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Survival Guide: College Move-In Checklist

by College Magazine on August 23, 2011
Photos by Michelle Rattinger > George Washington University

Tired of hearing “Don’t forget your jacket!” as you run out the door? They’ve been reminding you for years what to buy, wear and bring. But when it comes to packing for college, your parents can only guess what you’ll need and they won’t be there to hand you a pack of earplugs when your roommate pumps up his music in the middle of the night. Check out our tried and true packing list created by students who know what a college student really needs.

Tried & True College Packing List

On the Go







Breakfast Bars
For the on-the-go, shit-I-have-class-in-5-minutes mornings.
Disposable or TravelToothbrush
For those all-nighters at the library and sleepovers with…hmm, what was that guy's name again?
Tide-to-Go Stain Remover
You or someone else will spill beer on your favorite shirt. This is the Holy Grail for all clothing mishaps.
Pocket Hand Sanitizer
People are dirty. Don't risk getting a cold during finals.
Coffee Travel Mug
If you're going to be on the go, so should your coffee.



10 T-shirts
Your miniscule closet will fit less than you think.
Two Pairs of Jeans
Nice, comfy, skinny or ripped—pick two and you’ll be set. You don’t really like third pair anyway.
30 Pairs of Underwear
Because you won’t want to do laundry more than once a month.
Summer Gear
It’ll still be hot when you get to school—your body will appreciate tank tops.
Winter Gear
The temp will drop before you know it, and layers will come in handy.
Business Casual Attire
You never know when you’ll need to dress to impress: panel speakers, class presentation, a date night.
Because after a long day of classes, they’re like heaven on earth.
Running Shoes
You might want to keep in shape…or make a fast getaway.







Because you won’t want to wake up for class on your own.
Mattress Pad
Those XL twin mattresses are murder on your back.
You should always be prepared and you don’t want to buy the 50-cent ones from the bathroom dispenser.
For comfort at night and during study hours.
You’ll constantly disagree with your roommate about the temperature.
For expected and unexpected visitors. No more sacrificing your own blankets so people don’t have to pass out on concrete.
At some point, you’ll miss your family and friends from home (it's a great way to cover up the white cinder block walls, too).
Dry Erase Board
It’s lots of fun to come back to your room and read silly notes from your new friends.
You never know when your roommate will be having a loud phone conversation while you study (…or when your neighbor will be having a loud “conversation” on the other side of the wall).
The dorm’s hospital-esque fluorescent lighting just won’t do.
If you don't like the way your room looks, you won't feel at home.
Tape/Sticky Putty
No matter how many decorations and photos you have, you’ll need a means of hanging them up.
3M Removable Hooks
The posts on your bed can only hold so much. These provide extra hanging space for coats and bags.
For when you want to do work on your bed but don’t want to lean up against the miserable, cold, hard wall.
Because your business casual outfits look less than casual wrinkled.


You don’t want to have to eat out of your Frisbee.
Your Own Set of Utensils
Because the sink will fill up, and you won’t want to dig around for a fork.
Microwavable Meals
When you’re coming home from the library at 2 a.m. and the dining halls are closed, you’ll want something filling in your stomach that doesn't come from the basement vending machine. 
BRITA Filter
The tap water isn’t wonderful everywhere.
Baking Tray
You never know when you’ll need a slice-and-bake cookie pick-me-up.
Because “girls night in” with a Disney movie will be one of your fondest college memories.
Bulk Stock-Up
Stockpile cereal bars, mac ’n cheese and ramen noodles from a bulk store like Costco—because you won’t want to go food shopping during midterms.
Bottle Opener
The best beers aren’t twist-offs.


Because the morning after is less romantic when you have morning breath.
Toilet Paper
You’ll run out when you least expect it, and it’ll suck.
You’ll want to dry off after scrubbing the Sharpie marker off your skin.
Shower Shoes
Because you don’t really know what your roommate is doing in there for over an hour.
You should at least TRY to avoid the Freshman 15...


Paper Towels
Your friends will make a mess and will not help you clean.
Plastic (Washable) Cups
Because red Solo cups are too cliché.
For getting creative with at themed parties from “snow pants or no pants” to “lax bros & tennis hos.”


For updating your Facebook status and drafting party playlists. Oh yeah, and writing papers, researching and getting school stuff done.
Coffee Maker/Tea Strainer
You’ll need some help perking up in the morning (and recovering from last night).
To house all those "beverages" and Thanksgiving leftovers.
Surge Protector/Strip Plug
You might get only one outlet in your room…and you brought over 5 appliances.
iPod Speakers
It isn’t a party unless you’re blasting Nicki Minaj.

First Aid

You will drunkenly bust open your knee at least twice.
Aspirin/Pain Relievers
After a while, you’ll realize that having a hangover isn’t a good excuse to skip class.


Febreeze Odor Eliminating Spray
For all the smells you don’t want wafting into your RA’s room. 
Small Vacuum Cleaner/Swiffer
For dust, spilled beer and everything in between.

Things You Never Would Have Thought Of

Medical Insurance Card
You’ll most likely end up at the campus health center at least once this semester.
Umbrella/Rain Jacket
Because it will rain harder in your college town than you expected.
Step Ladder
Because something is always hard to reach.
Small Tool Kit
For putting together that Ikea desk.
You’ll need them more often than you think.
Hamper/Detergent/Dryer Sheets
Because your mom isn’t doing your laundry anymore.
Paper White Out
It covers holes in the wall better than toothpaste (so you won’t get charged for damage).
Super Glue
For when you break your roommate’s lamp playing drunk speedball in your room.
Nail Polish Remover
For when you super glue your fingers together after you fix the lamp.


You’re moving back to school in a week and desperately trying to hold on to those last bits of summer, which has resulted in getting absolutely nothing done for school. Don’t worry, here’s a list of things you NEED to get done before you move in!
You probably wouldn't have known to get that self contral app, now would you have?
Dorm rooms aren’t that big! Overpacking is a very common mistake that usually comes from being stressed out and nervous about moving. Here’s a list of some things you can leave behind to lighten the load.
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