When it comes to shopping for college, buying everything you need for your new home can be overwhelming. Do I need shower shoes? What clothes should I bring? What kind of laundry basket will fit in my closet?
The questions go on and on. But, chaos aside, dorm shopping should be an exciting time when you get the chance to truly own your space. The best advice I can give when it comes to a packing list is this: take a week and pay attention to the items you use around your house every day. Make a note of what you wear, the products you use, the devices you charge, etc. You’ll come up with a list of essentials fast.
All dorm lists online will give you the gist of what you need, but we’ve compiled a specific, short list of items you may forget to purchase as larger things grab your attention. Get exact dimensions for your room and an extensive checklist from housing.
Shower shoes are a must as most residence hall bathrooms are communal (separated by gender). A mesh shower caddy stocked with a washcloth or loofah and bottled (not bar) soap. You don’t want to have to set your things down in the shower, so something like this that hangs and products in containers is essential.
You’ll want at least one hand towel and regular towel, a robe for walking between your room and bathroom and under sink storage (I have this one from the container store and it fits great under my sink, but any storage with similar dimensions works).
Other products you definitely need include hand soap, a bath rug/mat, aloe vera, sunscreen, bug spray and an array of vitamins and medicines, including allergy and pain medicine as well as common cold fighters.
Don’t forget to bring basic cleaning supplies! A small space collects dirt fast. You’ll need products to clean your mirrors and windows, wipes for your sink and other surfaces, a duster for air vents and shelves, a mini vacuum for your floor and rug, paper towels for cleaning and food, dish soap for your cups and plates and a dish wand to put the soap to use. Buy the brands you prefer, but be sure to get the basics if you'd like a clean room.
Clothes and Laundry
On top of packing a wardrobe for school, you need to bring the supplies to store and clean them. This includes detergent, dryer sheets, a laundry basket you can carry upstairs, a delicates bag (for athletic wear or keeping track of socks!) and a foldable drying rack. Also, be sure to purchase lots of closet storage (shoe rack, upper shelf bins, hanging shelves) and collapsible hangers to maximize your space.
You probably already know this, but dorm beds are not the most comfortable mattresses on the planet. It’s important to make your bed comfortable. Grab two sets of sheets (size will depend on your bed), pillows, a headboard (if you want), a mattress pad and a zip-on mattress cover. This has been a lifesaver for me because it prevents the mattress pad from slipping around and holds all the comfy layers in place.
Make sure to bring all your usual technology, but here are some extras to pack. An HDMI cord and Mac adapter piece for hooking your laptop up to the common room TVs, chargers, a portable Bluetooth speaker, portable chargers, extension cords and power strips. Also, a small reading light is helpful for late-night studies without disturbing your roommate. Still technology but not computer related, some students like to bring a Brita filter and an air purifier for clean water and allergen-free air in their room. These are totally optional but generally helpful.
Storage, Tools and Other Necessities
While dorms come with lots of storage space, you're bound to want more. Invest in desk shelving, drawer organizers and under-bed storage. I have a standing shelf that sits on my desk, reused some old drawer organizers from high school and got a six-box storage bin from Target that fits under my bed next to my dresser. In addition to storage, it’s helpful to bring a tiny tool kit, nails and push pins for small fixes you need throughout the year and for hanging decor as the seasons change. Bring a small suitcase to school to keep so you have something to pack for trips home, breaks, or weekend getaways. Fridge carts are super useful for food storage and also elevate your mini-fridge to a more natural height level.
Colleen Wyrick is a sophomore double major in English and Communication Studies from Austin, TX. She is currently the senior editor for Her Campus at TCU and a social media intern and ambassador for the Office of Admission. Additionally, she’s loved getting involved on campus through the women’s club soccer team and the Frogs First program.