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Whether you’re moving into a dorm for the first time as a freshman or settling into a new apartment your senior year, packing can be daunting—which is why we compiled the ultimate college packing list to take the guesswork out of what to bring to college. Let’s start with dorm room essentials. You’ll of course need bedding (pro tip: even a cheap mattress topper will make those springs more comfortable), toiletries (don’t forget the shower caddy!), and a stock of your favorite beauty products just in case a drugstore run for face masks isn’t in your immediate future. We’ve also included unexpected things you might not have thought of (a mini steamer really comes in handy when you’re stuffing all your clothes into a small dresser), and organizers that’ll help you maximize your closet space. Plus, our college packing list has fun dorm decor ideas to turn those barren walls into your own aesthetic sanctuary, clothing ideas (you’ll want to be prepared for those theme parties!), and tips for starting off the semester with confidence. 

Ready to start your back to school shopping? Let’s do this.

P.S. You can find our full printable college packing list at the bottom!

Tech

Sure, you already know what basics to bring: laptop, chargers, and so on. But, there are some unexpected, but ridiculously handy tech items you’ll want to pack like surge protectors, noise-canceling headphones for those nights the library gets rowdy (seriously, it happens), and a Bluetooth speaker for fun evenings in.

  • Adapters (HDMI, ethernet, etc.)
  • Batteries
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Camera
  • Chargers (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
  • Cord organizer
  • E-reader
  • Ethernet cable
  • Extension cords
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drives
  • HDMI cable
  • Headphones and spare headphones
  • Keyboard
  • Lap desk/stand
  • Laptop
  • Laptop case
  • Laptop lock
  • Laptop pen
  • Portable phone charger/power pack
  • Printer
  • Printer ink
  • Printer paper
  • Ring light
  • Router
  • SD card for camera
  • Surge protectors
  • Tablet
  • TV
  • TV stand
  • Wireless mouse

Voova Laptop Case, $19

Cord Organizer, $7

Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, $190

BEDDING

A comfortable bedding setup is possibly the most important thing to bring to college. Trust us, you’ll be spending a lot of time there, whether you’re cramming for your final exams, taking a power nap (highly recommended), or having movie night with your BFFs. Make your corner of the dorm room a cozy, (cool), reliable space you can be proud of.

Partner picks from The Home Depot

DORM DECOR

Showing off your personality through dorm decor is one of the most fun aspects of being a college student. Express yourself creatively and surround yourself with things that make you happy by adorning your walls with cute posters, string lights, trendy neon signs, and Pinterest-perfect picture frames or even personalized art.

Partner picks from The Home Depot

 

SMALL APPLIANCES

Psst: if you ask us, the secret to navigating college life is learning to be efficient on the go. Having a small appliance like a coffee maker in your dorm can be a total game-changer. If you want to save time, money, and have a reliable way to enjoy snacks and meals when you’re pressed for time, check out these essential small appliances. (Pro tip: Consult your university to find out what’s not allowed in your dorm room before committing to these).

Partner picks from The Home Depot

CLOTHING

In college, you constantly have opportunities to reinvent yourself. Whether that means going to a costume theme party, or simply experimenting with the latest fashion trends, when it comes to clothing, you should be prepared for anything. We suggest packing enough outfits to get you through two weeks of classes (not to mention coffee dates, study sessions, and nights out), this way you don’t have to constantly do laundry. Essentials include jeans, sweats, and all things comfy, but don’t forget to bring at least one dressier ‘fit in case you land an interview for an internship or decide to join sorority recruitment.

  • Bandeau
  • Bathing suits
  • Belts
  • Boots
  • Bras
  • Casual dresses
  • Casual shoes
  • Change purse
  • Costume clothing for theme parties/extracurricular events
  • Everyday purse
  • Everyday sneakers
  • Flats
  • Fleece
  • Flip-flops
  • Formal clutch
  • Formal dress
  • Gloves
  • Going-out clothes
  • Going-out purse
  • Gym bag
  • Hats
  • Heels
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Jewelry
  • Leggings/Yoga pants
  • Little black dress
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Pajamas
  • Pants
  • Platform sneakers
  • Professional clothing (dress, dress pants, button-down shirts, skirts, blazers, shoes, purse)
  • Rain boots
  • Raincoat
  • Running shoes
  • Scarves
  • Semi-formal dresses
  • Shapewear
  • Short-sleeve shirts
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Slipper socks
  • Slippers
  • Snow boots
  • Socks
  • Socks for rain boots
  • Sports bras
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatpants
  • Sweatshirts
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Tights
  • Underwear
  • Watch
  • Winter coat
  • Workout pants
  • Workout tops
  • Wristlet
  • Zip-up jacket

On Cloud Cloudflyer, $160

Iconic Moment Black Bodycon Midi Dress, $54

Supima® Cotton Essential Tee, $28

TOILETRIES

PSA to all college students: having proper toiletries is a must! While sharing beauty products with friends on the go can be fun, make sure you’re personally prepared with this list of beauty must-haves. From moisturizing creams to hair treatments and everything in between, these will help you feel confident (and pampered!) all year long.

