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What to Bring to College

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Everyone's college experience is different, and one of the major differences people encounter is in living space. Some college dorms are cramped, while others are more luxurious. Alternatively, you might be living in an apartment or house off-campus, in which case you'll probably have more space on your hands. Whatever the case is, you should start by figuring out the essentials you'll need. Then, if you think you'll have extra room, you can consider bringing some extra stuff to fill it.

The Big Stuff

Here's a list of some of the most important things you'll want to have at school. Most of these are expensive to replace, so make sure you bring them with you.

  • Mini fridge – This is a pretty standard piece of any college dorm room. Mini fridges come in a variety of sizes, and some even have a separate freezer compartment. Even if you have a lot of space, you'll probably only need one of these.

  • Microwave – If you want the ability to have quick, warm meals, a microwave is the best option for cooking. You should be able to find a relatively small one for a reasonable price.
  • Computer/printer – In today's world, a computer is a must at school. Laptops are your best bet; they're smaller and sometimes even more functional than desktops. You may or may not need a printer, depending on your school's printing facilities/policies.

  • TV and DVD player – You probably shouldn't bring your big screen, but having a small TV and DVD player in your room will probably be a nice luxury. Make sure you bring the appropriate cables for each of these items.

  • Clothes – You'll need clothes, but try not to bring everything you own. If possible, leave your winter clothes at home (though a few sweatshirts and a jacket are okay). You can switch your winter and summer clothes once it starts to cool down. Switch things again when spring arrives.

  • Access to money – You should plan out how you're going to handle money in advance of your arrival at school. If you have a national bank, you can just bring a debit or credit card. If you don't, you may want to sign up for an account at a bank in the area of your school.

  • Cell phone – Use your phone to keep in touch with friends and family at home as well as to talk to and coordinate with friends at school.

The Little Stuff

While some of these things are just as vital to your life in college, most can be easily purchased. So, if you forget to bring one or more of them, it's not as big a deal as if you forgot your TV or fridge:

Personal Care

  • Toiletries
  • Small bucket to hold your shower stuff
  • Laundry bag or basket
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Quarters (if washer and dryer are coin operated)
  • Cold medicine, aspirin, medications, and first-aid kit
  • Makeup
  • Towels
  • Glasses

School Stuff

  • Binders/folders
  • Notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Dictionary/thesaurus
  • Calculator
  • Planner
  • Stapler

Room Stuff

  • Bed linens (make sure you get the right sizes)
  • Comforter and pillow
  • Dishes and silverware
  • Under-bed storage containers
  • Chargers (for laptop and phone)
  • Power strips/extension cords
  • Fan
  • Hair dryer/straightener
  • Trash can
  • Snacks
  • Desk lamp
  • Hangers


  • Umbrella
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Batteries
  • Sports equipment(you might want a football, a Frisbee™, or your baseball glove)
Always try to pack as light as possible, especially if you aren't sure how big your room will be. You don't want to end up in a situation where you have to figure out what to do with all the stuff you don't have room for.

TIP: If you want to save room for the trip to school, consider buying some things after you arrive (e.g., toiletries, school supplies, etc.).

Remember to check with your school to see what you are and are not allowed to bring to school. If you stick to the essentials, though, you should be all set for the start of the school year.

Sean McClain  Posted by Sean McClain on June 29, 2010

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