The Ultimate College Dorm Essentials List

September 24, 2022
By AdmissionSight

The Ultimate College Dorm Essentials List

What Are Dorm Essentials For First-Year Students?

Many families are aware of some of the standard items that a freshman kid should pack for college, but it can be challenging to remember everything. Of course, bringing some of your own belongings from home will help you adjust, but you will need more than just a laptop and some bedding to make it through the year. It’s important that you know more about college dorm essentials.

What are dorm essentials for first-year students? In preparing for college dorm essentials, be sure to ask your school what is and is not permitted before you buy anything or pack anything. Most schools must adhere to strict health and safety laws, although local requirements can vary. Consider only bringing what you will need for that weather season if you are attending a college out of state. It may seem vital to bring your full outfit, but once you are at your accommodations, it can be more difficult to find a place for everything.

One piece of advice for out-of-state students is to purchase some items once you get to your new residence. This will save you money on shipping and give you more room to pack other things you’ll need.

Unidentified female packing her books.

Also, think about asking a current student for advice on what to bring. They can inform you of the “must-haves” and “don’t bothers” for your new college residence. They could even be able to provide useful information regarding your building’s peculiarities.

Make sure you have everything you need for your first year of college by using this checklist. These are merely recommendations; you should modify this list to fit your own circumstances.

It can make sense to purchase some of these things after you get there in order to save on packaging or shipping. Alternatively, you might prepare your belongings for one season at a time and switch them out when you return home for breaks.

Storage and Room Needs

  • Desk lamp
  • Fan
  • Storage bins
  • Under-the-bed storage trays
  • Bedside light
  • Alarm clock/clock radio
  • Mini trash can
  • Bulletin board and pushpins
  • Dry-erase wall calendar/board
  • Mini toolbox (containing screwdriver, hammer, and wrench)
  • Picture hangers (double-sided tape for concrete walls)

Laundry/Linen Supplies

  • Two sets of sheets and pillowcase (Verify the size requirements with the college; some twin beds are very long there.)
  • Pillows (2)
  • Mattress pad (confirm with the college for the required size)
  • Blankets (2)
  • Comforter/bedspread
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry bag/basket

Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and stain remover

  • Lint brush
  • Mini sewing kit

Desk and Office Supplies

  • Printer paper (if you decide to bring a printer)
  • Stapler and staples
  • Pens and pencils
  • Pencil holder and sharpener
  • Notebooks
  • Pocket-style folder
  • Labels of various sizes
  • 3 x 5 index cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Paper clips and binder clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Highlighter pens (multiple colors)
  • Ruler
  • Desk trays that stack (at least 4)
  • Envelopes and stamps


  • Computer (printer is optional; there are usually computer labs where you can print)
  • Portable speakers (for use with an MP3 player or laptop).
  • Ethernet and HDMI cables for computers (check if your room has wireless)
  • Extension cords
  • 3-2 prong adapters,
  • MP3 player
  • Headphones
  • Camera
  • Cell phone

Shared Items (Consult your roommate/s)

  • Audio gear
  • TV and DVD player
  • Coffee maker, a hot pot, and a microwave (if permitted)
  • Small refrigerator (if not available)
  • Area carpet
  • Posters and artwork


  • Antacids
  • Aspirin and other painkillers
  • Vitamins
  • Medication to treat diarrhea
  • Cough drops
  • Adhesive bandages and antibiotic ointment
  • Shower caddy and shower shoes (flip-flops)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair styling items
  • Bath and face soap
  • Travel-sized soap containers
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss
  • Combs and brushes
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair dryers/straightening/curling irons
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Lotion
  • Cotton swabs


  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Blouses
  • Sweats
  • Pajamas
  • Slippers
  • Flip-flops
  • Sweaters
  • Light and heavy jackets
  • Gloves/scarves/hats
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 2 pairs of sneakers or comfortable walking shoes
  • 1 set of business-casual attire
  • 1 pair of dress shoes
  • 1 swimwear

Home and Kitchenware Items

  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Containers for storing food
  • Dish soap
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues
  • A bowl, plate, and cup
  • Coffee mug
  • Water bottle
  • Silverware
  • Can or bottle-opener


  • Backpack
  • Umbrella
  • Athletic gear

Where To Buy College Dorm Essentials?

