What to Pack for College: The Ultimate Guide for Freshmen and Parents

July 22, 2021

So you’re about to head off to college after months of intangibles, tours, and applications. You’ve gone over hypothetical majors and course plans. Finally, you received acceptance letters and made a college decision.

Now it’s time for all the packing. But what do you need to bring to your new home?

The challenges of transporting your life to college
You may think that you know everything you need to bring. It’s just a new place to study, sleep, eat, and hang out, right? You’ve done all these things before. How hard can it be?

Believe it or not, it’s easy to forget the most mundane things — like socks or pens — because they can be taken for granted. And, because college is new, you need to be sure you’re ready for all the unexpected — things you could never know you might need.

So here’s our ultimate packing list for what you need to bring to college.

What to take to college

School Supplies

Many supplies could be purchased in your college town if you need to save room, but if you want to be sure you get everything you need and if you want to shop around a little to save money, we recommend buying things ahead of time. Here’s the school supplies list:

  • Backpack or large tote bag
  • Day planner
  • Pens (blue, black, red)
  • Pencils and sharpener
  • Highlighters
  • White-out
  • Multicolored tabs for notetaking
  • Calculator (or use your phone, depending on your needs)
  • Stapler and staples
  • 3-hole punch
  • Binders, folders, and notebooks
  • Printer paper (if you bring your printer)
  • Index cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Scissors
  • Permanent markers
  • Tape: scotch and duct tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips and binder clips
  • Ruler
  • Desktop organizer
  • Stamps and envelopes (if you’re into classic letter writing, which your parents and/or grandparents would truly love)

College Room Electronics

  • Laptop or desktop computer (or check out the hours for the college computer lab)
  • Computer accessories (mouse, keyboard)
  • Tablet
  • Printer
  • Portable speakers (if you want to play music from laptop/phone)
  • HDMI cord, Ethernet cord for computer (check if your room has wireless)
  • Surge protector or power strip
  • Extension cords (UL Listed)
  • Headphones
  • Gaming consoles and games
  • Chargers
  • Electronics wipes for your computer or laptop

Dorm Room Supplies

It can be tempting to bring everything from your bedroom at home, but keep in mind you’re likely sharing space with a roommate.

  • Desk lamp (Cannot have halogen bulb)
  • Bedside lamp (Cannot have halogen bulb)
  • A wall clock
  • A small fan
  • Whiteboard or bulletin board
  • Bed risers (6in or less)
  • Under-bed storage containers
  • Portable storage
  • Small trash can
  • Step ladder
  • Earplugs
  • Tissues

Linens and laundry supplies

  • Laundry basket or large bag
  • Small clothes drying rack for things that can’t be dried in the dryer
  • Clothes hangers for the closet
  • XL Twin size sheets, pillows and pillowcases, and blankets
  • Mattress cover/protector
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Stain stick
  • Lint brush
  • Mini sewing kit

Dorm Room Decorations

Pick a few things that will make the space comfortable and feel like home. Leave room to pick up new items and memorabilia during the school year so that your university dorm room can be a combination of the home you’re coming from and the new home you’ll be making.

  • Area rug
  • Posters
  • Thumbtacks/Push Pins to hang decorations from cork strip
  • Photos from home

Shared Roomie Stuff

Make a plan with your future roommate and share the load. Here are some items you definitely don’t need two of:

  • Mini fridge (2.7 Cubic ft. Max)
  • Electric kettle
  • Water filter pitcher
  • Small, handheld vacuum

Household and Kitchen Items

  • Paper towels and/or napkins
  • Trash bags
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Dish scrubber and towel
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues
  • Two sets of plates, bowls, forks, and spoons (for snacking or when dinner is terrible)
  • Coffee mug
  • Water bottle
  • Can opener
  • Travel mug
  • To-go containers and reusable snack bags for bringing snacks along
  • Some favorite snacks to get you started (crackers, granola bars, popcorn, peanut butter, instant oatmeal, tea bags, and drink powders).

Dorm Bathroom Things

  • Plastic (washable) shower caddy
  • Bathrobe
  • Shower flip-flops
  • Your favorite bath products. Make sure to find a place for your caddy where it can dry out during the day. Nobody likes bacteria growing in their razor.
  • Two towels and two face cloths, for when one really needs to get washed.
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairstyling products
  • Bath and face soap
  • Loofah or washcloth
  • Deodorant
  • Cosmetics
  • Travel soap container(s) or makeup box
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dental floss and mouthwash
  • Comb/brush
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair dryer/straightener/curling iron
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Lotion and/or facial moisturizer

Clothing

You may want to pack for one season and switch out items when you go home during breaks. Pack your favorite items, the ones you feel good in. But remember you’ll have limited closet space.

  • Practical shoes (for walking to class)
  • Rain boots or other weather-proof shoes (for wet days)
  • Coats or jackets
  • Other foul-weather gear suited to the climate you’ll be going to college in
  • Pants/jeans
  • Shorts/skirts
  • Shirts/blouses
  • Plenty of underwear and socks
  • Pajamas
  • Robe
  • At least one formal outfit
  • Athletic clothes and sneakers
  • Slippers and/or flip-flops
  • 1 set of business-casual clothes
  • 1 pair of dress shoes
  • 1 swimsuit
  • Belts, jewelry, watch

Other Going-to-College Essentials

All logistical cards: insurance (health, dental, travel, car) and IDs; as well as any debit or credit cards

  • Umbrella
  • Flashlight
  • Gym bag & sports equipment
  • Toolkit (screwdriver, hammer, wrench)
  • Bicycle, bike lock, and helmet
  • Medicines – definitely prescriptions, but think of your go-to remedies for: headaches, cold and flu, immune-boosting.
  • Also, bring bandaids and antiseptic cleaner for those small but irritating paper cuts, hangnails, and unpredictable scrapes.

So there you have it, a massive list of everything you need to feel as prepared as possible when you arrive at college on your very first day.

Interested in learning more about William Peace University? Find out more from an admissions counselor today.