Student Dorm Packing List Tips

Getting ready to move into a college dorm for the first time? Here's a list of things you'll need as well as a few tips to get you started.

It's your first semester of college: time to move to the dorm, meet the roommate, and get started on the next phase of life. Your DVDs, clothes, and cell phone are packed. You've made a list of everybody's contact information so you can keep in touch. You'll shut down your computer and pack it a couple of hours before the move.

You're probably forgetting something, though: it's inevitable, especially if this is your first time moving out of Mom and Dad's house. This packing list - and tips for new dorm residents - should help prevent the phone call home to request emergency shipping of your favorite pillow.

-Start on this at least a week in advance. That gives you plenty of time to make - and amend - the list, dig out things from storage that you decide you want (like the old microwave Mom and Dad packed away three months ago), and figure out how you're going to get all of your stuff from Point A to Point B in as few trips as possible.

-Get in touch with your roommate(s) to find out what you need to bring. It's pointless to take two

microwaves. Most colleges will send some sort of contact info about your roommate(s) before move-in day so that you can call, write or e-mail. Also: visit the housing office's Web site or call to find out what is provided with the room (some dorms come with mini-fridges and some don't, for example).

-If you sign up for a campus tour, check out the dorms while you're there. Make a mental or written list of things that you can see you'll need, like a towel rack or a mini-fridge, so you can start looking for them before move-in day.

-Don't even bother packing banned items such as fireworks, candles, or handguns. It's a safe bet that they're off-limits in any dorm you move into. Check with housing for a complete list of items you shouldn't have.

-Make a list on your computer or with paper and pen. Categorize it into sections (i.e. clothes, books, CDs, etc.) so you can easily go from one part to the next. As you pack each item - or group of things - cross it off the list and use notations in the margins to indicate which box or bag you can find it in when you unpack later.

-Seal "leakables" in plastic freezer bags to prevent them from ruining your clothing or other items. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, dishwashing liquid, and other such things should go into the bags. Don't forget powders too, like laundry soap and toilet cleaner.

-Keep it compressed. Try to use as few bags and boxes as possible, but don't overdo it: loading fifty hardbound books into one box is asking for a backache, or worse. Use wheeled suitcases where you can; it's easier to roll it around than hump it over your shoulder.

-If there's a list of things you don't own, but will have to buy (laundry bag, microwave, and the like), find a place near your school to shop. This way you can unload your belongings into your new room, then go find these items. It'll make for a more comfortable ride, and you'll have that much less to lug from your bedroom at home to the car, then from the car to your new place.

-Unless you know you'll need or want it, leave it at home. Are you really going to use the eighth-grade band trumpet you haven't touched in three years?

-Wash bedding and all your clothing before you pack. It's nice to have an empty laundry bag your first afternoon at your new place - and fresh-smelling sheets can't be topped.

-Remember that the weather WILL change between the first and last day of classes. It'll get hotter or colder. It will rain. It could even snow. Pack accordingly: don't leave your jacket, umbrella, or sandals at home.

THE PACKING LIST - it's basic, because everyone's needs are different. Add or subtract items as needed.

Alarm clock. Don't forget this. Your profs won't accept it as a good excuse for missing class or showing up late.

A lamp or clip light for your bed - so you won't have to get up to turn off the overhead light if you decide to study or read in bed.

Bedding. Pillows, pillow cases, sheets, mattress padding, and a blanket/comforter/quilt should do it.

School supplies such as pens, paper, your backpack, and index cards. Don't forget pencils for Scantron


A bicycle, scooter, or other fun way of getting around. This will prove to be most helpful, especially if your classroom buildings are a couple of miles from your room.

Clothing. Pack all of the clothes you know you'll wear. The more you have, the less often you'll have to do laundry - then again, your room might be uninhabitable by the time laundry day rolls around.

Everything you need to do laundry. Don't forget fabric softener, dryer sheets, and plenty of quarters.

Appliances such as a mini-fridge, microwave, and hair dryer.

