Everything I Actually Used in my College Freshman Dorm

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**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! (APRIL 2018)

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

  • Floor length mirror – This one has extra storage for jewelry! Completely necessary in a dorm room!
  • Desk lamp - I've had this one for several years now and love it!
  • Floor Lamp
  • Cup/Mug to keep pens and pencils in
  • 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!
  • 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” if you're dorm doesn't have a closet door.
  • Diffuser and Essential Oils - I've swapped my candles for essential oils and haven't looked back! You can sign up and purchase oils here!
  • Storage Ottoman – perfect for sneaking in more shoes and it looks cute too.
  • COMMAND Strips/Hooks – Lifesavers, I tell you!
  • Shoe Organizer
  • Plastic Drawers – Loft your bed and you’ll be able to fit these and possibly the university provided dresser underneath!
  • Mini Broom - For quick messes
  • Antibacterial Cleaning Wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Trash Can
  • Small Trash Bags – Or recycle your plastic shopping bags!
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Laundry Basket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Zip top baggies - These reusable ones are awesome!
  • 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

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 use a combination of Google Calendar and bullet journaling now, but I've used other planners in the past! 
  • 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  
  • Mini surge protector - I've started carrying one of these with me since starting graduate school, or when traveling, and it has been a life-saver for when there aren't many outlets!
  • Laptop
  • Case
  • iPad or Tablet
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  • Glasses – Both sun and regular
  • Weekender Bag (SO MANY WEEKEND TRIPS!)
  • Suitcase – This is a great investment for future travels!
  • 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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By opting in, you are volunteering to submit your first name and email address to receive this resource along with other college-related resources.