The Ultimate College Packing List – Everything a girl needs to pack for Freshman year: clothes, dorm room essentials & decor, school supplies, toiletries & sanity saving move-in day tips – in one printable checklist!
Ok, so I know college isn’t a regular topic around here, but my daughter Savannah will be leaving for college in oh, I don’t know 53 days, 12 hours & 37 minutes.
To avoid a full-blown panic attack, I did what any other mother/blogger would do & created an ultimate – & I do mean ultimate – college packing list that covers all of the bases from what clothes to pack to dorm decor & organization, to school supplies to emergency contact info & random, but important items often forgotten until the last minute!
That’s normal, right? Nevermind, don’t answer that.
I have this whole thing broken down for you by category & I’ve included links for almost every item you’ll need – in case you’re like me & you want to get as much shopping done ahead of time as possible – in your jammies.
*The downloadable PDF link is at the bottom of the post:)
The Ultimate College Packing List
Full disclosure: This list contains my affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you make a purchase.
Move in Day Must-Haves
Depending on how you play it, college move-in day can be a nightmare.
Back in my former life as a Resident Advisor at Ole Miss, Freshman move-in day was (unofficially) known as the ultimate parent freak zone.
How we can fix this, so you don’t repeat history?
First, make sure you know the layout of your dorm room.
Most college websites offer easy-to-read downloadable PDFs of floor plans, which is a sanity saver! Understanding the measurements of the windows to the walls…whether or not your closet has doors or curtains & the rules – so many rules – you must follow to avoid fines. No nails – no painting the room – no candles – no hot plates – no extension cords without surge protectors – and so on…:)
If you’re a parent – ask your child if he/she has this info from orientation.
If you’re a student – Google your college & get the 411 so your mom will stop panicking.
Now that you’ve got the floor plan – it’s time to get your move-in day plan together. Of course, you most likely won’t be welcomed with a dirty dorm, but naturally, you will want to tidy up before unpacking & decorating.
Ladies, get your Clorox wipes & Swiffers ready – & – for goodness sake make sure you bring a tape measure, level, hammer, screwdriver & whatever that wrench is called your husband uses to rig stuff up.
You’ll be sorry if you don’t. Here’s an example of what your move-in bucket of goodies ought to have:
- Bring Cleaning Supplies: Lysol, wipes, multi-surface spray cleaner, bathroom cleaners & tools – You’re going to want to clean the room before you unpack!
- Command Poster Strips & Utility Hooks – Because nails are a no-go
- Extension cords
- Surge Protectors
- Tape measure & level
- Step Stool or Ladder
- Trash bags
Enough About Move-In Day – Let’s Pack!
Your instinct may tell you to pack every item you own – ignore it!
You’re looking at a significant downsizing space-wise plus you do not need ten Patagonia pullovers, coats & that sweater that still has the tags on it.
Pack by season if you can! Depending on where you live this will differ but avoid taking any winter outfits if you know you’ll be coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break & you can switch your wardrobe out then.
Speaking of wardrobe transportation, here’s an old-school hack: Use a shower curtain/tension rod to transport clothes wrinkle-free in your car!
Underwear, Bras & Other Must Have’s
One thing you can’t overpack? Underwear & bras. Ok, so that’s two things, but still, unless you want to be running a delicate cycle every few days, you need to stock up & bring all of the “unmentionables” you can. This includes panties, strapless bras, t-shirt bras, sports bras, & a pair of these fabulous adhesive pasties that will rescue you when your bra line is causing a fashion emergency!
College Packing List Must-Have’s:
- No Show Panties
- T-Shirt Bras
- Strapless Bras
- Adhesive Covers
Tees & Leggings
You’ll live in leggings & tees so make sure you pack a few pair of basic black – capris & long. Oh, and remember all of those t-shirts from high school? You can go ahead & put those in a shadow box or use ’em to make a quilt because you won’t be wearing them. Stock up on a few basic tees in black, white & gray that you can dress up or down.
Pack running shorts, tanks, and yes, a few more sports bras for working out/going to class.
To Pack: Workout Gear
- Running Shorts
- Sports Bras
- Running Shoes
- Water Bottles
Loungewear & PJ’s
Make sure you own a few presentable looking sets of pajamas! You may want to leave the chili stained vintage Carebear onesie at home. At least for the first semester:)
Sweaters & Denim
I had a little too much fun creating this casual jeans collection – you do not need six pairs of jeans – you only need one or two that fit you well! You’ll also need a light-weight jacket or cardigan & a few sweaters. Remember to layer!
College Packing List: Casual Clothes
- Denim Jacket
As far as shoes are concerned, the two most essential items are shower shoes & tennis shoes – and make them comfortable because you’ll be doing a lot of walking to class! You may want to pack Birkenstocks, wedges, booties, a pair of rainboots, riding boots – snow boots if you’re going to school in Vermont and a couple of formal shoes!
