This article is published in the 2014 I’m First Guide to College

Plan for the Long Haul

When packing for college, it’s important to remember that you are not packing for just a few days or weeks. If your college is far from home, you’re likely packing for months. If your college is in a colder climate, that means you need to pack for fall and winter as well as summer. Your shorts may be fine for August, but come November you’ll wish you packed your snow coat!

Check your College Guidelines

Most colleges have a list of items which are not allowed in student dorm rooms. Fire hazards like candles, incense, and hot plates are often not allowed. Pets are usually a no-go too. Small refrigerators and microwaves are usually okay, but check your guidelines first. Remember, you can be fined for having prohibited items in your room, so double-check if in doubt.

Wait on the Big Stuff

Dorm rooms vary vastly from college to college. Some may be spacious and well-stocked, while others may be tiny and offer only the bare necessities. Most colleges will supply you with the basics: a bed frame, mattress, desk, chair, and dresser. If you’re thinking of bringing extra furniture or large accessories (futons, chairs, refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, etc), wait until you see the size and layout of your room before purchasing anything. You may want to split the cost of some of these items with your roommate, or you may not be able fit them in your room at all!

Give Me Specifics!

Packing for college is like packing for life. you know what you need and what you don’t. Here are a few items that are specific to college life that you may want to consider adding to your list. Remember, most of these things can be bought once you’re on campus too.

Example Checklist

  •         Bedding—most college dorm room beds take extra-long twin sheets
  •         Towels
  •         Extension cords and power strip/ surge protectors
  •         Earplugs/headphones
  •         Desk lamp
  •         Small fan
  •         Iron/miniature ironing board
  •         Clothes hangers
  •         Flip flops and toiletry caddy for the shower
  •         Plastic cutlery and dishes
  •         Laundry bag and quarters to operate laundry machine
  •         Swim suit
  •         Formal/dress clothes for special occasions
  •         Umbrella/rain coat
  •         Day Planner
  •         Notebooks, paper, writing utensils and calculator for your first day of class
  •         Laptop computer