One of the hardest things in my transition to college was shopping/packing. I was going into the world by myself for the first time ever. What should I have brought? Or not brought?
The first website that comes up when googling "college packing list" is this one. This list hits a lot of areas, but I find some of the items unnecessary. I'm going to do an evaluation based on my personal freshman experience. For my freshman year I stayed in the on-campus dorms.
Now for the gigantic list!
Most definitely! I think these are even required at most dorms to protect the mattresses and provide comfort.
These are very handy to have but not necessarily needed. I liked them for extra warmth on winter nights when our heater didn't kick on and for bringing over to friend's rooms on movie nights.
Many people claim this is a must. I personally don't have one because I don't mind the way my mattress feels, but I also wouldn't object to getting one! They can be a little pricey which is why I didn't buy one to only use for a year, but if you have the resources then awesome!
Yep. Why wouldn't you? Just don't forget to throw in with your laundry every once in awhile!
Yep. Don't even need to buy. Just took mine from home!
Meh. I didn't need this one. Might be useful if you have a guest from out of town staying over, but then again you could always tell them to bring their own. I do not need a sleeping bag in my dorm.
Under the Bed Storage
Very useful! Most dorm rooms don't come enough storage for all your stuff! I found two storage boxes to be just right for my needs.
*I bought a bedding package that came with a blanket, comforter, sheets, pillow cases, and a hamper. I found it very nice because I didn't have twin extra long bedding.
I feel laptops are the most common "computer" that college students have. A few might bring actual PCs to college but I don't think that's necessary. Even an inexpensive laptop will get done what you need to get done. Computers are a must where I go because just about all of our coursework is done online. Plus laptops are portable.
Any kind of cable that is necessary for your electronic items. I have a laptop charger cable but that's the only cable I have. If you don't have wifi in your dorm then bring an internet cable or a wifi router thingamajig.
These are useful if you want to watch movies or play video games without disturbing your roommate. Or, if they're being really loud an obnoxious you can use them to help drown out their noisiness. Definitely a must-have.
Not needed unless you bring a full on PC.
This is helpful even with laptops. I have a wireless mouse to make clinking things easier. You can get by without one though.
No. My roommate bought a printer and ink with her. For as little as we need to print and as cheap as it is to print on campus I don't think this is needed. I used her printer a few times at the beginning of the year and when the ink ran out she wanted everyone who used it to give her $10 for a new ink cartridge. $10 on a print card will get you 142 printed pages anywhere else on campus. I don't use her printer any more!
No worth it.
After I stopped printing on a printer I still used some to make birthday cards and Christmas cards for people. Not truly necessary though.
This is extremely useful. Get a decent one though. Mine is faulty or something because whenever I turn on my Keurig pot it resets my alarm clock!
USB Flash Drive
This is useful if you don't want a printer. I don't actually have one myself but think at times life would be simpler if I did! It may also come in handy if you have to bring a presentation to class or something but I haven't needed to do that yet. There's also emailing yourself things. That works too.
I use a planner instead of a calendar because it has both monthly and daily planning pages. A calendar could make a nice wall decoration though and I love flipping the pages every month!
Not needed in my case. Our dorms came with desk chairs and we're forbidden to remove them from our rooms, so it's not even worth buying a more comfortable one because it just takes up space!
I don't have one of these but I suppose it could come in handy. My roommate isn't usually in our dorm until around midnight so I just keep the room light on. Having one would be polite if your roommate goes to bed early though. If you get one make sure it follows your dorm regulations. In our dorm they cannot have plastic shades.
Envelopes and Postage Stamps
These are nice if you ever need to send mail. The few times I did send mail though I made my own envelopes out of printer paper and bought stamps from the front desk. Definitely not a necessity but could come in handy. If bringing some just bring a few.
I brought an expandable folder with me, but the only things I've really put in it are coupons mailed to us by local restaurants and mail that people have sent me. I use it so little though that it stays in my under the bed storage. It would be more useful if I put class papers in but I use binders for that. It really depends on your organization style.
I didn't need glue once last semester. If you have an extra couple bucks maybe pick one up just in case, but I didn't need any.
I used two all semester and for just one class. If you bring some don't go crazy. Grab a couple from home and you should be good to go.
I don't need one. All my school pencils are mechanical and unfortunately I don't usually have time to use my art pencils.
Pens & Pencils
Needed, but don't go crazy. I bought some new ones and brought all the ones from my high school pencil bag. I only really need a few of each as backups.
