The Best College Packing List for Girls [2021]

This list has everything — and we mean EVERYTHING — you need to bring to college.

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Here is the ultimate college packing list for girls in 2021, with everything you need to bring to college.

The ultimate college packing list

Your first year of college is exciting, transformative, and just plain amazing. But before you get to all of that you have to move in first!

The thought of decorating your dorm, meeting your new roommate, and figuring out how to pack your wardrobe into that way-too-small closet is nerve-wracking. Figuring out all the little details that make home so great and recreating it at school is a whole other story.

When I was a senior, I researched extensively (and I do mean extensively) to figure out exactly what I needed. While you will forget things–I definitely did–this college packing list is a helpful step towards that daunting move.

To help make The Great Pack easier, I’ve broken this college packing list down into categories, and then within each category I’ve made subcategories. Each item fits into a specific category, much like a giant checklist, which you can print and use as a guide when you start packing.


This college packing list for girls is made up of the actual items I packed and used, and if I didn’t, I made note of it.

Just a note: Always check your school’s website before buying larger items to make sure they’re within living guidelines, and consult with your roommate to make sure you don’t bring doubles of everything.

Let’s get to the items! Keep reading to see our ultimate list of things to bring to college.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Dorm Bedding Essentials

Let’s start our college packing list off with the most obvious category, bedding. Don’t forget that most dorm beds are extra long, so regular twin-size sheets won’t fit. Below is a complete list of college bedding essentials.

Also, for more bedding sets to fit every aesthetic, see our full guide to dorm bedding.

1. Mattress Protector

Buy from

Many, many students have slept on your dorm’s mattress before you, so a mattress protector is non-negotiable. This one protects against allergens and dust and won’t change the feel of your bed.

2. Mattress Topper

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Standard dorm mattresses are uncomfortable AF, so a Twin XL mattress topper is a must-have. This one is our all-time fave — it has 4 inches of memory foam and will make you feel like you’re at a 5-star hotel!

3. Two Sets of Twin XL Sheets

Buy from

Get two sets of Twin XL sheets so you’ll always have clean ones, even when you put off doing laundry. These microfiber sheets are insanely, life-changingly soft and have more than 200,000 positive reviews.

4. Comforter or Duvet

Dormify eyelash comforter in white

There are so many cute duvets and comforters at stores like Dormify, PBTeen, and Urban Outfitters. This eyelash comforter from Dormify is our fave to match any decor.

5. Pillows

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Good pillows are key to making a dorm bed feel 10x more comfortable. These cooling gel pillows are a favorite here at CF and you can bring them with you to your first apartment.

6. Pillowcases

Buy from

If you don’t have satin pillowcases yet, do yourself a favor and invest ASAP. They are the best for preventing wrinkles and helping you wake up with perfect hair every day — no more tangles. This set is only $9 and will change your life.

7. Throws or Extra Blankets

Pink lily leopard blanket

You need at least one throw blanket for guests (or if your room gets chilly). This one is a dupe for the popular Barefoot Dreams blankets at a fraction of the price.

8. Decorative Pillows

Shut eye pillow from Dormify

Every girl knows you can’t have too many decorative pillows. Get some cute ones that show off your personality, like this eyelash pillow.

9. Air Mattress and/or Sleeping Bag

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A must if you plan to have guests visit. I like this air mattress because it has a built-in pump and it’s raised up off the ground so your guest will feel like they’re sleeping on a real bed.

10. Bed Risers

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Optional but really nice to have, bed risers double your storage space in your room. For more convenience, get these 7″ risers — they come with a built-in plug for charging your devices in bed.

11. Dorm Bed Shelf

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Another “nice to have” item that makes life 10x easier! The BedShelfie is a genius product we’re seeing all over campus. It has space to hold your laptop, phone, and water bottle next to your bed.

12. Headboard

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If you want to be extra with your bedding, we’re loving these detachable headboards you can add to any dorm bed for a luxe look. Definitely not a must-have but so cute!

Dorm Decor Essentials

There are a million ways to decorate your dorm, and we don’t have space to get into all of them here. (See our full guide to dorm decor for tons of detailed ideas!)

That said, here are the must-have decor items every girl needs to bring to college.

13. Blackout Curtains (+ Curtain Rod)

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Your school may provide blinds or curtains, but I recommend investing in full blackout curtains for the best sleep. I love these ones because they look like high-end linen curtains.

And don’t forget a curtain rod! This one doesn’t require any tools and won’t damage walls.

14. Wall Decor

Good vibes only print from Dormify

Obviously, you need decorations for your walls, and we love this constant reminder to leave your bad vibes at the door.

There are so many ways you can go with wall decor, though. See our full guide to college dorm room wall art ideas for tons of aesthetic options.

15. Plants

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Every living space needs some greenery — whether it’s real or faux is up to you. This plant is a real one that’s difficult to kill, but Amazon has a great fake plant selection too.

For more options, see our guide to the best dorm plants.

16. String Lights

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String lights are pretty much an essential; they add such a cozy ambience to your room! I particularly love these string lights with photo clips — instant wall decor.

For more ideas, see our list to ways to use Christmas lights in your room.

