Many things race through the heads of incoming college freshmen about what college will be like. They’re wondering how their classes will go, how they’ll make new friends, how they’ll choose their major, and more. It can be exciting to get wrapped up in the what-ifs, but it will eventually come to a halt as they realize they’ve overlooked one crucial detail: What do they need to pack for college?

Does this sound like you? If so, don’t worry — we’ll help you figure it out in time for move-in day.

What you pack for college will depend on where you’re going to school, your living arrangements, and more. However, there are some things that every student will need. To make sure you get the basics, follow our list of what to pack for college below.


First and foremost, you’ll need to pack all of your toiletries. You use these items every day to get ready, so you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of them on hand. Here are some toiletries that you can’t forget:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap or body wash
  • Towels
  • Deodorant
  • Menstrual products
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream

Bedding Supplies

Bedding is one of the most essential things to pack for college. After all, you’ll spend a lot of time in your dorm room, so you should make it as comfortable as possible! Make sure you remember to pack the following:

  • Sheets and a pillowcase
  • A comforter or quilt
  • A mattress pad or topper
  • Pillows
  • Throw blankets

School Supplies

These may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many students forget to pack the basics. When it comes to school supplies, don’t forget:

  • Pens and pencils
  • A pencil sharpener
  • Paper
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • A backpack or bag
  • An agenda or planner
  • Sticky notes
  • Sticky tabs
  • Highlighters
  • A stapler and staples
  • A hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A laptop and charger
  • A printer and printer paper

Legal Documents

You might not think of packing legal documents for college, but they’re essential to have on hand in case of emergencies. Be sure to pack:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your Social Security card
  • Your driver’s license or passport
  • A copy of your lease or dorm contract
  • Insurance cards (health, auto, etc.)
  • Any other important legal documents
  • A safe to store them all securely in

Household Supplies

From kitchen supplies to laundry detergent, there are some household items that you’ll need to pack for college. Here’s a list of household supplies to bring:

  • Dish soap and sponges
  • Dishes, cups, and silverware
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets
  • A small toolkit
  • Cleaning supplies
  • A first-aid kit (just in case!)
  • Batteries (AA, AAA, and D batteries are always good to have on hand)
  • Extension cords and surge protectors
  • A trash can
  • A fan
  • Bed risers (to raise your bed and create storage space for all of the above)

Bottom Line

Our what-to-pack-for-college checklist has everything you need to ensure you’re prepared for your first year. While this list is a great starting point, talk to your roommates and research your school’s policies on what you can and can’t bring to campus.

With enough preparation, you’ll be all set for a fantastic start to your college experience!