These are a must-have for me. I use them to write weekly assignments down to stick to my desk shelf and for summarizing passages in my textbooks.
Never needed them.
Never needed this either.
I really needed these on move-in day to open boxes. After that I used them to open new things that I bought. I don't think I ever needed them for actual school but they're very handy to have.
Stapler and Staples
I needed these. Not super often, but I did. Need them.
I always managed to staples my papers in the upper left-hand corner. If you really think that's difficult just get a dinky $1 one. Not needed!
I used tape a few times. A couple when taping together wrapping paper made from book pages and at Christmas I used duct tape to tape up my roommates Christmas stocking because it kept falling down. Scotch tape is safe to have. Duct tape and other kinds of tape aren't really needed.
Three Hole Punch
I used this fairly frequently because I chose binders to organize my papers. Don't need to spend much.
My dorm provided one for each my roommate and I so I didn't need to buy one. Always check to see what your dorm provides before going shopping!
I used this once and it wasn't school related. It's also kind of expensive. If needed you can always phone a friend but I personally didn't need this. Most of our assignments were done digitally and you don't need white-out for that!
I brought one, but other than using it to see what time it is I don't use it. Since it's iffy (resets when I use my coffee maker) I set alarms on my phone instead. If you have one, bring it, but don't feel the need to buy one if you don't already use one.
Blank CDs & DVDs
I don't really know why these were on the list. Definitely not needed in my case.
I brought a white board. I don't use it though, and probably wouldn't use a bulletin board either. It could be nice for pinning up coupons or photos of friends, but I didn't do that last semester.
Cell Phone & Charger
Definitely. It's how I stay in contact with the outside world.
Corded Phone with Answering Machine
No, not in the age of cell phones!
Meh. I didn't bring any because I don't really have any DVDs of my favorite movies. Maybe if I did I would have brought them, but even then only a couple. I don't think I would have found time to watch DVDs. I could watch them on my computer because I wouldn't bring a TV and DVD player to college! I have a Netflix account so that does the job for me!
Possibly! I personally didn't need one because my surge protector was long enough to connect everything I needed together.
Definitely needed in college. However, my university provides it free to all their students so check with yours before buying.
I use one all the time when I workout at the gym or go for a walk.
If you have a bulletin board. Otherwise no.
I had no need for these. My computer has speakers and a DVD compartment so I didn't need any.
My roommate brought a TV but ended up bringing it home after a month. There's not a lot of time to watch movies and as long as your laptop has internet for Netflix or a DVD compartment you don't need a TV.
Video Game Consoles
I played Skyrim and Sims on my computer. I left other systems at home to help minimize distractions. If you don't think they'll be a disturbance feel free to bring them, but for many that would also require bringing a TV, so evaluate just how much you actually think you'll use it before hauling it all the way to college.
I didn't bring any but want to get a few for next semester. My walls were completely bare last semester and having something to put on them would make it a little more like home! Not needed but nice to have!
I'm not going to list all the foods from the check list. It's really dependent on the individual. I personally did not eat most of the foods on their checklist. Bring what you know you will eat and you'll be good to go!
I didn't need one of these. However, my roommate loves eating soup and other canned foods and uses one all the time. Depends on what you like to eat!
I wanted one of these a total of one time. I only kept chips in my dorm twice and none of the other foods I owned needed a clip. I didn't find these necessary, but it depends on what foods you want to eat. Stale chips aren't cool, but I didn't eat them enough to warrant buying a clip.
This was a must have for me! I put it in green because I used mine probably three or four times a day. I understand that some people don't drink coffee, but I brought a Keurig which can also make hot chocolate, apple cider, and chicken noodle soup! Totally worth it for me!
See how many cups I brought in the photo above? You probably don't need that many cups! I use one of the tall ones when I want to drink water, but a water bottle could work just as well. Occasionally useful if you have company over, but don't go crazy!
I didn't bring any with me. My dorm is a suite-style and we have a bathroom right in out little cubby-thing (front door opens to a small hallway with two bedroom doors and a bathroom). Whenever I used a dish I immediately went and rinsed it off, no dish soap needed. If I felt it really needed cleaning I'd just use our hand soap.
I just use my face towels to dry dishes. I keep the towel for dishes by my desk and the towel for my face by my dresser so I know which is which.
I used one once to cut an avocado. Other than that single time I didn't need one. Plus I store it in a container under my bed because I know if my roommate left one sitting out I'd feel really uncomfortable even though I'm pretty sure she'd never kill me.
