What Every College Freshman Really Needs to Pack

Ultimate College Girl Packing List | Blair Blogs

This post is the sequel to the most viewed post of all time on my blog, What Every College Freshman Really Needs to Know. If you just want to download the packing list, click here to download.

Ultimate College Girl Packing List | Blair Blogs

Yes, that photo is from the day looong ago before I moved in my freshman year–yikes! But good memories :)

The Ultimate College Girl Packing List

For The Bed

  • Body pillow (you’ll want to put this up against the cinderblock wall that your bed will inevitably be up against! so much more comfortable!)
  • 2 pillows for your head (it’s nice to have two if you have an out-of-town friend stay for the weekend)
  • Blanket (I highly recommend a sweatshirt blanket)
  • 2 pairs of sheets, one cotton and the other jersey or flannel (hot/cold weather)
  • Comforter
  • Decorative pillows if you like them (I do! I do!)
  • Mattress cover (make sure to get a non-crinkly one–like this)
  • Your favorite stuffed animal from home (you may want something to cuddle as you get adjusted!)
  • Clip-on bed shelf

For The Desk

  • Mug or cup for pens/pencils
  • Lamp (trust me–the overheads get old really fast)
  • Wireless mouse and mousepad if you prefer it
  • Laptop case (I like the snap-on cases, but a fabric sleeve is great, too!)
  • Calendar
  • Stapler and extra staples
  • Three-hole puncher
  • Tape (scotch, masking, and duct–yes, you’ll use them all!)
  • Power strip
  • Graphing calculator
  • Printer, ink, and paper (it’s much cheaper and faster to use the library’s printers, but you will probably use your own printer once in a blue moon!)
  • Comfortable chair if you’re picky (with my bad back, I am super picky! no wooden dorm chairs for me.)

For Decoration

  • Rug, as big as you can fit (it will make your room feel 100x more cozy)
  • Picture frames, canvases, posters, and other wall decor
  • Over-the-door mirror
  • Floor lamp (I hate overhead lights, lamps are so warm and homey)
  • Light bulbs
  • Command strips
  • Command hooks
  • Tension rod and curtains if you really want to make it homey
  • Dry erase board and markers for your door (so your friends can leave you notes!)

For The Closet

For You To Eat

  • 4 microwaveable bowls
  • 4 microwaveable plates
  • 4 forks
  • 4 knives
  • 4 spoons
  • Your favorite foods (oatmeal, soup, cereal, crackers, fruit–whatever you like!)
  • 2 coffee mugs
  • 2 reusable water bottles
  • 1 travel coffee cup (whether you’re a coffee, hot chocolate, or tea drinker–you will love this on chilly Fall mornings!)
  • Brita pitcher and filters
  • Electric kettle if you’re a big tea drinker
  • Coffee maker or Keurig

For You to Clean

  • 2 rolls of paper towels
  • Pack of napkins
  • 2 packs of Lysol or Clorox wipes (you’ll go through one on move-in day!)
  • Windex wipes or spray
  • Small, lightweight vacuum (or borrow one from a hallmate!)
  • Dish soap
  • Dish scrubber or sponge
  • 2 dish towels
  • Large trash can (don’t get the tiny one like the one in your bedroom at home–opt for a kitchen-sized can!)
  • Trash bags

For Entertainment

  • Television (you probably won’t use it much, but it does come in handy every now and then)
  • DVD player
  • DVDs
  • Your favorite few books (don’t go overboard–they’re a pain to move)
  • Deck of cards
  • Board games (it’s fun to have a game night with your friends!)
  • Headphones

For The Bathroom

  • 2 full-sized towels
  • 2 hand towels (if you have a hall bathroom, take a hand towel with you to dry your face when you wash it at night…a lot easier than carrying a bulky full-size towel!)
  • Shower shoes (cheap plastic flip flops)
  • Towel wrap or robe (absolute must)
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Shower pouf or washcloth
  • Face wash
  • Body lotion
  • Face lotion
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream if you use it (I don’t!)
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash

For Laundry

  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Dryer sheets
  • Oxiclean spray (you. must. bring. this. it. gets. everything. out.)
  • Bleach
  • Laundry basket (use this as your hamper–save space and time)
  • Drying rack for whatever cannot go into the dryer
  • Iron and ironing board if you’re against wrinkles

