A guide to packing for college

By Gabbi Gonzalez

Packing is an underappreciated art form. There’s a delicate balance between bringing way too much and way too little, which is why packing for my first residence hall room was a very stressful time. Now after many move-ins, I have packing down pat. To ease your fears, I came up with this list of what to bring, complete with the dos and don’ts to packing for college.



  • Mattress topper — sleeping comfortably is a top priority
  • Comforter set complete with a mattress cover, sheets and pillowcases
    Do: Try to keep these items in the bags you bought them in so they’re easy to carry on move-in day.
  • Pillows — you’ll want to bring both functional and decorative ones.
  • Your favorite blanket


  • Planner
    Do: Buy one well before syllabus week to keep track of all your commitments before the first day of school. You want to get in the habit of writing down every task you need to complete.
  • Laptop computer
  • Book bag or tote with a sleeve or compartment to hold your laptop
  • Notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters
  • Flash cards, mini stapler, scissors
  • Printer, computer paper
    Do: Try to communicate with your roommates beforehand to see if someone already has a printer to which everyone can have access. You and your roommates can alternate who buys paper and ink; this will save you money and those zombie walks to the library when you’re trying to print something before it’s due at 8 a.m.
  • Flash drive
  • Chargers and a power strip
  • Calculators
    Don’t: Go out and buy new calculators if you still have the ones you used in high school. Do: Bring both a graphing and a scientific calculator as some professors will want one and not the other.


  • Clothes
    Don’t: Bring your entire wardrobe. Remember you have a finite amount of space in your closet and you won’t want to carry all those clothes on move in day anyway.
    Do: Try to bring enough clothes to last you at least two weeks without doing laundry. In those items have pieces of clothing that can be used to make business casual outfits; you never know when you’ll have to go to a job interview or an event on campus that requires more formal attire. Remember you can always get more clothes from home when you visit during the semester, and you want to leave a little room for clothes you’ll inevitably buy at the Town Center.Do: Pack for the season! Jacksonville has one: hot. There’s no need to bring an excessive amount of winter wear. You’ll only need one or two jackets for rare chilly days. I chose to bring a thicker jean jacket for rare chilly days, and my favorite hoodie to wear to the library and some of my classes. Rainy afternoons can be frequent, especially in the summer, so you may want to bring a raincoat and rain boots just to be safe.
  • A hanging vertical shoe rack
  • Hangers
  • Laundry bag or hamper
    Do: buy a laundry bag or hamper with handles or a strap so you can easily transport it to the laundry facilities. The walk to the laundry room is going to feel miles-long when you’re carrying your dirty clothes.
  • Stackable plastic drawers


  • Essential toiletries: such as your toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant
    Do: Bring whatever bathroom-related items you use on a daily or weekly basis. Avoid bringing your entire collection of cologne or all 30 of the hand creams you own.
  • Medications, over-the-counter pain relievers, Band-Aids
    Do: make a small first aid kit of sorts. Mine had aspirin, Dayquil and Nyquil tablets and Band-Aids so I could have these items in a pinch and didn’t need to run to the store every single time I had a coughing fit or a headache.
    Don’t: try to make a CVS under your bathroom sink.
  • Skin essentials: Body wash, face wash, moisturizer, shaving cream, disposable razors
  • Hair essentials: shampoo, conditioner, go-to styling products
  • Styling tools: hair-dryer, straightener, curling iron
  • A shower caddy
  • A plastic storage bin with drawers — these can be used to hold smaller toiletries and store makeup.
  • Towels, wash cloths

Cleaning Supplies

  • All-purpose surface cleaner and disinfecting wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Trash can
  • Scented trash bags
  • Detergent and dryer sheets
    Do: bring detergent pods. You won’t want to carry a large detergent bottle with you on your trip to the laundry room.

Dining: Assuming you have a meal membership

  • Microwave
    Do: ask your roommates if anyone is already planning on bringing a microwave everyone can share. Microwaves take up a lot of space and energy. There’s no need for three in one dorm.
  • A small set of microwavable dishes
    Do: Bring the bare minimum of dishes. I’m talking one set of cutlery, one plate, one bowl and your favorite coffee mug minimum. Bringing less will force you to wash every dish after you use it, thus preventing dishes from piling up in the sink — which in my experience is the start of every roommate altercation.
  • Mini-fridge — You may want to get your own mini-fridge, as they tend to be too small to share. A mini-fridge can easily be kept under your bed. I regret not bringing one my freshman year to chill all my bottled drinks and hold leftovers I got from restaurants.


  • Posters
  • Photos
    Do: Personalize your space as much as possible — it is your space after all! You’re going to spend a lot of time in your residence hall over the next year. You’ll want familiarity to help you recharge between classes and all the other events you’ll go to on campus.

You’ll want to pack all the items that go in the same area of the room in the same box. Don’t forget to label them. It will make unpacking go smoother and save you an unbelievable amount of time. Packing is always easier to me when I can envision where everything’s place will be — check out our blogs on storage and decorating for more helpful moving-related tips. Remember this is an outline of items to pack. You will probably need additional items once you arrive and get settled in. Happy packing, Ospreys.

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