College Packing List

It is crazy to think that school starts in just a couple of weeks for some students! While I’m not heading back to campus until January (well I’ll be in my Madrid campus!), most people are starting to write their packing lists. If you are a sophomore or upperclassman you’ve probably got the college packing down to a science (or you just throw a lot of stuff in bags… whatever works), but for all those soon to be freshman out there the whole process can be scary. The idea of packing everything you need for a year into your parents car is pretty daunting and starting can be the worst part.
The first thing I want to say to all those freshman is to breathe! Anything you may discover you need after getting to school can either be shipped from home or bought on amazon (amazon prime student discount is the best thing every). However, creating a personalized packing list is the best way to make sure you have everything that is important to you. On that note I thought  I would put together my must-have packing list from what I brought to school last year and realized I wanted throughout the year!

For your bed:

  • The comfiest mattress topper you can find. I spent hours lounging on my suitemate’s bed because it was so comfortable. Make sure it’s a twin XL (vs a regular twin) so it fits the length of your bed!
  • A duvet cover or bedspread with a fun pattern. Do not buy a white bedspread because you will want to eat and lounge on your bed all the time and the white will be ruined. Make sure you buy Twin XL size! Urban Outfitters always has plenty of Twin XL duvets.
  • 2 sets of twin xl sheets. I promise you at some point you will spill on your sheets and you probably won’t have time to wash them on the same day, so make sure to have an extra set.
  • A soft blanket. I absolutely love my silky soft blanket to snuggle up with in the winter.
  • Loungable pillows. Everyone will be sitting on your bed so make sure you have big firm pillows. You can even skip the typical bed spread pillow cover for a special one.
  • A small side table. If you think you have space for one then definitely bring it! It becomes an easy spot to leave books and your computer when you go to bed.
  • Underbed storage bins. Lofting/Raising your bed and putting storage bins underneath is the easiest way to add space to your room. I love having nice looking ones that are opaque so you can’t see the mess that will be inside of them (these are my current favorite option!)

Tip: Your bed is the best place to bring in fun colors to your dorm. Bright colors and patterns are the best way to combat dreary walls and floors!

For your desk:

  • A few of your favorite books from home. Whether it is a coffee table inspiration books or the novel you’ve read five times these pieces will come in handy when you are feeling homesick or uninspired.
  • Your favorite picture frames. 
  • A magazine filer. So many textbooks and binders won’t fit on your desk shelves (if you have any at all).
  • Drawer organizer. All your post-it-notes, pens, and little knick knacks will thank you.
  • An alarm clock. Your cellphone is the most unreliable way to set an alarm and being late to class (even an 8am) is not a way to befriend your professor.
  • A cork board. Staring at a wood shelf or white wall gets boring really quickly. Add a little inspiration by putting up a cork board with command picture hanging strips.
  • A lamp. My desk had a built in lamp, but if yours doesn’t you are going to want a small lamp to use at night when your roommate is sleeping.
  • A stapler & scissors. You will probably almost forget these two essential items!
Tip: Desktop space for spreading out while studying is key, so try to utilize vertical organizers and shelves as much as possible. 
Tip: Try to use school printing before buying your own printer, because usually it will be much cheaper. 

For your bureau and closet:

*I had a separate bureau and closet, but many schools will have armoires.
  • A hangable rod. In both armoires and closets you will usually only have one hanging rod. Adding a second hanging rod below doubles your hanging space (and the amount of clothes you can bring :)). This was definitely my best purchase for making a small space efficient!
  • A shoe rack. I kept a shoe rack under my bed and it was the best way to make sure my shoes didn’t end up thrown all over the room.
  • Slim line hangers. You will be able ti fit so much more in your small closet with these hangers and nothing will ever fall off!
  • Multi-skirt hanger. This hanger is the best way to hang all your skirts in a small amount of space.
  • Command hooks of all sizes. These are the best way to hang bags and scarves. Scarves can also double as bright wall decoration.
  • A jewelry organizer. Whether you want a pretty jewelry box or just a small wood box you have have a way to put your jewelry away so that it doesn’t get lost or spread out across your room.
  • A small mirror. When you want to do your makeup without going to the bathroom this mirror will come in handy.
Tip: Fold out of season clothes and hang what is in season so that you don’t have to go back and forth between your closet and bureau when trying to get dressed. 


  • 3-4 square cork boards. Arrange these boards over the long side of your bed. It is an easy way to be able to switch out pictures without ripping the paint off your walls (you will get fined for that!).
  • A rug. When winter hits you will be so happy to have a soft rug to step out of bed onto. Definitely coordinate with your roommate before buying a rug. This is my favorite pace to score rugs at a discount!
  • A big scarf for over your chair. Dorm desk chairs are u.g.l.y. and they will destroy any sense of a color theme you might create so bring a fun scarf to drape and tie onto the back of the chair.
Tip: Look up pictures of sample dorm rooms for decor inspiration that is actually allowed in dorm rooms. My favorite is this tumblr

For the bath:

  • 2-4 towels. If you don’t want to have to wash your towels every week bring more than you will need. This is a perfect set with 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, and 4 wash clothes.
  • A towel wrap. You will have minimum bathroom time so make sure to bring a bathrobe or wrap so you don’t have to get dressed while still wet.
  • Extra of your toiletries. Aka shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, face wash, makeup remover wipes, razor heads, foundation, deodorant, etc. You will run out quicker than you think!
Tip: In the two weeks before you leave for school make note of all the different products you use and don’t use. I always end up using hairspray in the hot months, but I almost never used my curling iron so I didn’t bring it with me.

Must-have extras:

  • Command hooks. Just bring a lot of these basic hooks because you will never know what you are going to want to hang.
  • Extension cord. Wall plugs are bound to be in weird places and you know you’re going to want your phone a quick reach away from your bed. This is a great multi plug extension cord!
  • A full length mirror. If you have a target/walmart/kmart near you at school then you can buy it once you get to school to ensure it doesn’t crack in the car or just order one like this straight to your dorm
  • Laundry soap & dryer sheets. You will be so happy when you use your dryer sheets and your laundry doesn’t smell like those industrial dryers your dorm will have.
  • A mini steamer. Ironing boards are a serious pain, but this little steamer will ensure you look put together for a presentation or night out.
  • A to-go coffee mug. I tend to spend a lot of money on buying coffee, but having your own coffee mug will make you much more likely to make your own coffee or get it to-go from the dining hall.
  • A dust pan and broom. Dorm rooms get dusty quickly and with multiple girls in one area you’re bound to shed a lot (which gets gross quickly) so pick up a mini dust pan and broom to store under your bed
  • A weekender bag. You will most likely have quick trips during the year to go home or visit friends so having a small duffel is essential. On the way to school you use it to store your shoes.
  • Planner & School supplies. Everyone has their favorite planner and the special way they organize notes for classes, so make sure to bring your must-haves with you. However, don’t go overboard because college classes are much different than high school classes.

Wow. I didn’t realize how many things were on my packing list until I actually wrote it all out like this. If you want to check out the original post with the pictures from my dorm room (and it’s incredible view!) just click here (Also check out my apartment tour here).

I hope that this is helpful for any of you headed to college for the first time, and remember don’t stress! Everything will turn out fine (even if you do forget a favorite pair of shoes) and your first weeks of school should be all about settling in, meeting new friends, and having fun. If you have any other questions about packing for your dorm room or for clothes or about starting college in general you can ask them in the comments or email me. Also, if you all want another packing post more related to clothes please let me know and I will work on one!

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