17. Desk Lamp

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In college, you need your own desk lamp so you can study at night without disturbing your roommate. This one is so sleek and modern, plus it has a charging port for your phone and a dimmer. It’s everything you could need in a desk lamp.

18. Printed Photos from Home

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Everyone gets homesick at some point in their college career, and it really helps to have physical photos of your loved ones where you can see them every day. Print your own with this photo printer that syncs to your phone.

19. Area Rug

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Dorm floors are usually tiled (and cold!), so you absolutely need a good area rug to keep your room nice and cozy.

I love this one because it has a vintage vibe to it, plus it has black in the pattern so any dirt won’t be super noticeable. It honestly looks 10x more expensive than it is!

20. Tapestry

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Totally optional, but a popular way to add a big statement piece to your room (and cover up ugly dorm walls). You’ll see these all over campus!

There are so many options for dorm tapestries (seriously, you can get one with Kris Jenner’s face on it), but I love this one for its California minimalist vibes.

Dorm Organization Products


This wouldn’t be a college packing list for girls without an organizing section. Desk, closet, and makeup organization are necessary for making the most of a small space. The Container Store has organizing down to a science, but if it’s a bit too expensive for your budget, places like Target or Walmart carry wallet-friendly organizing solutions.

Below, I’ve listed my must-have organizers for every college girl’s room to get you started. If you want to get even more advanced, see our guide to dorm room organizing essentials.

21. Hangers

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Trust me on this: For aesthetic and organizational reasons, it’s better to invest in a new set of matching hangers rather than dragging your old, mismatched hangers to college.

These velvet hangers grip clothes so they don’t fall on the floor, and they’re thin, you can fit twice the amount of clothes in your closet. Plus, how cute is the rose gold finish?

22. Sweater Organizer

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Drawer space is limited or nonexistent in many dorm rooms, so you will definitely want to invest in a sweater organizer for storing folded clothes in your closet.

This one comes with six shelves so you can fit tons of clothes on it, and it can be hung on any closet rod. I actually prefer these to drawers because it lets me see what I have at a glance.

23. Command Hooks

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A college classic. You will use these all over your dorm room, so buy a couple of big packs and thank me later.

The uses for these are endless, from hanging your blow dryers and curling irons to organizing your hats, necklaces, and purses. I also like to make a designated hook for my bathrobe inside my closet.

24. A Full-Length Mirror

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Your dorm might come with one of these (mine did sophomore year but not freshman year), so try and find out ahead of time before you buy one.

I prefer over-the-door mirrors like this one because they’re foolproof to hang, but you can also get a leaning mirror for those *aesthetic* vibes.

25. Clear Storage Bins

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Another essential on any college packing list. These clear storage bins are ubiquitous on college campuses because they’re lightweight and allow you to see what’s inside.

I especially like these stacking drawers — they’re perfect for closets or stacking under your (lofted) bed.

26. Shoe Rack or Organizer

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I loved having a shoe rack right by my door — it made it super easy for me to grab my shoes and go every morning.

However, if you have a lot of shoes or you have a dorm closet with a door (check first), an over-the-door shoe organizer is another popular option.

27. Jewelry Organizer

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Optional (see the makeup organizer at right that has space for jewelry), but if you have a lot of jewelry, it helps to get a specific jewelry organizer.

This jewelry stand is seriously SO cute. It has room for all of your necklaces, bracelets, and rings and it will look so cute in your room.

28. Makeup Organizer

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If you wear makeup regularly (or just want to organize your skincare products), these clear makeup organizers are so helpful!

This one has space for all your must-used products and even has extra drawers where you can keep jewelry (if you don’t want to get a jewelry organizer).

29. Makeup Bag

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If you wear makeup, this one is a must, because a lot of times in college you will be getting ready in someone else’s room.

I’m obsessed with this marble print makeup bag that keeps your products organized and can literally fit the majority of your makeup collection.

30. Makeup Mirror

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Never trust dorm lighting for doing your makeup! Lighting in the dorms is typically dim, so get yourself a light-up makeup mirror so you can actually see what you look like before you go outside.

Bonus, this thing magnifies 10x so it’s A+ for doing your brows and any detailed eye makeup looks.

31. Desk Organizer

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A dorm desk organizer is a must if you’re like me and you NEED your desk to be clean before you can study. This rose gold wire organizer is so cute!

If you want to get extra organized, I’m obsessed with these clear drawer dividers to keep all of your school supplies perfectly grouped together. #deskgoals

32. Shower Caddy

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No college packing list would be complete without a shower caddy!

This mesh one is THE one to get because the material allows water to drain out and it dries super fast. Plus, it has tons of pockets and even has a special clip for your keys — so handy.

Dorm Cleaning Essentials

If you, like me, can’t focus if your room is gross, make sure you stock up on some cleaning basics before you get to your dorm. Below are my go-to cleaning products that should be on every college packing list.

Also, my biggest tip is to to sign up for an Amazon Prime Student account (use that link to get a 6 month trial for free!) so you can automatically have cleaning products and paper towels delivered to your door every month. Makes it so easy to stay stocked up, especially if you don’t have a car on campus.

33. Disinfectant Wipes

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Pretty self explanatory. I’m partial to the Scentiva wipes because they literally smell like a vacation.

