Ultimate Dorm Packing List

It can be hard to know where to even begin when you start packing up for college. The basics are mostly obvious like clothes, sheets, and a comforter, but what about everything else? Sure not everyone needs to pack all 154 items on this list. Most of these items can be purchased at your school bookstore. But if you are looking to arrive prepared and want to save money, buying some of these items in advance and in bulk can help really cut down on costs. Peruse the list and see what’s applicable to you!

  1. Alarm Clock Most students just use their phones as alarm clocks. But for those who need some extra help waking up for that 8:30 class, the Clocky Alarm Clock which rolls of your night stand when it goes off, forcing you to get out of bed to catch it, might be a smart purchase.
  2. Amazon Prime Membership College students get a free year of Amazon Prime (free 2 day shipping). Great for all purchases, especially textbooks.
  3. Athletic Gear Especially if you plan on playing a sport.
  4. Backpack A water-proof or water-resistant backpack can be a lifesaver when you have to carry your laptop, textbooks, notebooks, and papers to class in the pouring rain.
  5. Batteries Bring a small supply of AA or AAA batteries for when you need them.
  6. Bed Risers These can be a cheap way to get valuable extra storage space under your bed. But don’t put your bed up too high or it’ll be a workout every time you want to get in bed.
  7. Bicycle Not all students need a bicycle to get around campus, but for those who do, there are all sorts of inexpensive options. CraigsList can be an excellent way to get a nice bike at a low cost. Some colleges will also run used bike sales at the beginning of the year. No need to break the bank on this purchase.
  8. Binders Binders are a great way to keep your lecture notes, assignments, and readings together during the semester. An organized binder will make studying for midterms and finals a breeze.
  9. Bins In dorm rooms, every square inch of space counts. Make the most of the space under your bed by storing less frequently used items like a first aid kit, extra toiletries, and off-season clothes in bins.
  10. Blender While not a necessity, a blender can make some delicious weekend drinks that will likely be popular amongst your peers.
  11. Board Games Cards, Apples to Apples , Monopoly, and any other classic board game can supplement a great Saturday night.
  12. Bottle Opener If you’re 21 or over!
  13. Broom and Dustpan It’s hard to value the importance of sweeping a linoleum floor until you get out of bed and feel dirt and grime form a layer over the soles of your feet. You don’t have to sweep ever night or every week, but you’ll be grateful to have one on hand.
  14. Brush For those who need to brush their hair.
  15. Bulletin Board Some colleges provide them so check with your school before you buy one yourself.
  16. Calculator Even if you plan on never taking a math or science class, it will probably come in handy.
  17. Camera For those who enjoy taking fancy pictures. For others, a phone will suffice.
  18. Color Catcher For if you’re too lazy to separate your clothes in the washer.
  19. Clorox Wipes You wouldn’t believe how grateful you’ll be for these. At least one gross mess is inevitable in any dorm room.
  20. Coat A warm winter coat is a great investment for anyone going to school with a true winter.
  21. Coffee Maker For those who have serious caffeine addictions that cannot be satisfied by the dining hall. Check with  your colleges to make sure you’re allowed to have them in your rooms.
  22. Cough Medicine Nobody wants to run out to the pharmacy when they’re feeling like they were run over by a truck. Be prepared and have a stash ready for when you need it.
  23. Comforter A warm down comforter can be your best friend in the winter.
  24. Command Strips Many colleges don’t allow students to hang things from their walls. Command strips take care of this problem by making hooks that stick to the walls and leave no mark when you remove them.
  25. Computer Mac vs. PC? I don’t have the answer. But these days some laptop is essential for nearly all college students.
  26. Conditioner For those of us with longer hair.
  27. Condoms/Contraceptives If there is any possibility of being sexually active in college, you should make sure you have the supplies to protect yourself and your partner.
  28. Contacts etc. Buy contact solution in bulk before you get to school to save time and money.
  29. Cell Phone It’s virtually impossible for any adolescent to forget that.
  30. Cell Phone Charger This one can be the worst to forget.
  31. Cough Drops Again, a great thing to have on hand.
  32. Curtains While not a necessity they can add a decorative touch to a less inviting dorm room.
  33. Decorations They can make the difference between your room feeling comfortable and sterile.
  34. Deodorant You wouldn’t want to make a smelly first impression!
  35. Desk Lamp Check with your school to see if they are already provided.
  36. Desk Organizer Staplers, staples, paper clips, and thumbtacks can be very hard to come by in college. Keep a supply in your room so you won’t have to scramble.
