A Packing list for College
Most schools send out a list of what students need to bring (or buy when you get there) and other things they might want. They should also list what things you should NOT bring, especially items that are not allowed in the dorm rooms. If you don’t get this list, it might be in the catalog or on a school website. Always start with that list. Then check here to see if there’s anything else you might need or want.
You really don’t NEED everything on this list but, if you are making a packing list, this might help you remember a few things not on the list sent by the college. The main rule is: DON’T BRING THINGS YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!
Let’s start with clothes
1. If you will be going home for Thanksgiving or other holiday… wait and bring winter clothes then. You’ll have a better idea of what you have space or. You can also take home the clothes you haven’t worn.
2. Dressy clothes: If possible, talk to a student at the school. Ask what clothes you really need. Do you really need dressy clothes for special occasions? This is important. Some colleges require more dressy clothes than others. I remember my son, in his one year at boarding school, was required to wear a dress shirt and tie to dinner each night. Tony didn’t like the rule so he checked thrift shops for the ugliest ties he could find.
When I first went to college, my mother (who had gone to Smith) remembered her own days in college and insisted I buy a beautiful suit with matching hat and gloves. I would need it for Sorority Rush Week or something. I, of course, had no intention of joining a sorority. I took the outfit with me, just in case, and never wore it. I didn’t wear it during or after college. I really didn’t need it. Some students brought along prom dresses and never wore them. Even for the fanciest dances of the year, a simple little black dress can look very nice. And, even if you went to every dance in high school, you might never go – or even want to go – to any of the college dances.
If you aren’t sure – then save your shopping money and wait until you get there. Check out what others are wearing and then decide what you really need. Then you can make an informed choice about what to buy.
Girls might want one or two dresses to wear to church or on a special date or even to a big dance, but in most places I’ve been, they rarely wore dresses to class. You night need something nicer your senior year for job interviews.
Boys might want a suit if you must wear one to church. You’d probably be fine with one pair of dress pants, (or khakis) a dress shirt, tie and jacket. Still, you might never wear even this except for job interviews.
What clothes do you really need?
a. Something to sleep in or – if you don’t wear much for sleeping – a robe to wear down the hall to the bathroom.
b. Plenty of socks and underwear. Even if you wear the same jeans and shirts for days at a time, it’s nice to have clean underwear.
c. I’d suggest 3-5 pants including jeans, nicer slacks, and maybe some shorts. Then I’d add 5-10 shirts – mainly tee shirts with a few dressier shirts for special events.
d. For cool weather you need a sweat-shirt (fleece), a sweater and maybe a jacket. You don’t need five sweaters.
e. If you’re in an area with really cold winters, try to get a coat that doesn’t take up too much space. You’d also want a hat and cloves and maybe a scarf.
f. Clothes for exercising, a swim suit if there’s a pool and you plan to swim
g. Casual clothes for hanging out in the dorm.
h. Something for rain. Probably an umbrella and either poncho or raincoat. Some people like a good raincoat with warm inner liner so it can double as a coat for the winter. This works well if it doesn’t get too cold.
And what do you pack them in?
If you are flying you’ll use regular luggage. But then you need to figure out where to store your luggage. Check to see if your dorm has storage spaces for luggage, trunks, etc. If so, you can store out of season clothes there. You may even be able to store things over the summers when you aren’t there. A suitcase may also fit under your bed for storing out of season clothes. Think about one larger suitcase and one a little smaller that fits inside the larger one.
If your parents are driving you to college, you can send luggage back home with your parents or you can pack in pack in boxes or – my favorite – Pack in colorful plastic “milk crates” that can be stacked for multiple uses in your room. A stack of crates in your closest adds storage space. A stack of crates in a corner of your room makes a book shelf and space for your shower caddy, and various other items. You can even use a stack of crates covered with a cloth for a small table with storage inside. Decide if you want your crates all in one color, in two colors or in all available colors. You might match them to the color of your bedspread or comforter. If you end up with too many, your roommate and friends may be eager to pay you for them.
What else do you really need?
