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The Complete and Only College Packing Checklist You’ll Ever Need

college packing checklist

So you’ve been accepted to college? Congratulations! This is an exciting and overwhelming time.

One of your primary concerns is probably moving into your dorm room. 

Keep reading to get the complete and only college packing checklist you’ll need!

Research School Requirements and Recommendations

Before you start purchasing any of your new college items, your first step should be researching. You don’t want to end up with a suitcase of items that won’t be useful or that you aren’t allowed to have in your dorm room.

Check with your school to learn what items are not permitted. Then, read through their health and safety regulations to find out if permitted items come with stipulations. So, you might be allowed to have a microwave, but there could be size requirements.

You’ll also want to do some research on what essentials are recommended for your school and the new town.

If you’re going to school out of state, you’ll need to consider the weather you’ll experience. You may want to consider buying the items once you’re at school so you don’t have to fly or drive with too many things.

Also, think about reaching out to a current student about the must-haves that are specific to your school or dorms. This could end up saving you money on unnecessary items.

School and Academic Essentials

Your school and academic needs will include all the things that will help you succeed. If you’re going to school out of state luckily many of these can be purchased at your school’s bookstore, so you may be able to hold off until you arrive.

Also, you might be concerned about getting your textbooks, since this can be a costly expense. This is why we offer selections to rent or buy cheap textbooks!

To get you ready for class, you’ll need to get:

  • Laptop (you can likely get this through your school!) 
  • Backpack or shoulder bag
  • Pens, pencils and any writing utensils
  • Notecards, highlighters and sticky notes for studying
  • Desk organizer 

These are the essentials that will help you ensure you’ll be able to focus in class and get all your work done! 

Dorm Room Living

You might have the instinct to pack up your entire childhood bedroom and bring it to your dorm, but we want to make sure you’re packing the right stuff. 

Check out the list below for your dorm room must-haves to ensure everything you need!

  • Sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and blanket to make your dorm bed cozy
  • Mattress cover to protect your new mattress
  • Bed risers and under the bed organization containers to help free up space in your room
  • Three-drawer storage on wheels for any paperwork or miscellaneous items
  • Power strip
  • Desk lamp and desk fan
  • Laundry bag to easily carry your laundry to the washer and dryer area
  • Clothing hangers 

The above list will prepare you for dorm room living and help you keep your new space organized! You can also add on any fun items to make your room special, like photo frames, area rugs, posters, twinkle lights, etc. You’ll also want to purchase thumbtacks and wall putty. 

Bathroom and Toiletries

Your next essential list will be your toiletries since you really can’t go without these items. Think about all the things you use every day and consider buying a few extras to keep with you in case of shopping in your new college town is difficult for you. 

If you have a communal bathroom, you’ll definitely need this survival checklist below:

  • Shower caddy which can either be plastic or washable
  • Shower flip flops since you want to keep yourself clean from others’ germs
  • Bath product essentials, like soap, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, razors, etc.
  • Towels, including a face towel and multiple large bath towels so you don’t have to do your laundry more than necessary 

Also, consider the things you’ve been using that below to your parents or siblings, like a blow dryer or any other hair products. These are the things you’ll have to purchase for yourself to own. 


The clothing you bring will depend on your style and the climate you’ll be living in. But there are a few essentials that everyone can benefit from! 

  • Practical shoes, since you’ll be walking through your campus a lot and will want to be comfortable
  • Underwear and socks which you can really never pack too many 
  • Winter coat unless you’re in a year-round warm environment
  • One formal outfit unless you plan to be in Greek Life in which case you may need several
  • Clothes for your fitness center if you want to take advantage of working out on campus

Any additional clothing you bring should be based on your regular wardrobe. 

Roommate Purchases

There are many things you’ll want to buy for your dorm room that you’ll be sharing with your new roommate. Reach out to your new roommate to collaborate and agree on what items you want to share!

Keep reading for the things you should share with your future roommate so you don’t end up buying double the items:

  • Mini fridge 
  • Coffee maker or electric kettle if your school allows for it
  • Microwave, again, if your school allows
  • Cups, plates, bowls, and utensils for eating any meals in your dorm room

You can also collaborate on other items like umbrellas, bike locks, and anything else that you’re comfortable sharing! 

Shopping for Your College Packing Checklist is Easy 

By following the college packing checklist above, you can easily make sure you have everything you need for a great college experience!

Break down the categories as listed above when going to the store and make sure to follow your college’s requirements, so that you’ll have all your college essentials. 

Click here to read more from our blog for all your college needs! 

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.