What to Bring For Your New Life in College Dorms

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Packing for college dorm life can seem like a daunting task. But planning ahead and ensuring that you have enough of what you need before you head off to college can save time, frustration, and stress.

Before looking over this college dorm life essentials list try to communicate with your roommates before move in day to coordinate who is bringing what. Certain items like appliances and electronics can be split among roommates, this way you don’t show up with 2 other roommates and have three microwaves.

Clothing – 

Dorm closet space is often limited. If you live within two hours or less of school and have a way to transport clothes back and forth you can condense your packed clothes by only bringing seasonal clothes. For example in August when you move in bring mostly summer and fall clothing. When it gets colder around Thanksgiving break you can take some of those clothes home and bring back heavy sweaters, coats, and winter clothing.

At the very least you want to have at least 2 weeks worth of clean clothes in your dorm closet including underwear. College laundry rooms can be busy and in between college life you may only get to do laundry once or twice a month. You also want to bring some lounge around clothes both heavy and light weight. Dorm room temperatures can be unpredictable with many lacking A/C or having extremely high heat settings in the winter.

Personal hygiene – 

Dorm showers are often shared as are the bathrooms. Get a shower caddy you can carry your shampoos and soaps in as well as toothbrush, razors, and body wash. Bring at least 4-5 towels with you. You’ll likely go through 1-2 towels a week and doing laundry twice a month means you’ll need a few extra. A good pair of shower flip flops is also recommended to prevent bacteria infections. A small first aid kit is also a good idea.

Electronics/Appliances –

Page 2 of 3 While you should coordinate with roommates on things like mini-fridges, TVs, mini-vacuum cleaners and microwaves other items you’ll need on your own. A computer is essential for today’s college students, many opt for a all in one laptop that is portable and at the same time offers both entertainment and productivity. While some may recommend a stereo system and DVD player for your dorm, consider that for many the computer itself becomes an all in one entertainment center.

Desk lamps are also useful as dorm lighting may not be bright enough. Consider one for your desk and one for near your bed. 

If you are a gamer you’ll want to see what systems your roommates have and coordinate accordingly. No need to have 2 playstations in the room. 

Bedding and seating –

Most dorms come filled with beds and desks with chairs. Dressers may also be included. Other than that you’ll need to bring your own fold up chairs or bean bag chairs for additional seating. You’ll also need two pairs of sheets and a comforter, most dorm beds are “extra long.” 

Food – 

Most dorm dwellers rely on dining halls and meal plans for their meal needs. But late night snacks or an extra meal are needed from time to time. Stick to basic non perishable foods that can be eaten without cooking or can be microwaved. Check to see if your dorm building has a community kitchen. Use the mini-fridge to keep drinks and some snacks cold.

Personal items/decor –

Many dorm rooms look like glorified jail cells although some colleges have ones that look more like hotel rooms. Either way you’ll want to add your own touch to these rooms. Consider things like posters, mood lighting, photos, and so on. Just be sure you and your roommate(s) agree on placement and arrangement of these things outside of your own desk and bed area. Home sickness can occur so bring some things that remind you of friends and family back home for your desk and bed area.

Storage –

Space is limited so you’ll want places to keep school supplies, extra food/bath products, books, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. Under the bed storage bins are a great idea as are Yaffa style stacking crates and a small bookshelf. 

Dorm insurance – 

You can purchase an inexpensive policy specially designed for dorm dwellers and college students living on their own. This is highly recommended as many policies cover against accidental breakage, theft, and fire damage. Dorm life can be quite the experience and things do get broken. 

A reminder –

Page 3 of 3 Schools often have a list of prohibited items that you can not bring into or store in dorms. Most of these items are banned to protect against physical harm or fire risks. Examples include lava lamps, personal stoves/grills, sporting equipment, weapons, drugs, certain types of lights, candles, etc. Check with your school prior to moving in to see which particular items are prohibited; again most are banned to ensure safety of all living in the building.


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