For Retreats & Weekend Getaways

  • Sleeping bag (wish I had brought one my freshman year…it’s so easy if you have a friend sleep over, if you go on a retreat, if you go camping, go on vacation with friends, etc…bought one my sophomore year and used it countless times)
  • Twin-sized air mattress (like the sleeping bag, used it 24/7…this one’s cheap at $33)
  • Small duffel bag

For Your Happiness

  • Journal
  • Bible (or another inspirational book, but I recommend the Bible :))
  • Letters from family and friends to open throughout your first week
  • Family photos

Ultimate College Girl Packing List | Blair Blogs

With all that said, here’s my best advice: do not try to purchase every single item and cram it all in mom’s van before your freshman year. Unless you’re going to school in the absolute middle of nowhere, save some shopping for orientation weekend. It’s simply too overwhelming and difficult to get it all before you leave.

More advice: don’t go to the Target, Walmart, or Bed Bath & Beyond directly next to your university. Drive, I tell you–drive! Drive 20 minutes, even a half hour away. They will actually have dorm essentials in stock, it won’t be a literal feeding ground, and the lines will be roughly 62 people shorter.

Even more advice: use Amazon Student to your advantage. It is a wonderful, beautiful place where shipping is always free and prices are always lower than retail. I bought oodles of my college stuff from Amazon Student. If you don’t have an account, get one for free here. (Just do it. You won’t regret it!!!) Bonus with Student–if you don’t bring a car to school, you can get stuff sent right to campus! Holler!

And just for kicks and giggles, here are two photos of my freshman dorm room!

Ultimate College Girl Packing List | Blair Blogs

Ultimate College Girl Packing List | Blair Blogs

Oh, how I loved that sweet little room! BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!

College students and grads–what would you add to this list?
Want more college tips, inspriation, and encouragement?
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Howdy! I'm Blair, and I write on this lovely little slice of the interwebs. Thank you for stopping by! I'm a lover of: daisies, coffee, sunsets, Jesus, laughter, New Girl, candles, and warm towels. I don't care for: pessimism, sunburn, seafood, accounting, or the color red. Please comment or email me at blair@blairblogs.com if you'd like to chat!


  1. Thank you so much for the helpful post! I will headed off to college in just a few weeks and my mind is everywhere. It is nice to have some helpful hints to keep my head on straight. Love your blog!:)

  2. Love this post! So helpful since I’ll be starting my freshman year in just a few weeks. This packing list really does have the right items and made me think of a few things I would have forgotten!

    ~ Caroline

  3. I am sending my 3rd child (but 1st girl ) off to college and your list was so helpful !!! You have things on there we haven’t thought of! Great advice about shopping in a town way from your school too !! Great info and thanks for sharing !

  4. This was great! It’s so much more realistic than many of the other lists out there! Thanks for such a great blog!

  5. Although I’m not going to be a college freshman until fall 2014, I still am really excited/already getting nervous! Will definitely be bookmarking this blog post! PS. I am applying Early Decision to Elon this fall & hoping for the best :)

  6. I’m leaving in September to start my freshman year and will be living in the dorms. This list has been incredibly helpful in packing and planning. You are a lifesaver, thank you so much!

  7. I think you covered it all! The only thing I would add is that my college had community board games and decks of cards, so even though I brought mine I ended up taking them home right away!
    Also, I used plain old white vinegar for my stains in clothing. It gets more out than OxiClean, and it’s WAY cheaper (like 89 cents for a decent size bottle). It’s stinks, but once you run your stuff through the wash it’s good to go!
    I also used baking soda and vinegar to clean my bathroom and sink… still do to this day! The Clorox/Lysol wipes are super convenient, but I also cleaned with the baking soda and vinegar just to stay on the cheap! Here is a great website with a tutorial on how to do this: http://broccolicupcake.com/blog/2012/03/spring-cleaning-natural-cleaning-tips-for-the-bathroom/.
    Thanks for sharing this awesome list!

  8. You can also get Amazon Prime free for 6 months if you use your .edu email address. With the same email it’s still half off after that.

  9. Can Opener!!

  10. Savannah B says:

    Kleenex! With living in such close proximity to everybody it’s so easy to get sick. And if your freshman year is anything like mine, it will be an emotional rollercoaster. If it isn’t at least you’ve got them there to offer to a friend!

  11. This list is great. we are sending our 18 year old off to college, and have been gathering her dorm items as well, I think we got most everything you listed, (and the can opener ) Its been a lot of fun, as a mom shopping with my daughter to set up her first home-away-from-home.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I agree with the suggested addition of a can opener. Also, don’t forget toilet paper!!!

