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Packing for Your First Year in College

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It is important to pack things you will most definitely need when moving off to college. This page is about packing for your first year of college.


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By 0 found this helpful
December 10, 2010

My daughter will be starting her first year of college next month. Should she pack her things like bed linens, shower caddy, clothes, etc. in a bag or suitcase? We live in New York and she will be going to school in Oklahoma. Not sure at this time if we are going to fly or ride the bus/train. Any suggestions to make this an easy transition will be helpful. Thanks.

By Onesummer


December 11, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Just some food for thought, but since she will be traveling so far, what about shipping items like towels and linens ahead of time, via UPS, FedEx, or whatever? You'll need to check with her housing hosts in advance, but if they can accept and hold such for her until arrival, it may lessen her worries about keeping track of the bags and suitcases as she travels.

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November 18, 20130 found this helpful
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I'm in my first year of college right now. I took the train from LA to Kansas to attend KU. It cost so much less then taking all my suitcases on the plane with all the baggage fees. I suggest bringing only clothing and things that are small with you.


Everything else can be bought at a store near the college.

Bed Bath and Beyond has a program where you can scan items from one store and they will be ready to pick up at the store near the college. It was fast and easy and saved a lot of room in my bags for other things like coats for the winter.

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December 10, 20100 found this helpful

I will be beginning next fall as a freshman in college and I have no idea what to pack. What are some things that I definitely should bring with me to college and what should I leave behind?

AC from MN


Packing For Your First Year in College

If you will have roommates you should work out with them ahead of time what they can contribute, this saves you and your housemates from have multiples of everything.


If you will have a kitchen you should find out who has what kitchen items.
You may need:

  • microwave
  • one big pot
  • one medium sized pot
  • a frying pan
  • a spatula
  • a serving spoon
  • knives
  • can opener
  • spices
  • tea kettle?
  • silverware
  • plates - You could each bring two place settings (two in case you had friends come over for a meal, I did this all the time when I was in college) or one person can bring a set.
  • glasses and cups
  • broom and dust pan
  • mop
  • vacuum (sometimes dorms have these to check out)
  • toilet brush
  • plunger
  • cleaning products
  • extra lighting? (may be needed)

For yourself you should bring:

  • a couple towels
  • a couple sets of sheets
  • blankets
  • pillows (however many you usually use)
  • clothing and shoes, coats (just the stuff you actually wear)
  • toiletries
  • laundry basket/bag
  • laundry detergent

You should bring a few comfort items, things that will make you feel at home. A photo album is nice to have so you can show your new friends your family, you when you were younger, your best friends, your pets, your town, etc.


I think it is most important to remember that you will have to pack everything up more than once if you move home for the summer, or to a new dorm, apartment, or house sometime during your college years. I moved at least four times in a two year period when I was in college.

If you are going a long way from home be sure to have some extra money to buy things that you may have forgotten, thrift stores are great places to get almost any household item.

Something else to think about is not bringing items that you would be really upset if it were lost or stolen. My first week of college, the majority of my clothing was stolen out of the washing machine. So I would advise you to not leave your clothing unattended in a public laundromat, bring your homework and do it there.

Good luck. (01/16/2006)

By Stellaluna

Packing For Your First Year in College

I'm sure the school supplied you with a list. My son is in his first year of college. The list helped a lot. But like the other post, check with your room mate. You don't want 2 of everything. You won't have room. Also find out if it is carpeted or tile, so you know if you need a small vacuum or mop and broom. Find out where outlets are and storage space. We made a lot of runs to Wal-mart that first day and we had everything on the list and Wal-mart ran out of stuff. (01/16/2006)


By B

Packing For Your First Year in College

Be sure and find out if the beds are regular twin or XL twin size. You don't want to bring the wrong size sheets.

Also, bring toilet paper. Some dorms don't supply it.

Under the bed storage bins are nice to have and maybe one of those cardboard drawers in the closet for underclothes and socks. They don't hold anything really heavy, but are great for organizing small items. (01/16/2006)

By Cheryl from MO

Packing For Your First Year in College

You should pack some rolls of quarters. They are needed for vending machines and laundry. (01/16/2006)

By Martha

Packing For Your First Year in College

You should definitely plan on bringing at least two sets of sheets and towels, a blanket, bedspread, and pillows. You might also want a back rest pillow so you can read or study in bed. If you are going to live in the dorms, you probably won't need to have things like pots and pans and dishes, but you might want a coffee maker, or a hot pot. You should think of things you might like to have around for decorating your room. And if you are going to have to share laundry facilities, you might want to put name tags in your clothing (or use a Sharpie to write your name in it.)


When you bring things, think of things that you know will make your stay more comfortable. On the other hand, don't bring anything valuable. If you have to share a communal bathroom, you might want to bring a small bucket or basket that you can use to carry your toiletries to and from the bathroom. Also plan to take a robe, slippers, and comfortable clothing. Make sure you have an adequate supply of laundry soap, too. You might also want to have a radio/CD player, and even a television. If you don't want to have hassles with your roommates over phone bills, you might consider using a prepaid cell phone. The long and short of it is that you should think of things that you regularly use at home, and go from there. HTH (01/16/2006)

By Susan K. Beal

Packing For Your First Year in College

Something to also think about taking, especially if you're taking your own computer and even if you're not, is a couple of extension cords. Room set up might not have the plugs where you can get to them and have enough room for everything.

