Essential college packing list

Essential college packing list

We created our Essential College Packing List knowing that you don’t want to waste a precious minute of these last days and hours on anything that isn’t important. Your student can be sure to have what they need on Day One, and you can rest easy knowing they’re comfy in their new campus home. Click here to download a printable version, and see below for more packing/move-in day tips!

Our Essential College Packing List for moving your new freshman to campus!

Customize your shopping/packing game plan depending on whether you will drive or fly, and how much time you expect to have on campus. For our unabridged advice about shopping, packing and move-in, see “Dorm shopping tips for parents” and “Your insider guide to college move-in day.”


Ahead of time

Visit the college’s Residence Life webpage to find:

  • What furnishings are included in the room
  • List of recommended items to bring
  • List of prohibited items
  • Room specs/rules for bed lofting
  • Availability of mini fridges
  • Laundry machine info (will your student use coins or their student ID to pay?)

Many newer residence halls have generous built-in shelving and storage spaces. Some schools provide bed lofting kits upon request; others permit risers. There may be a shared kitchen on the floor which means your student doesn’t need appliances of their own.

Wait until you see the room to determine if your student will need:

  • Area rug
  • Fan
  • Extra lighting
  • Underbed storage bins
  • Desktop organizers
  • Plastic bowl, mug, spoon, etc.
  • Appliances like a coffee maker, electric kettle, or microwave
  • Waste basket

Most recommend leaving TVs and printers at home. 



For more than a decade, our print and digital resources have connected parents and families to their student's experience, providing the insider information you need and want. All our products — classic and new, print and online — are inspired by our commitment to answering your questions and strengthening relationships between families, students and campus/community resources.

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  • Great article. It reminded me to ask my high school senior about which of her preferred colleges have reached out about a regional event. We attended an event like this with our older daughter who was attending school far from home and it was very valuable.