Home Before Your Move College Packing List and 15 Tips to Help You Get Ready for College

College Packing List and 15 Tips to Help You Get Ready for College

by Ali Wenzke
College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

College is awesome. You’re going to have an amazing time and, frankly, I’m a little jealous. Before you go, you’re going to need to pack some things, so I’ve put together a college packing list and some to-do items for you.

  1. Ignore that long college packing list

Have you seen those six-page packing lists for school?

I love checklists but, wow.  That lengthy college packing list your mom is looking at was probably made by the company who is selling those items. You may want to skip out on lugging that ironing board to school.

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  1. Figure out your living situation

Before you start packing for college, think about your living arrangement. Are you living in a four-person dorm or a single? Do you need to walk down a long hallway to go to the bathroom or is the bathroom in your dorm room? Is your floor unisex or co-ed? Find out what furniture and accessories your college provides if you are living on campus. Once you know your living arrangement, you may decide you need a bathrobe or slippers or less stuff than you originally imagined.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Find out what furniture and accessories are provided at school.

  1. Divide and conquer with your roommates

You don’t need two microwaves or two printers in a dorm with two people living in it. Figure out what you need for your room and what each of you plans to bring. If you need a rug or furniture for your dorm room, buy it secondhand once you get to college. Split the cost with your roommate and then sell it at the end of the year if you go your separate ways.

  1. Take the minimum amount of stuff that you can

When I went to college, I moved from Florida to Massachusetts. I didn’t have the luxury of driving in my parents’ car with a TV, a microwave or a mini-fridge. Instead, I fit everything into the suitcases I took to school. At the end of the year, I didn’t need to load up a truck or store tons of things. The less stuff you take with you to college, the less you’ll need to move in May. You’re probably going to move a lot during college. Keep it easy.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

A notepad and pen is all you need.

  1. Focus your college packing list on clothes, bedding, and electronics

The things you will need to pack for school are: clothes, bedding, and electronics. Pack enough clothes to get you through two weeks. You’ll do laundry when you need to and your closet isn’t big enough to take everything you own.

Bring one formal dress or suit in case you’re rushing a sorority or there’s a formal event. Other than that, the rest of the clothing is pretty standard. If you have bedding you love from home, bring it with you. Otherwise, consider buying bedding once you arrive at college. Remember to bring all of your important electronic devices, including chargers and headphones.

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  1. Wait to purchase the decorative touches until after you get to college

They’re irresistible – clip-on lamps, backrests, holographic bottle lights, shoe organizers and underbed storage containers. I get it. It’s hard to contain yourself, especially if you’ve been stocking up on those 20% off coupons. You just don’t need to buy all this stuff before you get to school. Wait until you get there. Live with what you have for a while and then get what you actually need.

  1. Pack things from home that make you especially happy

It’s possible you may get a little homesick at times. So, fill your dorm with things that remind you of home and make you happy. One student told me that she loved Christmas with her family so much that she brought Christmas lights with her to college. Each time she turned them on, it made her think of home. Whether it’s a picture frame, your guitar, or a type of soap that your mom uses, pack a few of these special items.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

  1. Find out what other students do about printing

Is there a computer lab where most people print their papers? Is it impossible to use the printers because there’s always a long line? If you don’t need your own personal printer, it’s one less thing to move. If you’d rather have an in-room printer, talk to your roommate about getting one printer and splitting the cost of ink and paper.

  1. Think about how you’ll get to class, work, or lab

If everything is within walking distance, all you’ll need is some comfortable shoes. If it’s a trek to get to classes or lab, you might want to bring your bike or skateboard from home. It may also be easier to buy a used one when you get to college. Remember to buy a bike lock.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Think about how you’ll get to class.

  1. Be prepared for a different climate

When I moved from Florida to Massachusetts for college, I was woefully unprepared. I wanted my outfits to look cute. I did not think big, puffy winter coats fit the bill. So, I bought a cute winter jacket. When you live in Massachusetts, you need warm, not cute. Do as I say, not as I did. You don’t want to freeze through an entire winter like I did.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Dress warmly. Trust me.

  1. Schedule all your appointments before you head to college

Even if you aren’t going far away from home, get your doctor, dentist, and hair appointments out of the way. Once classes start, you’re not going to want to head back home to get your teeth checked. You’ll have better things to do.

  1. Refill and transfer your prescriptions

Refill any medicine you need to take with you to college. Also, call your pharmacy or doctor to ask them to transfer the prescription to your local pharmacy near school.

  1. Scan all important documents at home

You never know when you might need a copy of your birth certificate, social security card or health records. Scan everything before you leave home, including a copy of your driver’s license. Then, send yourself an email or put the documents on a shared drive, so you have your important docs when you need them.

College Packing List. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

  1. Thank your parents, but let them know you’ve got this

Your parents are probably more anxious about this college packing list than you are. Tell them “thanks”, but let them know you can handle it. It’s hard for us parents to let you go, but it’s time. Before you go, you may want to learn how the washer and dryer work.

  1. Remember: there’s always Amazon Prime

If you’ve forgotten anything, no worries. You can order it online and it’ll be at your dorm within two days. The school store is always an option, too.




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Jack Titchener September 26, 2017 - 7:58 pm

I think one thing every college student should have is a frame to set all the pictures they will take throughout the years. My daughter is heading to college soon and we’ve been thinking about how many memories she will want to have in pictures so we have been thinking about getting her some stuff when she gets there. I’ll have to consider the rest of your tips as I try and help my daughter enter college.

Haley October 5, 2018 - 10:17 am

I wish I had found this before my sister went away for college at the beginning of this semester. So helpful!

Megan October 5, 2018 - 1:11 pm

I completely agree with you, if I only had this when I went to off to college five years ago.

Darren Kamila February 21, 2019 - 8:02 am

Great tips you shared on this blog. It’s a very beneficial tips for packing. I am reading your and i get the helpful tips. Thank you for sharing.

Miranda Karris February 12, 2021 - 9:32 am

Good tips!
I was carrying so much stuff with me, and guess what happened? I didn’t use them. The wrong size bedding, the wrong design curtains, and clothes that were too warm. It was quite frustrating that I messed up like that.

Major Jazmine September 25, 2021 - 4:55 am

Packing is important to work in before travel because carry all stuff is not remembered. I like your blog and you write all points are really helpful for travel packing. It’s a really nice blog. Thanks for sharing the valuable post.


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