Also, speaking of computers, you'll need extra disks for saving your work if you use the computer labs. It's easier and usually cheaper to buy them ahead of time, than buying disks at the campus store. (01/16/2006)

By Krissy

Packing For Your First Year in College

Check with your college before packing all of those cooking supplies. My son's school (Emory University in Atlanta) does not allow any type of cooking in the room except what can be done with a microfridge (a special type of microwave and fridge built together). A lot of universities don't allow hot plates or even George Foreman type grills because of fire hazards. He does have kitchen privileges across the courtyard and down a flight of stairs, but in reality it isn't convenient except on long weekends when he may not come home. Do take a small fridge if your school allows it even if you only use it for drinks. (01/19/2006)

By Christine

Packing For Your First Year in College

The most handy stuff I used:

  • milk crates - They can be stacked in many configurations and makes it easy to move stuff around during break.
  • bathroom shelf - This was a simple wooden plank with 2 legs. It allowed us to put more stuff on the counter in the tiny bathroom for 4 people. You can drill holes in each end for toothbrushes.
  • shower rack - Great for holding wash cloths to dry or shampoo or soap.
  • X-long sheets - All our dorms had single x-long beds so standard sheets did not fit. X-long sheets in the store are hard to find and expensive.
  • hangers - Dorm closets usually did not have hangers.
  • push pins. Our dorms all had cork boards to put stuff on.
  • throw rugs - All our dorm rooms were tiled floors, which got really cold in the winter.
  • a radio with headphones - You can listen to your favorite music without disturbing others.
  • battery charger with batteries - My walk to class was 10-20 minutes, so we had a lot of time to listen to music on the long walk between classes.
  • Ziploc baggies, in case you swipe a couple rolls from the cafeteria for a snack later.
  • padlock, if you go to the gym or to lock up valuables. Not everyone is trustworthy, especially when it comes to food.
  • Engrave your driver's license number (not SSN) in hidden places on things like CD players, stereos, computers, laptops, etc. Do not engrave it on something that could be removed like a battery compartment lid.
  • I had one small plugin pot to boil water in to make ramen noodles.
  • I got a bank account with a bank local to my college, which wasn't near my home. That made using the ATM easier while at college. No fees (at the time).

Our dorms each housed 4 people in 2 side bedrooms with a central room. The central room had 2 movable desks with desk chairs and 2 sitting chairs. Your dorm may be different. But many people would stack the 2 desks in a way so that we could put a TV in the desk legs.

Usually your dorm will have a meeting discussing the rules of the dorm and QandA the first week of school. Then you'll find out if you can cook ramen noodles in your room or if you have to go to their kitchen.

By Chuck R.

Packing For Your First Year in College

A tip for making extra space in a dorm room is to take cinder blocks (concrete blocks) and put them under the legs of your bed. My daughter and most of the kids at her college did this and she was able to not only put extra things under there, but she was able to fit a dorm size refrigerator under there, too. (01/24/2006)

By suzanne

Packing For Your First Year in College

No one really talked about clothing. Make sure you bring some fun clothes to dress up in because lots of times there are formal parties or Halloween parties and it's always good to be dressed right. Calling cards to call home and some stamps help. Definitely quarters, extension cords, and batteries! I found it easiest freshman year to order all my bedding on-line and have it shipped to my school (places like have free shipping deals usually.) (Just check on your school address.) Most things you can also buy once you get to school, like your shower stuff and all the CVS stuff. It's always a good idea to be well-stocked on medicines for things like colds, headaches, and stomach aches. Also, don't forget some things to decorate your room with. It's good to check with your roommate so you can match. Good luck, you'll love college! (02/19/2006)

By kc

Packing For Your First Year in College

I also would suggest a couple of powerbars with circuit breakers. I know in the dorms at my college, there tend to be quite a few power outages, especially at the beginning of the year when they are trying to get the power load right.

Also, anything you can find to save space is a must. Clear plastic drawers for storing clothes, pens and pencils, dish detergent, medicine, etc. are also great ideas. These come in a variety, from small desk organizer size to almost dresser sized ones. I also have a hanging closet organizer that hangs over the bar in my closet. It has an adjustable number of shelves and works well to store my jeans and t-shirts that I can't hang.

Don't forget laundry supplies, detergent, fabric softener, and color catchers are wonderful things. I suggest getting fabric softener sheets instead of the liquid stuff because it saves space. Also, Febreze is a wonderful thing. It helps not only with stinky carpet, mattresses, and other dorm issue things, but it's a great way to freshen up clothes that smell stale.

I'd also suggest, strongly, buying a fitted mattress pad that fits your bed. You never know how old your mattress is, how clean it is, or what the person who had the room before you, did on the bed. (04/28/2006)

By H

Packing For Your First Year in College

More things that weren't listed:

  • laptop locks - Laptops make much more sense than desktops so you can take them to class or to the library.
  • A clip lamp by your bed is nice so it doesn't take up space.
  • a shower caddy
  • over the door hooks
  • A cork board/marker board will keep you organized.
  • a cute mug for pens and pencils
  • a rug - most dorms do not have carpeting
  • a mirror
  • those great sticky things from 3M - great for hanging anything - enough of them can hang any weight
  • an alarm clock
  • some kind of paper organizer - be it a portfolio or stackable shelves
  • tack is great for hanging photos
  • a trash can
  • a laundry bag or basket or hamper - the collapsible ones are great
  • a shoe rack in your closet can be really helpful and make more use out of the space in the closet
  • slippers
  • a desk lamp
  • a back rest pillow is really great to have
  • fans - lots of dorms don't have air conditioning and that can be treacherous during the first and last weeks

By Guest

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