College student studying in dormRight now, all the college students are migrating. Young people across the country are moving out of their homes and into dorms or their first apartments. Some freshmen like to over-prepare, others will figure it out as they go, but one thing is certain: they’ll all forget to bring, or buy, something that they will need in their new places.
While every student has unique needs (or wants), there are some basics that everyone should try to grab before they arrive.


  • Mattress cover to keep your mattress clean
  • Foam mattress covers to make that dorm bed more comfortable
  • A full bedding set with all the sheets, duvet, and one or two medium-weight blankets. Get at least one other set of sheets
  • Bed risers or under-bed storage can give more room for your stuff, but first check to see if the beds can be arranged that way


  • If you’re sharing a bathroom, shower shoes are a must
  • All the necessary toiletries, like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo. If space is at a premium, go with the travel sizes
  • Shower bucket or caddy, plastic, to carry your stuff with you
  • Bathrobe for privacy
  • Don’t forget to have prescriptions and refills ready to go
  • It never hurts to have a small first aid kit, just in case
  • Extra towels are always a good idea


  • Check with the rules for your housing to find out what you can have in your rooms. You don’t want to spend the money on a mini fridge only to have the resident assistant tell you to get rid of it
  • Coffee maker, coffee, creamer, sweetener, and cups. This will become vital as the school year progresses, and not everyone has the money for fancy coffee shops
  • Sandwich fixings. At least have bread, peanut butter, and jam or honey. If you have a fridge, get some meats, cheeses, and other things to go with it. Cheap and better for your than snack food
  • Hard plastic dishes, microwave safe and hard to break
  • Microwave if it’s allowed, and some items to put in there besides Hot Pockets
  • Ice cream will get you through those hard studying nights


  • Always have more underwear and socks than you think you’ll need
  • A few t-shirts, jeans, shorts or sweatshirts. You probably won’t have much closet space, so shop for things that can be mixed and matched
  • Workout clothes. Get at least two sets, because these need to be washed often
  • At least one set of nice clothes, for job interviews, speech days, and those kinds of things


  • Notebooks, with real paper, pencils, pens, and highlighters. While it’s easy to take notes on computer, studies show that people remember things better if they write it down on paper
  • Computer, either a laptop or a good tablet. No one needs a bigger computer for most classwork, and they’re in the libraries or computer labs if you need the computing power. Go for light, portable, and easy to use
  • Headphones, noise-canceling if possible. You’re going to be surrounded by distractions. Music can help people focus and remember things later, and also, it can block out whatever else is going on
  • Folders to keep your papers organized. You’ll get a lot of handouts and assignments, and you’ll want to keep track of them in individual, color-coded places

Other stuff

  • Look for space organizers for your closet or under your bed, to help maximize whatever room you have
  • Insurance cards and other forms of ID, because you don’t want to have to call home in an emergency
  • A money management program never hurts, and might help you make it through the year without calling home for emergency funds
  • Do you have your umbrella?