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Planning Your College Packing List

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

College Packing list

A few years back, after we had successfully dropped our daughter off for her first year of college I had written a blog post about our experience with helpful hints on making move-in day easier. Afterward, I was asked to add a packing list, so I spent some time gathering my thoughts, ready to compile a huge list of every possible item to pack. I decided, however, that it might be more helpful to write about organizing the planning and packing process since there are already many lists available online.

If you browse the Internet you will find several sites that are quite informative. Each one of them will provide you with useful information to build on. Two of those sites are and I like that they have supply lists specifically for dorm rooms or apartments with categories for both boys and girls.

Print out the list that best suits your child’s needs, and then highlight the items that make sense to you. You can complete the list by adding items that are unique to your child’s lifestyle/preference.

I would suggest starting your shopping early, avoiding the last-minute rush that may leave you feeling overwhelmed. There will be many sales in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open as weekly specials change. And don't forget your list!

Once you have purchased most of your necessities, it is important to think about how to best store and organize these items. Most dorm rooms are tiny, so you will have to be creative with storage solutions. Remember that visual clutter can make a small room appear even smaller, so containerize as much as possible.

Inquire if the college will allow the use of bed risers in your child’s dorm room, which are great for adding additional storage under the bed. Under-the-bed storage bins are great to keep extra bedding, towels, or any less frequently used items. Next, think about a way to store all smaller items. Small-sized plastic storage drawers or bins come in handy for things such as first aid/meds, eye care/ hair supplies. Sort all items into labeled containers and simply put them in place on move-in day.

If your son or daughter doesn’t hang a lot of their clothing you might add a shelf organizer for additional “shelves”. There are different sized options available. Some styles come with drawer inserts, which keep smaller items contained. For shoes, use a hanging shoe organizer, then add a larger unit next to it for sweaters, jeans, t-shirt, etc. This unit from Target combines both into one, which may work nicely if you don’t have a lot of shoes.

Including your children in this process will teach them to become organized adults. Have them help think about what they would prefer as storage (give options)... and label as much as you can. They will appreciate this the first time they need a Band-Aid, sunscreen, nail clippers... well, you get the idea.

One additional tip: Don't forget to set up a lockbox or small safe for important papers and personal information, such as bank account numbers, social security cards, passports, ect.

I have created a board on Pinterest with different storage options if you would like some additional inspiration.

Need accountability or hands-on assistance with any of your organizing projects? Call or email, I’m here to help, whether in person or virtually. Call 585-201-6009 or write to

Disclosure statement: Some of the blogs on this site occasionally contain affiliate links that may provide a small commission to OrganizingbyYve at no additional cost to you. I write about the things I love and have recommended or used myself throughout my years as a professional organizer.


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