By Guest Blogger Kristen Daukas of

Raise your hand if you’re currently in the throes of getting your college-bound freshman ready for the big move. It doesn’t matter if they’re going to college right in your hometown, home state, or if they’re going across the country, the number of “things” that are suggested they have is overwhelming and can set you into a full-blown panic. I’ve poured over list after list as well as joined a great group on Facebook called Dorm Chatter that has been helpful (you need to join it!!) over the past couple of years.

When my first was getting ready to head to college, I decided that I needed to sharpen my pencil and figure out what she REALLY is going to need, otherwise I am going to need to take out a second mortgage AND rent a 26′ truck in order to get all those “suggested” items there. I asked parents and college students who’ve already done this and put together a list for those of you who are in the same spot as us! Something to keep in mind – one thing they ALL said was that whatever list you’re given, cut it in half because if you move it in, you’re going to have to move it out or store it if they’re out of state and you don’t want to have to move it back.

I realize that it won’t fit every single person, and I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of essentials, but I think it’s enough to get all of us started!

Room Essentials

Locking Trunk – Students are going to need a place for storage AND a place to lock their valuables, meds, electronics, etc. when they’re out of their room and I thought this one was really cool because it doesn’t take up precious floor space!

First Aid Kit – Whether it’s a papercut, gaping flesh wound (I kid), upset stomach, headache. or a cold, you know it’s going to happen, so go ahead and make sure they’re stocked with the things they’ll need when it happens.

Compact Tool Box – A basic set of tools will come in handy at some point. Compact in size and includes the essentials!

Command Strips – This was on almost every single list I came across and it makes sense since colleges aren’t fond of putting holes in their walls when students are decorating or hanging anything.

Space Saving Clothes Hangers  – So many clothes and so little closet space!! I’ve used these for years in my girls’ closets and they work like a dream!

Microfiber Sheet Set – Twin Extra-Long – Don’t forget that dorm mattresses are extra long! You don’t need to send more than 2 sets from what I’ve been told because really – when was the last time your teen changed their sheets at home?! You’ll also want a comforter (I’ve seen folks recommend a full instead of a twin xl. Don’t forget bath towels (2), hand towels (2), and washcloths (2)!

Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Twin XL – Unless you want to hear your kid constantly complain about a bad back, they’ll need one of these for sure. Also, get a mattress cover which will put a barrier between them and “things” like bedbugs.

Vornado Small Air Circulator Fan – Those little rooms can get pretty stuffy and who knows if residents can control the temperature, so a small fan only makes sense!

Smart speaker with Alexa – We are an Alexa house, so I’ll be sending mine off with the one she has now. It serves multiple purposes – speaker and smart assistant.

Desktop Lamp/Organizer w/Charging Station – Light up those long nights of studying as well give a place to corral notes, pens, etc. Added bonus – a USB port to charge things!

Foldable Drying Rack – Whether it’s to dry bath towels, wet raingear, or hand washed items, they’ll need a small, collapsable drying rack.

Easy to Carry Laundry Bag  – Here’s hoping that they’ll actually DO their laundry!! Kidding – they will and a laundry bag on wheels or a backpack laundry bag will make life a little easier on them to do so!

Single Cup Brewer – It doesn’t have to be an expensive one but they’ll need a cup o’ joe or tea to get thru those long days and the single cup brewers take up a lot less space and are safer than a regular coffee pot! A Keurig machine can also be used to make ramen and mac ‘n cheese too!

Food Storage Containers – Not just for leftovers but also for snacks once they’re opened or even non-food items that need to be stored!

Personal Items

Dorm Shower Caddy – I like this one because my daughter is going to be experiencing the FULL college experience complete with the communal showers! This way she can just hang it up and have easy access to all her toiletries and then it can air dry back in her room!

Sleep Mask – Different schedules, different sleep patterns, different lives. Make sure they’re getting a decent night’s sleep with a sleep mask as well as earplugs!

Insulated Bottle for Hot/Cold Drinks – These are great for getting the day started with coffee and then rinsing out later for a cold beverage! Plus the shape lends well to backpacks!

Electronics/School Supplies

Silicone Phone Wallets – They probably already have one on their phone but just in case, these are perfect for keeping up with school IDs, bank cards, room keys, etc.

Tile Key Finder – How many times have they (or you!) asked you where their phone or keys were while they live at home? Now double that when they don’t have you to rescue them! With Tile they can find it on their own!

Multiple-Outlet Surge Protector with USB Ports – Can you ever have enough outlets? No, you can’t and this one has 2 USB ports making it the perfect dorm room accessory! Also, get the longest cord you can as most dorms do not allow extension cords.

Expanding File Folders – Help them stay organized with their classes without the bulk of a filing cabinet – plus where would you actually put a filing cabinet?

Extra Long Phone Charging Cords – Longer charging cords are especially important if their bed is higher up or a loft!

Laptop: MacAir, Lenovo, Microsoft – It doesn’t matter what kind you choose to buy, a laptop is an absolute must for school. Just make sure it has enough storage and the processor is fast enough to keep up with all their things. Chances are they’ll also use it to stream Netflix, Amazon, etc. so it’s not just for studies – it’s their portal to life. And video chatting with home!!

Laptop Backpack – They’ll be carrying around a pretty heavy load every single day, so make sure they have a sturdy and comfortable backpack. You may also want to consider getting one that’s water resistant.


Photo String lights – They will love to surround themselves with their favorite pictures of friends and, of course, family 🙂

Picture frames – More ways to keep memories from home close!

Customized T-shirt quilt – This is something you need to start in well in advance of college drop-off, but the surprise is worth it. Your son or daughter would love one of these to keep on their bed year-round to remind them of all their favorite memories from high school (and earlier!).

I realize that this list could go on and on but I think it’s a good start for things that you’re college-bound kid will REALLY use as opposed to some of the lists that include ALL the things. I’d love to hear your ideas on what you think are important to take!

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