Moving to a College Dorm: College Freshman Checklist

Jess Klement
May 4, 2021

As summer comes to an end, I bet you’re starting to think about finally moving to college! And that means one thing: packing. Odds are your first year of college involves moving into a dorm, a big move to a smaller space, and though you don’t want to forget to pack anything, you also don’t want to overpack Packing for college is either something you have been waiting for your whole life or the most dreadful task you’ve ever thought of, either way, you still need a list to help get you started. Even if you don’t need/want everything that’s suggested – there are probably a lot of things you didn’t even think of so we want to help you. We put together the most extensive college freshman checklist of all time to get the ideas flowing, and even though it may not say exactly how much of each thing, we hope you can use your best judgment in figuring that out.

Part I: Dorm room

We separated this list out into multiple sections, bedroom, desk supplies, important documents, living area, kitchen, and cleaning. As you know, most college dorm rooms don’t have actual rooms, but thinking of it this way will make sure you don’t forget anything important! You more than likely will have multiple roommates, so coordinating on the common room spaces is essential to maximize your space and make sure you are staying tidy all year. If you can, coordinate with your roommates before you move in and decide what things you should divvy up. (For ideas on items you don’t need multiple of, there is an * next to these items)


  • Pillow (s)
  • Comforter
  • Duvet Cover
  • Mattress Pad
  • 2 sets of sheets
  • Blanket
  • Laundry bag/basket
  • Hangers
  • Calendar
  • Small Fan
  • Full length mirror*
  • Shoe organizer
  • Drawer organizers
  • Under bed storage
  • Risers for bed
  • Photos to hang up
  • Curtains*
  • Throw pillow(s)


  • Power Strip*
  • Pens + Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Planner
  • Notebooks or binder (with paper)
  • Folders
  • Markers/crayons/colored pencils
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Paperclips
  • Sticky notes
  • Index cards
  • Stapler + Staples
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Desk Organizer
  • Gluesticks

Important documents

  • Driver’s License
  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Passport
  • Student ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Debit + Credit Cards
  • Checks
  • Banking Information
  • Product warranties
  • Medical + Dental + Vision Cards
  • Fireproof safe to keep these items in with a lock

Living area

  • Rug*
  • String lights*
  • Plants
  • Decorations/Wall art
  • Doormat*
  • Extension Cord*
  • HDMI Cable*
  • TV*
  • ROKU/Amazon Fire/streaming service fo some type*
  • Futon/ Extra seating*
  • Small coffee table*


  • Microwave*
  • Mini fridge*
  • Dorm Friendly Snacks
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Coffee maker*
  • Rolling organizing cart*
  • Travel mug
  • Silverware*
  • Bottle Opener
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Food-storage containers

Cleaning + household items

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Fabric Softner
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Paper Towels*
  • Small broom/dustpan*
  • Disinfecting wipes*
  • Lint roller*
  • Clothes steamer*
  • Trashbags*
  • All-purpose cleaner*
  • Dish soap*


  • Laptop/Tablet
  • Charging cables for laptop, phone, tablet, headphones, etc
  • Headphones/Earbuds
  • Portable Speaker
  • Power Strip/surge protector
  • Batteries
  • Laptop Case
  • External Harddrive/flashdrive

