The Ultimate College Packing Guide

If you’re starting college this fall, move-in day will be here before you know it! Excited? Anxious? Both are totally normal emotions to have, but if you’re feeling the latter maybe this packing list will help calm those nerves.

First, it’s helpful to know what you don’t need to bring to college. 

Most dorm rooms come with a standard set of furniture—but be sure to double-check your college’s website! Most colleges provide you with at least a bed, dresser, closet or wardrobe, desk, and chair.

Here’s what you should consider bringing…

Some of these will be hard to get by without, but others are optional. You can make the call—unless we’re talking about deodorant, laundry detergent, or a toothbrush. Most of the personal hygiene items are non-negotiable. (Your roommate will thank you.)

For sleeping:

  • Extra long twin sheets
  • Comforter 
  • Pillow and pillow case
  • Extra blankets (Consider bringing one for outside too!)
  • Mattress pad
  • Sleep mask (This can be helpful when you share a room.)
  • Book lamp
  • Alarm clock
  • Attachable shelf (This works as a nightstand for those with a lofted bed or bunk bed.)

For personal hygiene:

  • Towels
  • Shower caddy
  • Flip flops for community showers
  • Bath robe
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Bodywash
  • Facewash
  • Shaving cream and razor
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Loofah or wash cloths
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nail clippers
  • Slippers
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Laundry basket
  • Laundry bag or laundry hamper
  • Drying rack
  • Sewing kit
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
  • Lint brush
  • Stain removing pen

For your studies:

  • General school supplies: pens, pencils, calculator, folders, notebooks, planner, highlighters, notecards
  • Backpack
  • Laptop
  • Headphones
  • Hole punch
  • 3-ring binder
  • Accordion folder 
  • Planner
  • Flash drive
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Post-it notes
  • Stapler
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Desk lamp
  • Corkboard and pins or whiteboard and markers
  • Calendar

 For storage:

  • Hangers
  • Bins (The ones with wheels or the ones that fit under beds are great.)
  • Over-the-door towel rack
  • Shoe rack

For dining:

  • Mini fridge
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Fork, spoon, and knife
  • Microwavable plate and bowl
  • Cups
  • Water bottle
  • Coffee mug
  • Travel mug
  • Dish soap and sponge
  • Coffee maker and coffee grounds
  • Snacks (Microwave popcorn, instant oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, dried fruit, and hot chocolate mix are a few tried and true options for dorm living.)

For medical purposes: 

  • First aid kit
  • Health/dental insurance cards
  • Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Aspirin
  • Cold medicine
  • Cough drops
  • Vitamin C 


  • String lights
  • Painter’s tape
  • Additional seating (Futon, couch, or chair—coordinate with your roommate on this one!)
  • Adhesive hooks and strips
  • Dorm room decor
  • Important documents, like your passport or social security card (you’ll need these if you get a job on campus)
  • Ear plugs (for studying or for sleeping)
  • Fan
  • Tool kit
  • Sports equipment
  • TV
  • Mirror
  • Umbrella
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Extension cords
  • Trash can and trash bags

This list isn’t perfect for everyone. Use it as inspiration for your own personal packing list. For example, if you have never used slippers before in your life, you’re probably not going to start using them now. You should also connect with your roommate to see if there are items you can share, particularly things like the mini fridge, toaster, TV, etc. 

And don’t forget to check with your college so you know what items are not allowed! 

Some common prohibited items include:

  • Candles—don’t be the student that burns down the dorm hall
  • Halogen lamps—another fire hazard
  • Pets—sometimes fish are allowed
  • Things that will damage your wall—nails, screws, paint, wallpaper
  • Fireworks, firearms, weapons—basically anything that can cause a loud bang, a fire, or harm to another person

Moving into Bethel this fall? Everything you need to know can be found on our Welcome Week website.