When first packing for college, my daughter focused on clothes, the right purse and boots, and tons of toiletries.  My son was more about a large TV, a new laptop, and enough underwear to avoid doing laundry for weeks. As the years progressed, they both realized what was really needed for dorm life and started packing the right stuff.  Save yourself from overpacking and heed their advice.


  • Bunk or lofted beds – most college dorm rooms are small so bunking or lofting beds creates floor space for creature comforts. Try not to hit your head when getting out of bed though!
  • Futon –helpful for watching TV, hanging out with friends, or hosting out-of-town friends.
  • Storage unit – most require assembly but are great for storing snacks, small appliances, and plastic ware.
  • Desk chair – not required, but you may prefer a more comfortable chair than what the college supplies.

Small Appliances and Electronics – coordinate with your roommate

  • Microwave – a must for dorm rooms!
  • Small refrigerator – again, a must! Get one that stands about 3 feet high, any smaller is almost useless.
  • TV – yep, you’ll want this, too! The fun part is seeing the huge TVs some students try to stuff into a small space!
  • Speakers – optional, but it will make your streaming music sound better.
  • Fan – this helps move air around during the warm months.
  • Coffee maker – optional, unless you’re a hard-core coffee drinker, then it’s required!
  • Desk lamp – you’ll want this for late-night study sessions.

Home Goods

  • Area rug – if your dorm room is not carpeted, an area rug will keep your feet warm.
  • Throw pillows and blankets – helps make a futon more comfortable.
  • Curtains – optional, but they soften the look of the room.
  • Wall art – optional, but it’s nice to have something on the walls.

Other blogs in the series: