young man opening a glass door with a backpack on

What to Pack for College

Going to college is a huge milestone in any young person’s life. It can be both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. One of the most important things you’ll need to do is pack for college. This is a whole different ballgame from packing for a vacation.

To help you, we’ve put together a list of what to pack for college. This list covers the essentials, from toiletries to school supplies to legal documents. We also list tips to help make your packing process a breeze.

Simple Tips to Make Packing for College a Breeze

Ever wondered how people manage to pack everything they need for college in just a few suitcases? It’s all about being strategic and organized. Here are some tips to help you out.

List Everything You Need

Have a list of all the large and small items you need to pack for college. Once you have your list, categorize them according to importance and urgency. This way, you can ensure you don’t forget anything important and prioritize which items you need to pack first.

Plan and Pack Your Outfits Ahead

With so many clothes to choose from, it can be tempting to pack everything you own. But this is a surefire way to end up with a crammed suitcase. A better approach would be to plan your outfits.

Think about the weather, the activities you’ll be doing, and the events you’ll be attending. Then, pack only the clothes and shoes you need. If you know the weather for the semester is going to be warm and mild, don’t bring any winter clothing. You can always switch out the clothes you bring when you return home for the holidays.

Pack Light

When packing your clothes, always remember to pack light. There’s no need to bring your entire wardrobe with you to college. Just pack the basics and a few mix-and-match pieces that you can easily dress up or down.

When it comes to shoes, choose a few versatile pairs you can wear with different outfits.

What Do I Need to Pack for College: The Essentials

Now that we’ve gone over some tips on making packing for college easier, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and list the items you need to bring. Here are the essentials.


If you think that packing your entire bathroom is a good idea, think again. When it comes to toiletries, less is more — especially if you’re going to be sharing a bathroom.

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Makeup
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • First aid kit

School Supplies

Of course, you’ll need to bring some school supplies to college. But the good news is you probably won’t need as much as you did in high school.

  • Binder
  • Notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Stapler and staples
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Computer and accessories

Legal Documents

Legal documents serve as proof of your identity, so bringing them with you when you go to college is essential.

  • Driver’s license and/or state ID
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Insurance cards
  • Banking information
  • College acceptance letter or email
  • Housing contract or lease agreement

Bedding Supplies

Comfort is key when you’re away from home, so pack all the bedding supplies you need to keep you cozy.

  • Sheets
  • Pillow and pillowcase
  • Blanket or comforter
  • Mattress pad or protector
  • Bed risers (optional)

Other Miscellaneous Items

These are other items that are essential to bring with you to college:

  • Laptop
  • Chargers
  • Headphones
  • External hard drive
  • Camera
  • Alarm clock
  • Fan
  • Area rug
  • Laundry bag or hamper
  • Plants (optional)

Bottom Line

Packing for college doesn’t have to be stressful. Be strategic and organized, and you can easily fit everything you need into a few suitcases. With our list on what to pack for college, you’ll have all your bases covered!