The beginning of your college career is still a few months away… But as you wrap up your enrollment decisions, register for your first semester of classes, and begin to consider majors, you will also confront more practical concerns. For example, what do you really need to pack for the dorm?
At most schools, dorm rooms aren’t exactly spacious. And on top of that, you might be moving to school in a small car. So you will need to pack lightly, and only bring what you truly need. So, what are the absolute essentials for a dorm room, and what can you skip?
First, a tip: If you can tour your future dorm and see the room for yourself (or one like it), do this! If not, browse your school’s website. Many will list sizes of dorm rooms, included amenities, and suggestions for what to bring.
And now for some general rules…
Clothes. One of the reasons we recommended that tour, or at least checking out a dorm room diagram online, is so you can get a better idea of your closet space. In most cases this space is extremely limited, so you probably can’t bring your entire wardrobe and 20 pairs of shoes! Pack lightly, and consider taking seasonal clothing only. You can always swap things out when you visit home, or ask your parents to send needed items later.
Storage. Again, it will help if you’ve viewed your future dorm room and have an idea of included shelving or furniture. Then consider what else you might need, such a stackable storage crates, a shoe caddy, and so on. One common trick is to place your dorm room bed on risers, and create additional storage space below.
Clothes hangers and a laundry basket. Choose a laundry basket (or bag) that will be easy to haul up and down flights of stairs, if your dorm doesn’t include a laundry room on your floor.
Linens. Most dorm rooms include twin beds, but ask to be sure. Some feature “extra long” twins, which means you will need special sheet sizes.
For the bathroom… Aside from your toiletries, remember two or three towels, a bathrobe, a shower caddy to carry your stuff, a hair dryer, and flip flops. You don’t want to catch a raging case of foot fungus!
A rug. If you discovered cold, unfriendly concrete floors on your dorm tour, you might consider bringing an area rug (measure the room first).
“Kitchen” items. Check the dorm rules before packing items like a toaster. If allowed, you might want to bring a few simple items so that you can prepare snacks in your room. Inquire whether a mini-fridge and microwave are included in your room, so that you don’t show up with duplicates.
Personal items. We suggest packing lightly, where personal items are concerned. You probably won’t have abundant display space, and items like expensive jewelry are at risk of theft. Bring only a few items that are very important to you, keeping in mind that you can always retrieve a few more at a later date.
Communicate with your roommate. We can’t stress this enough: There is no need to waste packing space, only to end up with two blenders or two panini presses. Talk to your roommate about items you can share, to both reduce your move-in struggles and maximize efficiency within your dorm room.