17 Top College Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018)

Preparing to go off to college can seem like a daunting task. Packing can be stressful and confusing. Breathe easier with this handy packing list, clothing guide, and list of what NOT to bring to college.

What to bring to college:


1) Earplugs – Dorm life comes along with a lot of strange noises, and nothing is worse than losing sleep because of a snoring roommate or loud neighbors. Give yourself the everyday advantage of a good night of sleep by using these inexpensive and hard-to-lose earplugs. I could not have survived freshman year without them!
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2) Room fan – Temperature in dorms and college apartments can be unpredictable. Sometimes it’s controlled by your hall’s RA or your house’s landlord. Keep the air in your room cool and circulated by investing in this oscillating room fan. This one gets bonus points for creating a calming white noise that will also help you fall asleep.
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3) Workout gear – Getting your heartrate up through exercise is essential in college. Exercising helps you deal with stress, keeps you from gaining the freshman fifteen, and can be a fun way to socialize with other students. Make sure you back along your tennis shoes, water bottle, yoga mat, and anything else that will get you moving!
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4) Mattress topper – Dorm room mattresses are notoriously lumpy. Make your mattress more comfortable by adding a memory foam mattress topper. This one is worth it’s weight in gold. It has a specialized memory foam formula is designed to be extremely soft, airy and responsive, and a three year warranty.
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5) Durable water bottle – Whether you’re staying hydrated during long library study sessions or rehydrating after a big night out with your friends, having a refillable water bottle is key. College campuses have water fountains and fill-up stations to replenish throughout the day. You’ll help out the environment by not using so many plastic bottles!
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6) First Aid kit – This one is self-explanatory. I’ve had to whip out my first aid kid many times during college to fix up drunk friends who fell into a pool, my own broken toe, and countless paper cuts and blisters. This is a good one that you can easily store under your bed, in your backpack, or in
the medicine cabinet.
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7) Costumes – Having a range of costumes in your arsenal might sound silly, but you’ll be so thankful when a 80s-themed frat party comes along, or when you get invited to all those ugly sweater Christmas parties. You can’t go wrong with a range of colorful leggings like these.
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8) Weekend duffel bag – When fall break comes around and your friends decide to take off to the beach, it’s handy to have a weekender bag. This one is good for everything from spontaneous trips to your flight home for Thanksgiving weekend.
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9) Rain Gear – A raincoat and rain boots are so important for those rainy days when you have no choice but to trudge to class in a storm. If you’re prepared you’re less likely to stay home and binge watch Netflix, right?
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10) Febreeze – Dorm rooms get incredibly smelly as the year goes on. You can use Febreeze on upholstery, curtains, bedding, carpets, or other fabrics and soft surfaces for a
fresh-out-of-the-laundry scent. Febreeze makes it easy and convenient to freshen up before Parents Weekend!
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11) Dice or cards – These are handy to use for emergency drinking games, or to cure boredom during fire drills. They’re perfect for indoor or outdoor events like parties, BBQs, tailgating, group events, camping trips. Here is a back-pocket game kit to keep in your backpack.
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12) Medicine – When you wake up with dormitory “kennel cough”, or a bad case of that virus that’s going around, you’ll be glad you stocked up on dayquil, nyquil and advil. It’s also a good idea to keep a supply of anti-diarrheals, cough drops, and kleenex, just in case! I always keep a bottle of melatonin on hand, too, for when I just can’t get to sleep. Make sure you ask your doctor for a 6-month supply of your prescription medications before school starts if you won’t have a nearby pharmacy!
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13) Headphones – A good pair of headphones will help you crush your gym sessions, focus during studying and entertain you on your walks to class. These ones are noise-cancelling and inexpensive.
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14) Shower kit – Showers in dorms and shared housing can get pretty nasty. Use shower shoes to avoid getting weird toe fungus, stock up on your favorite shampoos, and make sure to bring towels, washcloths and a bathrobe. A shower caddy like this one will keep you organized, and you can keep it in your dorm room in between uses so nobody steals your razor.
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15) Kindle – Investing in a kindle will save your back and your eyes. A kindle paperwhite can cold thousands of textbooks, so you don’t have to! The best part is that it doesn’t emit blue light, which has been proven to mess with your brain and keep you awake at night. It literally reads just like a book.
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16) Backpack – You won’t leave home without this one. A solid backpack like this can hold your computer, notebooks, lunch, and gym shoes. It will keep you organized and balance out weight on your back, unlike a purse or laptop bag.
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17) Pantry basics – Pack some staples for dorm-room cuisine. Obviously, your cooking options will be limited in a dorm, but with your microwave alone you can easily make oatmeal, popcorn, and even mug cakes. Keep some healthy options like apples, rice cakes and tea in your food bin.
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The following items are also good to consider when packing for college:


