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Here’s Everything You Need to Pack for College

Heading to college for the first time is one of my all-time favorite memories. There’s something exciting about packing your favorite belongings, settling into your new living space, and starting a brand new life as a college student — let’s be honest, it’s a big deal! Here at HCHQ, we have years of college shopping experience, and with the help of some of our favorite brands, we’re sharing our college student must-haves with you. Welcome to the College Packing List, your comprehensive guide to everything you need for college life!

Whether you’re moving into a dorm, apartment, or revamping your at-home workspace, shopping for items that help you feel great is the best way to start the semester on a fresh note. From everyday must-haves to stylish dorm decor and little items that’ll make your life *way* easier, our College Packing List has you covered. Ready to start back-to-school shopping? Let’s do this.

Bedding

Of the many things I learned in college, it’s that having a comfortable bedroom and bedding setup is a must! Trust me, 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 bedroom a cozy, reliable space you can be proud of — and don’t forget to take some cute shots for Insta.

Room

Showing off your personality through your living space is one of the most fun aspects of being a college student. My college dorm was all purple everything, which not only made me feel like royalty in everyday life, but made for a solid conversation starter when friends from my building stopped by! Your college room is a great time to express yourself creatively and surround yourself with things that make you happy. So, future college students: never underesti

mate the power of a killer bedroom setup. Here are some fun things to spruce up your space.

Small Appliances

Psst: if you ask me, the secret to navigating college life is learning to be efficient on the go. Take it from someone who spent way too much time (and money!) during college at my local cafes — 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.

  • Popcorn maker
  • Blender (HC Pick)
  • Portable blender bottle
  • Waffle maker
  • Microwave (HC Pick
  • Mini fridge (HC Pick)
  • Electric tea kettle
  • Toaster (HC Pick)
  • Mini rice cooker
  • Coffee maker (HC Pick)
  • Coffee mug warmer
  • Mini vacuum (HC Pick)
  • Mini espresso machine
  • Multipurpose meal station
  • French press
  • Mini breakfast sandwich maker
  • Sparkling water machine
  • Mini cake maker

Clothing

Perhaps my favorite aspect of college is that you constantly have opportunities to reinvent yourself. This means you get to experiment with fashion, style, and new clothes — what could be more exciting than that?! From study sessions to coffee dates and nights on the town, these clothing essentials will help you feel comfy, cute, and prepared no matter where your college adventures take you.

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

Laundry

If you haven’t gotten used to doing your own laundry yet, get ready for a crash course in adulting 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…

  • Laundry hamper or bag 
  • Lingerie bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Color catchers
  • Fabric softener
  • Stain remover
  • Dryer sheets
  • Drying rack
  • Garment bag
  • Iron
  • Ironing board 
  • Lint brush
  • Portable stain remover pen
  • Quarters
  • Sewing kit 

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.

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.

Products 

  • Instant self-tanner (HC Pick)
  • Tanning foam (HC Pick)
  • Tanning lotion (HC Pick)
  • Tanning applicator (HC Pick)
  • Bar soap
  • Body wash (HC Pick)
  • Body scrub (HC Pick)
  • Body moisturizer (HC Pick)
  • Self-tan remover (HC Pick)
  • Tanning drops (HC Pick)
  • Lotion 
  • Shampoo 
  • Conditioner 
  • Hair treatments 
  • Hair Color
  • Cleanser 
  • Head-to-toe moisturizer 
  • Face moisturizer for all skin types 
  • Face moisturizer for normal and combo skin 
  • Face moisturizer for oily and combo skin 
  • Face tanner (HC Pick)
  • Hydrating face serum 
  • Acne pads 
  • Acne spot treatment 
  • Lip treatment 
  • Eye cream
  • Mask 
  • Complexion pads 
  • Face treatment oil 
  • Toner 
  • Face SPF (HC Pick
  • SPF lotion (HC Pick)

Supplies

  • Hand mirror
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Razor
  • Nair bladeless shave cream (HC Pick: Rosewater, CBD, Lavender)
  • Nair spa sugar hair remover (HC Pick)
  • Tweezers
  • Hairbrush
  • Comb
  • Bobby pins
  • Blow dryer
  • Diffusers
  • Hair curlers
  • Curling iron
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair ties
  • Hair clips
  • Headbands
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Eyeglasses and case
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Tissues
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail files
  • Pumice stone
  • Tampons and pads
  • Toilet paper

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 foods (thanks Mom!), and get ready to learn about meal prep and planning ahead. Take it from a former college student who forgot to eat all the time…you need survival snacks and quick things to make when you’re pressed for time. Stay fueled with a few of our favorite college-friendly foods below. 