  37. Dish Soap For washing plates and utensils when hand soap won’t suffice.
  38. Dressy Outfit Keep at least one on hand so you can be ready for a big event with only a moment’s notice.
  39. Dry-Erase Markers For that white board  you have on your door.
  40. Drying Rack This is more important than you’d think! Dryers (at least at Swarthmore) rarely work and are often occupied. A drying rack can save time, money, and the environment.
  41. Duct Tape A college student’s solution to everything. They’ve got stylish patterns too!
  42. Dustbuster Great for a carpeted dorm room.
  43. DVDs Though streaming is making these discs more and more obsolete.
  44. Erasers A school necessity.
  45. Fan A lifesaver for dorms without air conditioning. This one even has a thermostat.
  46. Favorite Books Only bring one or two. If you have a long list of favorites they’ll take up a lot of room and you won’t have time to even look at them during the semester.
  47. Feminine Products A year’s supply will save you from the hassle of having to keep running to the drug store.
  48. Files and File Holder Now that you’re in college you have to keep track of important documents like bank statements, some bills, passports, licenses, certificates, and more. Keep them safe and organized in files.
  49. First Aid Kit You can buy a prepackaged one or you can make your own. Either way it will save you (and your friends) more times than you can imagine.
  50. Foil To wrap up stolen dining hall food.
  51. Flash Cards Though the online variety is free and good for the environment.
  52. Flashlight For when the power goes out.
  53. Floor Lamp Good for bringing extra light into the room.
  54. Floss For the dentists’ favorites.
  55. Folders If you use them.
  56. Folding Chairs For if you go to a school with lots of tailgating.
  57. Food It’s critical to keep some non-perishable snacks like trail-mix, dried fruit, and cereal in your room in case of emergencies.
  58. Frisbee A necessity at a liberal arts college (okay well not really).
  59. Garbage Bags These make taking the trash out much less disgusting.
  60. Goggles If you want to swim laps in the pool.
  61. Gloves The long walks to class on chilly mornings can be painful otherwise. I recommend a waterproof and cloth pair the first of which is excellent for making snowballs to pelt at your roommate.
  62. Granola Bars They can be a great fast snack to have when you can’t make it to the dining hall.
  63. Hair Dryer Or you could save the earth and air dry!
  64. Hair Ties For those of us with long hair.
  65. Hairspray If you need it.
  66. Hammer Can be useful if your dorm furniture gives you trouble.
  67. Hangers You’ll always need more than you think.
  68. Headphones Critical to tuning out a roommate or enjoying late night TV on your laptop. Noise-cancelling headphones are ideal, albeit pricey.
  69. Highlighters Great for an easier time reviewing for finals.
  70. Hooks Trust me, if you hang your towel over your bed post, it will constantly fall on the floor. An over the door towel hook keeps your towels dry and clean.
  71. Ink If you have a printer in your room.
  72. Insurance Cards Very important in case of emergency!
  73. iPod For those workouts you’ll be sure to keep up with.
  74. Jewelry If you wear it.
  75. Jewelry Rack To save all those chains from tangling.
  76. Laptop Case You don’t spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a computer only to let it break. Spend the extra $15 or $20 on a protective case.
  77. Laundry Basket The collapsible kind is ideal for a dorm room with limited space.
  78. Laundry Detergent Check to see if your dorm washers require regular or high efficiency detergent.
  79. Lip Balm Wouldn’t want to have chapped lips.
  80. Lint-Roller Or you could be lazy and use scotch tape.
  81. Make-Up For those who like to actually get ready before they leave the dorm.
  82. Mattress Pad College mattresses can be old and uncomfortable. A mattress pad can buy you a few more valuable hours of shut-eye.
  83. Medication Be sure to find a nearby pharmacy for convenient refills. Many colleges have arrangements that allow you to get your prescriptions delivered.
  84. Microwave It can be a godsend for those late night study sessions. But check with your college to see if they’re allowed. Many dorms will have microwaves already available for student use.
  85. Minifridge Perfect for keeping a little milk or your Chinese takeout. Minifridges can range from your bare-bones variety to those with completely separate freezers. Work with your roommate to decide who will bring it.
  86. Mirror Many dorm rooms already have them, but if you don’t a cheap full-length mirror can save you from having to make constant trips to the bathroom.
  87. Mouthwash If you use it.
  88. Mugs For bringing coffee or tea to that 8:30 class.
  89. Multi-Vitamins Good for those who aren’t keeping the most balanced diet in the dining hall.
  90. Musical Instrument If you plan on playing one in college.
  91. Nail Clippers, Nail File Just be sure not to leave the clippings around your room. That’s a sure way to get any roommate annoyed.