  13. Good list! I reccommend batteries and Kleenex!

  14. So helpful! Any advice on how to best store makeup/clothes. I kind of have a lot haha

  15. Command Strips!!! Like the hooks to hang things on! I used a zillion! You cant put holes in a dorm room wall.

  16. Hey! I don’t know if you were aware, but amazon prime is free to students! It makes life even better.

  17. I’m a Mom and veteran of dorm packing, both for myself (MANY years ago) and my son. I would add a flashlight to the list, and a good pair of scissors. Mine were always being borrowed. Unless you are never going home during the semester, leave off-season clothes at home. Take a couple of outfits for surprise weather until you can get home. I would also STRONGLY suggest you coordinate the large space-taking items with you roommate(s). Also check the college info lists- our dorms had vacuums and ironing boards you could check out to use. Oh- and check the mattress size before you buy sheets. Most are now Extra-long singles, or Super-Singles. Good luck everyone!

  18. This list is absolutely great! I definitely wish I would’ve seen something like this before I went to college. I think the absolute best thing on here is the body pillow. I wish more than anything that someone would have told me to put one against the wall when I went to college. I wasn’t used to having my bed against a wall & was still adjusting to a smaller bed and I ended up kicking/kneeing my wall very hard several times in one night and could hardly walk for a few days. Kind of embarrassing, but I now always keep 2 body pillows to protect me haha

  19. Rachel Bachert says:

    My first semester in college I had no idea what to bring. A list like this would have been very helpful.
    I would also suggest to remember spiral notebooks or loose leaf to take notes on. Also some pocket folders are very helpful to manage any handouts.Maybe a pocket sized dictionary for random emergencies. These are things I forgot.
    Extra pens and pencils, highlighters, stick glue(if necessary) and yes the scissors really come in handy. You might also bring a Sharpe marker to put your name on things.
    I also had hanging closet shelves and shoe organizer that I hung on the wall with tacks that I put extra clothes, water bottles, makeup, curling iron, jewelry, and much more in.
    Another thing I recommend that has come in handy is some mini bins to hold small things and keep them more organized like toiletries, hair products, medicine,etc. My hair holders and combs are all put in zip locks to keep them together.
    I agree about the twin sized air bed. My visitors really loved it. Until it sprung a leak after three years.

  20. Joy Allen says:

    Great list! This will help us prepare for this fall.

  21. Christine says:

    This list is so helpful! I am a “planner” and will start early in getting these things together for my college bound daughter…She will be attending Elon University by the way!! Thank you for your wonderful suggestions!

  22. morgan Robertson says:

    When I moved in about two years ago, one of the big things I didn’t bring were my at supplies. Being a design student they were uber necessary and the ones at the bookstore were incredibly pricey. Even if you’re not a design student, they’re great to have for a fun pinterest diy or just drawing as a stress reliever!

  23. I’m getting ready to go to college in about three months and I keep worrying I’m going to forget something, or get to the campus (which I’ve wandered countless times and know every inch of ) and be lost, or that I’m never going to make any friends (never been a problem before). Bit reading your blogs about getting ready for college has really helped ease my nerves about it, so anytime I get stressed about going I just hit this post or the one before it and I can relax knowing I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

    Thank you so very very much.

  24. I think your college posts are the absolute coolest- haven’t seen the others, but will be checking them out! Thing is, though, I’m not there yet. I’ll first be going to high school this fall!! I’m excited, but a little worried- what if I pass up opportunities and my friends aren’t the best or I look like a fool and should I start wearing a little makeup? Soooo yeah. I was wondering if you could share your thoughts on that with me..

    • Hey Maria!

      Thank you for your kindness. I’m excited that you’re about to start HS! Stand strong for what you believe, even if you’re the only one. Don’t let other people define you. Find friends who share your values!


