There are many times in life when it is okay to go with the flow and show up unprepared—sorry to burst your bubble here, but college is not typically one of them. However, no need to panic. If you’re an incoming college student, then this list is for you! If you’re going to live on-campus and most likely in a dormitory, then you need to seriously consider bringing these items!

People generally fall into one of two categories—those who plan and those who just show up thinking everything will work itself out. The second group can be quite easy to spot. You will often see them showing up late to weddings, parties, and really any formal event, sometimes even underdressed. They will say things like “do you think they’ll serve shrimp here?” and the planner, utterly disgusted, will say, “no—did you not look at the menu beforehand?” To the non-planner’s defense, going with the flow and living in the moment can be fun. How do I know? Because that’s me. I’m the shrimp guy. And if you’re like me, then chances are that you have found yourself in some tough situations in the past, showing up to things clearly without planning ahead or taking the time to know what you should bring. 

College is definitely one of those times in life when it pays off to do your research and bring what you need. So, don’t be the shrimp guy/girl. Be prepared by checking out this list!

Quick note: This is not a comprehensive list. Obviously, bring your personal hygiene items, anything of significant value to you, and basic, daily items you’ll need such as toilet paper or paper towels. 

12 major things you should absolutely/probably bring to college!

  1. Laptop
  2. Storage bins & under-the-bed storage trays
  3. Microwave
  4. One comfortable chair that can collapse or be easily stored in a closet (Find out why this is important here!
  5. Clothes and shoes for any occasion (formal/professional, casual, swimming, working out, going out, etc.)
  6. Clothes hangers
  7. Mounting putty/hanging strips and hooks
  8. Personal documents (social security card, passport, etc.)
  9. Water filtration system for drinking water
  10. Coffee maker (Keurig for late nights)
  11. Headphones (for the sanity of your roommate(s))
  12. Bowls, cups/coffee mugs, plates, & eating utensils

Honorable mentions

  • A car (completely depends on your living/work situation)
  • Your integrity—just kidding. Please bring this. 
  • Incandescent lamp (for softer lighting and late-night studying without bothering your roommate)
  • A full-length mirror
  • Hot plate
  • Minifridge
  • T.V. (I would suggest waiting until you move into your dorm before purchasing. In order to purchase the right size, you’ll need to know the distance from your seating area to your television. Also, you’ll probably want to get a smart T.V.) 
  • T.V. stand
  • Personal whiteboard/dry erase calendar (for listing to-do’s, groceries, etc.)
  • Shower curtain (depends on the dormitory)

If you are in search of a comprehensive college packing list, I think this college checklist from Big Future is great!

About the Author

Andrew Hurst
Andrew Hurst

Andrew received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism (2015) and a master’s degree in Strategic Communication (2022). Seeing the world by way of story, he was drawn to writing and music at a young age. He is also a major foodie which may explain why his shirts “keep getting smaller.” Andrew serves as the managing editor for PrepU.

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