  • Acne pads
  • Acne spot treatment
  • Bar soap
  • Blow dryer
  • Bobby pins
  • Body moisturizer
  • Body scrub
  • Body wash
  • Cleanser
  • Comb
  • Complexion pads
  • Conditioner
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Curling iron
  • Deodorant
  • Diffusers
  • Dry shampoo (HC Pick 1, HC Pick 2, HC Pick 3, HC Pick 4, HC Pick 5)
  • Eye cream
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Eyeglasses and case
  • Face moisturizer
  • Face SPF
  • Face tanner
  • Face treatment oil
  • Floss
  • Hair clips
  • Hair color
  • Hair curlers
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair ties
  • Hair treatments (HC Pick)
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand mirror
  • Head-to-toe moisturizer
  • Headbands
  • Hydrating face serum
  • Lip treatment
  • Lotion
  • Mask
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail files
  • Nail polish
  • Pimple patches
  • Pumice stone
  • Razor
  • Shampoo
  • SPF lotion
  • Tampons and pads
  • Toner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toothpaste
  • Tweezers

Partner picks from Batiste

Original Dry Shampoo – Clean & Classic, $19

Tropical Dry Shampoo – Coconut & Exotic, $11

Bare Dry Shampoo – Barely Scented, $11

Hint of Color Dry Shampoo – Divine Dark, $12

Naturally Bamboo Fiber & Gardenia Dry Shampoo, $12

Repair Leave-In Hair Mask, $13


MAKEUP

Coming to college with the right products can help you create a personalized makeup routine, whether you want to look more awake for early morning classes or experiment with a bold eyeshadow for a formal event. If you’re looking for some new makeup products to pack this semester, here are some of our favorites.

  • Beauty blender
  • Bronzer
  • Concealer
  • Eyeliner
  • Eyeshadow
  • Foundation
  • Hydrating lip balm
  • Lip and cheek tint
  • Liquid lipstick
  • Makeup brushes
  • Mascara
  • Moisturizing primer
  • Primer serum
  • Setting powder
  • Setting spray

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, $20

Everyday Eye Essentials Makeup Brush and Sponge Set, $20

Tula Filter Primer Blurring & Moisturizing Primer, $36

LAUNDRY

If you haven’t gotten used to doing your own laundry yet, get ready for a crash course during college! Chances are, you’ll have a communal laundry space in your dorm or apartment, so make sure you’re prepared with detergent, dryer sheets, and a reliable hamper that won’t break in the middle of the stairwell (been there, done that). Pro tip: if you’re in a shared space, always keep an eye on your belongings and label your laundry items, unless you want Jenny from down the hall to “accidentally” borrow your detergent again…

Partner picks from The Home Depot

FOOD

When you’re juggling classes, extracurricular activities, friends, and a jam-packed schedule in college, it’s easy to forget your basic needs—aka food! Gone are the days of your pantry being magically stocked with your favorite groceries (thanks Mom!), and now’s the time to learn about meal prep and planning ahead. You’ll need healthy dorm snacks (think high-protein options like peanut butter, almonds, and hummus, that’ll keep you full while you’re studying) and quick things to make in an instant when you’re pressed for time (microwavable meals FTW!). Stay fueled with a few of our favorite college-friendly foods below, plus options that are easy to pack for the library.

Partner picks from Tasty Bite

Tasty Bite Organic Indian Madras Lentils

Tasty Bite Organic Indian Channa Masala

Tasty Bite Indian Bombay Potatoes

Tasty Bite Organic Basmati Rice

Tasty Bite Organic Turmeric Rice

Tasty Bite Organic Jasmine Rice

SUPPLIES FOR CLASS

There’s something nostalgic and wonderful about brand new school supplies! Now that you’re heading to college, know that every professor will probably require you to bring something different for their class, so you want to be 100% prepared no matter what the situation. Take some time to stock up on essential school supplies that are functional and fun, from colorful highlighters to the cute planner that’ll help you stay organized. Keeping your desk stocked during college is essential, so check out some of our faves here.

  • Backpack
  • Binder clips
  • Binders
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Cards/notes to send home
  • Desk chair
  • Desk lamp
  • Desk organizer
  • Desk storage box
  • Envelopes
  • Erasers
  • File folder for important documents
  • Folders
  • Glue
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Journal
  • Laptop fan/stand
  • Notebook paper
  • Notebooks
  • Notepads
  • Paper clips
  • Pencil case
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Pencils
  • Pens/colored pens
  • Permanent markers
  • Planner
  • Portfolio/portfolio case for interviews
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Stamps
  • Staple remover
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Sticky notes
  • Tape
  • Textbooks
  • Three-hole punch
  • Tote bag
  • White out

Papier Checkmate Notebook, $21


Anthropologie Tasseled Scissors, $20

KACO Soft Touch Retractable Gel Ink Pens, $7

EXTRAS THAT MAKE COLLEGE BETTER

Whether you’re studying on campus or remotely this semester, these items can help make your life easier, more efficient, and comfortable during college. With these items, you’ll be prepared for whatever the semester throws your way, plus the list contains fun, practical items to help you personalize your space! From weekend beach trips to yoga classes and beyond, check out these items that are curated to help you be ready for anything in college—and have some fun along the way. 

