The Ultimate College Essentials Checklist

August 17, 2021

Don't be caught unprepared for this college semester. This ultimate college essentials checklist will make sure you don't forget anything important for college life.

Are you starting your first year of college or going back for yet another semester after visiting home? Whether you're a college freshman or a seasoned student, you can find the following college essentials checklists useful for figuring out how to be successful in college. 

There are many things to plan for, pack, and buy before the new semester begins to prepare you for college life. Our complete college essentials checklists will help make sure you don't forget anything before the semester starts. Once you are thoroughly prepared for school and college life, you can focus on classes, studying, exams, and being a successful student. 

Back to School Supply List for College Students

Every college student needs school supplies to do their schoolwork effectively. It's good to think about how you'll be spending your time this semester and what you'll need for every scenario. You might spend time on campus, in classes, in the library, with study groups, with tutors, in study rooms, or in your apartment. So you'll need some of the items from this essential college supply list.  

A laptop might be easiest if you need to take a lot of notes and travel with those notes between different buildings. A notebook might be sufficient if you don't need to take a lot of notes and want to carry a lighter bag. These are the things you'll want to consider as you decide what to include on your back-to-school supply list this year. 

If you need help purchasing college supplies, some scholarships might be able to help. 

College Supplies Checklist for Campus 

One of the places you'll probably spend a lot of time is on campus. Take time to brainstorm all the things you'll need to be comfortable and prepared during all your time on campus. You'll have classes on campus, study groups to attend, notes to take, and exams to ace. Then add all of those ideas to a college checklist full of the supplies you'll need for campus. 

  • Backpack 
  • Notebook 
  • Number 2 pencils 
  • Pencil case 
  • Laptop 
  • Folders
  • Lunchbox 
  • Flashcards 
  • Highlighters 
  • Post-it notes 
  • Lecture recording device 
  • Poncho
  • Umbrella 
  • Rain boots 
  • Raincoat 
  • Phone charger
  • Laptop charger 
  • Laptop case 
  • Emergency contact information 
  • Planner, calendar, or agenda 
  • Study snacks 

College Supplies Checklist for your Desk

Hopefully, you'll have space to put up a desk in your new college apartment, and if so then you'll need some things to make your desk functional and comfortable. You want your at-home desk space to be a comfortable place for you to study, work on homework, take at-home tests, attend remote classes, and write papers. 

Every college student needs a workspace. Maybe you don't have room in your apartment and have a study room you regularly use at the library, or maybe you do have room for a desk at your apartment to set up a little home office for yourself. Either way, here are a few things you might want to get for your college desk. 

  • Desk 
  • Desk chair 
  • Floor matt or rug for your desk chair
  • Computer or laptop 
  • Mouse and/or keyboard pad 
  • Wrist rest 
  • Laptop stand 
  • Whiteboard
  • Bulletin board 
  • Headphones 
  • Lamp 
  • Desk plant 
  • Pet fish 
  • Study snacks 
  • Tech-friendly cleaning supplies 
  • Calendar 
  • Pencil cup 
  • Writing utensils 
  • Sharpies 
  • Scissors 
  • Printer 
  • Printing paper 
  • Webcam for remote classes 
  • Clock 
  • Paper clips 
  • Stapler and staples 
  • Sticky notes
  • Stickers
  • Tape 
  • Rubber bands 
  • Small trash can 
  • Personal office hours sign 
  • Do not disturb sign 
  • Extension cord 

College Packing List Checklist

Whether you're moving to college for the first time or helping your adult child move into college for the first time, there are things you'll need to shop for to be ready. Be ready for move-in day by using this list to jot down everything you'll need to bring to college. This college checklist is especially great advice for college freshmen who are moving for the first time. 

College Bedroom Essentials

Don't forget to get stuff for your bedroom. Even if you visit home a lot, you'll still want to help your new college apartment feel like home by getting comfortable bedroom college essentials. 

  • Mattress pad, mattress topper 
  • Bedsheets
  • Pillows
  • Blankets 
  • Hangers
  • Closet organizers
  • Alarm clock 
  • Laundry basket 
  • Delicates laundry bag 
  • Shoe rack 
  • Bedside lamp
  • Mini trash can 
  • Under-the-bed storage bins 
  • Closet storage bins 
  • Shelving 
  • Bed raisers 
  • Area rug 
  • Bedroom decor 
  • Family photos 
  • Command strips 
  • Wall putty 
  • Eyemask 

College Bathroom Essentials

Unless you're able to live alone, you might end up with roommates or a communal dorm bathroom. That means you'll want to have bathroom storage and organization that can help you easily travel from the showers to your bedroom. Travel bathroom accessories can make this a lot easier. 

  • Bathroom caddy or toiletry bag 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash 
  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and loofah 
  • Face wash and lotions 
  • Bath towels 
  • Hand towels 
  • Hand soap 
  • Bathrobe 
  • Shower flip flops
  • Slippers 
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file 
  • Razor 
  • Shaving cream 
  • Toilet paper 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Over-the-counter medicines 

College Kitchen Essentials

Again, depending on your situation you might not need many kitchen college essentials. Either way, you'll probably want at least some personal kitchen items like a personal plate, bowl, cup, and utensils. 

  • Plates 
  • Eating utensils 
  • Cups 
  • Bowls 
  • Coffee maker 
  • Pots and pans 
  • Baking trays
  • Cooking utensils 
  • Strainer 
  • Mini fridge 
  • Hot plate 
  • Dish sponge 
  • Dishwasher soap
  • Dish soap
  • Drying rack
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Food storage containers
  • Coffee cup
  • Can opener
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Ziploc bags
  • Aluminum foil, parchment paper, plastic cling wrap
  • Toaster
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spatula
  • Large serving spoon
  • Kitchen hand towels
  • Dishrags

Other College Essentials

Every college apartment is different. It all depends on where you end up living. If you live in a college dorm, then your space might be very small. You might not even have a kitchen or a living room if your particular dorm instead has a communal living space and cafeteria. You might even have a communal bathroom instead of a dorm bathroom. If you know about your college living situation then you can more adequately prepare for that living situation in the packing list you create. 

  • Couch
  • Couch pillows 
  • Kitchen table and chairs
  • Area rugs 
  • Shower curtain and rod 
  • Router
  • Ethernet cord 
  • Microwave
  • Surge Protector
  • Tool kit 
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer and nails
  • Removable hooks
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover
  • Lint roller
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Weekend bag 
  • Luggage 
  • Storage bins 
  • Tape measurer 
  • Roommate whiteboard, calendar, or bulletin board 
  • Roommate chore chart 
  • Label maker 
  • Cleaning supplies caddy 
  • Roommate group fund jar 

Download the Ultimate College Essentials Checklist Here

In Conclusion, 

Moving away from home, starting college, moving into your first apartment, and striking out on your own can all be intimidating and stressful. Make the entire process less stressful by getting prepared beforehand with this complete college packing checklist.