Ultimate College Packing List: 200+ Things to Take to University (2020 Ed.)

Getting ready to leave the nest and don't know exactly what to take to college? No worries! Our college packing list is a one-stop checklist complete with our recommendations and all the university necessities. Check it out below!

Whether you are a college freshman or a returning grad student, you’ve got enough on your plate as it is without worrying about what to take to college.

Well, we’re here to make it easier for you.

Below is our ultimate college packing list, a checklist of all the important things to bring to college, as well as many optional items for you to consider, just in case.

Keep in mind, however, that if you’re going to share your room with another student, be respectful of their wishes, as well. Don’t immediately think you’ll be able to decorate exactly as you are hoping to before consulting with your future roommate.

Okay, well let’s get to it!

Here is our college packing list of what to take to university:

Important Documents

First on our college packing list are any important documents you might need, both school-related and otherwise. While some of these you could leave at home with your parents, of course, taking them with you will ensure you have them if and when you need them.

▢ Driver’s license
▢ Passport
▢ Vehicle registration documents & AAA card
▢ Birth certificate (copy might do, best to keep digitally)
▢ Social security card (copy might do, best to keep digitally)
▢ List of emergency contacts
▢ College documents (e.g., scholarships, financial aid)
▢ Dorm or off-campus apartment lease papers
▢ Insurance documents (e.g., health, dental, renter’s)

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Linens & Laundry Fundamentals

Especially when you’re in a shared space, college dorms can quickly become musty and malodorous. However, if you know what to bring to college as far as your linens and laundry, you’ll be able to keep a fresh living environment (as long as you also do your laundry in a timely manner, of course!).

▢ Laundry basket
▢ Pop-up hamper
▢ Small laundry bags (for socks, panties, etc.)
▢ Bath towels x2
▢ Face towel x3
▢ Hand towel
▢ Bath robe
▢ Steam iron
▢ Portable ironing board
▢ Laundry detergent
▢ Fabric softener
▢ Dryer sheets
▢ Laundry drying rack (to save money and electricity)
▢ Small sewing kit
▢ Lint brush
▢ Stain remover

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Sleep & Bedding Basics to Bring to College

After an exhausting day at class and from running from one end of campus to the other, nothing is as enticing as your own bed. Make sure your bed space is as comfy and cozy as possible with our college packing list for your sleeping area. For the bed size, check in advance to find the right sheets to buy for a perfect fit—it may not always be Twin XL!

▢ Bed sheets x2
▢ Pillowcases x2 per pillow
▢ Blanket
▢ Mattress pad / mattress protector
▢ Pillow(s)
▢ Back cushion (for studying in bed!)
▢ Mattress topper
▢ Eye mask 
▢ Ear plugs
▢ Bedside lamp
▢ Bed risers (can give you more space for under-the-bed storage!)
▢ Alarm clock
▢ Bedside table / nightstand

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Important Personal Items

These important personal items could have been placed elsewhere on our college checklist. However, since these things are possibly necessary to have on a daily basis, I thought I’d keep them separate.

▢ Prescription medications
▢ Glasses (and spare)
▢ Contact lenses (bring enough to last a few months)
▢ Wallet & credit / debit cards
▢ Backpack / briefcase
▢ Purse
▢ Allergy medicine

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Gadgets & Gizmos

University life wouldn’t be complete without your various electronics and devices. Here are some suggestions on what to pack for college when it comes to computers, peripherals, and other items.

▢ Laptop (and laptop lock, perhaps)
▢ Fitness tracker
▢ Cell phone
▢ Laptop charger
▢ Cell phone charger
▢ Power strip / surge protector
▢ Wireless keyboard & mouse
▢ Additional monitor(s)
▢ Wireless headphones
▢ Wireless speaker
▢ Alexa Echo or Google Home device
▢ USB stick or external hard drive
▢ Extension cord
▢ Printer
▢ Scanner
▢ Connection cords (e.g., VGA, HDMI, ethernet cable)
▢ DSLR camera, SD card & other accessories
▢ Light bulbs
▢ Scientific calculator
▢ Bicycle & accessories (bike lock, pump, extra inner tube, etc.)
▢ Gaming console or handheld device

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Desk & Study Essentials for University

As a student, your study space should be created for maximum comfort and productivity. While you won’t necessarily need every item from the supply list below, here are some of the things to bring to college to ensure your study game is on point.

▢ Mousepad
▢ Notebooks and planner
▢ Pens / pencils
▢ Desk lamp
▢ Desk fan
▢ Pencil holder
▢ Pad of sticky notes
▢ Index cards
▢ Tape
▢ Scissors
▢ Ruler
▢ Markers & highlighters
▢ Folders
▢ Label stickers
▢ Paper (printer and lined)
▢ Stapler & staples
▢ Paper clips
▢ Envelopes & stamps
▢ Desk chair
▢ Laptop stand (for better posture!)

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Dorm Room Organization

A college dorm essentials checklist wouldn’t be complete without organizational items. From little bins to large bags, here are a few things you need for college storage and placement.

