packing for college

Heading off to college is one of the most exciting times in your life as a young adult. You will finally have a taste of freedom where you can do what you want and hang out with whoever you want, as long as you keep your grades up. But college is not all about studying or partying; there are some things you need to make sure you have with you if you want to be comfortable while away at school. While some seem obvious, not everything is and there is some variation by school, but here are the most important things to take with you (excluding notebooks and pens).


If you are living in a dorm, you know you will have to bring your own sheets, but what else do you need for bedding? First of all, it’s important to make sure that you have two sets of sheets so you don’t have to sleep on a plain mattress on laundry day. You also need the standard blankets to make sure you stay warm. Although dorms will have a heating system of some sort, not all schools will have the best ones, or even ones that can be controlled, so if you get cold easily, make sure you have plenty of warm blankets. Also keep in mind that not all dorm beds will be the most comfortable. Therefore if you prefer to sleep on a soft surface, you should bring with an egg crate or some other sort of padding for between your mattress and sheets. If, however, you prefer a harder surface, bring with a piece of wood to put under the mattress and dorm mattresses tend to sag.


All rooms will come with some sort of storage. The basics are usually a desk, some shelves, some drawers and maybe a closet. If you are lucky, you may have more places to store you stuff, but in most cases if you want more, you need to bring it with. Because dorm rooms are usually small, you want to look for space-saving storage options. Investing in a set of bed risers and some under-bed storage bins is a great option that will allow you to store extra sheets or things you rarely use under your bed. Depending on what your room looks like, you may also want to buy more shelves or drawers (of the plastic variety). There are also great metal wire shelves that you can put together in different configurations, making them work in any space.

Cooking And Dishes

Even if your school requires that you stay on the meal plan, you most likely won’t be eating in the dining hall all the time. Because eating out is expensive, you want to make sure you have at least the basics. First you will need a mini-fridge (most schools ban the big ones because of their energy consumption) and an electric water heater (about the only cooking device that all schools allow). The water heater will let you make everything from tea or coffee to soups (such as ramen) or even pasta if you get creative. Blenders are also a great idea, especially for making frozen drinks. Most dorms will have at least one kitchen with a microwave, stove and oven (as well as a communal fridge – always label your things and never put anything valuable in there). Some will also allow students to have their own microwaves while others will not, so look into your school’s rules. Although they make cooking easier, most schools won’t allow hot plates or rice cookers for safety reasons, but yours may be the exception so be sure to check to make life easier.

Even if you don’t plan on cooking any food you will still need something to use to eat your cereal or sandwiches. That’s why you should be sure to have at least one or two of the following: plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon and cup. If you plan on using your dorm’s kitchen, it doesn’t hurt to bring with a pot and pan as the ones in the communal kitchen aren’t always the cleanest.

what to pack?


Just like with sheets, it’s always a good idea to have an extra set of towels (either for laundry day or accidents) but you need more than this to shower in a dorm. Most schools will put freshmen in a dorm where they share a bathroom so unless you are incredibly lucky and will have a private bathroom where you can leave your things, you will need to get a shower caddy. These are simple, plastic baskets that make life easier. Another thing to keep in mind about communal showers is that the floor may not be the cleanest so it is a good idea to invest in a pair of cheap plastic flip-flops for the shower.

Most dorms won’t have sinks in the rooms so you will also need to use the communal bathroom to brush your teeth. While you could carry your toothbrush and toothpaste to the bathroom in your hands, it is much more convenient to set aside a cup to store them in. This way you can just grab the cup and go; better yet you can use the cup to rinse your mouth as well.

Other Odds And Ends

We already mentioned that most heating systems in residence halls can’t be controlled and this means you may get cold at times but you might get hot at times. To be ready, you should bring with a small desk fan to help keep you cool (especially in the spring and summer).

Dorm rooms are pretty bare so you should also bring some items to give your space a personal touch. One way to show your personality and make your space more comfortable is by getting a floor rug. This is essential as most rooms will have cold tile floors.

Now on to some optional things that will depend on where you go to school and how much space you have. Many students want to bring with a comfortable armchair or couch for their room and this is usually possible. The only thing to keep in mind, however, is that to fit a couch in your room you will usually have to bunk or loft the beds which brings us to the last item.

Some schools will have furniture that designed to be easily stacked or lofted, but not all will. If you don’t think yours does, you can bring with your own loft to give yourself more room (or make room for a couch). Just be sure to check with your school to make sure they don’t have specific requirements for lofts.