College Packing List: Shoes
- Shower Shoes
- Flip Flops
- Tennis Shoes
- Formal Shoes
You know what your must-have accessories are – but I put together this collection of ideas just in case! If you’re planning on going to any ball games, don’t forget most stadiums require a clear handbag! I found a cute one below!
College Packing List Accessories:
- Hats & Ballcaps
- Cross-body bag
- Stadium Bag
Ultimate College Packing List: Dorm Essentials – Bedding
Comforters & Duvets
VIP: Most dorms have extra-long twin beds-meaning standard twin-size sheet will not fit! (XL Twin mattresses are 39 inches wide by 80 inches long.) Also, you are not getting a sleep number bed in college – dorm beds are firm & slightly uncomfortable. You may want to get a memory foam mattress pad – like this one:)
College Packing List: Bedding
- Mattress Protector
- Mattress Pad
- Sheet Sets (Typically Twin XL)
- Duvet Cover
- Bed Skirt
- Pillow Cases
- Throw Blankets
- Throw Pillows
- Reading Pillow
College Packing List: Bath
- Shower Caddy
- Makeup Organizers
- Towels: Get white to make laundry day easier & don’t forget to put your initials on the tags with a Sharpie to avoid arguing with your roomie!
- Toothbrush Holder
- Robe/Cover Up
- Shower Shoes
College Packing List: Dorm Decor
- Decorative Baskets
- String Lights
- Photo Clips
- Full-Length Mirror
If you’re in a DIY mood, you may want to look at these 32 Dorm Room DIY Ideas & Hacks
Maximize every inch of space in your dorm room: under the beds, over the doors, and inside the closets & drawers!
College Packing List: Organization
- Under The Bed Storage
- Over The Door Storage
- Stackable Storage Containers
- Space Saving Hangers
- Space Bags
- Step Ladder
Ready to go to Costco? Sam’s? Walmart? No matter what your go-to big box store is, here are the things you need to leave behind in the dorm. You know, all the stuff nobody appreciates until they need it!
- Trash Can
- Trash Bags
- Paper Towels
- Paper or plastic plates, cups & utensils
- Toilet Paper
- Ziplock Bags
- Laundry Detergent
- Stain Remover
- Portable Stain Removing Pen
- Clorox Wipes
- Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Dishwashing Soap
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
- Lint Brush
- Iron or Steamer
- Ironing Board
- Handheld vacuum
- Broom & Dust Pan
- Comb & Brush
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Gel &/or Mousse
- Dry Shampoo
- Hair Essentials: Bobby Pins, Hair Ties, Bands, Headbands
- Dental Floss
- Mouth Wash
- Extra Toothbrush
- Shaving Cream
- Nail File & clippers
- Nail Polish Remover
- Baby Wipes
- Make-Up Wipes
- Cotton Balls, Q Tips
- Feminine Care Items
- Blow Dryer
- Hot Irons
- Safety Pins
- Emergency Sewing Kit
College Packing List: Medicine & First Aid
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Pepto Bismal
- Germ Ex
- Contact Lens Solution
- Eye Drops
- Cough & Cold Medicine
- Sinus Meds
- Throat Lozenges
- 911 Spray – Best itch-relief spray ever made!
- Aloe Vera
School Supplies To Pack For College
- Printer Paper
- Number 2 Pencils
- Pens – Blue, Black & Red
- Index Cards
- Post It Notes
- 3 Hole Punch
- Paper Clips
- Rubber Bands
- Lap Desk
Random But VIP College Packing List Must-Have’s
- Raincoat or poncho
- Extension Cord(s) with Surge Protectors
- Power Strip
- Cell Phone Chargers
- Flash Drive
- Extra Light Bulbs
- Tension Rod (for transporting wardrobe) in your car
- Insurance Card – Both medical & car insurance
- Old School Alarm Clock (in case your phone dies)
- Rolls of Quarters (For laundry & vending)
- Safe with a lock (In case you don’t trust your roomie)
- Emergency Contact List
To Students: Good luck. You’re going to have a fabulous freshman year! Don’t sweat it if you don’t have everything on this list – it is just a guide! Also, make sure you go to class – & – occasionally call your parents when you don’t need money. We are more than human ATM’s – she says as she slowly hands her daughter her debit card:)
Oh, & the freshman 15 is real – so try not to eat pizza every night at midnight:) Go ahead & bookmark these Healthy Snacks. You’ll need them:)
To Parents: If you don’t have another child this may be a good time to get a pet – or take up a hobby – or become a regular reader here – you’re going to have a little more free time on your hands! Hang in there & try not to freak out – your child is in COLLEGE – give yourself a pat on the back! Mission accomplished, right?