34. Trash Bags

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Again, probably obvious. Get the Tall Kitchen size to fit most dorm trash cans.

35. Compost Bags

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My school provided us with compost bins, but not all schools do, so these are great if your school has a composting program.

36. Dish Soap

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Method dish soap is my all-time favorite and their Lime + Sea Salt scent smells exactly like Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime.

37. Dish Sponges

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Okay, these look funny but I swear they are the BEST for cleaning even the most-stuck on food off your dishes. Try them and you’ll be a convert!

38. All-Purpose Cleaner

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I use this for my desk, my shelves, and even my mirrors and windows because it doesn’t streak. The Peony Mrs. Meyers is the best scent ever!

39. Lightweight Vacuum

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I didn’t get one of these when I was a freshman and I wish I had! Sophomore year I upgraded and my room was so much cleaner all the time. At just $29, this powerful vacuum is a MUST have.

40. Dustpan Set

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A simple dustpan and broom set is so helpful for cleaning up small messes around the dorm when you don’t want to bust out the vacuum.

41. Paper Towels

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I like to buy the big packs of paper towels on Amazon Prime and have them auto-delivered when I run out.

42. Trash Can

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Most schools provide this for students, so check before you buy.

College Toiletries/Bath Products

A lot of this is going to vary depending on your personal grooming habits, but here’s a list of the basic toiletries and bath products you definitely need for college.

43. Towels

You definitely need a set of towels for college. These are the exact towels I have in my house today and they are INCREDIBLE for the price! So soft and absorbent.

44. Bathrobe

Skims robe

I loved having a robe for walking from the showers to your room (I just hung it up while I showered). I got this SKIMS cozy robe for my birthday and I practically live in it now; it’s the comfiest robe ever.

45. Shower Cap

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For when you need to shower but you’re not trying to spend an hour drying and re-styling your hair, a shower cap is a must.

46. Shampoo

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Obviously you need shampoo. Redken All Soft is my OG favorite since I have dry hair. It gives my hair so much moisture and smells incredible.

47. Conditioner

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I rotate my conditioners a lot, but I always come back to All Soft. Some other popular favorites are Redken Extreme and Olaplex No. 5.

48. Dry Shampoo

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Forever a college girl essential — where would we be without dry shampoo? Batiste is my favorite because it works great and is super cheap.

49. Other Hair Products

Kerastase blow dry primer

Include all of your daily and weekly hair products in this category — hairspray, hair masks, and a good heat protectant are musts for me.

50. Hair Brush

Briogeo hair brush

Another obvious must-have — a good hair brush will last you forever and I love that this one is vegan and eco friendly.

51. Comb

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When I was in the dorms, I always kept a detangling comb in my shower caddy to comb through my conditioner while I was in the shower.

52. Razor

Billie razor kit

Bring your favorite razor and extra blades. The Billie razor is popular on college campuses right now and they ship new blades to you automatically so you won’t run out.

53. Loofahs

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Buy a big pack of loofahs and swap them out every three months. These ones are only $7 for four.

54. Body Lotion

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Bring your favorite. Mine is this Santal body lotion — it’s pricey but it makes skin insanely soft.

55. Body Wash

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I like to buy the 4 pack of Dove body washes so I never run out. (They also have Subscribe & Save for these.)

56. Toothpaste

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Again, buy a multi pack of toothpaste for college so you aren’t running to the store last minute.

57. Toothbrush

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Toothbrushes are another item to buy in bulk at the beginning of the semester so you don’t run out.

58. Floss

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Same thing for floss. Buy a big pack and it will last you all year.

59. Makeup

Tarte out the door essentials kit

Makeup is a huge category and is different for every girl. Not sure what you need? See our list of college girl makeup essentials to get started.

60. Moisturizer

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Bring a good facial moisturizer because dorms are very dry due to the heat/AC blasting. CeraVe cream is my forever favorite and a tub lasts me six months.

61. Face Wash

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Another no-brainer. A good gentle face wash is a must-have for every girl.

62. Acne Products

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If you have acne, bring your go-to products. This spot treatment is my fave to zap a pimple overnight.

63. Sunscreen

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A must-have for everyone! My favorite sunscreen is the La Roche Posay tinted one — it has SPF 50 and gives your skin a hint of color.

64. Other Skincare Products

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Any other products you use count in this category. If you aren’t sure what else you need, see our guide to creating a simple skincare routine.

65. Deodorant

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Another obvious one. Native Deodorant is super popular on campus and this one smells like coconut + vanilla.

66. Makeup Remover

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A must if you wear makeup. I prefer micellar water to makeup wipes as in my experience it removes more makeup and is gentler. (Don’t forget cotton pads, too.)

67. Nail Polish Remover

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Don’t forget this if you wear nail polish! I like this one because it’s acetone-free and the bottle is so cute.

68. Makeup Brush Cleaner

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Don’t forget your brush cleaner! The Ecotools one is crazy popular. A brush cleaning mat helps, too.

69. Nail Polish

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Don’t make the mistake I did bringing all of your nail polish to college. Just bring a few favorite shades you’ll wear a lot and skip the rest.

