Things you need to bring to college

Just Google ‘things you need to bring to college’ and you’ll find a multitude of lists: “38 essential things to buy for college,” “2021 Packing List for College,” “The Ultimate college packing list,” etc.

Ever wonder what actual college students would recommend as things you need to bring to college? Bluffton University student leaders were asked to think back to their first days on campus. Here is their advice for what they left at home that they should have brought to college.

First of all…

“Don’t worry about forgetting simple things because if you do forget something, there are plenty of stores nearby that you will be able to pick up what you need.” – Jordan J.


“If you’re going to have a roommate, discuss beforehand what you are comfortable sharing, and what is off limits for sharing. This will help to know what you need to bring or what will be brought.” – Evan B.
To learn more, read our post on “How do colleges match freshman roommates?”

For move-in day and beyond

  • A dolly for move in day
  • Floor fan
  • Power strips/extension cords – “Forgot this my first year and my dad immediately went to go get me one at Dollar General because it is so important when living in residence halls!” – Avery C.
  • Trash bags/trash can
  • Command strips

From dorm room to home-away-from-home

“Pretty quickly into the first semester, I got a wax melter with some scents that we often used at home. Not only did it help freshen up the room, but it helped me keep from feeling overwhelmed and homesick.” – Jenia F.

“I recommend bringing a chair/beanbag, mini fridge/freezer, extra blankets (throws)” – Marissa H.

“A fold-up chair. The benefit of a fold up chair is that it can be easily stored out of the way, but if you have people in your room, they have a place to sit! People can always sit on your bed, but having an extra chair keeps your bed nice and neat.” – Nathan D.

“I brought a small rug, but I didn’t think to bring a small sweeper to keep it clean, so I ended up picking up a vacuum cleaner for under $20 that worked for carpet and tile flooring.” – Jordan J.

“Multipurpose decorations are perfect for dorm living. Your space is small and so is storage! Being intentional with wall decor that has hooks or shelves and organizational desk pieces can be so beneficial!!” – Riley G.

“A desk light is helpful, as well as string lights or an inexpensive floor lamp.” – Avery C.

“Overall, just make your space comfortable for you to live in. You will be spending quite a bit of time in there, so making it feel homey is important!” – Evan B.


  • Under bed storage. “Having something to put things under the bed comes in handy especially if you have items that you don’t use every day or that you have extra.” – Jordan J.
  • “I would bring bed risers if you are not lofting or bunking your beds so you can have more room for storage underneath your bed.” – Emily C.
  • Closet organizers to maximize space (like a hanging shoe caddy or shoe rack)
  • Usable storage (cube shelf, ottoman. “Prioritize function over aesthetics” – MacKenzie M.)
  • Laundry basket (and laundry detergent/pods)
  • Shower caddy
  • Security box (for your social security card, emergency cash, insurance card)
  • A large wall calendar (for you and your roommate’s schedules. “It’s so nice to know each other’s schedules.” – Avery C.)

Miscellaneous things you need to bring to college

 “If you play a sport, travel size shower items are a good idea. A shower caddy and towel are also helpful to keep in the locker room.” – Cassie M.

“A couple dressy outfits for professional projects, interviews and events. I’ve had to go to Findlay for an emergency shopping trip to find dress pants before. Having these on hand is super nice just in case.” – Avery C.

“An old pair of shoes. There are events where you can get dirty, painted or you are around water (at the nature preserve). It is nice to have one pair of old shoes that you do not mind getting dirty or wet.” – Nathan D.

“I ended up using a hanging moisture absorber in my closet later in the semester and I wish I would’ve had it for the more humid months.” – MacKenzie M.

  • Portable phone charger
  • First aid kit
  • Shower shoes
  • Rain jacket

“Especially as a freshman, college is a blast. But it is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when packing and moving in. If you are struggling, odds are you aren’t the only one feeling that way. Opening up to someone can help form a solid friendship!” – Jenia F.

At Bluffton University…

New Bluffton students are supported throughout the process of finding their place on campus, beginning with summer orientation and class registration, Welcome Week activities and 60 in 6 where student life organizes 60 events during the first six weeks of the school year. Returning students also offer support. Kit Guides help specifically with orientation. Student life staff offer support during Welcome Week and beyond, while President’s Ambassadors, who provided input for this post, help with admissions and alumni events.
To learn more, read our article on “Five Tips for a successful orientation” >

Next up: Find out what students say they brought to college that they really should have left at home.