1. You usually need to provide your own sheets, pillow and pillowcase and bedspread, blankets or comforter for the bed.
2. An alarm clock (or clock radio). You need to be on time for classes. You might also use a watch with an alarm. I found it helpful to have one electric alarm clock and one that uses batteries or winds up. When the electricity is out, perhaps for bad weather, it helps to have an alternate. A watch is also important for helping you get to class on time unless you always carry a cell phone that tells time.
3. Shower Caddy and toiletries. A shower caddy is a container to hold your essentials for when you use the bathroom. It should hold shampoo, conditioner, soap in plastic soap container, deodorant, razor, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb and brush, etc. It is a good idea to have shower shoes or zoris to wear in the bathroom and shower to avoid getting athlete’s foot. Make your shower caddy look different or put your name on it so no one takes it by mistake. You also need the supplies to put it the shower caddy. Girls may want a separate container for cosmetics.
Do NOT bring a years supply of shampoo, etc. You don’t have space to store it.
4. You will need towels and wash cloths. Don’t bring too many. Think storage. I’d suggest 2 or 3 bath towels, one face towel, and several wash cloths. You might have tossed towels in the laundry after a single use at home. You won’t do that here. Bring a folding drying rack for your towels. And no, you cannot leave your towels or soap or anything else in the bathroom. You are not at home. If you leave them there they will disappear.
5. A laundry hamper or bag for dirty clothes, (preferably one that fits easily in the closet) and laundry detergent for washing clothes. A stain remover is also nice to have. Some lists suggest a hamper for dirty clothes AND a laundry basket to take to the laundry room. Why? You don’t have space for both. Some people look for a hamper with wheels so they can wheel it to the laundry room.
6. Most students today take a laptop computer to college. You would need a case, a surge protector, and an external hard drive to back up your files. A small “thumb drive” or memory stick makes it easier to move your files to another computer on campus that is hooked up to a printer.
Other students prefer to use a Desk Top Computer. It requires more space on your desk but you will have less to carry from class to class. A laptop is also more easily lost or stolen. Generally students will bring the computer they already have. If you are planning to buy a new computer for callege, you might ask, when you visit the school, what sort of computer most students have.
If you don’t have a computer, you really can get through college without it. There is generally a computer room where students can use computers, often even in your dormitory. If that doesn’t work out, ask our roommate or a friend if you can arrange to use their computer for typing papers for class. Some people carry computers around and use them to type notes. I find most students who do that are so busy typing that they don’t have time to really listen. I prefer shorter, hand-written notes.
7. You probably will want your cellphone. If you don’t have one, you really don’t need it and you’ll save a huge amount of money. You can always use public phones to call home.
8. Bring any medications you need… pills, asthma inhalers, etc. Be sure you have prescriptions so you can get refills as needed.
9. Don’t forget your glasses. And bring an extra pair – in case these are broken or lost. Also bring your glasses prescription in case you need to buy another pair. Think about sunglasses.
10. You will want a trash can. You might decide you also need a broom and dustpan for cleaning your room. Check first. There might be one available in a cleaning closet down the hall.
11. If you play a musical instrument, you might want to bring it along. If you enjoy painting or plan to take art classes, bring along your art supplies.
Office Supplies: Most of this is also listed under Organize Materials)
You can buy most of this after you get to college, but if you already have some of these items, you might bring them along with you.
1. A three-hole punch if you want to store papers in your binder.
2. A stapler and staple remover and plenty of staples the right size.
3. At least one pair of scissors.
4. A desk organizer – purchased or home-made. An old can or jar or cup can hold pens and pencils just as well as a desk organizer. A divided tray (a silverware tray) that fits in a desk drawer can hold the scissors, stapler, paper clips, push pins, and much more – but measure your drawer first to be sure it fits..
5. A place to store your files. You don’t need a big file cabinet . You have several alternatives.
A. an accordion-style folder that opens up with 8-12 or more spaces: one for each of your classes, one for personal files, one for bills and receipts, one for scholarship information and so forth. This is good to begin with.
B. Another alternative is to have a binder for each semester. At the beginning of each new semester take the papers from the previous semester and store them in a binder. You could also store them that way to begin with.