  25. That body pillow idea is so good!! I pined this to Pinterest for when I WILL need this :)

  26. Also, as someone who works for ResLife, PLEASE read the list that the school gave you or CALL and ask ResLife about what items are allowed in the halls. In my current school you would be fined and have to get rid of both the lamp and the desk chair (unless you got it approved through disabilities services as a medical need). I remember being so proud of my first hall room, it would have been devastating to get in trouble for it. :(

    Other important items to check out:
    -Anything you’re going to put on the walls (some schools don’t allow certain types of images or materials)
    -Any extra “furniture” (even things like bean bag chairs or storage ottomans)
    -Any cooking appliance (most schools allow water heaters but not much else)
    -Space Heaters/Portable AC (generally a no go, but it never hurts to check!)
    -Candles/Incense/Wax Melters (the rules on these vary like crazy from school to school!)
    -Fridge size/Microwave (It seems silly, but it has to do with the electrical output into each room & old buildings)
    -Pets (Even fish are banned in some schools)
    -Command Hooks (I ADORE theses things, but they can pull cheap paint off walls, just check before you have to pay for repainting the entire room…)

    Feel free to ask if you have more comments from the ResLife side of packing! :)

  27. You’ll want to add air freshener took this list. A guy I knew had two: vanilla and apple cinnamon–smelled like pie baking. Very homey. And you never know how often or not your roommate will wash/do laundry/take out their trash. Small rooms can get smelly really fast.

  28. My uncle and I built a shelf that sat on top of the dorm desk. Best thing I took to school! Once we had the desk measurements and school regulations for furniture height, we went to town. I added hooks on the sides for belts, hats, bags, etc. and used baskets to keep things organized. My roommates were always envious. Also, I used those rubbermaid containers that slide under the bed for shoes and clothes that I needed but would not fit in the dresser we had to share

  29. I love your blog! its so positive and interesting! I found it from pinterest:) AWESOME! I really love your post on “what every college freshman needs to know”!! I just love it!

  30. This is was so helpful! Thank you!!! I’m headed to University of Maryland in the fall, but I have some good friends who go to Elon! Thank you for you insight and realistic goals for us!

  31. I just discovered this post while searching for college necessities on the Internet, and can I just say that you’ve lessened my stress my A LOT! I’m off to college for the first time in the fall (EEP) and this list will help me keep track of what I do need, what I want, and what I can buy at a later time. Thank you for this! It truly means a lot to an upcoming freshman like me 😀

  32. This is incredible, so much more detailed and helpful than a lot of lists! Thank you!!

  33. Oh my goodness your stuffed dog looks almost exactly like my childhood stuffed dog (which I still have.)
    His name is Butters 😉 Have had him for like 10 years or so.

  34. Kayla Jonees says:

    I’m going to High Point U in the fall, and I looked at Elon extensively! This post has really helped me decide what I do and don’t need for school. Thank you so much! :))

  35. Lindsey Fontaine says:

    The only things I would add are screwdrivers to put together those shelf things that everybody gets, and batteries because you never know when you’ll need them!

  36. Hannah Willming says:

    I am heading off for my freshman year of college at Missouri State this fall and this was an absolute big help!!! Thank you so much for this. I have seen COUNTLESS posts on what to bring and this one has been the best. I printed this out and am ready to go! Thank you thank you! :)

  37. This was super helpful! My question is, if you buy a comfy chair for the desk, where do you put the hard wooden one that comes in the room?

    • My school’s Physical Plant (maintenance staff) came and hauled it away, along with any other unwanted furniture, on move-in day!


    • Be careful with this though. My school didn’t allow the removal of any furniture. I would either contact reslife beforehand or check when you get there and buy the chair later if it’s allowed.

  38. Something i packed randomly was two tubes of krazy glue. I’m not kidding when I say I went through almost both tubes my freshman year. Broken water bottle lids, torn shower shoes, my cement bunny doorstop broke, etc. You name it, if it broke, I glued it back together.

  39. I LOVE body pillows, but I do have one note. You know how the economy works: things get more expensive, but you get less for your money. My mom handmade a HUGE body pillow probably 20 years ago and I’m still in love with it to this day!! Making one yourself is SUPER easy and really cheap, plus, you can completely customize it! The one I have is very lumpy and malleable, so I can position it how I want! The ones at the stores are so stiff and short, and I’m tall, so they don’t work for me! Just a suggestion :)

  40. Bed Bath and Beyond offers a campus thing where you go to your local store and scan all the items you need and they box it up for you at any location you want so you can just drive by and pick it up on your way to campus. No need to full on shop when you get to school! I’ve used it all three years so far!

  41. I’m going into my junior year of college. The tide pods have saved me so many headaches doing laundry!! I have actually acquired most of the items on the list, wish I had seen it freshman year!!!

  42. Ha. I don’t have to clean. At my school, maids come in once a week to do housekeeping.

  43. Instead of getting 2 different types of sheets, I have a 2 cotton sets and a heating mattress pad. The mattress pad is great during the winter and when one set of sheets is in the wash, the other is handy!