What to wear in college


Going-to-class attire usually consists of casual and comfortable clothing. At universities throughout the US, you’ll find students walking through campus in everything from Nike shorts and oversized t-shirts to skinny jeans and sweaters. It really comes down to your personal style, and what you’re comfortable in.

As far as hitting the town after class and on weekends, appropriate clothing will vary depending on the scene. Ask around on your Incoming Freshmen Facebook group and find out what the typical night out looks like, then decide what to pack!

Come armed with athletic clothes for the gym, a swimsuit for pool parties, comfortable pajamas, and warm clothes for freezing classrooms.

What NOT to take to college


1) 🚫 Appliances, toasters or other cooking devices for your dorm room – You might accidentally set off a smoke alarm in the middle of the night, causing the whole dorm population to give you major side-eye for the rest of the year. Or worse, you could start a fire!

2) 🚫 Expensive jewelry – Trust me, you’ll lose it at a bar or frat party.

3) 🚫 Excessive dorm decor – Definitely make your room comfortable, but don’t go overboard and waste your money on too much decoration. Save your money for more useful things, like plane tickets for spring break!

4) 🚫 Too many clothes – Bring only what you think you’ll actually wear. You’ll end up sharing basically everything in your closet with your hall-mates anyway.

5) 🚫 A printer – The library or student center definitely has one.

6) 🚫 Bulky luggage – There’s not much space in dorm rooms. Pack in boxes, or bring luggage that can fit under your bed or in a closet corner.

7) 🚫 Anything shareable that your roommate is already bringing – Get in touch with your future roommate a few months before move-in day so that you don’t both show up with a floor size rug!

8) 🚫 Anything that the college provides(or that you can rent) – Most schools provide on-campus students with a mini fridge and microwave, or give students a special deal on renting them.

FAQs about packing for college


1) What is it like living in a dorm?

Dorm life varies from school to school and even building to building. Definitely expect less privacy than what you get from living at home, and to get frustrated living in such close quarters with strangers. At the same time, in your freshman dorm you’ll likely meet your best friends! You’ll experience more fun and camaraderie than you ever expected.

2) Is there anything that I’m not allowed to bring to college?

Certain colleges have regulations on appliances, etc. for dorm rooms, so definitely check with your specific school to see what’s not allowed on campus.

3) How can I ship my belonging to college if I’m not driving there?

Companies like FedEx and UPS commonly have student discounts to get your stuff halfway across the country without busting your bank account.

4) What if I forget something?

Chances are, you will be within reasonable distance from anything you need (grocery store, pharmacy, etc.). If you forget something important or have no way to get to where you need to go to get it, talk to your floor RA and he/she will definitely help you figure it out.

5) What questions should I ask my RA when I get there?

Ask your RA about curfews, guest policies, how you’ll send and receive mail, and what to do if roommate issues arise. Usually RA’s will host an info session for new freshmen during move-in day.

6) What if I get bed bugs?

Most likely, your University will take bed bugs very seriously. If you suspect bed bugs you should contact your RA, your Community Director, and/or the Residential Life Office as soon as possible.

7) What size beds can I expect in a Freshman dormitory?

Nearly all residence halls are furnished with Twin-XL size beds. They are 80″L x 40″W


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