College Dorm Prep Guide: Moving Day!

Posted on Aug 12 2013 - 12:44pm by Dayna Hathaway


Things have changed a lot since I went to college, back in the days of the floppy disk. While I carried a paperback dictionary with me in my backpack, a dictionary app can do the job now. Instead of taking a space-hogging alarm clock, a mobile phone will work just fine for waking you up. And thanks to digital music, there’s no longer a need to pack a stereo and CDs. However, there are still a few things that your mobile phone can’t do, no matter how smart it is!


I’ve made some lists of things you’ll need when moving into a dorm room. Before we dive in though, let me say: If you can leave it behind, do it! You’re not going to have a lot of space to play around with.


Things to Have on Hand for Move-in Day

Sure, you can always go to the store later to stock up on supplies, but it would be nice to arrive with some of these things so you’re covered during the move-in process. Your parents can always take the tools back with them!

  • Toilet paper
  • hammerPaper towels
  • Spray cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Hand soap
  • Screwdriver, hammer and pliers: Just in case you need to adjust the bed or put something together!
  • Duct tape


Check with Roommates and College before Taking 

Some of these items may be supplied for you by your school, or one of your roommates may have already purchased them. It’s best to coordinate larger items, as well as some smaller things that will be used by several people. Check with your roommates or school before taking these things:

  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • Television (If you must!)
  • Bathroom accessories like rugs, shower curtain and trash can
  • Kitchen items like coffee maker, pots, flatware and mixing bowls
  • Vacuum 


fan-deskDorm Desk Supplies

  • Power strip with surge protector
  • Bookends
  • Desk lamp
  • Small fan for white noise: Even if roommates are courteous, there’s no guarantee your neighbors will be.
  • Technology: A laptop computer, software, flash drive and printer come in handy!


Dorm Closet or Personal needs

  • Shower curtain: Many dorm dwellers use a shower curtain to hide open closets.
  • Hanging jewelry organizer: This will save space on your dresser, but don’t take a lot of fancy jewelry.
  • Laundry basket: This can act as a storage area for dirty clothes, as well as a tool for carrying your clothes to the washing machines.
  • Thin hangers: Fat, plastic hangers take up too much space on what will probably be one short rod for hanging clothes.
  • Organizers: Wait until you move in to see what kind of organizer may work best for your closet space.


Stuff for Dorm Bed

  • Sheets and pillows: Make sure you get the correct size. Some beds may call foam-topperfor extra-long twin. Get two sets of sheets.
  • Comforter or bedspread: Buy something
  • that’s  durable and machine washable.
  • Foam mattress topper: Unless you’re very lucky, you’re going to want some more padding on top of that mattress. Consider an egg crate foam mattress topper. It worked for me!


Other Practical Things 

  • Umbrella or other rain gear for those long walks back from class
  • Bike and bike lock (Unless you prefer walking)
  • Bathroom caddy (shower tote) for organizing shower-totetoiletries
  • Robe and flip-flops
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Broom and dustpan


Leave Most Things, but Take Some Heart

We’ve covered basic things to take, and what you’ll need to stay organized, so how about what you’ll need to make your dorm room feel like home? The focus here is on usability. If having your guitar with you will come in handy, and make you feel good too, then you can probably find room for it. The stuffed animal collection, however, should stay at home! When you’re trying to select items to take with you that remind you of home, think small. For example:

  • Favorite throw blanket or decorative pillow
  • Pictures of family, friends and pets
  • Smaller musical instruments you play well (Leave the drums at home!)

Leave at Home

  • High school yearbooks, and extra books in general
  • Stuffed animals
  • Sweaters that aren’t machine dryable: You’ll have no room for a drying rack.
  • teddyClothes that require ironing: Do you really want to take an iron to college?
  • Decorations for the common living area: Your roommates may not share your same artistic vision. Wait and decorate as a group with your roommates. My roommates taped black trash bags all over the walls for a “cave” effect.
  • Television: Spend your time making friends and studying. Use school breaks for catching up on missed shows.
  • Lots of dishes: You won’t have a dishwasher or much kitchen space, so only take enough dishes for a meal for four or five friends. You can always wash afterwards.
  • Small cooking appliances: You’ll likely be forced to buy a meal plan. Use it.
  • Banned items: This usually include candles, toaster ovens, slow cookers and barbecue grills. Check with your school.
  • Twenty pairs of shoes: Really, you only need about three, okay maybe four!

Remember, it’s better to pack lightly and shop once you arrive than to end up with too many things for your small space. Who wants to send boxes back home? Have you made a list of supplies for your dorm room? What are you taking with you to remind you of home?

Happy planning and packing!