Snacks and beverages for the new fridge. You might as well break it in on move-in day - and offering your new roomie a cold soda or bottle of water is a nice way to get things going properly.

Video games, a stereo system, or something else to do during down time - you probably won't have as much of it as you did in high school, but you'll still want something to do when the weather's cruddy and there's nothing going on in your dorm.

NOTE: if you're taking a television set, be sure that you remember the remote control, extra batteries, and any hookups you'll need for the DVD player, VCR, and cable television service.

Sports equipment. If you played high-school softball, take your glove: there's probably an intramural team that could use a first baseman. It's a great way to stay in shape, shake off some stress, and meet new people with similar interests.

A camera (digital or film) for capturing the new memories you'll create. There are friends to meet and new places to explore: this is an easy way to remember them, and give your parents and friends from home a reference point when you go back for spring break or summer vacation and tell them all about your semester.

Your computer and all the accompanying software. Nothing sucks worse than having a computer crash

and not being able to re-load it because the disks are three hundred miles away.

Everything you need in the shower. Stock up on it, especially if Mom's buying. You can never have too

many bottles of shower gel. HINT: if you're sharing a bathroom, you'll need a convenient way to store all of your shower stuff without interfering with your roommate. A rack that goes over the shower head costs a buck or two. You could also get a shower bucket (basically a plastic bucket with lots of holes for water to drain out). You might also want to invest in a towel rack: some dorms don't provide enough for all the room's residents. Some models fit over the bedroom or bathroom door without interfering with its operation, and can cost as little as five bucks.

Cleaning supplies. It's easier to coordinate this with your roommate so you don't end up with two or three giant bottles of Windex and no toilet cleaner. This also applies to bath mats around the toilet and shower area. Figure out who's going to buy the mop, broom, toilet-bowl brush, toilet plunger, cleaning cloths, carpet stain remover, etc.

Toilet paper and paper towels. Even if your roommate says he or she is bringing twelve rolls of TP, bring some. It's very hard to buy too much of the stuff, especially if one or both of you like having other people hang out in your room often.

Shelving and other means of storing items without taking up tons of space. Free-standing shelves are

better than wall-mounted models because they don't require you to put holes in the wall (and probably lose part of your deposit); they can also be moved around at will. Other storage ideas include plastic tubs with lids (for clothing you don't need this season), under-the-bed boxes, and closet organizers. Apply the same idea to your new desk: use letter trays, storage bins, and pencil cups to keep it neat and clean.

Trash can with liners. Also: air freshener (especially for the trash can).

Any medications you're taking as well as over-the-counter products. Have something handy for the most common ailments: headaches, colds, hangovers, the flu, and muscle sprains or strains.

Decorations from your old room at home. You might not be able to fit ALL of your posters on your share of the walls, so pick two or three that you like the most. The same goes for decorations on your desk or shelf: space might be limited, so you can always pick up more of them when you go home for a break.

Contact information for all your friends and family members, as well as former bosses (just in case you

need to find a new job).

A photo album filled with pictures of family, friends, and yourself. It's nice to have when talking about your friends from home, especially when you're making NEW friends. It also helps alleviate some of the homesickness you might feel the first few weeks away from home. Keep some space in this album, or get another one entirely, to add new pictures.

Personal comfort items. Your favorite pillow is a good thing to have along when you're in a new place: so is the poster that hung on your closet door for six years and counting.

If you're religious or spiritual, bring related materials, such as your Bible. Many students find that their faith keeps them grounded, especially the first semester when things are brand-new and often stressful.

Should you take your car, remember to get the parking permit from the school so you don't receive a ticket. Be sure that you pack everything you'll need in case of an emergency: a basic tool kit, jumper cables, the spare tire (with jack and lug wrench), and emergency flares. If you have a car-club membership, keep it current - and ask if they offer student discounts.

If you've still forgotten something, don't worry about it too much. It's likely that there is a discount department store nearby so that you can replace it - or, if it's a special item, the post office ships first-class for a nominal fee.

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