by Katie Wardle, rising Sr. at Queens University

The big transition to college can definitely stir up many emotions.  Early on in preparing for move in day, I felt overwhelmed. As the eldest child and the first to go off to college, it was especially challenging for my parents and me. None of us really knew what to expect or what I would need.

what to pack for college

A lot has changed since the days my parents were in a dorm, so little did they know they were going to need to provide me with a lot more than sheets and towels. You don’t think about all the little things you may need, but it’s the small things that are the most important. The basics such as laundry detergent, hangers, bedding etc. are easy to remember but there’s so much more that’s truly needed.

what to pack for college

I lived in a dorm my first three years of college and I was provided with a desk, desk chair, drawers, closet, and obviously a bed with mattress. There technically is not much more that I would have needed to “survive”, but for first year students, minor necessities I found most important in a dorm room included:

After living in a dorm my first three years of college, in this my fourth year, I am able to live off campus in an apartment. So essentially, if I thought packing for a dorm room was challenging, I had another thing coming when preparing to be on my own in an apartment.

Luckily, I have two other roommates to split the necessities with, but living on your own comes with a lot more chaos. Living in an apartment means purchasing all of the things provided by the university including living room furniture and kitchen ware. It is basically your new home, so you essentially want everything you had at the house you grew up in.

I’ve been moved into my new apartment for about three months now and I’ve found the following items key to transitioning from dorm to apartment:

  • -Rugs
  • -Plates/ bowls/ drink ware/ utensils/ pots/ pans
  • -Curtains/ shower curtain
  • -Bath mats
  • -Mirrors
  • -Dresser
  • -Side Tables
  • -TV/ TV stand
  • -Kitchen table with chairs
  • -Extra seating

Needs and wants are different for everyone in their space of living. But whether you are a mom, grandmother or friend and know someone who is getting ready to head off to college, here are lists of items to think about that will help them when packing.


  • -Qtips
  • -Nail clippers
  • -Cotton balls/ pads
  • -First aid kit
  • -Sunscreen/ chapstick
  • -Shower shoes
  • -Shower Caddy

Bedding and Bath:

  • -Hand towels/ washcloths
  • -Twin XL sheets
  • -Mattress cover
  • -Mattress topper

For School Work:

  • -Laptop
  • -Backpack
  • -Desk lamp
  • -Scissors
  • -Stapler
  • -Notebooks/ loose leaf paper
  • -Pens/ pencils/ highlighters
  • -Index cards (Great for studying!!!)

For the Room:

  • -Flashlight
  • -Batteries
  • -Alarm clock
  • -Speaker for music
  • -Snacks/ basket for snacks
  • -Garbage bags

what to pack for college

If you’ve sent yours off to college and have some tips or items we missed, or if you remember your own dorm days, please comment to share your ideas below!