  • Art supplies
  • Beach towel
  • Bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Bike lock
  • Board games
  • Books to read for fun
  • Earplugs
  • Flashlight
  • Hand weights
  • Lightbulbs
  • Luggage tags
  • Musical instruments
  • Playing cards
  • Safety pins
  • Safety whistle
  • Sleep mask
  • Sports equipment
  • Suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel organizer for toiletries
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum
  • Video game console
  • Weekend bag
  • Yoga mat

Ban.do Beach, Please! Giant Towel, $40

All in Motion™ 3lb. Dumbell, $6

Blissy Sleep Mask, $37

KITCHEN SUPPLIES

Depending on your college or university, your next kitchen can look like anything from a microwave and a mini-fridge to a large kitchen space you’re sharing with roommates. Regardless of your setup, your kitchen should serve your needs, from your early morning coffee ritual to storing late-night study snacks. Check out these kitchen staples and get ready to impress everyone who visits your space!

  • Aluminum foil
  • Bottle opener
  • Broom
  • Can opener
  • Chip clips
  • Cookware (HC Pick)
  • Dinnerware (HC Pick)
  • Dish towels (HC Pick)
  • Dishes
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Duster
  • Dustpan
  • Food storage containers
  • Glass cleaner
  • Hand soap
  • Knives
  • Mop
  • Mugs
  • Napkins
  • Oven mitt
  • Paper plates
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Sponges
  • Trash bags
  • Travel mug
  • Utensils
  • Water boiler
  • Water filter pitcher
  • Water filters

Tiled Margot Monogram Mug, $14

Zoe Wodarz UO Exclusive Printed Oven Mitt, $16

Vintage Style Wire Bag Clips 9 Count, $5

BATHROOM

Maybe you got lucky and ended up in a dorm with its own bathroom, or maybe you’re now sharing a bathroom with twenty people in your building (been there!). Regardless of your setup, here’s everything you need to pack to feel clean, prepared, and comfortable with your college bathroom setup. And yes, shower shoes are 100% necessary.

  • Air freshener
  • Bath towels
  • Bathrobe
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies (i.e., drain cleaner, glass cleaner, rubber gloves, shower cleaner, sponges, toilet brush, toilet cleaner)
  • Bathroom rug
  • Hand towels
  • Loofah
  • Shower caddy
  • Shower cap
  • Shower curtain (HC Pick)
  • Shower mat
  • Shower organizer (if your school allows it)
  • Shower shoes
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Tumbler/cup
  • Upgraded showerhead (if your school allows it)
  • Washcloths

ASOS DESIGN Super Soft Checkerboard Fleece Robe, $40

Get Naked Bath Mat, $39

Sugarcane-Blend Double-Strap Slide Sandals for Women, $12

DOCUMENTS

Now that you’re in college, it’s time to step up and start organizing your important documents. Seriously. You could ask your parents to overnight your passport before your big vacation, or you could keep it all together and focus on jet-setting. Here are some essential documents that you’ll want to keep track of during college. It may seem overwhelming at first, but trust me, it’ll make your life way less stressful in the long run!  

  • AAA card
  • Bank documents
  • Car registration and insurance information
  • Checks
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Driver’s license
  • Emergency contact list
  • Financial aid documents
  • Health/dental insurance cards
  • Lease (if you have an apartment)
  • Passport
  • Product warranties
  • Renters insurance (if you have an apartment)
  • Student ID

MEDICINE

Dorm rooms definitely don’t come with a stocked medicine cabinet, so make sure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way. Whether you deal with food allergies or just want to stock up on items in case of a killer headache, it’s always a good idea to have these items on hand so you don’t have to make a dash to the drugstore, especially if you don’t have a car on campus.

  • Allergy medicine
  • Aloe lotion
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandages
  • Birth control
  • Blister bandages
  • Cold medicine
  • Condoms
  • Cortisone cream
  • Eye drops
  • First aid kit
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Humidifier
  • Insect repellent
  • Menstrual pain medication
  • Multivitamins
  • Nasal decongestant
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Prescription medicine
  • Prescription refill information
  • Retainer/mouthguard
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Stomach relief medication
  • Supplements (i.e., iron pills)
  • Thermometer
  • Thermometer covers
  • Throat drops/lozenges
  • Throat spray
  • Vaseline

Welly Expanded First Aid Kit, $25

Digital Oral Thermometer for Adults, $7

OLLY Women’s Multivitamin Gummy, $13

With this ultimate packing list, you’ll feel prepared for college in no time! Next up: shopping. Download our printable college packing list to take with on your trips to the store!

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you’ll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.

This is a sponsored feature. All opinions are 100% our own.

Kenzie oversees branded content for Her Campus Media. She graduated from Drake University in 2014 with a degree in Magazine Journalism and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
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