This is a big no no in our dorm! No microwaves are allowed in individual rooms. There are enough fire alarms with them in the common areas without letting goofballs have their own.
I found having one to be very useful. I would change the plural to singular though. Having one mug for cocoa or coffee takes up less space and prevents a dish pile-up as opposed to owning several.
This is very nice to have. It allows food storage for perishable items. I store fruits and vegetables in mine for the most part along with my water filter. Unless your roommate and you both like keeping a lot of food, it might be possible to share one.
This is a goofy item. Not needed at all unless your dorm has an actual kitchen.
I have two plastic ones that I've used probably two times. I don't think they're really necessary unless you order food. And in that case it would be better to get reusable ones.
These are nice to use both for cleaning and as napkins or even plates!
No. We have no kitchen to make pizza and delivered pizza comes pre-sliced.
Plastic Food Containers
I found these useful every once in awhile. I brought a 12 pack set though and definitely didn't need them all! I used the smaller ones to put food in to bring to class but our dorm doesn't allow using them to take food from the cafeteria back to your room so 12 was way too many. I brought most of them home. I feel like I could get by without them though.
Maybe this is why the oven mitt was on the list. This is a no as well. My dorm doesn't allow them, but even if I did have one I don't see myself using it very often.
Having one or two each of a fork and spoon is useful at times. I have never found need of a knife. Also sometimes these are obtainable for free. For instance, our cafeteria inside out dorm has metal utensils out for students to use. A friend of mine borrowed some to use for the year. It's technically not stealing as long as she returns them by the end of the year. Better than traveling all the way downstairs every day to get a new spoon for your oatmeal!
I definitely needed this. It made life so much easier than buying water or using the dispenser one the first floor (since I live on the 15th). I keep it in my fridge so it stays colds and refill it in the bathroom when it's empty.
I used these a lot. All different sizes too for different occasions. Good for carrying snacks and containing things like cotton swabs and jewelry.
This is a no-brainer. Bring any kind of bag that can hold all your stuff.
This depends on the classes you have to take. If you don't have to take math then you probably don't need a physical calculator! If you do, then you do!
I think this is more of a desk item. I never needed highlighters in class but almost always used them when studying or rewriting notes.
I didn't use these. The one time I made flashcards I made them online with Quizlet. They could possibly be handy for making summaries on to take with you to study on the go, but I've never needed them.
I didn't bring notebooks for fall semester but I bought some to bring for the spring. There's just something nice about having a notebook for each class. At the end of fall semester I bought one notebook for anatomy to copy the notes I took on a scratch paper in class. That way a had clean copies all spiraled together.
Nice for making sloppy notes in lecture later to be copied cleaning into notebooks later.
Usually required to have, but I never needed mine in class. They stayed on my desk.
A necessity. I found I could comfortably get by with two.
Meh. I always got dressed in the bathroom right after I showered just in case my roommate was in there. I don't think this item is necessary but some people really like them! One of my suitemates wears hers for fun just because it's comfy!
Curling Iron, Hair Dryer, Hair Straightener.
None of these items are needed in college. It's fine to bring if you already use them regularly, but if I brought them I would have to buy some because I don't use them.
This is useful if you don't have a bathroom in your immediate dorm room. In my dorm we do though. Some of the girls have buckets with their things in the bathroom still but I keep mine in my room (except shampoo, which I just leave in the shower) and take them in when I need them.
Shower Flip Flops
Needed if you share a bathroom with tons of people. In my dorm however I only share my bathroom with four other girls. At the beginning of the year we bleached the shower and now everyone just uses it without shower shoes.
I'll be honest: I don't really know much about towels. I'm not entirely sure what wash clothes are. The ones in the photo above I use on my face. I don't know if face towels are different than wash clothes or not. Anyway, you might want a couple small towels!
I'm not going to type this section out. Bring whatever medicinal items you need to bring for personal use. In addition it's good to have band-aids and Neosporin or some other disinfectant cream handy just in case! Maybe a thermometer.
This is all pretty subjective as well. Makeup if you wear it. Toilet paper and hand soap if you have a personal bathroom like my suite does. All of the following items are needed for personal hygiene:
It's nice to have tissues both inside the bathroom and on your desk. In addition to the basics bring along any others not listed that you use on a daily or weekly basis. I personally brought way too many toiletries thinking I'd use them at some point but they just ended up taking up valuable space.