70. Hair Ties

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You can never have too many hair ties! These Gimme ones are crazy popular and they come in every shade to match your hair.

71. Blow Dryer

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For me, a blow dryer is a must have. I’ve had this Rusk blow dryer for closet to 10 years and it’s still as amazing as ever!

72. Hot Tools

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This includes any curling irons, flat irons, or wavers you use. This is my fave curling iron and this is the best flat iron ever.

73. Contacts and/or Glasses

If you wear them, don’t forget them! And bring at least a semester’s worth of contacts so you don’t run out.

74. Menstrual Products

Whether you use a cup, tampons or pads, don’t forget to pack these.

75. Contact Lens Case and Cleaner

Essential if you wear contacts.

Clothing & Accessories for College

** Here at CF, we’ve already written an entire guide to college wardrobe essentials — we recommend bringing everything on that list, plus the extras listed below. **

And remember that much of the clothing you pack is dependent on where you are living. Oh-so sunny Seattle means boots and a good raincoat, but if you live in Arizona, then snow boots are a waste of space.

76. Suitcase

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You’ll need a suitcase for long trips home (winter break) and any vacations you’ll be taking (spring break). This one from Amazon is so pretty and has thousands of positive reviews.

77. Weekender Bag

Calpak weekender bag in pink

A weekender bag is a must for weekend trips home or to visit high school friends at their schools.

Everyone has this Calpak one because it fits everything and even has a separate zip pocket for shoes.

78. Winter Accessories (if Needed)

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For schools in cold climates, this includes hats, gloves, scarves, and any other winter-specific items to keep you warm. 

79. Sunglasses

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Sunglasses are an essential for me.

While I own some nicer sunglasses, I honestly get the most wear out of these affordable sunglasses from Amazon. They look much more expensive than they are.

College Laundry Essentials

For many of us, college is the first time we’ve been responsible for doing our own laundry all the time. Here are the laundry essentials that should be on every college packing list.

80. Laundry Hampers

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I highly recommend getting two laundry hampers, one for lights and one for darks. This way, your laundry is already sorted when it’s time to visit the laundry room.

These pop up hampers are super cheap and are foldable so they’re easy to pack.

81. Delicates Bag

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So important to avoid snagging your bras on the rest of your laundry and ruining your strappy tops in the wash.

I have this exact delicates bag set and I love that it comes with so many different sizes to fit all of your items. The set is great for travel, too!

82. Drying Rack

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Drying racks are not normally something you see on a college packing list, but I love mine and here’s why.

If you have a lot of delicate items, items that need to be hand washed (you and I both know no one is doing that), the dryer malfunctions, or–heaven forbid–no dryers are free, this baby saves you.

83. Detergent

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Get a bottle of regular detergent, a medium size that’s easy to carry around. (Get new bottles auto-delivered via Prime Student.)

Pro tip, don’t get Tide Pods. These sound like a good idea but in many dorm washers they get stuck and leave big chunks of residue on your clothes.

84. Stain Remover

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I’ve tried them all and this Oxi Clean Spray is the absolute best for removing any type of stain.

85. Dryer Sheets

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Not essential but I like to use these to remove static and add a fresh scent to clothes.

86. Lint Rollers

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If you, like me, can’t stand lint on your clothes, buy a 5 pack of sticky lint rollers on Amazon for $15 and be done with lint for good.

87. Sewing Kit

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Optional but so nice to have. I did not have one of these freshman year and it would have saved me so many headaches.

88. Iron

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You might not use an iron all the time, but when you have an interview or business casual event coming up, you will need it. Don’t skip this one.

89. Ironing Board

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Yes, an ironing board is an annoying thing to bring and store, but you will definitely use it at some point and be glad you have it.

90. Quarters

Most college laundry machines use cards these days, but in the off chance the card reader malfunctions (it happens), it pays to have a stash of quarters ready.

Kitchen, Cooking and Food Essentials for College

Even if you have a dining plan, you will want some basic staples to prepare food in your room, so be sure to put them on your college packing list. Trust me, there will be days where you don’t feel like trekking to the dining hall! Here’s what you need to have on hand:

91. Coffee Maker

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It’s not college without coffee, so make sure you get a coffee maker. I’m obsessed with this little Keurig — it’s so compact and cute.

Keurigs are great for college because a lot of the time you will only be making one or two cups at a time. This way, you won’t waste coffee, plus it’s ready faster.

92. Electric Kettle

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Electric kettles are awesome for tea, oatmeal, and any instant meals or cooking that you need… without having to use the microwave or walk all the way to the communal kitchen.

My kettle was a gift, but this one is highly rated on Amazon.

93. Can Opener

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I didn’t bring this freshman year and I was kicking myself! You will definitely buy canned goods at some point (or your roommate will), so bring one and thank me later.

Bonus, this doubles as a bottle opener!

94. Water Filter Pitcher

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An absolute essential! You do not want to drink the tap water in the dorms, so get yourself a good filter pitcher to keep fresh filtered water on hand in your room.

Don’t forget extra filters — you’re supposed to swap these out every two months.

95. Microwave

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Before you buy this, make sure your school allows them AND that one will not already be provided in your room!

A small microwave is the way to go in college; you will not be heating up large amounts of anything, so keep it compact for the basics.

