12 Things You Can’t Forget To Pack For College

College is, without a doubt, a big transition. You’re going to a new school, with new people, in a place (town/city, or even state) that likely isn’t familiar to you.

There’s so much to prepare as you enter this next stage of your life, from picking out classes (if your college lets you do that for your first semester) to purchasing new school supplies and textbooks. However, if you’re living on campus, you’ve got even more to prepare.

Essentially, you have to pack up your whole life (or at least it feels like that) and move it into a small dorm room. There are so many things to remember to pack that it can be overwhelming and stressful. In these situations, it’s possible that you’ll forget to pack a few key items that you wouldn’t even think to bring.

You know to pack clothes, bedding and school supplies, but what are some other essentials that you might be forgetting? Here’s a list of the top items (in no particular order) that you might not have thought to bring to college, but should. (This list applies to everyone getting ready to go to college because let’s be honest – even seniors, after three years of bringing their things back and forth, forget to bring some important items with them.)


1. Professional attire

Two well dressed professionals walking down a city street. Could be lawyers, business people etc.

Shutterstock (DW labs Incorporated)

You never know if/when an occasion will come up, so it’s best to have something on hand, just in case. This can be as simple as bringing a ‘business casual’ outfit to college. Don’t forget to bring dress shoes, any appropriate/matching accessories and garment bags – you’ll want to make sure you keep those clothes clean.

This tip is especially important for seniors because of job interviews, although freshmen, sophomores and juniors should bring a set too. You’ll want to dress well for job fairs (it never hurts to go early) and any summer internship interviews. Plus, you never know if you’ll get invited to some sort of fancy event where you have to get dressed up.


2. Attachable/stackable/cascading hangers

Wardrobe closet full of colorfull clothes in dressing-room.

Shutterstock (Eduard Goricev)

Whatever you call them, you’ll want to have them – especially when you’re trying to shove that shirt into the little slot of space in your closet that you think you have. These hangers free up so much space by using a vertical hanging approach, and allow for you to put more clothes in your small dorm closet.

If you don’t want to buy these special hangers, you can also use soda tabs. They work well and essentially do the same thing, you just have to make sure that you have slim hangers.


3. Cleaning supplies

Beautiful young woman is smiling and using a vacuum cleaner while cleaning floor at home

Shutterstock (VGstockstudio)

These get more important – and larger in quantity – when you become an upperclassman and have a larger living space (ideally). However, even freshmen should bring a few essentials such as a vacuum and/or broom/dustpan combo, for when the floor inevitably gets dirty.

Bringing some sort of room spray or air freshener is also recommended. Whether you (or your roommate) have done something to make the room smell not so nice, or the room just doesn’t smell particularly great to begin with, you’ll want to have a way to freshen up the room when you need to.


4. Small fan and/or heater

Businesswoman refreshing from heat with small fan at workplace

Shutterstock (New Africa)

This depends a lot on where you go to college. You’ll want to find a way to combat the heat or cold (depending on where college is for you) when you’re hanging out in your dorm room, and a small fan or space heater can be really effective.

Plus, a lot of traditional dorm buildings don’t acknowledge the temperature outside – especially during the hot-weather months – so you’ll want to have something to keep you from sweating profusely (or freezing, for the other months).

It also depends on your body and personal preferences. If you tend to run a little on the warm side, you might want to bring a small fan, and if you tend to feel cold a lot, you might want to bring a small heater.


5. Lighting

Empy student bedroom decorated with twinkle lights and teddy bears.

Shutterstock (DGLimages)

Dorm lighting can be both harsh and limited, so you’ll want to bring some softer lights to supplement. Natural light can only do so much, especially if you’re studying (or hanging out) in your room at night.

You’ll probably want a combination of different types of lights – a floor lamp for general lighting, a desk lamp for studying at your desk and string lights to decorate. Lighting can also add a touch of character and personality to an otherwise pretty dull dorm room.