It can be really stressful to move into a dorm for the first time and pack for college. You could be unsure about where to get everything because there are so many items to buy. There is no feeling that can compare to the dread of walking into your dorm room unprepared. Because of this, you should make sure that you are prepared for life in college by packing the most important things for your dorm room.

Two students holding their things in front of a college dorm.

Now, where to buy college dorm essentials? The finest sites to buy college dorm supplies are listed below and include both physical stores and online retailers. Here are the top stores to visit for everything you need for your dorm:


This may seem blatantly obvious, but one of the best places to buy dorm supplies is Amazon. They pretty much have everything, they’re reasonably priced, and the free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime is unbeatable.

Did you know that college students receive six months of free Amazon Prime? Yes, that’s right. You only need to register for Amazon Prime Student. To receive the free six months, all you need is a legitimate college email address.


If you want to have the trendiest dorm room on college, this is the online store to shop at. They have a ton of trendy items that will transform your dorm room into a living Pinterest board. Everything Dormify sells is made exclusively for dorm rooms, so you can be sure that everything will fit perfectly and be useful.


Every summer and fall, when back-to-school shopping is in full swing, Target shops always have a ton of reasonably priced dorm supplies.  They always offer a sizable “College Dorm Essentials” department in their locations with everything in one place, making it simple to accomplish your dorm shopping here.


A lot of fantastic, reasonably priced furniture and home furnishings can be found at Wayfair, an internet retailer. There isn’t a special section of their website dedicated to dorms or colleges, but if you look around you can discover items like rugs, chairs, wall decor, bedding, etc. that are ideal for a dorm room.


If you’ve ever tried to purchase prints of paintings, wall art, tapestries, or really any type of wall decor online, you may have come across Society6 before. Society6 is an online store where you can buy beautiful and distinctive wall decor while also supporting independent artists. Finding unique decorations for your dorm room is easy in this location.


PBTeen is an excellent location to shop for all your dorm room necessities and decor if you want a more coordinated or preppy design.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Another retailer that always has a ton of dorm supplies on display throughout the summer and fall is Bed Bath & Beyond. If you want to buy a lot of dorm necessities at once and aren’t too worried about fashion, this is the place to go. They always have a ton of coupons available.

Urban Outfitters

Look no further than Urban Outfitters‘ home goods section for incredibly hip and unique college dorm essentials. For your dorm room, you can choose from a variety of furnishings, accessories, bedding, and bathroom goods. Here you can find bedding, rugs, tapestries, decor, and other items if you want to give your dorm room a boho or indie feel.

The Container Store

This is the location to visit if you are obsessed with organization. On its website, The Container Store provides a section dedicated to dorms that includes all the storage and organization necessities for a dorm room.

What To Do When You First Move Into A Dorm?

The day of move-in at college will be an exciting and unforgettable event. Having said that, some advance planning is required to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch. It is essential that you are aware of what to anticipate because each college has its own set of regulations governing the move-in process.

View of a hallway of a college dorm.

According to the available data, roughly sixty percent of full-time students enrolled in private schools and thirty-six percent of full-time students enrolled in public schools reside on campus. Because of this, you will need to maneuver around a considerable number of other people who are also doing the same thing.

Now, it’s finally time to move into the dorm; the day has come! These could help you move in easily to your new home for 4 years and on what to do when you first move into a dorm.

Put On Proper Clothes

Move-in day occurs in August, which is, according to some, the warmest month of the year (or, at the latest, in early September). Additionally, you are probably carrying items up several flights of steps.

In light of everything said, be sure to dress appropriately on move-in day. In other words, put the jeans in your suitcase and wear something more in keeping with the season, like shorts and a t-shirt. No matter how early you arrive on campus, you should put sunscreen on to protect yourself from the heat of the sun.

Arrive As Soon As You Can

If you are doing the most of the relocation, make every effort to arrive on campus early. It’s hardly the most enjoyable experience in the world to move into a dorm during the dog days of July. In order to avoid passing out from heat exhaustion at the end of the day, you should try to get in as soon as you can.

