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College Survival Guide: Packing for College

If it’s one important thing I learned in college, it’s that you need to make sure you’re anchored well enough before you get your feet wet in the pool of change.  In other words, it’s best to have something comfy and familiar you know you can run back to when you’re dealing with the stress of adjusting to something, such as moving out of the house to attend college.

One way you can do that is to bring some things from home with you.  Not only will they prove useful during the hustle and bustle of daily college life, but they’ll also be your “anchor” during this time.

In the interest of being organized, I’ve subdivided this list into four main sections, with the corresponding items listed under their respective headings.  Please keep in mind that the list is based on general preferences of incoming college students.  As such, some of the items mentioned above may not apply to you.  Conversely, you may also have a number of things to add to the list, based on your own needs and preferences.


1. Toiletries:  There are some personal things you should never, ever share with others—not even your college dorm mate.  Bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, towel and other stuff and keep them to yourself alone.

2. Medication and First-Aid Kit:  Granted, your college will likely have its own infirmary, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some over-the-counter stuff stashed away in your room.  You’ll never know when, God forbid, you’ll experience an emergency situation and you’ll need to act quickly to save your life or someone else’s.   So bring some of the usual meds for fevers, antibiotics, cough, wounds, etc.

3. Plunger:  There are times when your life will feel like it’s going down the toilet faster than human waste.  Fortunately, the latter is easier (if more disgusting) to deal with a with your standard issue home plunger.


1. Trash Receptacle:  Some people like to keep things personalized, and trash cans are no exception.  Besides the obvious benefits of waste segregation, having your own garbage can means you have more room for thrown-away stuff than if you had only one receptacle between you and your roommate.

2. Dishes/Pans/Utensils:  Eating out can be expensive, so what better way to save money and provide nourishment for yourself than by cooking your own food? Make sure you have the right tools for this.  Speaking of which…

3. Heating Equipment:  Cooking utensils won’t do you much good if you don’t have the proper apparatus with which to heat your food.  Have your rice cooker, oven toaster and/or microwave oven handy for hunger pangs at odd hours.

4. Food:  Don’t bring any of the heavy stuff.  Stick to easy-to-pack stuff like cereals or oatmeal and favorite snacks.

5. Coffee Pot:  Chances are you’ll be seeing some sleepless or semi-sleepless nights in your chosen institution of tertiary learning, so a quick caffeine rush can help.

6. Brooms and Various Cleaning Agents:  This is college, so if you make a mess, clean up afterward.  It’s next to godliness, and. your roommates will appreciate it, too.


1. School Supplies:  This goes without saying.  Bring every piece of study equipment you think you’ll need: your laptop, desk lamp, printer, study table and even the waste basket for paper.  Don’t overdo it, though—you can always buy additional stuff from stores on and off-campus.  Just stick to the basics.

2. Alarm Clock: Obviously you can’t trust your roommate to wake you up in time for class if he or she is just as heavy a sleeper as you are.  That’s where your alarm clock comes in.  Set it for the appropriate time and you can rest easy.  Just be sure to actually get up and out of bed once it wakes you up.

3. Laundry Basket:  One of the messiest things about sharing a room with someone is sifting through a humongous pile of laundry just to find your own clothes.  Do yourself a favor and keep your own laundry organized.

4. Clothing and Hangers:  The climate can change at a moment’s notice, so have clothing available for any and all seasons, as well as hangers to keep them in their proper place.

5. Bed Stuff:  The place you’ll be staying in may or may not provide bed sheets for you, so check with them to find out the sizes of their beds and bring the appropriate sheets.  If you have a favorite pillow that helps you sleep better, bring it along, too.

6. Space Heater/Fan:  The dorm should have its own heating and ventilation system (again, check with management and make sure), yet it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra space heater or fan around when the need arises.

Living Room

1. Electronic Entertainment:  Studying will be a big part of your college life, but it won’t be the only part of it.  For those days when you’d rather lock yourself in your room and chill out, having a TV to watch—or better, a console to play around with—will help keep Jack from becoming a dull boy.  It may even help you bond with your roommate(s), too.

2. Non-Electronic Entertainment:  Books, board games and other things that don’t require electricity would certainly help you chill from all that stress-related studying if the power goes out or if your handheld gaming system needs charging.

Some Final Thoughts

It’s sorely tempting to go ballistic and pack everything you can lay your eyes or hands on, especially if this is your first time away from home.  Flee the temptation by taking deep, calming breaths and remind yourself that you can always go back home during long breaks and get more stuff you need.

One thing you can do is to make a list and then put it away for a while.  Come back to it in a day or two when your perspective is different.  Chances are you’ll be adding and/or crossing things out from the list.  For additional suggestions, try running the list by your parents or by other people you trust.

Finally, always remember to keep the lines of communication open.  It’s a good rule of thumb to talk with your roommate(s) and dorm management with respect to the facilities and items they will or won’t have with them.  Take notes, plan accordingly, and then pack accordingly.  That way, you’ll be able to focus on and enjoy your college experience.

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2 thoughts on “College Survival Guide: Packing for College

  1. Pingback: College Tips for Incoming College Freshmen in Philippines « mesuchadoglover

  2. Entertaining and informative post! I was looking around on the web for a post about this and this is the very first excellent one I have read.

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