The Ultimate College Dorm Checklist

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that over 3 million students will join college for the first time this year. The sheer number of people enrolling in college during admissions season can cause a lot of mayhem and confusion, especially for first-time students. If you are fussing over what to bring with you to your dorm this freshman year, we have created the ultimate College Dorm Checklist to help you make your entry as seamless as possible.

What Is a College Dorm Checklist?

A college dorm checklist is an itemized catalog that outlines all the items a student should pack for their freshman year. It identifies necessities by category – clothing, school items, important documents, etc. – and ensures you carry everything you need to settle into your new dorm.

The Ultimate College Dorm Checklist

Whether you will be living off-campus or in a dorm room on school premises, you will need to pack several items for a comfortable stay. The following checklist will ensure you do not leave anything at home that you might need in school this coming year:


When picking out clothes to bring with you to college, you should consider your access to laundry services and facilities. As a rule of thumb, pack enough clothes to last at least seven days or more if your dorm does not have a washer or dryer. You should also consider the weather. Some items to pack in this category include:

  • Pajamas
  • Bras and sports bras
  • Underwear
  • Sneakers and shoes
  • Cozy pants or sweats
  • Cold-weather gear (boots, scarves, and mittens)
  • Jackets for cold seasons
  • Swimwear
  • Vests/tank tops
  • Socks
  • Pants (casual, workout, and jeans)
  • Shorts
  • Sweatshirts, sweaters, and shirts
  • Gym clothes

Medicine and Other Related Items

Everyday medicine might seem like a trivial thing to pack when you go away to college, but you might need it. Try to bring the following with you:

  • Birth control
  • Allergy medication, if you have any allergies
  • Vitamins
  • OTC medication that you use regularly
  • Inhalers, if you have asthma
  • Prescription medication, including a refilling plan. You might need to have your pharmacy or doctor transfer your prescription to the nearest pharmacy.
  • First aid kit with antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, and bandages.

Important Documents

Always carry an electronic or hard copy of the documents you might need during the school year. Some recommendations include:

  • Copy of social security card
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Emergency contact list
  • License and passport
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Car registration and insurance if you will be driving
  • School ID
  • Health insurance card


In addition to the basics – toothpaste, toothbrush, and shampoo – you should carry enough toiletries to last your time on campus. This includes:

  • Body lotion and wash
  • Shower caddy
  • Washcloth or loofah
  • Floss
  • Skincare products, e.g., moisturizer
  • Hair products
  • Eyeglasses (if you wear them), contact lenses, and sunglasses
  • Makeup
  • Cotton swabs
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Toilet paper
  • Brush or comb
  • Deodorant
  • Contact case and solution
  • Mouthguard or retainer
  • Bug spray or sunscreen
  • Nail clippers
  • Feminine hygiene products

School Supplies

Although you will likely get school supplies on campus, it is a good idea to bring some so you do not end up running around on your first day. Some items we recommend include:

  • Tape, paper clips, tacks, rubber bands, and stapler
  • Sticky notes
  • Index cards
  • Backpack
  • Highlighters, pens, and pencils
  • Folders
  • Spiral notebooks

Electronics and Technology

Depending on your needs and habits, you already know what electronics you will be bringing with you to college. However, you do not want to leave the following behind:

  • HDMI and Ethernet cables
  • Laptop, laptop case, and charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Extension cords
  • A surge protector or power strip


Like with clothes, always take the laundry situation in your dorm into account when packing linens. Consider packing the following:

  • Duvet, comforter, or blanket
  • Pillows and pillowcases
  • Hand towels, washcloths, and bath towels
  • Bedsheets (confirm the correct size with your dorm master)

Furnishings and Decor

Bring a broom, dustpan, dustbin, and vacuum to clean your room. If you want to make your dorm room feel more like home, you can also carry the following:

  • Light bulbs
  • Fake or real plants
  • String or hanging lights
  • A folding chair or futon for extra seating
  • Full-length and makeup mirror
  • Throw rug or area rug
  • Wall art
  • Space heater and fan
  • Lamps
  • Heavy-duty tape, poster tack, or command strips for hanging things

Kitchen Items, Food, and Snacks

Whether you’re using meal swipes at the dining hall or looking for quick meals to make in the dorm room, some of our favorite food and kitchen items to pack include:

  • Paper towels
  • Mugs, water bottles, cups, plates, spoons, can opener
  • Several of your favorite food items and snacks (those you cannot get in school)
  • Oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, and microwave popcorn
  • Small coffee maker, cream, filters, sugar, and coffee
  • Instant hot chocolate
  • Easy-to-prepare meal options like soups and ramen noodles
  • Microwave, toaster, and mini-fridge

Tip: Always consult the college first to check whether you are allowed to have a fridge, toaster, or microwave in your dorm room.

Recreation Supplies

When packing for fun activities, consider the recreational activities you engage in regularly and those offered on campus. You can then pack some of the following supplies:

  • Skateboard
  • Journal
  • Yoga mat
  • Novels and religious texts
  • Sporting equipment, e.g., lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, etc.
  • Musical instruments
  • Duffel bag for short travels
  • Art and craft supplies
  • Bicycle, bike pump, lock, and helmet

COVID-Related Supplies

While COVID-19 restrictions have been significantly relaxed in previous months, infection rates could easily spike again. Carry the following for your protection:

  • Thermometer
  • Enough face masks
  • Disinfectant spray, e.g., Lysol
  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Vaccination card if you have been vaccinated or a doctor’s letter explaining why you cannot be vaccinated
  • Any related items or documents required by your college

Safety Items and Miscellaneous

You can add the following miscellaneous items to your luggage for emergencies:

  • Mini toolkit
  • Sleep mask
  • Flashlight
  • Safety whistle
  • Earplugs


You will notice that this college dorm checklist covers all the essentials required for a comfortable stay in college. However, it might not contain everything you need, so feel free to customize it to your needs. If you are unsure whether to pack something, ask yourself if you have used it recently. Leave behind anything you have not touched in over a year or that you can get on campus. It is also important to coordinate with your roommate so you do not both end up carrying two of the same items.