Everything I Actually Used in my College Freshman Dorm

*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive commission from any sales/use of these links.
**This post was originally posted on The Everyday Elegance. I have since transitioned all of my college related posts to The Collegiates' Guide, which focuses on college and professionalism.

I’ve seen and read a lot of college dorm packing lists and what all to bring. Honestly, a lot of them are by stores and brands trying to justify you buying everything on their list because they want you to… And hey, they're a brand and that’s how they make money, so cool for them.

But as a frugal fashionista on a budget, I can’t afford buying three sets of sheets, and it makes no sense for me to purchase dishware in a set of 6. I know many college students are in the same boat as me, and so I've compiled a college dorm packing list of everything I actually used during my freshman year of college!

*The links in this post have been updated with current picks! (May 2016)

Real talk, you only have so much space… Keep that in mind, you crazy shoppers.

  • Floor length mirror – This one has extra storage! Completely necessary in a dorm room!
  • Desk lamp - Check out this cute one I found for $25 in-store at Target!
  • Floor Length Lamp
  • Cup/Mug to keep pens and pencils in
  • Jewelry Organizer
  • A Hand Towel – for at your sink if you’re in a suite style dorm
  • Rugs – One for at your sink, and one in your area of the room. Collaborate with the roommate if you want an area rug!
  • Decorative Pillow for your Desk Chair A Headboard – You can make one for cheap with some foamboard, batting, fabric and hot glue!
  • Two Tension Rods with Curtains – One for the window and one to act as a “closet door”.
  • Wax Burner – I use Scentsy, but this one is cute too!
  • Storage Ottoman – perfect for sneaking in more shoes and it looks cute too.
  • COMMAND Strips/Hooks – Lifesavers, I tell you!
  • Over the Door Shoe Organizer – I promise your closet will be small.
  • Plastic Drawers – Loft your bed and you’ll be able to fit these and possibly the university provided dresser underneath!
  • Drawer Organizers
  • Mini Broom – Chances are you have a weekly cleaning service, so a mini broom for spot treatments is going to be perfect!
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Febreze Air & Fabric Freshener
  • Trash Can
  • Small Trash Bags – Or recycle your plastic shopping bags!
  • Laundry Detergent – These Purex all in one sheets are the BOMB.
  • Laundry Basket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Ziploc baggies – for on the go snacking!
  • Toiletries – Use your own discretion.
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Here’s my thing with clothing… Think things through. Meaning you can’t bring everything in your closet. There won’t be enough room. Bring the most of what you’ll need for the season ahead, meaning right now, you should pack mostly fall clothing. You can still pack your Nike Shorts, but if that’s all you pack, you’ll look like a fool when you’re wearing them in the midst of a cold front.

Fall Clothing

  • 2 weeks worth of underwear (chances are you’ll do laundry at least every two weeks because of limited space!)
  • Bras – both regular and sport
  • T-Shirts – Although chances are you’ll be getting a bunch of free t-shirts
  • Nicer Blouses and Tops/Tunics
  • Leggings
  • Shorts (Don’t bring a bunch of jean shorts if you’re moving up North. One pair will do you just fine!)
  • Casual/Semi formal Dresses – there may be functions that call for a semi-formal dress!
  • Shoes: One pair of nude/black heels and nude wedges, tennis shoes, flip flops/Chacos, Riding Boots, Bean Boots, Rain Boots, and one pair of neutral flats. That’s all you need and have space for.
  • Cardigans (One Black, One neutral color, and one in your school’s color, just because!)
  • Rain Jacket – Columbia has a great one for under $70!
  • Quilted Jacket/Vest
  • Sweatshirt
  • Jeans
  • Backpack
  • Tote

All in all, just think things through based on the climate you’re moving into. Also, you can ask people at your university. I know UNT has an AskUNT app where you can ask a multitude of questions, and I’m sure other Universities do too! Check in to it!

  • PLANNER – I don’t care what you say, if you’re not documenting and scheduling things, you’re not going to get everything done. Something will fall through the cracks. You need a planner, whether it’s something like Google Calendar or a hard copy. Day Designer has a great one out through Target and Sunrise is easily my favorite planning app (available on your desktop, iPhone, iPad, and Android)!
  • Laptop
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Scantrons – I suggest after your Profs go through the syllabus and tell you what type you need, buy them in bulk at the beginning of the semester. Then you’ll never have to freak out the morning of a test about buying a scantron.
  • Chargers for EVERYTHING – Laptop, Cell Phone, Portable Charger.
  • Portable iPhone charger – there aren’t always available outlets for you to plug your phone in Headphones  
  • Laptop
  • Case
  • iPad
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  • Glasses – Both sun and regular
  • Weekender Bag (SO MANY WEEKEND TRIPS!)
  • Suitcase – because you’re coming home eventually
  • Sleeping Bag
  • 2 Power Strips
  • A fan - During November through February, dorms usually start turning their heat on because of cold weather. It often gets toasty, so a fan can be handy!
  • Iron/Steamer
  • Coffee Maker – because you can’t afford Starbucks everyday, nor is it accessible at midnight.
  • Brita Water Filter
  • Plates and Bowls – Paper ones are a great option if you hate doing dishes.

** I didn’t mention a Mini Fridge or Microwave because many dorms and Universities are either including them for free or for a small rental fee. Definitely more worth it than buying your own!

Honestly, this is everything I could think of that I used during my freshman year. Yes, I packed a number of other things, but it actually cluttered my tiny dorm room! Think through your list and stick to it! Otherwise, your roommate will not like it!


WOWZA! This post has been shared over 10,000 times on Pinterest! Thanks everyone who has shared this post! As a way to show my gratitude, I've created a free download: a PDF version of my list! Click on the image below to download your FREE PDF list!

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