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Ultimate College Back to School List, Dorm Essentials, and Adjusting to Dorm Life

Find your ultimate college back to school and dorm room essentials list here!

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Ultimate College Packing Guide

I can’t even begin to tell you how far along the retail industry has come in the availability of products geared specifically towards dorm rooms! I am SUPER jealous of all the cool storage and decor that’s now readily available. I lived in the dorm all 4 years that I attended college, with three of those years being a Resident Advisor, so dorm life is something that I still hold near and dear to my heart. As you’re packing, either yourself or your baby, and heading off to college, here are a few things to remember.

Check out where you’re living ahead of time and the rules

EVERY college is different as far as what comes standard in the room and even what is allowed in the rooms. The Ohio State University (O-H) actually has a great online resource that not only tells you the amenities in each of it’s dorms, but also floor plans!  Each room comes with it’s own micro-fridge combo, but not all schools may have this in their dorms, so you may need to bring your own. Most dorms may not allow things like candles and hot plates, all for good reason. Regardless of where you’re going, it’s better to check out your new digs so there are no surprises.

Ultimate College Packing List.
I’m amazed at all the new products available for dorm life.

Renter’s Insurance

Check with your parents homeowners insurance to find out if stuff in the dorm room is covered and if not, purchasing renter’s insurance may not be a bad idea. Of course if you’re living off campus in an apartment, definitely consider renter’s insurance. It’s typically not all that expensive and will save you big in the long run.

Reach out to your roommates

Usually you’ll find out who they are ahead of time, reach out to them, friend them on Facebook and other social media channels. Even if you’ve known this person since grade school, it’s super important to coordinate who is bringing what so everyone doesn’t show up with a TV and a DVD player and your room can barely hold one TV and DVD player.

A guide on handling stress, to laundry, to studying.

Now is also a good time to start talking about living together expectations. As a past resident advisor, this is SOOOO important!! It’s going to get uncomfortable, but you’re all adults now. If you’ve never lived with anyone before or if you’re like me and have no siblings, there’s some things you’ll want to address. You’ll want to address things like:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Visitors (especially over night ones)
  3. Schedules
  4. Studying
  5. Noise
  6. Personal property and sharing:

Typically once you get to college you’ll write out all of your expectations and sign off on them, but at least you can get a head start on the conversation and maybe even see if changing roommates is possible if you see this person may not be a good fit.

The Ultimate College Packing List.

Get to packing!

This is a gentle reminder that whatever you take to college, has to come back home. My freshman year it took a caravan of two cars to haul all of my stuff to school. No lie. Some colleges offer plans to pre-purchase items like bedding bundles and have them delivered straight to your dorm room, which may be ideal especially if you’re going far away from home to college. Compare the prices though with other retailers to see if it would be cheaper  to piece everything on your own.

Ultimate college packing list.
Bundle packs can be helpful to give you the essentials with a lower price.

Again, double check with your roommates to see who else is bringing what and if it can be considered community property. Don’t assume that what’s there is yours and vice versa, see the roommate discussion above. Also again I can’t stress enough, find out the rules on what’s allowed and not allowed in your dorm rooms.

Bed risers lift your bed to allow for additional under bed storage.

As for clothing, now may be a good time to consider a capsule wardrobe. If you’re heading to a different part of the country that you’ve never lived in before, check out what the average temperature is and the types of weather that they have each season. Just ask my husband originally from California who didn’t believe that it really got cold or snowed in Ohio and showed up with what I can only describe as a windbreaker. (It’s actually a really funny story) Bless it.

Without further ado:

Click to get your own copy of “The Ultimate College Packing List”!

Ultimate College Packing List


While hopefully this list is all inclusive, I may have accidentally forgotten something. Or if you have suggestions I would love to hear them!!

Best of luck on this next chapter!



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