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The Ultimate College Packing List

Updated on August 11, 2012
Proud Dad and Mama
Proud Dad and Mama

Well, the time has come. Years of preparation and planning are about to be realized. If your a parent then this time is bittersweet and if your a college bound teenager this moment is just sweet. I am sure you have a pretty good idea of the items you will need but a good checklist never hurts. I have included some items on this checklist that we didn't take when our first went off to college, but would have come in handy. There are so many new adventures on the horizon. Let's make sure you are prepared for every single one of them.


  • Jeans/ pants
  • Shirts/ t-shirts
  • At least one dress up outfit
  • Sweatpants/ sweatshirts
  • Sweaters
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit/ beach towel/ sunglasses
  • Workout clothes
  • PJ's
  • Robe
  • Socks and Undies (2 week supply)
  • Tennis shoes /everyday shoes/ dress shoes/ boots (you will walk to class in all types of weather)
  • Belts
  • Coat/ hat/ gloves/ scarf
  • Jacket
  • Raincoat/umbrella
  • Hats
  • Watch (better to check a watch than a cell phone...less temptation)
  • Jewelry (be careful because not everyone in your dorm is as honest as you are)


  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener/ dryer sheets
  • Stain remover
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry basket
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Quarters for the machines (our school charges a laundry fee so we don't need this, but you will want to ask)


  • Towels/ washcloths (a week's worth)
  • Plastic shower caddy (to carry all your supplies)
  • Shower shoes (flip flops work)
  • Q-tips
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush/ toothbrush case/ toothpaste/ floss/ mouthwash
  • Razor/ shaving cream
  • Shampoo/ conditioner
  • Soap (liquid is easier)
  • Brush/ comb
  • Hair dryer/ curling iron/ flat iron
  • Hair care supplies (spray, mousse, gel, Etc.)
  • Nail care kit
  • Skin care supplies (face soap, moisturizer, Etc.)
  • Cosmetics/ cosmetic bag
  • Contact Lens supplies

Dorm Decor and More

  • Sheets (check to see what size you need)
  • Mattress pad
  • Pillows/ pillowcases
  • Blankets
  • Comforter
  • Area rug
  • Wall decals/ posters and double-sided tape (the rule is usually no nail holes)
  • Shades/ curtains
  • Dry Erase Board (our door is magnetic so it is kept on the outside for messages) and dry erase markers
  • Calendar
  • Futon/ Beanbag chairs (whatever fits in the space you have)
  • Foldable table/ tray
  • Desk lamp
  • Alarm clock (a very loud and annoying one placed where you need to get out of bed to turn it off)
  • Phone with a jack (our school provides the service for a room phone but we must provide the phone)
  • TV/ blu-ray/ game system (keep your doors locked...other college kids steal stuff)
  • Fan(s) depending on where you are and what works an oscillating or box fan or both
  • Microwave/ mini-fridge/ coffee maker (check to see what is allowed)
  • Extension cords and surge protector
  • Crates/ cubes/ shelves/ under bed storage boxes (check to see what will work in your room)
  • Nerf hoop for the back of the dorm room door (not a necessity but perfect for study breaks)

Study Supplies

  • Laptop/ power cords and cables/ mouse and mouse pad/ speakers
  • Laptop Case
  • Ethernet cord or wireless Internet card
  • Printer/ extra ink cartridges/ paper
  • Flash Drives/ blank Cd's
  • Backpack
  • Planner (something for organization and schedules)
  • Book light (my son has a headband with a light made by Totes)
  • Calculator (this may be a specific type depending on math courses student needs to take)
  • Pens/ pencils (sharpener if not mechanical)/ cup holder for pens and pencils/ erasers
  • Folders/ notebooks/ notebook paper
  • Post-its and highlighters
  • Binder/ 3-hole punch
  • Stapler and staples/ staple remover/ paperclips/ thumb tacks/ rubber bands/ tape
  • Scissors/ glue/ gluesticks
  • White out
  • Index cards
  • Markers/ colored pencils/ Sharpies
  • Ruler/ protractor/ compass
  • Waste basket

Food and Food Supplies

  • Bottled Water
  • Cereal
  • Milk (we bought the organic that comes in small boxes because it does not need refrigeration and has a really long shelf life for less spoilage)
  • Granola bars/ protein or power bars
  • Juice
  • Gum and mints
  • Cookies/ candies/ chips/ crackers
  • Soup/ macaroni and cheese (microwavable packages)
  • Microwavable meals
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Soda
  • Coffee/ tea/ hot chocolate
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Coffee maker supplies- cups, filters, cream, sugar
  • Can and bottle openers
  • Utensils
  • Dish soap/ dish cloths/ and dish towels
  • Refillable water bottle (we chose one with built in filter)
  • Plate/ bowl
  • Ziploc baggies/ paper towels or napkins

Miscellaneous Stuff

  • Bike and lock/ skateboard (check school policies)
  • Medical Kit
  • Any Prescription Drugs/ Aspirin/ Ibuprofen/ Benadryl/ Antacid/ Cough Drops/ Cold Medicine/ Eye Drops/ Multi-Vitamin
  • Glasses/ Contact Lens
  • Health Insurance card or information
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues
  • Sewing Kit
  • Tool Kit
  • Clorox wipes/ Swiffers (some supplies like vacuums are available at the dorm's front desk at our school but you will need to check your school, and then decide what cleaning supplies you will need to purchase)
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Board games and cards (some might be available at the dorm's front desk)
  • Sporting Equipment (like football, ball and glove, Frisbees, Etc.)
  • Flashlight
  • Any extra batteries
  • Ear plugs (your roommate will take some getting used to)
  • Address book, envelopes, postcards, and stamps
  • Credit or Debit Card/ Driver's License/ Passport/ Student ID
  • Money/ Checkbook
  • Camera
  • Any College Paperwork
  • Ipod and Cellphone (I know, I know there are already physically attached to the body)

This is a huge period of adjustment. Feeling prepared and having all the supplies you need on hand will be one less thing to worry about. It is a lengthy list so get started right away. If there is anything I have forgotten, message me and I will add it to the list. I could leave you with an inspirational quote from Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss such as, "Today is your day!Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way." Instead, I want to remind you that as difficult as this is going to be, it is the natural next step. So I will end from another Dr. Seuss book, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now, "The time had come. SO... Marvin WENT."

My Sweet Boy!
My Sweet Boy!
Time Flies
Time Flies


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    • deerev profile image

      deerev 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      My daughter will be going off to college on August 25th. We have just about everthing that you mentioned on your list. Yes, time does fly. Congratulations on your son's graduation from college, I am sure you are very proud of him.


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