C. A third alternative is to buy a milk crate designed to hold hanging file folders. Then buy a package of at least 25 hanging files of the right size. The ugly ones cost less, but I like the boxes with 4 or 5 different colors. Then I can separate files for different purposes. Write the name of your file on the provided thin pieces of paper and insert these into the plastic label holders. These go into the holes in the files. You will, of course need to find a place to store this crate. Until you fill the crate, you can store something else at the other end.
D. You might prefer what I think are called portable file boxes. Find these at an office supply store. They are plastic boxes with a latching lid and handle that holds at least 25 or 30 files. On some of these, the lid opens to hold pens and other supplies. This would probably fit well under a bed. It would cost more but last all through college.
6. You need a back pack or strong canvas bag to carry books, notebooks, and other supplies to classes. A back pack can be expensive so choose one that is comfortable and likely to last all through college. Check to be sure it is large enough to held several books and has smaller compartments to carry notebooks, pens, calculator and other supplies. Some students find it helpful to get a backpack with wheels so you can pull it except on stairs. If I went back to school full-time now, I would choose something like that.
Your back will feel better if you carry less weight. You’ll soon learn which books you need to take to class. I needed a book for math, and literature classes and that’s about all. If, however, you decide to study history between your morning classes, you’ll need to pack that book too. Plan when to study each subject – usually just before or after classes – so you don’t need to carry extra books.
And the essential little things
1. Paper: printer paper, loose-leaf paper to go in a binder, notebooks, note-pads for “To Do lists”, etc.
2. A Wall Calendar (preferably free) or pocket calendar – I always prefer both and make sure info is listed in both.
3. Plenty of pens – maybe different colors – pencils, – maybe colored pencils – permanent markers – small pocket pencil sharpener. Save pens that are about to run out to loan to careless classmates who come to class unprepared. Or you might buy a dozen of the cheapest possible pens for “loaners.”
4. Tape: Scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape.
5. Paper clips of different sizes, rubber bands, push pins or thumb tacks,
6. Devices with sticky surface for hanging pictures without making holes.
7. Folders for holding term papers to turn in.
8. A clear plastic pouch that fits the holes in your binder to hold extra pens, pencils, sharpener, and other supplies that you carry with you…. if you take a binder to classes.
9. A ruler, maybe a meter stick, and a tape measure all come in handy.
10. Tools? Will you want a small hammer to put up pictures? a Screw driver, a pair of pliers? I wouldn’t but some people do. Some people like to fix things. If you know how to fix computers, certainly bring along your tools and your friends will love you. You might even go into business.
Now the big question: What to you take to class for taking notes.
1. Some people prefer a single subject notebook for each subject. This was my preference. I only needed to carry the notebooks for classes I had that day. It means, however, that each day, you need to reorganize the back pack or whatever you use to carry materials to class.
2. Some people prefer a five subject notebook with one section per class or a large binder with one section per class. This way you carry the same notebook or binder every day. That makes sense but it’s heavier.
3. Other people highly recommend carrying a folder with loose-leaf paper for taking notes. When taking notes, be very sure to label each sheet with class, date, (and page number if you take several pages of notes.) At the end of each day, you can take these notes and put them in binders, one large binder with a section for each class or a smaller binder for each class.
The advantages of this are.
a. If you lose your notes, you only lose one day’s notes.
b. It is much lighter to carry.
Other recommended items:
1. Buy a good desk lamp if one is not provided. Unless you have a favorite lamp, you should wait until you get there.
2. A simple first-aid kit with a tube of antibiotic cream, band-aids, pills for pain like headaches, etc.
3. A simple sewing kit with needles, thread and small scissors so you can sew on loose buttons or make simple repairs. Add safety pins and a few ordinary looking buttons. If a hem comes undone, use masking tape until you have time to sew it. It usually even lasts through several times through the washing machine.
4. A cup or mug for making your own cup of tea or coffee or soup. A spoon, small containers of coffee, tea, sugar, creamer, etc. Zip-loc bags or plastic storage containers for food. A plastic container with for storing most of this.