  • Bulk snacks 
  • Bottled water
  • Granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Microwavable meals 
  • Cereal
  • Coffee
  • Coffee creamer
  • Lentils 
  • Sugar
  • Instant hot chocolate
  • Gum 
  • Microwaveable rice 
  • Ramen
  • Soup
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and jelly

Desk/School Supplies

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

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, like these Command™ hooks (which are total lifesavers during college)! 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. 

  • Command™ Large Picture Hanging Strips (HC Pick)
  • Command™ Poster Strips (HC Pick)
  • Command™ Bath Large Satin Nickel Double Hook (HC Pick)
  • Command™ Medium Brushed Nickel Hook (HC Pick)
  • Command™ Large Brushed Nickel Designer Hook (HC Pick)
  • Lightbulbs
  • Safety pins
  • Safety whistle
  • Playing cards
  • Art supplies
  • Beach towel
  • Bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Bike lock
  • Board games
  • Books to read for fun
  • Video game console
  • DVDs
  • Musical instruments
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep mask
  • Flashlight
  • Weekend bag
  • Travel organizer for toiletries
  • Suitcase/duffel bag
  • Luggage tags
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum
  • Hand weights
  • Yoga mat
  • Sports equipment

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!

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

Tech

School supplies in college definitely require a new category: tech. You’ll have papers to send, emails to write, endless photos to take, and you’ll likely be lugging your laptop around campus throughout it all. Make sure you’re prepared for class and beyond with these technology must-haves.

  • Laptop (HC Pick)
  • Laptop pen (HC Pick
  • Wireless mouse (HC Picks: pastel blue, camo, mobilearc)
  • Microsoft 365 software subscription (HC Pick)
  • USB Travel Hub (HC Pick)
  • Xbox Game pass (HC Pick)
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drives
  • Keyboard
  • Lap desk/stand 
  • Laptop case 
  • Ring light
  • Camera
  • SD card for camera
  • E-reader
  • Tablet 
  • Chargers (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
  • Portable phone charger 
  • Ethernet cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Extension cords
  • Adapters (HDMI, ethernet, etc.)
  • Headphones and spare headphones 
  • Speakers 
  • Printer 
  • Printer ink
  • Cord organizer 
  • Printer paper
  • Router
  • Surge protectors 
  • TV 
  • TV stand 
  • Batteries

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
  • Shower curtain and rings (if needed)
  • Shower mat
  • Shower organizer (if your school allows it) 
  • Upgraded showerhead (if your school allows it)
  • Bathroom rug
  • Shower shoes
  • Shower cap
  • Shower caddy 
  • Bath pouf
  • Loofah
  • Washcloths
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Bathrobe 
  • Tumbler/cup
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies (i.e., drain cleaner, glass cleaner, rubber gloves, shower cleaner, sponges, toilet brush, toilet cleaner)
  • Scale

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 jetsetting. 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!  

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

Medical

Dorm rooms definitely don’t come with a stocked medicine cabinet, so make sure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way in college. Whether you deal with food allergies like me or just want to stock up on items in case of an emergency, it’s always a good idea to have these items on hand. Plus, you can save a last-minute trip to the drugstore, and you’ll also be the envy of all of your friends — don’t be surprised when they knock on your door asking to borrow things 24/7! 

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

With this ultimate packing list, you’ll feel prepared for college in no time! Looking for more college packing inspiration? Check out your personalized, school-specific packing list here and get ready to have an unforgettable college experience.

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

Madeleine manages the Her Campus national branded content team. She graduated from Fordham University in 2015, where she studied communications and marketing. Before joining HC, Madeleine most recently was the branded content editor for Delish.com and HouseBeautiful.com. She currently lives in New York City with her boyfriend and their cat, Beignet.
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