Starting college this year? Here’s your essential college dorm checklist for freshman students.
A lot can happen on your first day of college, so it’s better to be prepared with everything you may need, ready and set up for use. Here we have the ultimate list of things every college student needs in their room, including necessary supplies, study items, and what not to bring to college — your essential college dorm checklist for freshman students.
If you’re starting college this year, and plan on moving into the dorms or an apartment, you’ll want to be prepared with a full checklist that includes everything you may need for your first year at college. You may be starting an on-campus degree, an online degree, or a hybrid degree. For those online students, you’ll want a list of things needed to change your current or new living space into the perfect freshman study zone.
Tips for Starting Your List
First of all, start with the list we’ve created here for you. It is a fully comprehensive list, so you can edit down based on your needs. Our list might also spark ideas for other items you may want to add, so start here and tweak it to make the perfect checklist just for you!
Check your college dorm or apartment rules for what kinds of things are allowed and what is explicitly forbidden. Examples may include pets, certain appliances, and making even temporary decor changes.
Make sure to check what is already included. New apartments sometimes come furnished, with kitchen appliances or basic furniture. Dorm rooms may include basic things such as a desk, chair, bed/mattress, and lamp.
Find out who your roommate(s) or housemate(s) is/are. Make a plan to meet them, either virtually or in person, to discuss similar interests, basic room rules, what each of you will be bringing.
Check with your program about specific items you may need for the program you are studying. You may need special software such as Adobe or Microsoft Office, or a headset for lectures.
Know your study preferences. Check in with yourself before making your desk checklist about what you need for studying, and what type of environment works best for you (think: colors, light, chair type).
Tips for Saving Money
Find out what is already included. No need to buy double of anything!
Use what you already have. Remember you will likely only be studying for 9 months. There’s no need to buy all new things for only a portion of the year.
Ask around for used items. After you make your list, make notes of what you don’t already have and before you head to the store, check with friends, family members, or neighbors if they have any items on your list that aren’t being used. Better for your budget, and better for the environment!
Ask for help moving. Check with friends and family to see if they are available to help you move on your big day. They may also be able to offer you extra support with this special and important life change you are making.
The Essential College Dorm Checklist for Freshman Students
First Up: Give a Good Clean
Get your new place squeaky clean, and keep it up throughout the year!
- Garbage Can + Garbage Bags
- Spray Cleaner + Paper Towels
- Cleaning/Disinfecting Wipes
- Small Broom + Dustpan or Handheld Vacuum
- Disposable Gloves
- Drawer Liners for previously used drawers
- Laundry Detergent + Dryer Sheets
- If you have your own bathroom: Toilet Bowl Cleaner + Toilet Brush, Garbage Can
- If you have a kitchen: Sponge + Dish Soap
If you’re sharing a bathroom, make sure to bring a caddy for carrying your things back and forth.
- Shower Caddy
- Body Wash
- Face Wash
- Shaving Cream
- Shower Shoes
- Toothbrush + Toothpaste + Floss
- Two towels, and 1-2 Washcloths/Hand Towels
- If you have your own bathroom: Bath Mat, Toilet Paper
- Hair Products, Hair Styling Tools
- Hair Brush/Comb
- Any medications
- Eye Care: Glasses/Contacts, Contact Solution
For the Bed
- Make sure you check what size mattress you will have before you buy sheets.
- Bed Raisers, for extra storage
- Blanket, Top Sheet, Comforter, Duvet, however you prefer to be covered!
- Under bed storage containers
- Condoms, or other forms of protection
A note on clothing: bring enough for several weeks at a time, for laundry purposes. You don’t need as much as you think, you will likely rewear a lot of your favorites. College clothing is comfortable clothing!
- Laundry Bag or Basket
- Purses or Bags
- Shoes: be realistic. Choose shoes that are comfortable, easy to walk and study in. Make sure you have shoes for the weather you’ll be living in. You may need winter boots, rain boots, or sandals
- Shirts, Pants, Skirts, Dresses, T-Shirts, Pajamas, Plenty of Socks and Underwear
- One or more formal outfits
- Fitness Gear
- Coat, Rain Jacket, Sweaters, Hoodies
Make your space truly ‘yours’ by personalizing with your own decor. Check your dorm or apartment rules though, some decor may not be allowed (think nails, paint, etc.).
- Area or Small Rug
- Posters or Pictures
- Decoration Tape
- Hanging Lights
You may have a full kitchen in an apartment, a kitchenette shared by an entire dorm, or not much to work with at all. Either way, here are some must-haves for any space:
- Electric Kettle
- Water Filter
- 1-2 sets of: lightweight or unbreakable Plates, Silverware, Bowls, Mugs, Cups
- Starter Snacks: Think popcorn, tea, nuts, protein/granola bars, some fruit to get you started, and easy to heat soups, oatmeal and other quick meals
College Dorm Checklist for Guys
Men entering college as freshmen may have special items they may want to add to our list, including:
- Electric Razor
College Dorm Checklist for Girls
Women entering college as freshmen may have special items they may want to add to our list, including:
- Sanitary Supplies
- Make Up & Make Up Remover
Your Perfect Study Station
Get yourself geared up in a productive and positive study environment.
- Laptop + Chargers
- Power Strips
- Electronic Wipes/Screen Cleaners
- White Board, Calendar, Chalkboard, or other study-friendly decor
- Printer + Paper for off-campus students
- Writing Supplies
For Your Backpack
You may be carrying your backpack around campus or to cafes and libraries for online courses.
- Backpack that won’t hurt your back
- Laptop + Chargers + Laptop Case
- Charger Extension Cord
- Water Bottle
- Travel Mug
Items to Check With Your Roommate
There are several things that you may want to share with your roommate. If you are moving into a traditional dorm room, where two or more students share a bedroom, there will be limited space so check space availability in order to be respectful to your new roommate. Things you may want to share with your roommate include: TV, mini fridge, fan or heater, rug, microwave, coffee pot, and cleaning supplies.
If you have a larger, shared space, such as a shared apartment or home, you will share common furniture and likely most kitchen items. Check with everyone on who is bringing what so you don’t come in with doubles. Extra tip: Make a list for yourself of all the things you brought into the dorm or apartment so there isn’t any confusion at move out.
What NOT to Bring To College
It’s understandable that you may want to bring everything you love, but there are some things best left behind.
- Large electrical appliances: These are likely not allowed in dorms, and anyways you may not have the space.
- Your beloved pet: Most colleges will not allow pets in dorms, and many apartments have no pets rules
- A printer: Most colleges offer printing included in tuition
- Your entire wardrobe: You will likely be switching out between seasons
- All new decor: Remember, you will only be there for 9 months so there is no need to go all out with new things
Creating a checklist for online study comes with special circumstances. You may already have a space for living but need to create your own study space. In that case, make sure to create your perfect workspace by checking the college supply list above, and as we said before, know your own study habits so you can create a space for yourself that will give you maximum focus and productivity.
Studying online will require the same amount of focus and commitment as an in-person degree, so you will want to make sure you have a great study space set up. Online programs such as University of the People offer flexibility of study times so you can use that space whenever best works with your current schedule.
All in all, there’s no need to sweat your start as a freshman in college! With our packing list, you’ll be all set and ready for a fantastic year from the get go so you can hit the ground running once classes start.