students

Moving to college is an exciting milestone for all of us, but knowing what to bring to college can be daunting.

It will not surprise you that you might forget to bring a few key items from home during the moment’s rush. Packing wisely ensures you have everything for a comfortable and successful academic year. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you pack like a pro.

Key Takeaways

Essentials for Dorm Life

Dorm Room Basics

Your dorm room will be your new home for a while, so making it comfortable and functional is crucial. Start with the basics to make it feel homey, make it yours:

  • Bedding: Ensure you bring twin XL sheets, a comfortable pillow, and cozy blankets. Adding a mattress topper can make a significant difference in comfort.
  • Storage Solutions: Utilizing under-bed storage boxes and closet organizers to maximize space and keep the mess out of sight. For more ideas, check out these space-saving products for small apartments or dorms.
  • Furniture: A desk lamp, a small table, and a comfy chair are essential for creating a productive study environment.

Personal Care Items

How many times before, while traveling, did you end up at the nearest gas station to get a toothbrush or an aspirin for a headache? Maintaining your personal hygiene and health is vital. Don’t forget to pack:

  • Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
  • Health Essentials: A first-aid kit, prescription medications (do not forget to ask your doctor for refills for at least 90 days with one refill if possible, and medication is not a controlled substance), and over-the-counter remedies for common ailments.
  • Comfort Items: Personal items like a favorite blanket or photos from home can make your dorm feel more welcoming.

Kitchen Supplies

Be prepared, and do not end up having to eat your soup directly from the can or the cereal straight from the box. Even if you have a meal plan, some kitchen items are indispensable:

  • Basic Utensils: Bring a few plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery.
  • Small Appliances: A microwave and mini-fridge can be life savers for quick meals and snacks.
  • Food Storage: Keep your food organized with containers and ziplock bags (you may also label these to avoid confusion with your roommate’s similar foods).

Academic Essentials

Study Supplies

Even if you are a techie, there is no better way to stay up-to-date and organized than keeping pen and paper notes and a binder with a calendar with deadlines as the cover of a binder where you keep reviews and study materials. Being prepared for classes is crucial for academic success. Make sure you have:

  • Notebooks and Binders: Keep your notes organized for each class.
  • Writing Tools: Stock up on pens, pencils, highlighters, and erasers.
  • Tech Gear: Your laptop, chargers, and an external backup hard drive are must-haves.

Organizational Tools

Staying organized can reduce stress and improve productivity:

  • Planner or Calendar: Track assignments, exams, and social events.
  • Sticky Notes and Index Cards: These are useful for reminders and study aids.
  • Whiteboard and Markers: Perfect for brainstorming and planning (ideal in a group study session or explaining a concept to a roommate).

Course Materials

Each course might require specific materials:

  • Textbooks and E-books: Purchase or rent required reading materials. Nowadays, it is easy to find students selling materials from their previous years on social media and school forums.
  • Software Subscriptions: Ensure you have any necessary software for your courses.
  • Class-Specific Supplies: You might need lab coats, art supplies, or calculators. Check your class syllabus, as it may provide information about special things you might need.

For more ideas on essential items, check out this ultimate dorm room checklist.

Clothing and Accessories

Seasonal Clothing

Depending on where your college is located, check the previous year’s weather report. Find out if you may expect recurrent rain or snow or if you will now live in Scorching Street within Hell City limits. Packing the right clothes for each season ensures you’re comfortable throughout the year:

  • Summer: Pack light and breathable clothes like t-shirts, shorts, and sandals.
  • Winter: Don’t forget a heavy coat, boots, gloves, and scarves for the colder months.
  • All Seasons: Essential items like jeans, sweaters, and versatile shoes should be part of your wardrobe.


These small items can make a big difference. Bringing some of these items will save you a trip to the mall on the tightest of schedules:

  • Jewelry and Watches: Bring your favorite pieces to accessorize your outfits.
  • Hats and Scarves: Useful for both style and function.
  • Belts and Ties: Essential for both casual and formal occasions.

Entertainment and Recreation

Personal Entertainment

Make sure you have ways to relax and unwind. This will save you a fortune going out looking for something to do:

  • Books and Magazines: Bring a few of your favorite oldies, like a Tolkien boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for leisure reading.
  • Music Devices: Headphones and portable speakers are great for enjoying your music or having a get-together with a friend for good background music.
  • Hobby Supplies: Whether it’s art materials, a musical instrument, or sports equipment, bring items you enjoy.

Social Items

If you love card games or board games like UNO and Dungeons & Dragons, or you are a poker player, do not forget to bring these. These can help you connect with new friends:

  • Board Games and Cards: Great for group activities in the dorm.
  • Portable Speakers: Ideal for impromptu gatherings or study sessions.
  • Picnic Blanket: Perfect for outdoor events and relaxation.

Miscellaneous Items

Safety and Security

Keeping your belongings safe is crucial:

  • Lockbox or Safe: Store valuables and important documents securely.
  • Surge Protectors: Protect your electronics from power surges.
  • Emergency Contact List: Keep a list of important phone numbers and contacts. I will leave her an Emergency Phone Numbers and Contacts PDF for you to use.


Plan ahead of time. If you know where you will be living, check the surrounding area to see if there are essential places within walking distance, like restaurants and supermarkets.

Also, if there are any public transportation routes available near your new place or if the student’s affairs office may have designed scheduled charters or bus rides to areas like supermarkets areas or malls.

Depending on your campus, different transportation options might be useful:

  • Bike and Lock: A convenient and eco-friendly way to get around.
  • Skateboard or Scooter: Fun and efficient for short distances.
  • Car Essentials: If you bring a car, include jumper cables and a tire inflator.


What are the most important things to bring to college?

The most important things to bring include bedding, personal care items, study supplies, seasonal clothing, and some personal entertainment items. Essentials like laptops, chargers, and basic kitchen supplies are also crucial.

How should I pack for college?

Packing for college should be strategic. Make a list or use our list to avoid forgetting essentials. Use storage solutions like under-bed boxes and closet organizers. Pack seasonal clothes and only bring what you need. Label your boxes and create a checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything.

What should I NOT bring to college?

Avoid bringing large furniture, excessive decorations, and anything prohibited by your dorm rules (like candles or certain cooking appliances). Do not bring a pet unless you are sure it is allowed and also that you have completed any required paperwork or steps. Also, try not to overpack clothing or unnecessary gadgets.