▢ Collapsible storage containers
▢ Clothes hangers x12–24 
▢ Small trash can
▢ Under-the-bed storage bins
▢ Dry erase board / chalkboard (for roommate announcements)
▢ Cork pin board / bulletin board (and push pins)
▢ Space bags / vacuum-sealed bags

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College Clothing & Accessories

Clothing is important, and you for sure remembered that already. However, be certain to take some casual clothing for everyday use, formal clothing for events or interviews, comfortable clothing for lounging around, fitness clothing, and swimwear, as well as shoes and accessories to match each category. Here is our college dorm checklist when it comes to clothing:

▢ Shirts, blouses, tops, etc.
▢ Sweaters / hoodies
▢ Pants, jeans, etc.
▢ Dresses
▢ Fitness apparel (yoga pants, sweat-wicking shirts, etc.)
▢ Pajamas / sleepwear
▢ Cold weather coat
▢ Formal / semi-formal jacket or blazer
▢ Rain coat
▢ Underwear and bras (plenty!)
▢ Socks (plenty!)
▢ Swimwear
▢ Bath sandals (for public or shared shower situations)
▢ Slippers (for walking around the dorm)
▢ Casual shoes
▢ Formal shoes
▢ Boots
▢ Watch
▢ Belt
▢ Ties
▢ Scarf
▢ Jewelry
▢ Hats
▢ Gloves
▢ Umbrella
▢ Hair bands

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Bathroom & Cleaning Necessities for Student Housing

We already touched on the fact that shared living spaces, such as your university dormitory, can get dirty fast. To keep things clean and tidy, here are some dorm necessities for keeping your room clean and spotless.

▢ Shower caddy
▢ Bath mat / bathroom rug
▢ Hair dryer
▢ Curling iron / hair straightener
▢ Small vacuum cleaner
▢ Trash bags
▢ Cleaning supplies
▢ Cleaning gloves
▢ Shower curtain & hooks
▢ Broom and dustpan
▢ Mop and bucket
▢ Toilet paper

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Dorm Room Decor & Relaxation Items

For most students, heading off to college is the very beginning of adulthood and the first extended period away from the love and support of your family and friends.

To make it easier for you, college essentials might include some sentimental items for decor. Or, since you finally have more freedom, you could make your dorm your own in other ways by decorating it to your taste. Just remember to check with your roommate, if applicable, to make sure they’re on board with your style!

▢ A few family photos
▢ Photos of high school friends and S/O
▢ Adhesive putty
▢ Poster, motivational or otherwise
▢ World map (travel inspiration!)
▢ Vase
▢ Important souvenirs or knick knacks 
▢ String lights
▢ Doormat 
▢ Area rug
▢ Room lamps
▢ Comfortable armchair
▢ Beanbags for seating
▢ Floor lamp
▢ Window curtains or shades
▢ Throw blanket
▢ Easy potted plants (like succulents)
▢ Wall clock
▢ Candles
▢ Wall mirror
▢ Books

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Kitchen & Dining Items

You may not need all (or any) of these food-related items on our college moving in checklist, particularly if your dorm comes with a stocked kitchenette or a shared kitchen in the common area. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include these things, so here are some kitchen and dining items to consider when checking off your list of things to take to college.

▢ Reusable water bottle
▢ Thermos / travel mug
▢ Glasses / mugs
▢ Dishes (e.g., plates, bowls)
▢ Non-stick pan
▢ Pot with lid
▢ Cooking utensils
▢ Silverware / cutlery
▢ Mini fridge
▢ Microwave
▢ Coffeemaker
▢ Rice cooker
▢ Dish soap
▢ Dish sponge / scrubber
▢ Can opener
▢ Corkscrew
▢ Food storage containers
▢ Baking tray
▢ Electric kettle
▢ Oven mitts 
▢ Cooking knives
▢ Blender / juicer
▢ Water filtering pitcher
▢ Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
▢ Paper towels

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Health & Hygiene Needs

We’ve covered keeping your living area clean and tidy, but you need to do the same for yourself, as well. Below are some items to pack for college regarding health and hygiene.

▢ First aid kit
▢ Bandages
▢ Pain relievers
▢ Deodorant x2
▢ Toothbrush x2
▢ Toothpaste x2
▢ Perfume / cologne
▢ Body wash
▢ Condoms
▢ Tampons or pads
▢ Lotions and moisturizers
▢ Facial cleanser
▢ Nail polish, clippers & accessories
▢ Makeup & accessories
▢ Razor & shaving cream
▢ Shampoo & conditioner
▢ Sunscreen 
▢ Insect repellent
▢ Chapstick
▢ Hairstyling products
▢ Bar soap x 3
▢ Hairbrush or comb
▢ Loofah / bath sponge
▢ Floss
▢ Cotton pads & Q-tips
▢ Tissues
▢ Vitamins & supplements
▢ Antacid
▢ Handheld mirror
▢ Eye drops (and contact lens fluid, if applicable)
▢ Tweezers
▢ Antibacterial spray
▢ Safety whistle

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Miscellaneous Items to Take to College

Last but not least, here are some miscellaneous things to pack for university that just wouldn’t fit squarely in any of the categories above.

▢ Basic toolbox with essentials (e.g., screwdrivers, hammer, measuring tape)
▢ Ziploc bags (useful for everything)
▢ Duct tape (also useful universally)
▢ Flashlight / torch (just in case)
▢ Rubber bands
▢ Exercise equipment (e.g., fitness bands, ab wheel, yoga mat)
▢ Board games or card games (to play with new college friends!)
▢ Sports equipment (e.g., baseball, basketball, frisbee)
▢ Gym bag
▢ Suitcase
▢ Small safe (for important documents and jewelry)
▢ Beach towel
▢ Spare batteries (AA, AAA, and others)

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So there you have it—everything you need for a college packing list to make sure you know what to take to university! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other things to take to college we forgot to mention above? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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Christian Eilers
Written By Christian Eilers
is a writer and expert on the topics of education, entrepreneurship, career advice, travel, and culture. On the Goodwall Blog, he covers topics including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career development, climate action, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Warsaw, Poland. At his desk, you're sure to find Pickwick, his Devon Rex cat, either attacking his fingers as he types or the monitor as the mouse pointer moves around.

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