6. Eye mask and earplugs

Young Woman Wearing Eyemask While Sleeping On Bed

Shutterstock (Andrey_Popov)

This is especially for the light sleepers out there. You’ll most likely have a roommate your freshman year, and these items will help to combat any snorers, night owls (whether they’re up late studying or hanging out with friends) and early birds.

They’re also useful for blocking out the bright morning light and morning commotion (the latter is especially relevant if you live in a dorm building with other people, some of who will definitely have early classes), for those days that you can sleep in because you don’t have an early class.


7. Bed risers

A bedroom at Loyola College in Maryland, USA. Other amenities in the dorm included a kitchenette, entrance area, and a small gathering room with table and chairs.

Wikimedia Commons (Rybread)

You probably won’t have a lot of space to store everything you brought to college, especially during your freshman year, so these are really helpful for making extra storage room under your bed. They lift the bed up high enough to be able to shove more things under there, without requiring you to have to perform acrobatics to get onto your bed (although, if the bed is too high, a small bedside step stool helps).

However, make sure your college allows these. Some colleges don’t let you use them, whether it’s because their beds are height-adjustable, the beds are high enough for you to not need them, or for some other reason.


8. Extra towels and sheets

Stack of folded sheets over white background

Shutterstock (Michael Kraus)

These are for the times when you don’t want to/don’t have time to do laundry, but you really need to change your sheets or get a new towel. It happens – you’ll get busy in college – and that’s what the second set is there for.

You could also use them if you’ve washed and dried your first set, but they aren’t quite dry yet and it’s time to go to sleep or take a shower. Or maybe you’re the kind of person that likes to change it up every once in a while. Whatever the reason, it can’t hurt to bring an extra set.


9. Drawstring bag/small duffel bag

Three drawstring pack template, bag for sport shoes isolated on white

Shutterstock (Ira Shpiller)

These are helpful for those spontaneous short trips with your friends, where just your pockets and/or purse won’t do. Depending on where you go to college, that can include something like a day trip into the city, or an afternoon spent at the nearby beach.

They also come in handy for short weekend trips home – or, if home is too far away and you befriend your roommate, weekend trips to visit their family (for a homecooked meal, to play with their pet, or just to get off campus for a little).


10. Water filter and water bottle

Woman pouring water from filter jug into glass in the kitchen

Shutterstock (Africa Studio)

Hydration, needless to say, is important. However, who knows how clean the water – even if it’s from the kitchen sink – is? Plus, those school water fountains are probably even worse (unless you have the filtered ones).

Therefore, it’s best to bring a water filter to college to ensure you’re drinking clean water – just make sure to fill up your reusable water bottle before you head to class!


11. First aid kit

First aid kit in red bag.

Shutterstock (Zull Must)

At some point during your four years at college, you’ll likely have a minor incident (at least), whether it’s a small cut or the common cold. Without a medicine cabinet like you have at home, you’ll need to ask your friends if they have something, and if they don’t, you’ll have to make a trip to the store (or at least to your college’s health services).

To avoid all that hassle, pack a simple first aid kit with pain killers, over-the-counter cough and cold medicine, bandaids and anything else you think you might need. It’s one of those things that’s better to have than not, in case you need it.


12. Small sewing kit

Close up of sewing Kit on white background

Shutterstock (akiyoko)

You should bring this for the same sort of reasons as the first aid kit. You never know if one of your clothes will rip, you’ll find a small (but repairable) hole in something, or a button will fall off of one of your shirts, so this is something that it can’t hurt to have on hand.

Also, if you don’t know how to sew, now’s a good time to learn. There’s a very good chance that something will need to be fixed by sewing at some point (including after college), so it’s a good general life skill to have.


Of course, if you forget to bring any of these (or other) things, it’s very likely that you can buy it at your college’s local Target, Walmart, or Bed Bath & Beyond. However, moving into college can be stressful enough as it is, so it makes the whole process easier if you already have everything you need and you just have to unpack and put everything away.

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