How to Pack for Your Dorm Room

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Packing for college can be a bit of an enigma, especially if you’re an incoming freshman. You don’t really know how much space you’ll have in that little cubic dorm room. You don’t know if you’re getting a roommate with an irrational and space-consuming collection of shoes. You don’t know if you’ll actually need your own manually operated antique sewing table, but it’s nice to be prepared. There are so many uncertainties. (Just to clear up one uncertainty, we phoned ahead to your college and they said you don’t need a manually operated antique sewing table.) For everything else, we’ve come up with a few tips to ensure that you don’t overpack or leave behind anything you’ll actually need. And for a little extra help, drop down to the bottom and download our handy packing checklist.

Find out What Your College Provides

Checking to see what the college provides for your dorm room is a great way to avoid overpacking. If your college provides a mini-fridge to each dorm, you can probably leave your own mini-fridge behind. This should free up space and money for useful appliances that your college definitely won’t provide, like a Keurig or a hot plate.

Find out What Your College Forbids

Most colleges have restrictions on what students can bring into their dorm rooms, largely based on safety requirements. Your college will almost certainly have a page on their website that lists items that are not allowed in on-campus housing. Chances are, for instance, that you aren’t allowed to have anything that requires an open flame for operation, which likely includes candles, incense and hot air balloons. Obviously, you don’t want to lug your hot air balloon up to school only to have an R.A. send you back home with it.

Coordinate with Your Roommate

Connect with your roommate to see what items can be shared. This will help prevent overlap and save space in your room. Clearly, you don’t need two Play Stations. That’s just overkill. This kind of planning will also allow you and your roomie to coordinate on decor. If you want a Game of Thrones themed room, you can split up the shopping list. Of course, before you go out and buy a bunch of swords and scythes, consult the rule above. I’m guessing swords and scythes are on the contraband list.

Don’t Overpack

Find the happy middle ground between the bringing the bare minimum and hauling your entire life. You don’t need to bring your entire shoe collection. Just choose a variety that will leave you in good shape. In the same way, pack seasonal clothing and maybe just a few pieces for the next season. Chances are you’ll have the opportunity to come home for the holidays. That’s usually a great time to switch over your wardrobe. Bring everything you need and a little of what you want, but make smart decisions as you choose to leave some things begin.

Make Lots of Lists

Make a list of true essentials, things that you can’t live or learn without. Divide your needs into categories: educational, decorative, recreational, toiletries, etc. etc. As you gather your belongs, consult your checklist frequently. It’ll not only help you pack the stuff you have but it should also bring your attention to items that you still need to purchase before you hit the road. We've got a little list below to help get you started.

Got more questions? We've got answers! Check here for more helpful tips on stuff that every student should know.

Take this with you! Download this checklist as a PDF.

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TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.
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