Article by Chloe Young

Back to school shopping is going to look very different next year for many 2023 graduates. Prospective college students are going to need more than a few notebooks and colored pencils. Most students planning to attend college will be preparing themselves for dorm life in a few short months and if you are a planner, you’ve probably thought about this already: what you need for college. While each university is different, most will provide the same basics such as furniture and appliances. It is important to check with your individual school before back-to-school shopping to see what they already supply incoming students. 

The Essentials

  1. Storage:

Most schools will supply a little bit of storage, but bringing your own storage is essential when you have to fit all of your belongings in a small space. 

  1. Bedding:

Most schools will expect you to bring your own bedding which includes sheets, comforter, pillow(s), and a mattress topper (if extra comfort is important to you).

  1. Clothes hangers/shoe hanger:

You will want to bring clothes hangers since most schools offer closet space. This is useful for your nicer clothes that you don’t want to fold. A shoe hanger is also recommended if you plan on bringing multiple pairs of shoes. 

  1. Laundry products:

Considering most schools have communal laundry areas you will need a laundry hamper, a drying rack (for your non-dryer-friendly items), and laundry detergent. 

  1. Cleaning supplies:

Bringing disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, antibacterial spray, etc. will help you to keep your space clean and hopefully ward off sickness during flu season. 

School Supplies

  1. Textbooks:

Each student will receive a list of their needed textbooks for each course.

  1. Notebooks/writing supplies:

Students will still need the regular notebooks, pens, and pencils that they needed in high school.

  1. Backpack:

Most first-year students do a lot of walking around campus so a backpack or bag of some sort will be very helpful. 

Personal Items 

  1. Shower caddy/shower shoes

Most schools have communal bathrooms so bringing shower shoes is important to avoid athlete’s foot and many other unwanted infections. You will also have to transport all of your shower products to and from your room frequently so a shower caddy will come in handy. 

  1. Toiletries/personal care: 

Students will need to bring everything they use daily such as skin care, deodorant, dietary supplements, medicine, etc. 

  1. Clothes and essential personal items: 

Students will bring all of the clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. that they will want to have on hand. It helps to consider the weather year-round when choosing what to bring. 


  1. Extension cord: 

These come in handy when getting creative with the arrangement of your small space. 

  1. Headphones: 

Since it is rare to get your own room, headphones are used daily by most students. 

  1. Laptop: 

A laptop will be necessary to do a good portion of your school work in college. 

  1. Coffeemaker/microwave: 

Students who enjoy coffee or microwavable food often will find that these products are well worth the investment. Check with your school before making these purchases to make sure they aren’t already supplied. 

  1. Mini fridge (if not supplied): 

These are most commonly supplied by the school since they are used so often by students. 

Extra Items

  1. Fan/heater

Depending on the climate of your school, a fan or heater could make your living space much more comfortable. If you choose to buy a heater be careful to follow dorm guidelines as certain types are prohibited. 

  1. Scent diffuser: 

If you enjoy having a nice smell in your space, you may want to invest in a scent diffuser. You will find that most schools prohibit burning candles due to fire hazards so scent diffusers are the safer option. 

  1. Area rug

An area rug can make a space feel cozier as well as offer a cleaner place to walk on than the floors already in the dorm. 

  1. Decoration: 

Many students bring their own decorations and wall art to personalize their space and make their dorm feel more like home. This is by no means necessary, but it can be a fun way to show your individuality. 

Each school and student is different so needs will vary. What matters the most is that students feel comfortable and well equipped for college life! As you prepare for move-in day, make sure to pack your bags according to your school’s guidelines and think ahead about what your upcoming college lifestyle may require. We wish you all the best!