Your move-in day will be SO much easier to manage if you arrive earlier and finish the entire moving process.

Make Some Cleaning

When you first walk into a dorm room, they aren’t dirty, but they also aren’t immaculate either. When relocating to your dorm, don’t be hesitant to perform some basic cleaning. If you have family members assisting you with the cleaning, today will probably be the simplest day to have everything cleaned up, so don’t be scared to utilize their assistance.

Look Around the Entire Dorm

Don’t be scared to take a quick tour of the entire dorm once your dorm room starts to look as tidy as it possibly can.

  • What facilities are offered?
  • Kitchen? Laundry room? Living area?
  • How does the restroom look?
  • How does your room’s layout compare to everyone else’s?

Simply take your time and explore the area. You might even want to investigate a different floor to see if it differs from the one you now reside on.


You are not alone if you experience anxiousness, we can assure you. Although it can appear like everyone in your dorm is in control, this is probably not the case. Not just you, but everyone else is experiencing something new.

As a result, remember to breathe deeply sometimes. Remember to breathe deeply. Everyone’s emotions are running high right now, so please take some time to unwind if you need to.

Keep Record of Your Experience

Both your parents and you will want to recall this day! Take as many photos as you can, and be sure to include your parents or the person helping you move in a few of them. Don’t hesitate to start taking images because you won’t regret having access to all the memories.

Unwind and Sleep

The first day doesn’t have to be spent unpacking everything! You don’t need to unpack everything right soon, even though you don’t want to have to wait an eternity.

The moving day for college is very stressful. You recently relocated to a brand-new city and housing arrangement. Anyone’s head would spin from such a situation.

It’s acceptable if you can’t unpack all of your college dorm essentials on the first day. The arrangement of your belongings will probably change during the next few days regardless.

Why Living In A College Dorm Is Important?

Pillows: verified. A blanket is present. Check for lamps, shelves, and slippers. Food for a crisis: checked. The list is endless.

Male student holding her things while in a stairs.

For most of us, moving out of our homes and into student housing is a significant event. Many first-year students wind up living in university housing, or the student residence, even though many can continue living at home, and some jump right into renting privately.

Here are some answers to the query “Why living in a college dorm is important?”:

1. Socializing And Making Friends

Everyone living in student housing makes it simpler to make friends. Living in a student residence allows you to take advantage of the welcoming environment and develop meaningful relationships at the beginning of the year when everyone is nervous, eager, and ready to interact.

If you wish to meet people from all around the world, some dorms even have most international students.

2. The Accessibility Of Student Housing

Apart from obtaining additional opportunities to meet friends, living in a student dorm can also be advantageous when it comes to studying. Check to see if anyone else is still awake at three in the morning since you need to talk to someone about your exam tomorrow. Need a certain book that the library was unable to provide? To find out if anyone in your dorm has a copy, post a notice on the bulletin board.

3. Travel Time To Classes

Since student housing is frequently found close to the main university campus, living there allows you to set your alarm clock for later in the morning. In rare instances, you might even have facilities and classes in the same building or collection of buildings. The self-contained colleges of Cambridge and Oxford University are examples of this, where students reside on campus and attend lessons there.

4. More Self-Reliance

Compared to living at home, living alone or with a roommate is considerably different. Many of us, including myself, did not have a lot of housework, maintenance, or bill-paying to perform as children. Therefore, if you have to choose between living at home and living in a dorm for students, choosing the latter is a fantastic way to learn how to be less reliant on your family while yet having some independence.

Students walking in front of the college dorm.

So, should you live in a dorm or not? That is the inquiry, and it is not a challenging one. We highly advise kids to live in a dorm at least once during the next three or so years of their university careers. Apart from the useful advantages, it’s basically just a lot of fun!

Packing college dorm essentials is probably the last thing you need to worry about before actually getting into the college of your dreams. Prior to that, you need to go through tough admissions to universities. That’s where AdmissionSight takes part.

At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. On average, 75% of our students are admitted to an Ivy League university, Stanford, MIT, UChicago, and Caltech, one of the highest track records in the industry. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.