This isn't actually a checklist. Again it's subjective to the individual and what I say applies to me does not to other people. For instance I have a friend on the equestrian team. She needs all sorts of riding gear that I wouldn't ever need! I'm also not a super fashionable person so I don't wear a lot of accessories. I would just like to point out though that I way over packed clothing for college. I only wear like a quarter of what I brought. Be warned and keep that in mind!
I've never worn a belt in my life.
Having at least one nice outfit is a safe bet. And you probably won't need more than one your freshman year. I brought a nice dress because I went to a wedding mid semester and once my friends and I went out to a nice restaurant and wanted to look nice. I never needed them for presentations or anything.
If you already have a pair for shower shoes that's good enough. I would never wear these on a school day. It's just way to easy to trip when power walking across campus. I took my shower shoes to the beach our campus is by, but unless you live by water or need them to shower I wouldn't bring them.
Good if you live in a place that has cold fall/winter weather! Just don't over pack them because they do take up space. I brought three pairs of gloves, one mittens, and two hats while it was summer and had no place to put them. One of each is good!
I brought a rain jacket, fall jacket, and a winter coat.
Bring a few of your nicest. You don't need seven like I brought!
I wore the same pairs of earrings all semester. I brought some other ones but never wore them.
I over packed these too. A couple pairs are good, but as the semester progressed I also went to bed wearing leggings. sweat pants, and shorts.
Leggings, yoga pants, other pants. A few should suffice!
Nice for being out in the day or in a group at night. Putting purse items in a backpack pocket also works or in your coat pockets if you're by yourself after dark. I barely use mine.
Some nice shirts and t shirts. Probably don't need to bring more than 15.
I brought a pair for daily wear, exercise, special occasions, and snow boots.
I brought way too many pairs of shorts. I needed 5 at most during the warmer weather.
I only brought half my sock drawer from home but they still take up a ton of space in my college dresser! Take what you need and keep in mind the volume of fuzzy socks!
Both good for colder weather. Just a few!
This is subjective. My campus is near a beach but I only needed my suit twice. If I didn't live by a beach I would not have brought it at all, and even then it's too cold most of the time to swim.
Bring it all. Just do it.
I didn't bring one and never felt like a needed one. My phone tells time and can set alarms.
Very needed! Sometimes I would wear t shirts in the day and later wear them to the gym. I tried to go to the gym frequently so I brought a lot of workout clothes.
Very much needed.
Are these dryer sheets? I brought dryer sheets.
I think these would take up way too much space. I didn't bring them. I never ironed anyway.
I have a giant bag of Tide pods and they work really well.
I had a bag last semester but think an actual laundry basket would be better.
Our university laundry places don't take quarter. We use our meal cards to swipe instead.
This could be nice to have at times but I never brought any. Most stains come out in the wash.
Misc. Paper Checklist
Bring any of the following you think you'll need. Most of these are subjective as well. Keep all of these safe. This is also where a filing folder might come in handy.
Know which of your gadgets need batteries and get some backups!
My campus is very contained so unless people live off campus there isn't really need for bikes.
Board games are fun but I don't know anyone else on my floor who plays them!
I haven't really noticed any bugs around campus...
I wouldn't. People can be loud, but if you fall asleep with earplugs you might not hear your alarm. Possibly okay if you use when you're not in danger of falling asleep.
I used this in the beginning of the semester because our dorm doesn't have air conditioning. As it got colder though the fan went into storage. Dorm and climate dependent.
Not really needed in campus dorms. Maybe just in case, but phones can work as flashlights too.
I don't have a lamp so I don't think light bulbs would help me anywhere.
Only bring if you have a music class or are a really avid player. My suitemate brought her flute but never ever plays it. Only bring if used at least weekly.
I never had a need for these.
Maybe. I have one but never carry it on me. Wouldn't hurt to have but most campuses are pretty safe.
I never had a need for one.
Personal preference. I never had one until halfway through semester and some nights it was useful.
Not needed if you live in a dorm like I do.
Our campus gym has all sorts of equipment for rental. Except maybe frisbees. Personal preference.
These frequently come in handy!
Definitely a must-have! Make sure to carry it in your backpack because if you don't have it you'll probably need it!
Very nice when you have classes all day and much cheaper than buying new bottles every day.
I found decorative baskets/containers to be very useful and appealing to the eye for storage of food items, shoes, and other miscellaneous items!
Hi my name is Emilee and I am a kinesiology undergraduate student. These are my adventures as a young adult living in Milwaukee. Here I will share my experiences as I navigate through college. Thanks for stopping by!