96. Mini-Fridge

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Again, before you buy, make sure your school allows this and that it won’t already be provided.

A mini fridge is 1000% a must-have on every college packing list. Don’t skip this! And try to get one with a freezer, too (hello, ice cream). To save money, coordinate with your roommate to split the cost.

97. Mugs

Buy from

You definitely need mugs to drink your coffee in the mornings. 

These glass mugs are so incredibly chic — you’ll definitely bring them with you to your big girl apartment after college! 

98. Portable Coffee Mugs

Buy from

I am obsessed with my Yeti Mug to keep my coffee hot for hours. (I also use mine for ice coffee in the summers; the ice lasts forever!)

You will see Yetis all over campus; they are SO popular and come in so many cute colors.

99. Reusable Water Bottle

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Okay, so I know the Hydro Flask is the “it” water bottle and those are definitely great, but I’m obsessed with this water bottle with times to drink

I use this bottle 10x more than my Hydro Flask because it keeps me motivated to actually finish 64 oz a day. (I definitely didn’t do that before I got this!)

100. Utensils

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You definitely need a set of utensils for eating in your room. If you want something cute, this set of gold utensils is adorable and only $25! 

I love the idea of buying a set like this for your dorm — you’re only in college once, so why not get something that’s pretty and functional?

101. Dishes

Buy from

You need dishes for your room, and you don’t need to spend a lot to get the basics.

This 16-piece set from Amazon is just $30.99 for everything, and it even comes with mugs if you don’t want to buy those separately.

102. Reusable Straws

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I have these exact glass straws and I really prefer them to silicone because they don’t absorb odors.

Also, I love that they’re clear — makes it easy to tell that they’re completely clean when you wash them.

103. Napkins

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Self-explanatory. You will definitely need these so buy a big pack.

104. Snack and Sandwich Bags

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I’m trying to cut down on single-use plastics so I have these reusable Stasher bags in a few sizes.

105. Food Storage Containers

Buy from

You will definitely need a few food storage containers for leftovers.

I really prefer these glass ones to plastic as they don’t get stained or absorb smells like the plastic ones do.

106. Bulk Snacks

Buy from

You don’t need my help with this one. Get your favorite snacks and get them in bulk.

I love Larabars, One protein bars, pretzels, trail mix, and the occasional Swedish Fish. If you have a Costco membership, definitely buy your snacks there!

107. Cereal/Granola

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Another obvious one, great for quick breakfasts and late night snacking. Get a few boxes to keep on hand.

108. Oatmeal

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Yet another college classic. Buy a big variety pack so you have flavor options.

109. Coffee and/or Tea

Buy from

As mentioned above, I love K-Cups for college. Buy a huge variety pack (this one comes with 100 pods) and treat yourself to new flavors every week.

110. Milk/Milk Alternative

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Get shelf stable cartons of your favorite milk or milk alternative (I like oat milk for cereal and Nut Pods coffee creamer in Cinnamon for my coffee).

111. Sugar (or Alternative)

Buy from

Unless you take your coffee black, that is. For dorms, I like packets because they’re mess-free.

112. Hot Chocolate

Buy from

Obviously this one is not essential but so nice to have for cozy nights!

113. Salt and Pepper

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A no-brainer. Buy a big grinder each of salt and pepper and they’ll last you all year.

114. Any Other Spices You Use

Buy from

This can include go-tos like Everything Bagel seasoning and any traditional favorites from your family’s cuisine.

115. Instant Meals (Ramen, Mac & Cheese, etc.)

Buy from

It wouldn’t be a college packing list without Easy Mac!

Seriously, though, stock up on instant meals even with a dining plan, because there will be nights when you’re too tired to do anything except open a pack of Ramen.

College Electronics

Below is our general college packing list for electronics. A lot of this checklist is going to come down to your lifestyle and what you will actually use.

For instance, I found that I didn’t need a camera, since I took all my pictures on my phone. And friends of mine didn’t bother bringing a printer — there were so many places on campus to print; it didn’t matter if one was broken. I, however, felt like the printers at my school were unreliable and too far away, so I felt like my printer was a justified buy.

As far as TV’s go, I swore by mine, but I know many people who did all their Netflix watching on their laptops. It all depends on your personal preferences.

116. Laptop

Buy from

Obviously, you need a laptop for college. Macbook Pros are incredibly popular on every college campus and I can’t live without mine. It’s by far the best computer I’ve ever used and I love that it syncs flawlessly with my phone and tablet.

I also love Mac computers because they last forever — the last one I had lasted me nearly 10 years without a single issue.

117. Extra Laptop Charger

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Do yourself a favor and buy an extra laptop charger. I only had one for the longest time and my life changed when I bought a second.

Now I have one that I keep at my desk and one that lives permanently in my laptop bag and it’s made my life so much easier. Plus, if you ever have a problem with one charger, you have a backup ready to go.

118. Tablet or E-Reader

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Tablets, specifically iPads, are super popular at college and they’re so convenient for doing your reading and note taking on the go.

I didn’t have one of these freshman year and now I’m so jealous of everyone who does! It would have made me 10x more organized.