5. You might want to bring a few pictures of family and friends… perhaps one framed picture and a small album. You might want to bring a favorite poster or other small decor items.
6. You might want to buy a small book shelf that fits on your desk and leaves space for you to work. Otherwise, you might use your milk crates to create a shelf.
7. You might choose one small decor item that will really make you feel at home… something that says who you are. My choice would be a vase with a good quality silk flower – like an orchid that looks real. It looks great in a well-organized, neat room. It is one more piece of junk in a disorganized room.
DO NOT BRING expensive jewelry or family photos or any other items that cannot be replaced. Sometimes things are lost, stolen or broken. If that would be upsetting, leave it at home.
Here are the questionables: the things you might want to bring
1. A small refrigerator if allowed. If several people share the room, only one should bring the fridge. You can learn to share.
2. If you really insist on ironing your clothes, one person might bring an iron to share. I never used an iron in college.
3. If no microwave is available, one person might bring that if allowed.. Another possibility, if allowed, is an electric kettle to make hot water so you can make coffee, tea, instant soup, ramen noodles, etc. It is smaller and cheaper than a microwave.
4. Some students want a carpet on their floor. Check first to see if floor is or isn’t carpeted. You don’t need one, but it doesn’t take up much space.
5. Some students insist on bringing a stereo system or DVD player. They certainly are not necessary. And you really don’t want more than one. Can you imagine a battle of the stereos in a small dorm room. If you do bring one, be sure to bring HEADPHONES. Wear them if your roommate wants quiet for studying or sleeping. Even if your roommate says he doesn’t mind the music, if he is studying or getting ready for bed – good manners require you to switch to headphone and not invite friends in to talk. You can talk in the lounge or in a room where no one is trying to get to sleep. A good alternative is to being your iPod for music.
6. It would be nice if one person brought a computer printer to share. You can each buy your own paper.
IMPORTANT NOTE: With all these things, it is much better if one person owns each item. If you share the cost for the fridge, who gets it next year when you no longer are in the same room?
7. After you get there, you might want to purchase plastic storage bins to put under your bed for out of season clothes or items you don’t need very often.
8. Consider a shoe holder that hangs inside your closet door – with pockets for shoes that can also hold other small items. If you don’t want that and have a lot of shoes, think about a shoe rack on the closet floor.
9. Look for a gadget that fits over the closet doors that provides hooks to hang your coat, jacket, belts, etc.
10. I would definitely recommend bringing a camera…. a digital camera so you can store photos on your computer and send occasional pictures home by email or on Facebook. Of course, if you have a cell phone that takes pictures you may not need this.
11. Some students might want a night-light but if your alarm clock lights up, that might be enough.
I would suggest that for several weeks, as you go through your usual routine at home, you start a list of things you use all the time. But, for most things, if you forget to pack them, you’ll be able to buy them near campus.
12. There are all sorts of other things you might want or thing you need… like a hair dryer or coffee maker, or popcorn popper, etc. Take what you need but keep them to a minimum. Remember you don’t have much space to store such things.
What if you take the plane to school? You can’t bring all this.
That’s true. Don’t even try. Bring only your clothes (a minimum) and a few things you need the first few days (toilet kit, very small alarm clock, important papers, your laptop computer and cellphone, and maybe your sheets. It is easier to shop when you arrive than pack all that stuff.
If your roommate is coming by car and gets there before you do, you might ask him or her to buy you a pillow, sheets and pillowcase, possibly matching theirs if theirs is an acceptable pattern. Otherwise you might spend the first few nights sleeping on a bare mattress. You could also check to see if the college bookstore sells sheets…. If they do they will certainly cost more there than at Target, Wal-Mart and similar stores.
You might even read newspaper ads before leaving home and make a shopping list based on those ads. You can check on a computer to see which of these stores are fairly close to campus.
Borrow a car, rent a car, go with friends, or take a taxi. Go to the two or three stores that are familiar. Check items off your shopping list oce youpurchase them. You have an advantage. You know what your room looks like. You have an idea what will fit.
You might continue to Organize Materials