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Essential College Dorm Checklist for Freshman Students

Essential College Dorm Checklist for Freshman Students

Looking forward to your first college dorm experience? Leaving home and setting up a temporary home in a dormitory can be an exciting and overwhelming time, and you may not be sure you are up to the challenge. We’re here to help you out with a comprehensive college dorm checklist for freshman students. It lists all the items you should bring with you and some things you should leave behind. This checklist is divided into categories to make it easier to navigate. Use it as a guide when you shop for your dorm essentials and when you pack your bags.

Source: Pexels

Freshman Dorm Essentials


Let’s start with your college dorm bed. It’s where you’ll crash after a long day of school, and because dorm rooms tend to be small, beds end up serving multiple purposes. Most dorm beds are extra-long twin size, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. 

  • Extra-long twin sheet set, including pillowcase
  • Mattress pad
  • Blanket
  • Comforter
  • Pillows

Bathroom Supplies

Whether you’re sharing a bathroom with your roommates or you will be using a communal dorm bathroom, you’re going to need some supplies that are easy to tote around with you, so include a basket or waterproof bag of some sort.

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap or shower gel
  • Washcloths and towels
  • Hairbrush and comb
  • Hair dryer
  • Curling irons and other styling tools
  • Hair spray, hair gel, and other styling products
  • Makeup and other beauty products
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Contact solution (if you have contacts), and other eye care items
  • Nail clippers
  • Flip flops for showering in a communal shower
  • Robe
  • Bathroom tote or basket


For some freshmen, this may be the first time you are expected to do your own laundry. Get a lesson from your parents before you leave, and pack these items to make laundry day a breeze.

  • Laundry bag or basket (get two if you tend to not fold your clothes right away)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets or softener
  • Small, portable ironing board and iron
  • Hangers for your closet


You don’t want to pack every single item in your wardrobe. Think about what you’ll need before your next visit home.

  • Walking shoes
  • Clothing you’ll wear to classes
  • Clothing you’ll wear in the dorm or hanging out with friends
  • Pajamas
  • Bring along something a little nicer if you have a job interview or an event to attend
  • Jacket and/or coat
  • Boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit
  • Hats


You’re going to college to study, right? That means you will need access to a computer most days. While colleges usually have technology rooms you can use, you will probably want your own personal electronics for your dorm room.

  • Laptop and charger
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Gaming system
  • Printer and printer paper
  • Power strip

Study Supplies

Besides your laptop and printer, you’ll be needing some basic supplies for studying. 

  • Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Folders
  • Writing utensils
  • Backpack
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Calculator
  • Sharpie
  • Colored pencils
  • Small sticky notes

Items to Make Your Room More Comfortable

As you imagine your new dorm room, remember that space is limited. Anything you bring along should be necessary. The following items may make your dorm life a little more pleasant.

  • Desk lamps and light bulbs
  • Light that clips onto your headboard
  • Small refrigerator (max. 4 cu ft)
  • Coffee maker
  • Electric tea kettle
  • Fan
  • Rug
  • Beanbag chair
  • Posters, small shelf, mirror, and other wall decors
  • Trash bin
  • Organizing caddy or small set of drawers

Miscellaneous Items

Everyone has different needs, so there may be some items you absolutely cannot live without and other people don’t want to bring along. Here are some ideas for those little extras that might be essential for you.

  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Birth control or condoms
  • First aid kit
  • Water bottle
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Basic tool kit
  • Tape and mounting putty
  • Snack food items
  • Silverware
  • Plates and cups
  • Umbrella
  • Sports equipment
  • Deck of cards and/or board games

Financial Items and ID

This part of the checklist will depend on how you plan on paying for things. Some kids have their own jobs and bank accounts in the area, while others will depend on credit cards and long-distance banking transactions.

  • Credit card, debit card, or other ATM cards
  • Small amount of cash
  • Drivers license
  • Insurance cards
  • Passport
  • Lockbox

Items You Should Not Pack

This freshman college dorm checklist is a good reminder that not everything belongs in a dorm room! Remember not to bring along these items.

  • Large electrical appliances
  • Hot plates or electric frying pans (many dorm rooms do not allow these)
  • Pets
  • Too many clothes
  • Whatever else your dormitory does not allow (there should be a website you can look at for this information)

Source: Pexels

Online Studies

Some college freshmen will not be in a dorm, and that’s fine, too. Make your own checklist of items that will allow you to focus on your studies in your own home. You should have a quiet room or area that you can claim as your own. Make it cozy and welcoming, so you can enjoy your online studies as much as possible. 

University of the People offers online programs such as Business AdministrationComputer Science, and Health Science which can be achieved from the convenience of your own home. Learn more about all our online programs. Many students are grateful for the ability to study while also working. Online programs offer flexibility that in-person programs do not. However you are studying, it’s a good idea to keep your overarching goals in mind. 

Getting a college degree has plenty of benefits for you now and in the future! Whether you are planning on living in a dorm room or you are taking your first college courses online, your freshman year can be a life-changing experience. Make the most of your studies, and enjoy meeting new people who can enrich your life in new ways. If you feel homesick or overwhelmed, take a deep breath, write about it in your journal, or talk about it with a friend. And then move forward, knowing that you are doing great!

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