  44. Mojadesinuola Adejokun says:

    How do you like your macbook?? I just got one and I just really want to know if it lasts.

  45. When I was helping students move in, a parent asked me what the one thing I forgot freshman year that I wish I brought was, and it was dish soap. Make sure you bring dish soap! Alarm clock, maybe an extra phone charger for emergencies, someone said a flashlight and I agree.
    Also, if you’re doing your laundry at school, bring a few rolls of quarters before you go! Working as a cashier at our food court, countless people came to me for quarters for laundry and I had to tell them no because we aren’t allowed to give them out. If you’re not starting college this month, I’d recommend getting a little jar and putting all your spare quarters in it, that way you have them saved up by college. I did this and it lasted through more than a year of laundry.
    Good luck at school, everybody!

  46. I would suggest a first-aid kit with some basic medications, like allergy medicine, pepto-bismol, your pain killer of choice, cold meds, etc, and if you’re as accident prone as I am, band-aids and antiseptic is a must! I took advantage of my first-aid kit many, many times during my college career!

  47. DeAndrea Martin says:

    Hey. Did you go to Elon University?

  48. I would add a swimsuit and beach towel, many schools have pools in the athletic center or are near a city pool or some body of water. Plus you can wear it in the summer during wet activities! Also, a pencil sharpener, cotton balls (as an Elementary Ed major I use them for class as well as personal stuff!). My advice for personal hygiene items is to stand in your bathroom and look at what you do every day. You brush your teeth, so you’ll need toothpaste and a toothbrush. You brush and style your hair, so you need a hairbrush, hair ties, and whatever else you use. Don’t forget stuff for your period! I physically wrote down a list of everything I used and took it shopping.That’s also a great idea, take a list shopping!! Otherwise you will end up buying 15 things that you see but really don’t need.

  49. This isn’t really something you need to “buy” before going to college, but go to the bank and get rolls (and rolls and rolls) of quarters! For laundry and vending machines, they are the most valuable form of currency in college.


    • Hey Lauren!

      I believe that each person has her own path to walk…you should pray and ask God to reveal yours. If I were you, I would at least try to go away to school since you have the rest of your life to work for your Dad! Best of luck to you!


  51. Lol loved your Bible comment:)

    This post was super helpful:)

  52. Casey Lanier says:

    Thank you so much for the advice! My school has a list of what to bring, but I didn’t know what would be essential (it is 8 pages after all!) so you narrowing it down to the minimum really helps! Do you have any blogs on organization of the dorm? That’s a concern of mine. My friend from high school and I are going to be roomies and we’ve made a promise that we won’t let our dorm get as messy as our rooms at home. (Lol!)

    Again, thanks so much!!

  53. This list is so helpful! I’m always trying to find lists like this so I know what I need when I move in to my college dorm. (I especially love the part about the Bible :)

  54. That’s a pretty good list. Here are the things I would add:
    Small trash can for near your desk-so you don’t have to get up while you’re studying to find the community one
    Your own mini version of a medicine cabinet-bandaids, tylenol (or similar), thermometer, cold & allergy medicine.

  55. This was perfect, and it made me smile/excited because I will be a freshman at Elon next year!

  56. I just wanted to get my own:


    So I’ve decided to finally comment. I found you on Pinterest my junior year and I’ve used so many of your blog posts to help me. Now as I’m making a list of the things I still haven’t bought yet, I have returned once again to your website as an incoming college freshmen. :) I think it’s really great that you dedicated yourself to share wisdom. You’ve helped countless girls (maybe a few boys) and you should be proud!

  57. Anne H Treanor says:

    Thank you so so much for this, Blair! I was nervous beyond belief and thought I’d surely forget something. I compared other lists before finding this one; it was a catch-all! Thank you so much!

  58. The only thing I would add to this is a picnic blanket of some sort! We had a large green that my friends and I would go sit out on when the weather was nice to hang and do homework. Oh and I ended up getting a simple toaster half way through the year so that I could quickly make bagels and Eggo waffles in morning when I didn’t have time for cereal and I used it sooo much.

    I’m about to go into my second year of college and your list helped me so much last year! Seriously, I’m so glad that I found it and I’ve been sharing it with all of my friends who are going to college this year. Thank you so much for posting!

  59. Amara Limon says:

    Thank you so much for the list, I really didn’t know where to start and was worried to miss something. My move-in day is in 3 days, I’m so excited 😀

What do you think? Talk to me.