119. Phone

Buy from

Obviously you need a phone. I’m an iPhone person and I can’t imagine my life without it, but I have friends who live and die for Android phones.

Tip: Get a smartphone with a good camera! You probably won’t bring a separate camera to college (more on that in a minute), so this saves you money.

120. Phone Charger (+ a Spare)

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Definitely bring at least two phone chargers to college; I was always forgetting mine so now my extra one lives in my bag forever.

Also, get an extra long charging cord for your room! Dorm outlets are always weirdly placed (and sometimes there’s only one per room!) so this will help you so much.

121. Portable Phone Charger

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It’s nice to have a portable phone charger in your bag in case of emergencies, and for only $20, this is some easy peace of mind you can give yourself.

I didn’t bring this to college but I wish I had; it would have saved me multiple times during long days of classes.

122. Headphones

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It seems like everyone on campus has AirPods these days, so they’re definitely a must for any college packing list.

Personally, I am still using the wired earbuds that came with my phone, but these are at the top of my wish list! AirPods are THE headphones to own these days.

123. Batteries

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Get at least one pack of AA batteries and one pack of AAA batteries to have on hand for things like TV remotes, wireless mice, bluetooth speakers, etc.

124. Camera(s)

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If you’re into photography, you may want to bring a camera to college.

Personally, I just take pics with my iPhone, but I have friends who live and die by their DSLRs. Little instant-print cameras like this one are popular on campus and they’re so fun for party pics.

125. SD Cards

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If you’re bringing a DSLR or other digital camera, don’t forget some extra SD cards!

126. Film

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If you are bringing a film camera or the polaroid-style camera above, make sure to stock up on extra film so you don’t run out.

127. Extension Cord

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DO NOT forget this one! As mentioned before, dorms often have weirdly spaced outlets and my room sophomore year had ONE usable outlet in the whole room!

Get at least one power strip with an extra long cord and ideally bring a couple of these; you will definitely use them.

128. Laptop Case

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You definitely need a laptop case to protect your investment.

I love this kit for the MacBook Pro because it comes with a case, screen protector, keyboard cover, and laptop sleeve, all in a cute marble print. (They have a bunch of other cute styles, too!)

129. Bluetooth Speaker

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Not an *essential* per se but a bluetooth speaker is super nice to have!

Right now, it seems like everyone has an Echo Dot in their dorm — it’s a bluetooth speaker that includes Alexa so you can play music, check the weather, and more, all via voice command.

130. TV

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It’s nice to have a smart TV in your room if you want to watch your shows on a bigger screen instead of just your laptop.

I had a TV in my room freshman year and I loved it, but plenty of my friends didn’t. If you’re fine watching Netflix on your computer, don’t feel like this is a must-have.

131. TV Stand

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If you’re bringing a TV, definitely buy a small TV stand to go with it since there’s no way you’re wall mounting a TV in a dorm.

This cute little TV stand is only $32 and doesn’t require any tools to put together!

132. HDMI Cord

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You’ll want a HDMI cord to connect your laptop to your TV if you want to stream video, and they can also be helpful for class presentations to connect your laptop to a projector.

133. Printer

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This college checklist item is controversial. I loved having my printer because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to waste time searching campus for a printer that wasn’t broken.

That said, there are tons of places on every campus to print, so you can definitely survive college without your own printer.

134. Printer Ink

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If you’re bringing a printer, definitely get a lot of extra printer ink. You don’t want to run out halfway through printing an important paper!

135. Printer Paper

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Same goes for printer paper. Stock up so you don’t run out at a crucial moment!

Handy Items for College

These are all great to have — and easy to forget! Get these basics and you’ll be thanking yourself.

136. Screwdriver

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For putting together furniture or fixing a wobbly chair. Get a reversible screwdriver so you can use it on Phillips or flathead screws.

137. Lightbulbs

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Make sure you get LED bulbs for your lamps; they last 10+ years so you’ll never have to change them!

138. Command Strips

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For when you want to move a hook around or just want to hang something new on your wall, it pays to have extra Command strips on hand.

139. Wall Putty or Tape

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This depends on what your school allows, so find out ahead of time. Wall putty is generally a safe bet for hanging pictures, as it doesn’t damage or mark walls.

140. Pushpins or Tacks

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If you’re bringing a cork board to college, these are a must-have. They can also be used to hang items, depending on what your school allows.

First Aid/Medicine to Bring to College

Not the most fun to shop for, but so important to have on hand! Here are the basic medicinal items that should be on every college packing list.

141. First Aid Kit

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If you only buy one thing from this section, this dorm first aid kit should be it.

It has just about everything you could possibly need, from first aid items to allergy medicine and hangover relief, with easy to understand instructions. SO helpful and a true must-have!

142. Band-Aids

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The first aid kit I linked already has band-aids, but if you are clumsy like me, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra box of clear band-aids on your college packing list.

143. Vaseline

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For healing everything from cracked, dry lips to eczema, Vaseline is an OG must-have that should be on every college packing list for girls.

144. Cough & Cold Medicine

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For when you are sick the same day as a really important exam (it’s happened to me), cold medicine will save you. Buy this pack and you’ll be set for day and night.

145. Decongestant

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The first aid kit linked above doesn’t come with decongestant, so grab a small pack for those sick days.

