What You’ll Forget To Pack For College

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Packing is hard.

Packing to move somewhere new is difficult.

Packing to move somewhere to live with strangers for a few months seems impossible.

There are hundreds of lists out there for incoming college freshman telling you to pack extra long sheets and shower shoes. Believe me, I probably read all of them in the months leading up to my freshman year. This list is a little different. These are the things you don’t even think about until it’s been a few weeks in the dorm and you realize maybe those lists weren’t as complete as they claim.

I made these mistakes so you don’t have to. Read on and learn, my friend!


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1. Handheld Vacuum

dirt devilI have the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip and it works really well! $23.99

Everyone knows college kids aren’t the most…sanitary people around. You may think “this room is only like ten paces wide, how dirty can it possibly get?” Think again. You don’t have a large space for all of the dirt to spread out and become invisible like you do back home. It’s all concentrated right there. Add in another person and it gets exponentially worse, especially for girls. My roommate and I shed like crazy and we literally always had tumbleweeds of hair floating around. They would make their way into our beds, our closets, our bookbags. We would lay on the rug to watch movies and would be picking hair out of our popcorn. Don’t be that gross. I used this vacuum every weekend and the hair became a lot more manageable.

Oh. Also. If you’re getting a rug and shed like we do, I don’t recommend a shag one. They may seem comfortable, but the hair just gets trapped and it’s so much harder to clean.

2. Dish Soap and a Sponge

dawn soapThe 9 fl. oz. is the perfect size. It’ll last you all year and then some! $1.40

You’re going to have nights where you just want to stay in, veg, and watch Netflix. You’re going to have pizza on plates and spoons in ice cream and popcorn in bowls. Unless you want to spend money you don’t have on paper plates, go to Target and get a cheap set of reusable plastic. You only really need one of each: a bowl, plate, fork, knife, and spoon.

You probably already knew that, but these things need to be washed if you want to avoid bugs, old food smells, and a gross mixture of butter, pudding, and ramen. Luckily, I realized I forgot dish soap when my suitemate was headed out to the store, so she was able to get me some. Save yourself the trouble and pack it or buy it on that last run to Walmart with your parents. They come in mini sizes and cost almost nothing.

3. Rain Boots

rain bootsQuilted Boots by Bootsi Tootsi, on sale for $37.97

I did not listen to my mother on this one and I deeply regretted it. It rained so much while I was at school and if you know NC State you know we love our bricks. Bricks that aren’t so good on the whole draining water thing. When you have to walk fifteen minutes across campus in the pouring rain, you’re going to be drenched. I got caught in this situation very early in the semester and my shoes were completely soaked. I was walking in puddles for two days. These are the boots I got and I get a lot of compliments on them! However, if you can find some that work in the snow and ice as well as the rain, get those. For now, I’m still slipping when campus ices over.

4. Stamps


Apparently stamps are a lot harder to find in college than I anticipated. If you’re an in-state student you may not need these as much, but I needed them all the time last year. I was constantly sending checks, forms, and cards back home. I also have a pen pal, so I wasn’t about to abandon her for an entire year. If you’re lucky enough to receive care packages from relatives or friends, it’s always nice to send a thank-you note as well. Again, this depends on your situation, but I definitely recommend having a few laying around somewhere, especially if you don’t have a car to go buy some while at school.

5. Extra Phone Charger

iphone charger#Team IPhone 4 life $9.98

Those little phone charges always seem to break when you need them most. Don’t be that person running around at midnight trying to find a charger to fit your dying phone so your alarm will go off in the morning. Granted, I left my laptop charger at home and had to have it overnighted to me but that’s beside the point. I keep a charger in my bookbag, in my desk, in my car, and a ten-foot one at my bedside. Those extra long cables are so nice, especially if you have a lofted bed. You’ll use it more than you think!

6. Flash Drive

flash driveThe swivels are fun to play with. Win-Win. $6.99

Okay, so I don’t use flash drives too much anymore considering how handy Google Drive is. However, you may find that you have a class presentation in a few minutes and the wifi is down. Don’t cause yourself future stress. They’re not too expensive and you probably have one from high school, so just toss it in your bag before you leave.

7. A Sleeping Bag

sleeping bagI don’t have this exact one (I have no idea where mine came from, it’s old), but it’s cheap and gets good reviews! $9.44

Say you want to have a sleepover with a friend one night or your sorority has a retreat next weekend or your sister is coming to visit and is crashing at your dorm. A sleeping bag is a must if you want to avoid sleeping on a cold floor or an old cabin mattress. You could also use it as a blanket to study outside or extra lounging for movie nights with your roommates. Or make a fort, no judgement here.

8. Router

routerI used an old router we found in the shed at home…not the best idea. This is what I’ve been using in the apartment and it’s been fine! $34.80

Your school may say there’s internet in the rooms, but they really mean there’s internet access through Ethernet cords. You’re going to want wifi (so you don’t go over your phone data limit #beenthere) and don’t count on jumping on your neighbors’. I went about a month without wifi because I couldn’t get my router working, but once I did, it was magical. Wifi is so great, isn’t it? You really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

9. Sewing Kit

sewing kitvia $8.95

I didn’t actually forget this one, but I ended up using it countless times. Maybe I’m just reckless or my clothes are poor quality, but I had to sew up a tear in a shirt or dress more times than I can count. Being in a sorority also means a lot of crafting, which can be hard to do in a dorm with limited supplies. I sewed some letters on a tie blanket and called it a day. It was super cute, fun, and easy, so keep that in mind!

If you don’t know how to do a basic stitch, take a day to learn. It’s such a basic skill to know. You don’t have to be good at it (I’m certainly not), but being able to save the day when your roommate’s favorite skirt rips is always nice.

I’ve linked to one I found on Amazon, but if you want to make your own, go for it! My mom put mine together and it has everything I need. All you really need to include is a few different colors of thread, needles, straight pins, and scissors and you’re golden.

10. Spare Toothbrush


You’ll be sharing a bathroom with a bunch of other people. I know I’m super clumsy and it was to be expected that I drop my toothbrush at least once. You can bet I’m not using it after it’s been chilling on that floor. Just to be safe, I brought an extra one along. Fun fact,  I somehow ended up with three (three!) extra toothbrushes by the end of the year. I kept forgetting I had one, and therefore kept buying more. The good news is I’m definitely set for this upcoming school year!


Hopefully you found this list helpful! I’m sure I’ll forget something else this upcoming school year. I’ll keep you posted on that.

~What did you forget to pack? What would you add to this list?


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  • Emily Colley

    This is so helpful! I literally would not have thought to bring a vacuum, even though I’m totally going to need it!

    • I’m so glad it helped! Keeping dorm rooms clean can be such a struggle. Thanks for reading <3