  92. Nail Polish If you use it.
  93. Notebooks If you prefer to write instead of type.
  94. Pain Reliever Again, this will definitely come in handy.
  95. Pants Unless you have some sort of moral opposition.
  96. Paper Towels More and more colleges aren’t providing them in bathrooms to be eco-friendly. Keeping a small supply in your room can help with little messes and spills.
  97. Passport Many colleges require students with on campus jobs to provide their passport. Keep this in a safe place!
  98. Pencils Mechanical or traditional.
  99. Pencil Sharpener A little handheld one will do.
  100. Pens You don’t want to always have to steal from your roommate.
  101. Pictures Hang them on your walls. They’ll be sure to brighten your day when you’re feeling down.
  102. Pillows The comfy ones can make studying a little more bearable.
  103. Popcorn A great late night study snack.
  104. Post-Its Great for all the different things you have to keep track of in school.
  105. Posters Everyone’s got to have at least one ridiculous band poster hanging up.
  106. Pitcher Brita pitchers can make water fountain water a little more tolerable for persnickety students.
  107. Power Strip This is critical! Most dorm rooms have a very limited supply of outlets and even they are often in the least convenient places.
  108. Printer Some schools will charge per page. A printer could save you money depending on where you go to school.
  109. Quarters For if your college doesn’t let you use a card to pay. Bring at least $30 in quarters for the semester.
  110. Q-Tips They have multiple uses.
  111. Raincoat Fashionable ones do exist (but they might break the bank)!
  112. Ramen Noodles You must fulfill the college student stereotype! Ichiban is my favorite variety.
  113. Razor With extra razors or blades for during the year.
  114. Religious Texts If you’re not comfortable using the internet versions.
  115. Robe For that awkward walk from the shower to your room.
  116. Rug Helps brighten a dorm room and keep dirt out.
  117. Safe To lock up important documents and valuables.
  118. Scissors Not just for arts and crafts.
  119. Screwdriver Good for taking care of dorm furniture issues.
  120. Sewing Kit For fixing that button.
  121. Shampoo Again, having a backup supply will save you time.
  122. Sharpies For those t-shirt parties.
  123. Sheets Get at least two sets. Be sure to check what size your mattress calls for.
  124. Shirts T-shirts, button down shirts, long sleeves, short sleeves, tank tops, tube tops, and anything else.
  125. Shoes Sneakers, flip flops, dress shoes, and rain boots. These are the basic necessities. More pairs are obviously an option.
  126. Shoe Rack You don’t want to trip and fall flat on your face in the middle of the night.
  127. Shorts Unless there is a religious opposition.
  128. Shower Caddy One with holes in the bottom will prevent gross mold growth.
  129. Shower Shoes (AKA Flip Flops) You can catch all sorts of diseases in the shower.
  130. Sled Though not a necessity (and a huge space occupier), a sled will make you extra popular on snow days.
  131. Snow Boots They can be really stylish and save your feet in the snowy weather.
  132. Soap Because who wants to smell?
  133. Socks Bring a lot because the washer will inevitably eat many of them.
  134. Sunglasses Again, these have multiple uses.
  135. Sunscreen Protect yourself from Melanoma!
  136. Swiffer A miracle for cleaning your disgusting linoleum floor.
  137. Swim Suit For swimming or a good game of beach volleyball.
  138. Tape You’ll use it (and everyone else will steal it).
  139. Teabags, Tea Infuser, Etc. If you’d like to be a hipster.
  140. Thermometer For when you’re too sick to trudge across campus to the health center.
  141. Three-Hole Punch I swear these are impossible to come by on college campuses.
  142. Toothbrush Self-explanatory.
  143. Toothpaste Also self-explanatory (hopefully).
  144. Towels Monogramming can make them more difficult to steal.
  145. Trash Can Can For fire safety reasons, a metal trash can is a good purchase.
  146. Tweezers For anywhere…
  147. Umbrella Pick up dates on rainy days.
  148. Underwear This is not optional.
  149. Wallet Don’t lose it.
  150. Washcloth Again, to prevent smelling.
  151. Water Bottles Reusable ones to be eco friendly.
  152. Webcam For Skyping your friends from high school. They can cost as little as a few dollars or up to several hundred.
  153. White Board For your door. Write hilarious messages to win bonus points.
  154. White Out Liquid or tape.

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