It’s that time of the year again when freshman, and some returnees, are buying everything they’ll need for the upcoming year. And who can blame them? With so many great deals going on, I was in the same place two years ago. But are you sure you’re buying exactly what you need? Read on to see multiple college pack lists that I have compiled here for you and make sure you have everything you’ll use.
Why Pack Lists are Important
Pack lists are so important. I have a slight memory problem, so if I don’t write something down I am probably going to forget it. Having the kinesthetic memory from either writing or typing down what you’ll need as well as having the visual reminder helps you keep track of what you need and what you may have already bought makes sure you have everything and that you don’t buy two of something.
Also, this makes it easier if you have a roommate. If you’re living in the dorms, you’ll probably have a roommate. By making a pack list for the upcoming school year, you can decide what you only need for yourself and what you and roommate could split up (she buys the futon and you buy the mini fridge). You won’t have duplicate items that take up space in your small shared space and you can cut costs.
When Should You Start Buying Dorm Items
I started stock piling stuff in my room as soon as I could. It makes me anxious when I don’t have what I’ll need, even if it’s a few months away. This also lets you keep an eye out for the best deals so you aren’t spending money needlessly if that comforter you have to have will go on sale in a week.
If you live in another state and worry about getting all your dorm items to your new school, you can send these items to your dorm or local postal office and have them hold it for you until you get there. You could also wait to buy the stuff once you get there. Stores around college campuses know that students will need specific things like shower caddies and command hooks, so they generally have sales on them during the time students are moving in.
My Top 8 Dorm Must-Haves
- Drying rack – If you have to pay for your laundry, then I would definitely recommend buying a drying rack. You have no idea how many times I had to lay my clothes all over my entire dorm room (over doors, bed posts, chairs, makeshift clothesline from yarn) in order to get them dry after the awful machines wouldn’t dry them all the way (so maybe I overloaded them a few times, but just maybe they shouldn’t charge me $2.25 per load when I’m already paying over $8,000 to live there).
- Shower shoes – A lot of dorms have community bathrooms, which means shower stalls. Shower stalls mean other people’s germs and possible infections and fungus you can get from the floors being very wet all the time. Invest in a pair of nonslip sandals or flip-flops and revel in the fact that you won’t have to deal with Athlete’s Foot two weeks into the first semester.
- Power strip/extension cord – Get at least one power strip and two extension cords. You’ll need them. Most dorms are decades old and don’t have the outlets you’ll need for all the technology we have now. Use your power strip for your desk, that way if you leave your laptop plugged in and there is a power surge it’ll be safe (most power strips have surge protection, which means they shut off when the surge comes through so it doesn’t make it into your devices).
- Basic medicines – Buy some cold medicine, cough syrup, cough drops, and pain reliever of choice. College campuses have thousands of students, faculty, staff, and visitors per day, and not all of them are as clean as you are. You will probably get sick a few times, and having these on hand before you get to that point will really help.
- Eye mask/ear plugs – I tend to get distracted very easily when I’m going to bed. Light from the window? I’m staring at it instead of trying to go to sleep. Someone outside in the hallway talking really loud? I’m eavesdropping on their conversation (I’m notoriously nosey). I love wearing my eye mask, even when I’m at home, because it makes me focus on trying to go to sleep and my own thoughts rather than looking around my room. And ear plugs are a must in the dorm. The walls tend to be thin and people are loud. You will probably have an 8 AM and your sleep is precious. Instead of going to class exhausted, buy ear plugs and an eye mask to help you sleep.
- Mini ottoman – I seriously loved my mini ottoman. I used it for extra storage, extra seating, and when my bed was raised it tripled as a step-stool. When I would eat in friends’ rooms, I would often make their mini ottoman my table. These are so useful and cute as well.
- Mattress pad – If you buy nothing else from this list, buy a mattress pad. It’s for you, not me, really. My freshman year I bought one from DormCo (listed below) and I really liked it, but by the end of the year it was flattening out. My sophomore year I bought a cheap memory foam one and I loved it so much, I honestly liked my dorm bed better than my bed at home.
- A strong fan – My freshman year I bought this really cheap pink fan from Walmart. It was awful. Instead of buying something super cheap, splurge and buy the better fan. If you don’t have air conditioning, you’ll need it, and you’ll save money in the long run because you won’t buy the cheap fan AND the expensive better one.
Best of the Best College Pack Lists
Pre-Pack for College: Tips on how to start packing early for college so you don’t stress yourself out but are still ready for moving to the school dorms. I totally pre-packed for school, but it helped make sure I didn’t forget anything and it helped me from overpacking.
College Shopping List: Includes free printable version, divided into sections like bed, bathroom, room, closet, desk, ect.
12 Things You’ll Forget to Pack for College: Things people often forget but will find useful in the dorms.
Ultimate College Packing List for Freshmen: List of items and reasons why you might need that item (that way if you know you aren’t going to use it you can scratch it off the list).
Extensive Dorm Packing List: Good for the student who is budget-conscious. I know I was, with no income and only my high school graduation money to get me into a dorm.
College Clothing Packing List: List of clothes you should bring and why. College students overpack for school, especially on clothes the first year. I was afraid of this so I actually under-packed clothes and had to have my mom send me my clothes through the mail!
First Aid Kit for College Students: What you need for your first aid kit. Guys, buy Band-Aids. I walked so much my freshman year that I had bloody blisters for the first few weeks. And buy a good pair of walking shoes.
Back to School Shopping: School supplies you’ll need. I was so lost when trying to decide what school supplies I would need for college. This will help you out in that arena.
Packing for College: Ultimate list of everything you could think of plus all that you haven’t. Seriously the ultimate list of dorm items to buy.
Where to Buy Dorm Supplies
Target – What don’t I love Target for? I love the books, the decor sections, the little dollar section which actually has some good stuff, their policies about nongendered toys and bathrooms. Target is a great place to get some cheaper dorm items so you aren’t spending a fortune and I think the company is really awesome as well.
DormCo.com – DormCo is a website that is really good for some cheaper stuff. Their egg crate mattress pad is really good and I bought my shower caddie from them because it was the perfect size for me. Plus they are specifically targeting college students who live in dorms, so they have what you need.
Amazon.com – Amazon is so amazing. The past two years my mom has bought me Amazon Prime as a Christmas present, so I have access to free two-day shipping on a majority of their products as well as music, TV shows, and movies. I have bought school supplies from there (when I was too lazy to go to Walmart) as well as a thin cotton blanket that I used for the entire year because it was cool in the summer and perfect with another blanket in the winter.