146. Allergy Medicine

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The first aid kit linked above includes a few packs of Benadryl for emergencies, but if you have more persistent allergies, definitely stock up on Claritin or your allergy med of choice.

147. Cough Drops

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Again, if you buy the first aid kit above it comes with these. Otherwise, get a small bag to have on hand.

148. Sunscreen

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I mentioned sunscreen in the skincare section above, but it’s good to have a bottle of body sunscreen as well, especially if your school is somewhere warm.

149. Aloe Vera

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Aloe is a lifesaver if you, like me, are prone to sunburns at the slightest hint of a sunny day.

150. Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever

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Definitely buy a decent-sized bottle of your favorite pain reliever to have on hand; you will definitely use it.

151. Vitamins & Supplements

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Bring any vitamins or supplements you take. At the very least, think about bringing a good multi-vitamin (this one is my all time favorite) to fill in any nutritional gaps you might have in your college diet.

152. Throat Spray

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Not essential but throat spray is very nice to have in the event that you get sick.

153. Eye Drops

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Nice to have if you, like me, get dry eyes from too much computer time. These are the best eye drops I’ve tried and I love that they’re individually sealed.

154. Thermometer

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The first aid kit above includes a thermometer, but here’s a good digital one if you’re putting together your own kit.

155. Tweezers

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Definitely necessary for taming your brows. Invest in a good pair of Tweezerman tweezers and they will last you all of college and beyond.

156. Safety Pins

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If you love fashion, don’t forget these. Safety pins are fashion lifesavers for everything from broken straps to holding bra straps in place.

157. Medicine for Upset Stomach

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The first aid kit linked above comes with this too, but it never hurts to have extra Pepto on hand for the morning after late night pizza runs.

158. Cotton Pads/Cotton Balls

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These are a must for things like nail polish remover, makeup remover, and applying products like toners.

159. Q-Tips

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Beyond the obvious ear uses, these are an essential for cleaning up mascara smudges and makeup mishaps.

160. Nail Clippers

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Self explanatory; don’t forget these! I like that this two-pack has two sets of clippers for nails and toes.

161. Prescription Medicine

Bring any prescription medicine you’re taking and, if possible, try to get a 3 or 6 month’s supply so you don’t have to bother with refills during a busy semester. Be sure to save your labels so you can refill if you do need to.

162. Retainer/Mouth Guard

Your dentist will be mad at you if you forget this, so make sure it’s on your college packing list.

School Supplies

Cute desk

School supplies is a huge category that depends on personal preferences. See our Ultimate Guide to School Supplies for our full detailed guide to this, but here’s a quick list of what you will want to bring:

163. Pencils

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I always get mechanical pencils so I don’t have to bother bringing a separate pencil sharpener. A big pack like this will last you all semester long.

164. Pens

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Everyone has their pen preferences, so buy a big pack of your favorites for the semester.

These Jetstream pens are my ride or dies because the tip is super fine and the ink dries instantly, so I never get smudges on my paper.

165. Eraser

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This one is just a nice-to-have; I personally don’t use a separate eraser but I also don’t do much writing in pencil. It’s up to you whether you feel you need this.

166. Highlighters

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If you read our school supplies guide, you know about our love for pastel Midliners — so much prettier and easier on the eyes than harsh neon highlighters.

167. Post-Its

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For everything from to-do lists to leaving yourself reminders on your mirror (does anyone else do this?), post-its are super helpful in college.

I like the lined ones because I hate when my writing slants, and I love the fun colors these come in.

168. Planner

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I couldn’t live without my planner; this is 1000% an essential in my book.

I’ve talked a lot about my favorite planner before and I’ve linked it again here. It has everything you need for college and it’s super affordable as far as nice planners go!

169. Notebooks

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There’s nothing better than a fresh notebook, and I love these Mintra college-ruled notebooks because the covers are so aesthetic.

170. Lined Paper

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Definitely get college ruled paper for maximum note-taking space.

I’m more of a notebook person than a binder person, so I didn’t use mine much. That said, it’s good to have in case a class requires you to use a binder.

171. Binder(s)

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I recommend bringing a 4 pack of binders to start with freshman year. You can always get more if you want a binder for every class.

Again, I used my notebooks more than my binders, but it all comes down to how you organize your notes.

172. Folders

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How cute are these little clear folders? I love that they’re plastic and snap completely shut to keep your documents protected in your bag.

173. Ruler

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Whether you’re doing math, arts & crafts, or designing posters, you’ll want a ruler at college.

174. Scissors

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Again, you might not think you’ll use these but you’d be surprised. Scissors are helpful for craft projects and opening packages when you shop online.

175. Stapler

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Highly recommended if your building doesn’t already provide in the printer room. I brought my own to be safe — this acrylic one is so cute on any desk.

176. Tape Dispenser

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This minimalist acrylic tape dispenser looks modern and will go with any type of decor.

177. Textbooks

You’ll spend half your life savings on textbooks, so don’t leave them off your college packing list.

Other/Miscellaneous College Essentials

Here are some other miscellaneous items that should be on every girl’s college packing list.