Part II: Clothes

This may be by far the most stressful part of packing. If you go to school in a place that experiences all the seasons and you have access to home periodically throughout the year, it might be a good idea to strategically plan for the seasons. Storage space tends to be minimal in dorms, and overstuffing your drawers just leaves clothes wrinkley and you frustrated. If you must pack everything, that’s OK! Don’t fret, just pack lighter than normal and you should be okay. That means…you don’t need to bring every piece of clothing you’ve ever bought. PRO TIP: this is the best time to go through your things and decide what you REALLY want, if you haven’t worn something in more than a year, leave it at home, or better yet, just get rid of it. You can donate your clothes or you can sell them and make some extra money for the school year.
  • UnderwearSocks
  • Bras
  • Jeans
  • Sweatpants
  • Leggings
  • PJ’s
  • Shorts
  • Dresses (Casual + Formal)
  • Skirts
  • Cardigans
  • Jewlery
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Blouse/Formal Top
  • Tank tops
  • Athletic Clothes
  • Professional attire (1-2 Full outfits)
  • Belt
  • Rain Coat
  • Sweatshirts/hoodies/zipups
  • Heavy winter coat
  • Light jacket
  • Gloves/mittens
  • Swimsuit (1)
  • Casual everyday shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Rain boots
  • Snow boots
  • Formal shoes
  • Slippers
  • Flip-flops/sandals
  • Flats
  • Heels
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch
  • Scarf
  • Baseball hat
  • Beanie
  • Umbrella
  • Over the shoulder bag
  • Crossbody bag/clutch
  • Jewelry/other accessories

Part III: Bathroom Necessities

Disclaimer: I separated this from the initial dorm room list for many reasons, but mainly so you can think of your bathroom items as being separate. There’s a good chance you are going to have communal bathrooms in your dorm, and I want you to be prepared for that. Get your hands on a shower caddy to carry to and from the bathroom with you, and if you aren’t sharing a bathroom on your floor, at least you can use the caddy to keep your stuff out of the way and separate from everyone else’s. Of course, not everything needs to go be carried with you to and from the bathroom, so for things like “Medicine Cabinet Basics,” find a safe place to put these in your dorm that you can access easily.

Shower caddy

  • Shower
  • Bath Towels (2)
  • Washcloths (2)
  • Shower shoes
  • Loofah
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Facewash
  • Body wash/soap
  • Lotion
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Deodorant/Antiperspirant
  • Razor + Shaving cream

Oral hygiene

  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toothpaste

Medicine cabinet basics

  • Advil/Midol/Tylenol + Prescriptions
  • Melatonin
  • Benadryl/allergy relief medicine
  • Band-aids
  • Birth Control + Condoms
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Vitamins
  • Cold medicine
  • Decongestant
  • Thermometer
  • Glasses/Contacts
  • Contact solution + case
  • Tampons/Pad/Feminine Products
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Q-tips
  • Sunscreen
  • Cough Drops
  • Antacid
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Nail filer

Hair + makeup

  • Dry Shampoo
  • Hair Dryer
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairties/clips
  • Hair Straighter
  • Curling Iron
  • Bobby Pins
  • Makeup
  • Makeup remover/wipes
  • Cotton pads
  • Face mask

Part IV: For class

Now that you have all the stuff packed for your living spaces, time to pack your backpack. If you don’t know already, I’m going to let you in on a secret….Some of your weekdays are going to be very long spent in back-to-back lectures, with minimal time to go back to your dorm between classes and studying, and when that happens, it’s important you are prepared. Use this list as a guideline to pack your backpack for these days and never worry about forgetting anything! In Your Backpack Backpack Laptop (+ charger) Pens and pencils Planner Notebooks or binder (with paper) Folders Highlighter Calculator Travel Tissues Portable Phone Charger Headphones/Earbuds Gum Snacks Umbrella Reusable waterbottle

Part V: Miscellaneous

The final part of packing is always the odds and ends, which is exactly what the items on this part of the list are! If you’re not sure about anything here, don’t worry, these are just items that would be nice to have but certainly aren’t essential.
  • Suitcase/Weekend Bag
  • Key-holder (Laynard, backpack clip,etc)
  • Quarter Stash (for laundry)
  • Board Games
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Books to read for fun
  • Video game console
  • Playing Cards
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep Mask
  • Safety PIns
  • Pepper spray (if legal in the state you are going to school in)
  • Tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Yoga mat
  • Sports equipment
  • Instruments
There you have it! Hopefully this list has you thinking of things you may not have thought of. Packing for your Freshman year of college is daunting, but in no time you’ll be a seasoned pro when it comes to packing for college. We have a free printable and interactive checklist college freshman checklist.