Packing for college:What’s necessary and what’s not

Today’s post is by Jackie Heath of Allied Van Lines. Thanks for sharing your expertise with my readers.

Moving someone off to college? Here’s a quick list of what’s necessary, and what really isn’t.

college student deskYour first impulse when packing up and heading out to college will probably be to include all those creature comforts you’re sure you can’t do without. Sure, you’ve heard space will be limited, but you still need clothes to wear and books to read, right?

Not necessarily. If you’re like most new college students, chances are, there’s quite a bit you can do without.

What to Pack for College

Although every college is different (and your packing list will vary depending on whether you’ll be staying in a dorm room or apartment), almost everyone considers these items a necessity:

> Mattress/bed (assuming one is not provided)
>  Sheets and bedding for the bed
>  Pillows
>  Computer
>  Power strip/cords
>  Lamp
>  Alarm Clock
>  Garbage Can
>  Showering accessories (including towels)
>  Daily toiletries
>  Weather-specific clothing (note the weather-specific designation; for many students, it’s best to keep a closet rotation that allows you to store your seasonal items at home when not in use)
>  Hangers
>  Wall décor
>  Music/headphones
>  Laundry basket or bag
>  First-aid kit

Of course, not all of these items have to be purchased in advance and put onto the moving truck. If space is limited, you may want to make a list of items to bring with you from home and a separate list of items you can buy once you arrive. A last-minute trip to the drugstore can usually provide you with everything you need to get settled in.

What Not to Pack for College

More important that what to pack for college is what not to pack. These items tend to be bulky, heavy, or not relevant—which means that not only will they crowd your room, but you’ll pay more for the moving van, as well.

>  Air conditioner
>  Printer (the campus should have plenty)
>  Cooking appliances (with the possible exception of a microwave and/or mini fridge)
>  Stuffed animals
>  High value items, including jewelry
>  Books (with the exception of a few favorites and/or a well-stocked e-reader)
>  Furniture other than a bed and desk chair
>  Off-season sporting equipment (like skis during summer or a bicycle in winter)
>  Bookcases and shelves
>  Weight-lifting equipment

We also recommend not bringing things like school supplies, as you may not be sure what you need until you arrive and attend a few classes first.

Share in the comments what  you packed for college that was completely useless? 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

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  1. Great list! I would add prescriptive medicine to your list of must brings. My son is allergic to bees. It was important for him to bring a couple of epi-pens and the prescription for them from his doctor – just in case.

    • Bringing prescriptive medicines and a few over the counter medications are a must. Some universities have a drug plan for students. If you don’t have a drug plan waiting to fill prescriptions until you have a student card can save some money.

  2. I think most kids overpack clothing. The closets are small, and you end up wearing the same things over and over. Bring plenty of underwear, though. That alleviates the laundry pressure:)

  3. I guess I was lucky when I lived in residence, because many of those required items were supplied, and others didn’t yet exist (yes, I pre-date personal computers). But I did have a toaster and electric kettle which I used quite a lot!

  4. This brings me back to the days of getting our daughters ready for college. Having a list of what we needed to do, purchase and organize really helped. One of the things that was useful was sending them with a small file box that contained hanging files that included things like financial/banking, college info, class info, medical, personal, resumes/work, important documents, area info. These files were easily expandable as other topics came up.

    • I did the same thing with my kids when they went to university. I thought it was important to transfer the responsibility of looking after their life as part of transitioning to adult roles as they left high school and moved onto university.

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