Tips on What Your Graduating Seniors Should Take to College

There’s a lot to remember when your students begin packing for their first year of college. To figure out what they will need, they should visit their school’s website to see if there’s a recommended list, since there may be items to bring or leave home, depending on what’s available on campus. To avoid duplication in their dorm room, they should talk to their roommate early and coordinate who’s going to bring what. Remember that space is limited.

Bedding Supplies

Before buying sheets, find out in advance what size bed they get in their dorm. Twin? Or twin extra long? In addition to sheets, pillows, and a comforter, they will also want a mattress pad. 

Bath and Toiletries

Find out what their bath situation is. Will they have their own private bath? Do they share one with another room? Is there one big one per floor? They are going to want to consider portability when purchasing bath supplies, especially if they have anything other than a private bath. If there are things they are accustomed to having around at home, like antacids, tissues or bandages, be sure to include those with their toiletries. Shower shoes and a tote for they shampoo is also a good idea if they will have a shared bath.

Laundry Supplies

Find out where the laundry facilities are located and how far away they are from their dorm. Are they in the same building? Will they need cash or is there a card payment system? Do they have to go off-campus? In addition to detergent and dryer sheets, make sure they have a bag or basket for carrying their clothes.

Office and Desk Supplies

Think about what the school already offers, and what they like to have when studying. See if they can find out what type of desk they will have in their dorm room, and whether they will have storage for supplies or will need a desk lamp.


Consider what the climate is like where they will be going to school, and if they will be returning home before the seasons change. If they can avoid bringing clothes for every season at once, do so; clothing space is usually minimal.

Room Needs/Décor

Figure out what furniture is provided, if any, and whether they are allowed to hang things on the walls. Some schools don’t allow tape or nails on wall surfaces. If space is very limited, consider bringing storage cubes or under-bed boxes. They might also need to bring their own hangers or bedside lamp.

Computer Supplies

If they will be bringing their own computer, find out the type of Internet access available in their room and what the compatibility requirements are so they can be prepared. Check to see if there are campus printing facilities or if they should bring their own printer. Don’t forget the essentials for their computer, like the power cord or a laptop lock.

Electronic Supplies

Find out what kind of electronics are allowed and supplied in the dorms, and make sure to consult with their roommate—they don’t need duplicates of big-ticket items like speakers, TVs or refrigerators.

Cooking Supplies

Even if they have a dining hall, there is a good chance they will want to whip something up in their room. Find out what the policy is at their dorm on cooking, specifically for cooking electronics like microwaves, coffee pots and hot plates. Some schools allow them and some strictly forbid them.

Food Supplies

There will be moments when they feel like “eating in” or having a late-night snack in their dorm, so pack some snacks. Don’t mess with perishable food; dry food is best, and stuff that can be stored easily. Popcorn, ramen and mac ‘n’ cheese are a few items that can be prepared without too much hassle.

Cleaning Supplies

Living on their own also means they have to pick up after themselves. When it comes to areas like the bathroom and kitchen area, they will want cleaning supplies like a portable vacuum, all-purpose cleaner and dust wipes on hand. Check to see if their school provides any of these before purchasing.

Miscellaneous Stuff They Might Need

They need to be prepared for everything, so they should try to think of unique situations and what they might need to handle them. What would they need for a dentist appointment? If something breaks? If they want to study outside? Also remember that they will be very busy, so they don’t want to bring too much.

My Future™ helps young adults plan their next steps in life by bringing together the most recently available information about colleges, careers and military service opportunities from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education and Labor.