When you’re preparing for a new semester, it can be daunting to pack up your things and leave home. Even the most seasoned college students (I’m looking at you, seniors!) can get overwhelmed when it comes to packing for college. Deciding what you really need and what will just take up your much-needed space can take a lot of trial and error.
Don’t let the stress of packing get to you. Even though it’s a lot of work, move-in day is supposed to be fun and exciting. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll be moving in and out like a pro.
This list includes everything you need to keep things running smoothly throughout the semester. Stay tuned until the end of the post for a free printable version of the ultimate college packing list!
Obviously, school supplies are essential when packing for college. You’ll want to make sure that your desk is fully stocked with all the things you need to stay on top of your coursework.
- Highlighters – I am in LOVE with the Zebra Mildliners!
- Pencil sharpener
- Stapler (and staples)
- Staple remover
- Binder clips
- Paper clips
- Hole puncher
- Desktop organizer
- Drawer organizer
- File folders
- Printer – most schools will offer printing, but I prefer having my own printer so that I can print whenever I want.
- Printer paper
- Printer ink
- Planner – see some of my planner suggestions in my previous post, 5 Must-Haves for an Organized Semester.
- Decorating supplies (stickers, washi tape, etc.)
- To-do lists – I like to buy these from the Dollar Spot at Target!
- Flash cards – I use the Vera Bradley Study Buddy.
- Thank-you cards or blank note cards
- Laptop – I use the Dell Inspiron 7559.
- Laptop charger
- Mouse and mousepad
- Hard drive or disk drive
- Flash drive – I buy a new flash drive every year to keep my work organized. It also gives you an extra backup of your files.
- Desk lamp
- Desk fan – I didn’t think I would need this, but trust me, you will use it. Especially if you live somewhere hot.
- Power strip or surge protector
- Ethernet cord – I use this as a backup just in case the WiFi isn’t working.
Other School Supplies
- Pencil case
- Textbooks – I like to rent mine from Amazon or Textbooks.com
Besides school supplies, toiletries are the most important thing to pack for the new semester. Here is a list of everything you’ll need to keep yourself looking and feeling good all year long.
- Personal medications (birth control, etc.)
- First aid kit
- Antibiotic ointment
- Alcohol wipes
- Cotton swabs
- Cotton balls or cotton pads
- Hand sanitizer
- Cough medicine
- Allergy medicine
- DayQuil and NyQuil
- Shower caddy – I bought mine at Kohl’s (and it’s currently on sale!).
- Shower shoes – I just use a pair of flip-flops from Old Navy.
- Face cloths
- Body wash
- Face wash, moisturizer, etc.
- Perfume or body spray
- Nail clippers
- Nail file
- Pads and tampons
- Hairspray and other hair product
- Hair clips
- Bobby pins
- Hair elastics/hair ties
- Curling iron
- Hair caddy – this is optional, but I store my hair-styling supplies in a caddy I bought from Ulta.
- Dry shampoo
- Nail polish
- Nail polish remover
- Makeup – what you bring depends on what you like to wear! I bring eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss, foundation and concealer.
- Makeup removing wipes
- Makeup brushes
- Makeup bag
When you’re trying to think of everything you need to pack, it can be easy to forget the simplest things. Remember to bring cleaning supplies, bedding, and, of course, some snacks.
- Paper towels
- Dust wipes or dust polish
- Dish soap
- Laundry detergent or pods
- Fabric softener
- Dryer sheets
- Hamper or laundry bag
- Iron or hand steamer – if you bring an iron, pick up a mini ironing board. I have one, and it’s perfect for ironing right on top of your desk!
- Clorox wipes
- Air freshener or reed diffuser
- 2 sets of twin XL sheets – one for backup!
- Comforter, duvet, or quilt
- Throw blanket
- Body or back pillow
- Mattress pad – mine is memory foam! Trust me, dorm mattresses are nothing like the ones at home.
- Bedside organizer or tray
- Full-length mirror
- Family photos
- Area rug – again, this is optional. But it will keep your feet warm on the tile floors they have in most dorms.
- Bulletin or white board – I have this white board calendar so my roommate and I can coordinate our schedules.
- Wall decor (paintings, posters, monograms, etc.) – be creative and have fun!
- Command strips and hooks
- Trunk – you can use it to store your valuables because they usually come with a lock and key.
- Storage bins
- Plastic drawers – these are great for sliding under a lofted bed for extra storage.
- Suitcase or weekend bag
- Plastic totes – I keep my shoes in one of these to keep them off the floor. You could also buy a shoe rack, but this option was more affordable for me. I also like that I can stack them on top of one another.
- Water bottle
- Plates – I mostly use paper plates, but I do have some plastic dishes to use in my microwave.
- Mini fridge – many schools offer a Micro Fridge, which is very convenient because it is in the room when you arrive and you don’t have to carry it back and forth.
- Silverware or plasticware
- Coffee maker or Keurig
- Coffee cups or to-go mugs
Of course, the clothes you bring are completely up to you. Remember to keep the weather in mind when you pack. I like to bring outfits that I can layer because it makes them more versatile between seasons. Just keep in mind that your closet will most likely be fairly small.
- Rompers or jumpsuits
- Tank tops
- Dress pants – bring at least one pair. You never know if you might have a professional event you have to attend!
- Jackets or coats
- Rain jacket
- Workout clothes
- Bras and underwear
- Rain boots or snow boots
- Scarf, hat, and gloves
- Baseball hats – you’ll want these for your bad hair days, trust me.
- Glasses and sunglasses
Just for Fun
Sometimes you just want to hang out in your room and relax. Make sure you pack everything you need to have a nice night in, whether you’re alone or chilling out with your friends.
- Deck of cards
- Games – my friends and I love Cards Against Humanity.
- TV – I personally don’t have a TV in my dorm room, but I know many people who do.
And that’s it! It may seem like a long list, but keep in mind that you will be gone for the whole school year! By making sure you pack everything you need, you’ll eliminate the need to rush to the store on move-in day to pick up things that you forgot. Follow this packing list for smooth sailing on move-in day and throughout the semester.
You can download a free printable version of this list by clicking here.
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