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  • Mary

The Ultimate College Packing List

With the beginning of the school year just around the corner, I can't help but think back to when I was moving into my dorm at The Ohio State University, eager to begin the school year. I have had two different types of college living set-ups; an apartment style dorm and a traditional one-room-with-a-shared-bathroom-for-the-floor-type dorm. Here are the items that I believe are absolutely essential to pack as you are preparing for moving off to college:

  1. A first aid kit/ essential medicines kit - You should pick up a first aid kit from the store, they come pre-made and you will be thankful you have something in the case of an accidental owwie. Make sure to have extra rubbing alcohol and cotton pads as well. - Tylenol, Advil, Tums, DayQuil/Nyquil, Pepto Bismol, and cough drops are good options to keep in an essential medicines kit. You should also keep whatever medicine you need to take daily in this kit.

  2. A tool kit - A very nifty tool I was glad I had was an all in one screw driver kit. It had a bunch of different screw drivers all in one set. It comes in handy when you have to assemble a piece of furniture, or tighten a screw on a cabinet. Command strips and extra stickie backs also come in very handy.

  3. A cleaning kit - Clorox wipes, lysol, swiffer dry and wet mop (if you have hard floors), broom and dustpan, trash bags, trash can, window cleaner, paper towels, laundry soap, and an all purpose cleaner all placed into one bucket is very helpful when it comes time to clean. If you have carpet, it will be good to have a small vacuum; nothing expensive, but something that works.

  4. For apartments only - Dish soap, rags, sponges, kitchen towels, silverware, pots and pans, dish drying rack, plates, cups, hand soap, bathroom cleaner, a door mat for shoes, and a shower curtain and liner. You will also need toilet paper and paper towels.

  5. A bathroom kit - Something made of rubber or an easy to clean plastic caddy where you keep a pair of flip flops, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, luffa; anything you use in the shower. Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste separate but easily accessible. You really shouldn't bring your toothbrush and toothpaste into the shower with you because there really is no safe, clean place to put it, since your caddy will get wet and many showers in dorms are very, very small. Make sure you pack at least three towels and wash cloths as well as a robe.

  6. Folder with important documents and cash in a lockbox - It is good to keep a copy of your license and birth certificate in this folder in case of an emergency. You can also keep any documents that have to do with your apartment lease or dorm rules/ preferences in this folder to reference if you need to. Keep extra cash and valuables in a lock box that only you know the code to, and place it in a safe place.

  7. Bedding and furniture - Your dorm/apartment will come with a closet, bed, and most likely a desk and dresser for your clothes. (If your place does not contain any of these, you will need to get them.) Make sure you bring a comfortable bedding set, a heavier winter blanket (if you plan on going home before it starts to get cold out, do not bring this right away), hangers, optional chair, curtains and rod if necessary/one is not provided, and pillows.

  8. Closet storage - If you feel like you will need extra space in your closet, you can buy those plastic drawers to help categorize smaller items or items that you stack, like shirts or pants.

  9. Clothes and shoes for summer and winter - If you are planning on going home before it gets cold out, do not bring winter clothes as they will take up too much space. However, do keep a couple of sweaters or jackets in case it rains or there is a cold snap before you make it home. When you do go home, bring your summer clothes so you have room to bring back your winter clothes to your dorm. Make sure you have rain boots. If you go to a big school like I did, you will do A LOT of walking, so make sure you have a few pairs of comfortable shoes in different styles. Always keep slippers in your dorm.

  10. Personal safety - Bring the pepper spray and the brass knuckles. They have key chain options for the brass knuckles. Keep them on you when walking to classes any time of day. Moreover, they will give you a nice sense of security when walking back from night classes.

  11. School supplies and backups - Any school supplies you need/want, plus a couple extra notebooks, binders, post-its, tape, pens, and notebook pater. Keep the extra items in a container that is easy to tuck away.

  12. Any appliances your dorm does not come with - If it does not come with a mini fridge or microwave, I highly recommend getting them. I cannot tell you how many times I relied on my microwave and fridge to keep and reheat meals when I had extremely early morning classes before anything opened or was not feeling like walking over to the food hall to grab something.

  13. Food - Easy snacks/meals like granola bars, any fruit with a peel, nuts, mac-n-cheese cups, bagged snacks, oatmeal packets, peanut butter, and crackers are great shelf stable options.

  14. Inclement weather accessoires - Umbrella, heavy winter coat, rain boots and coat, scarves, gloves, and hats. Nothing is worse than having to walk 15 minutes to class in the pouring rain and then sitting through an hour and a half lecture with wet feet.

  15. Other - Fans, rugs, decorations, lamps, laundry bag, organization items to help you organize school items like books or binders, paper plates/utensils, electronics and chargers with an extension cord/surge-protector.

Make sure to give everything in your dorm a good wipe down before you unpack all of your stuff. You should even be wiping down the mattress.

This may seem like a lot but you ARE living there, and you will feel more at home if you are prepared. Also, if you have a roommate, communicate about what shared appliances or utilities you can split the cost for.

I wish you found this list helpful. I packed these items when I was in college and I never felt like I was missing anything essential. It took the edge off living in a completely new environment away from home knowing I had everything I would need.

See you next Monday!


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