What to pack for life in the dorms

What to pack for life in the dorms

Alexis Marchitte—So last year I created my packing list from freshman year. After living in the dorms for another year, I have tweaked the list so you guys know exactly what you’ll need! Freshman year I lived in Dobson which had 2 bedrooms (2 people in each) with a shared common room and shared bathroom. Sophomore year I lived in Mortimer which has 3 bedrooms (2 people in each) with a much larger common room and a shared bathroom with 2 sinks.

The top row of pictures shown above is from my freshman dorm (Dobson) and the bottom row is from my sophomore dorm (Mortimer).

Here is my final, complete list!


  • mattress topper/ foam pad
  • bed bug protector
  • 2 sets of sheets (one cotton and one fleece for winter — SO comfy and warm)
  • comforter (don’t bother spending too much money, it will be stained)
  • 2 new comfortable pillows (I ended up buying a body pillow as well because there was a space between my bed and the wall)
  • pillow cases
  • 1-2 extra blankets
  • BRING A MALLET (if you plan on lofting your bed, it’s much easier to bring a mallet and do it yourself rather than wait for a maintenance man)


  • shampoo and conditioner
  • shower caddy
  • shower shoes
  • loofah
  • body wash
  • razor
  • shaving cream
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • floss and mouthwash
  • face wash
  • If you live in a suite, you will need a shower curtain, bathroom rug and hand towels. Toilet paper will be supplied in your RA office.*
  • piercing cleaner
  • Q-tips and cotton balls*
  • nail polish and remover
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • chapstick
  • make up and remover
  • hair straightener, curler, waver, blow dryer*
  • comb/brush
  • hair ties, hair bands, etc
  • Band-aids/First Aid Kit (I didn’t use it for 2 years but ended up needing it my very last week of sophomore year)
  • aspirin, cold medication, other prescriptions
  • hair spray, heat protectant spray
  • Vitamin C pills/chewables (Many freshmen get sick their first year due to the new environment)
  • tiny little hand sanitizers
  • tissues
  • feminine hygiene products
  • 2 shower towels, 2 hand towels*, 2 washcloths
  • lotion, perfume, deodorant

Laundry/ Cleaning Supplies

  • fold-able hamper
  • mesh laundry bag (I prefer a laundry bag over a basket because its easier to store)
  • laundry detergent (I prefer liquid over the pods)
  • dryer sheets
  • TONS of disinfectant wipes*
  • paper towels*
  • dish soap*
  • Scrubbing Bubbles spray for the toilet and shower (trust me you’ll need them)
  • sponges*
  • dish drying rack (we put ours on our bathroom sink to do dishes)*
  • broom and dustpan*
  • smaller sized vacuum*


  • laptop and charger (warranty information too!)
  • portable mouse
  • laptop case
  • flash drive
  • extension cords and power strips (even though they aren’t “allowed”)*
  • cell phone
  • chargers, chargers, and more chargers. If you plan to loft your bed then I highly suggest getting at least a 6-10 foot charger to reach your bed!
  • Alarm Clock/ iHome/ Bluetooth or Aux cord speaker for your room
  • headphones and extra headphones
  • batteries
  • TV (decide with your roommates)***
  • HDMI cord (from TV to laptop)*
  • TV cable*
  • Gaming systems, DVD player, etc

Room Furnishings

  • Clip-on lamp or short lamp for desk
  • tons of hangers
  • stacking storage for under your bed or in your closet (unfortunately the desk and dresser drawers aren’t quite enough)
  • good size rug for your bedroom** (my sophomore dorm had carpet so this wasn’t needed)
  • dry erase board (Not necessary but it kept me organized)*
  • box fan for your window (the first couple weeks are HOT)*
  • humidifier (depends on the person; the winter air and I don’t get along)
  • posters, tapestries, string lights, etc
  • command strips 
  • mirror (I had a smaller one on my desk and a full-length)

Kitchen Type Items

  • mini-fridge (with freezer)*
  • ice cube trays*
  • Keurig with k-cups*
  • paper plates*
  • plastic reusable bowls
  • plastic silverware*
  • reusable silverware (one fork, spoon and knife)
  • one sharper knife
  • glass tupperware
  • your favorite mugs
  • travel mug (you get a free one at orientation)
  • reusable, travel water bottle
  • sandwich sized and gallon sized ziplock bags
  • tea bags, coffee, sugar, creamer, hot chocolate for those cold winter days*
  • HEALTHY snacks

School Items/ Miscellaneous

  • index cards
  • one notebook and folder for each class
  • pens, pencils, colored pencils, highlighters, sharpie, dry erase markers
  • all types of tape
  • stapler and staples
  • ruler
  • Post-It notes
  • planner (they give you one at orientation but I chose a cuter option)
  • calculator
  • textbooks (DON’T BUY UNTIL YOU ASK THE PROFESSOR IN PERSON IF YOU REALLY NEED IT. If you do need it, consider renting and price compare with different websites.)
  • backpack
  • ID (driver’s license, copy of birth certificate, social security card, passport, school ID)
  • documents (most recent paycheck, health insurance card or a copy of it)
  • pepper spray key chain
  • cute key chain wristlet (cute, cheap options on Etsy. I used this to hold my dorm key, ID card, car keys, etc)
  • umbrella
  • lint roller

Everything in italics are things I wouldn’t recommend buying cheap — spend the extra money because it’ll be worth it. I bought a $200 mattress topper at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon. 

Everything in bold I used A LOT throughout the year. I wouldn’t go without them.

****Anything with asterisks I would recommend discussing with your roommates so you don’t end up with multiples. Plus a Walmart run is a good way to bond with your roommates that first night.****

If you have questions, feel free to comment here, or tweet me @bport_alexis!

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