178. Eye Mask

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I highly recommend this, especially if you have a roommate. There may be times when your roomie wants to study while you want to sleep, and a good eye mask is a life saver in that scenario!

179. Earplugs

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Even more important than an eye mask, IMO. Earplugs will save your life if you have loud neighbors or a roommate who is on an opposite schedule. I’ve found the silicone ones to work the best.

180. Fan

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I’m someone who NEEDS a fan to sleep well. Even if you don’t sleep with it on, though, a small fan helps a TON if your dorm doesn’t have A/C (many don’t) or just gets crazy hot when the heat is on.

181. White Noise Machine

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I didn’t bring this freshman year and I really wish I had! A white noise machine is so nice to have, especially if you, like me, are sensitive to noises when you’re sleeping or studying.

182. Beach Towel

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For laying out on the quad on nice days, definitely bring a cute beach towel with you! I love these ones because they fold up super tiny to fit in any bag.

183. Board Games or Cards

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Definitely have some games on hand for girls nights! Cards Against Humanity is always hilarious. What Do You Meme? is another popular one on campus.

184. Art Supplies

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Optional but nice to have if you’re crafty or artistic. This could include paints, sketch pads and pencils, pastels, etc. Just don’t go too crazy; dorms are small.

I personally brought gel pens for decorating my notes and planner.

185. Umbrella

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An obvious essential if you’re going to school in Seattle or Boston; not so much if you’ll be in Tucson. (Check weather averages before you go!)

Personally, I love bubble umbrellas — they’re so cute and make it easy to see where you’re going.

186. Yoga Mat or Sports Equipment

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I personally loved having a yoga mat for doing at-home workouts (my fave these days is Melissa Wood Health).

Exercise bands and small dumbbells are other good options.

187. Flashlight

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You *probably* won’t need it but a flashlight is important to have in an emergency. (Power outages do happen!)

188. Pepper Spray

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Note: check the rules at your school and in your state before bringing this; it’s banned on many campuses.

I didn’t bring pepper spray to college and I (luckily) never felt like I needed it, but many women feel safer having it. This one is a very personal choice.

189. Personal Alarm

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A personal alarm is a great alternative (or accompaniment) to pepper spray; it emits a super loud sound and flashing lights to alert others to your location.

You can get a six pack for just $20; one for every bag.

190. Safe

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A small safe is helpful if you’re bringing anything valuable to college and/or have roommates or lots of people in and out of your room. It’s recommended if you’re going to school in a major city.

I didn’t bring this to college, but I know people who did. It just comes down to what will make you feel most comfortable.

191. Diffuser & Essential Oils

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Essential oil diffusers are a popular way to scent your room since candles aren’t allowed in most dorms. (Here are some great starter oils to try.)

Be sure to check if these are allowed on your campus before you buy, though; some schools have banned them.

192. Bike (& Bike Accessories)

I didn’t bring a bike to college but many people do. If you’re bringing one, don’t forget to pack accessories like your lock and helmet.

193. Religious Materials

For students who practice an organized religion.

194. Musical Instruments

Many students bring musical instruments to college. If you’re one of them, don’t forget any accessories you need like extra strings, sheet music, reeds, tuners, etc.

Documents/Papers to Bring to College

Last but not least on our college packing list for girls, we have documents and papers — these are all pretty self explanatory and important. Don’t forget them!

195. License or Photo ID

196. School ID

You may not get this until you arrive at school.

197. Passport

Important if you plan to work or do any international travel while at school.

198. Checks, if you have them

You’d be surprised at how many times you will be asked to write a check.

199. Copies of Insurance

Think health insurance card, any car insurance you carry.

200. Financial Aid Documents

201. Bank Documents

202. Medical ID or Medical Documents

203. Papers associated with a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal

204. Car Registration

(If you are bringing a car to school.)

205. Car Parking Pass

206. Copy of Birth Certificate

207. Copy of Social Security Card

What do you think of our ultimate college packing list for girls?

Hopefully this is helpful as you head back to school, and makes an overwhelming task easier by breaking it all down. Obviously, everything is subjective, and if you’ve never used an HDMI cord, don’t plan on doing yoga, and only need to pack three pairs of shoes that’s awesome! Take the college packing list and tailor it to your personal needs.

Let us know if this college packing list for girls helped in any way. Keep this and our other Back-to-School guides bookmarked in the weeks to come and keep an eye out for more! Do you have any must haves that I missed? What must-haves are you bringing to school? Let’s chat in the comments!

3 thoughts on “The Best College Packing List for Girls [2021]”

  1. Honestlyyyy!!!!
    This is so much better than I thought when my friend sent the link to me yesterday. It is so good and even provides link to these stuff on amazon so you don’t stress to find the.
    I’m just in Year 12 and I’m going to be an international student so i know my must-haves and I don’t need to worry about extra luggage and unnecessary stuff as well as things I don’t need.
    I would personally recommend this is anybody because it is super helpful.

  2. I have looked at so many college packing sites, and is by far the best and most detailed one I have ever come across. Most lists check off the essentials, but forget the small (but still VERY important) things like planners, erasers, tweezers, screwdrivers, and many other things listed in this article. I am going to Berkeley in the fall, and I will definitely be coming back to this sight to make sure I have everything I need!


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