College Packing List Overview

You’ve received your college acceptance letter and the countdown to your first semester has begun. The only left to do is to pack your suitcases. Packing up to go off to college can be daunting. There are so many things you want to take along with you but you have to be careful not to indulge too much. Your college dorm is likely to be much smaller than you think. Carry too much and you will find yourself living in a cramped room that looks messy no matter how often you tidy up. On the other hand, you don’t want to make sure you have everything you need. That’s why we made a college packing list.

Everything you need to pack will come under these main categories:

  • Clothing & Footwear
  • Toiletries
  • Room essentials
  • School Supplies
  • Cleaning Supplies


You’ll want to bring a variety of clothes for different occasions and weather conditions. While choosing clothes for college, try and avoid clothes that get creased easily. You cannot afford to spend a whole lot of time ironing. Here’s a solid list of things to consider:

  • Jeans
  • T-shirts/ tops
  • Sweaters
  • Light jackets
  • Winter coats (depending on where you are)
  • Workout clothes
  • Formal wear for occasions (a nice dress or sports jacket)
  • Underwear – carry enough to last you from one laundry day to the next
  • Running shoes
  • Casual shoes — choose your most comfortable pair
  • At least 1 pair of formal shoes
  • Socks – as with the underwear, pack enough pairs so you don’t have to reuse
  • Bath robe
  • Flip-flops  (one pair dedicated to the communal showers)


The best way to make sure you do not forget anything is to visualize your day from the time you get out of bed till the time you go to sleep. Think of what you use through the day:

College packing list: toiletries

Flickr user Steve Calcott

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Comb
  • Soap
  • Shampoo / Conditioner
  • Moisturizer
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Blow dryer if you use one
  • Nail clippers
  • Shower caddy

Depending on your grooming needs you may need to pack a razor, tweezers, cotton balls, and hair clips or headbands.

Room Essentials

If this is your first time away from home, you may be surprised at how many things you will need to pack to recreate the comforts of home in your dorm room.

College packing list: room essentials

Flickr user Steve Shupe

  • Mattress pad
  • Hygiene mattress protector
  • At least 2 sets of sheets – check the size you need
  • Pillows and pillow cases
  • Duvet / comforter
  • Desk lamp
  • Mini-fridge
  • Mirror
  • Decorations
  • Fan / heater (if allowed)
  • Hangers

School Supplies

Never underestimate the importance of basic school supplies in college. You don’t want to be scrambling for a notebook and pencil on the first day of class.

College packing list: school supplies

Flickr user claudia snell

  • Backpack
  • Notebooks and writing material
  • Laptop – don’t forget your laptop charger and accessories
  • USB drive
  • Calculator
  • Paper clips
  • Stapler
  • Pencils / pens
  • Tape
  • Folders for keeping your documents organized

Cleaning Supplies

This goes without saying, but you should definitely clean your dorm room from time to time:

College packing list: cleaning supplies

Flickr user shhhband

  • Dirty clothes hamper
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Bleach
  • Stain remover
  • Air freshener


In addition to all of the above, don’t forget to pack these things:

  • College packing list: other supplies, like tape

    Flickr user Marco Verch

    Document copies like SS card or passports

  • Checkbook
  • Phone and phone charger
  • Driver’s license
  • Snacks
  • Posters
  • Duct tape
  • Blanket
  • DVDs
  • Books
  • Games
  • Prescription medication / medical supplies
  • First aid kit

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