As we come to the end of summer, the new academic year is quickly approaching, and with it, a new cohort of students will be off to college for the first time. When it comes to packing, you might be thinking: where do I start? How do I know what to take? To make this process easier, we’ve compiled a checklist of those essentials you’ll need with you when you make the big move.

Academic supplies
This group includes all those essentials you’ll need to excel in your classes.

  • Laptop — arguably the most important piece of equipment, this is an absolute must for you to be able to write your essays, contact your professors, and access learning material. Make sure you’ve updated it to the latest software and antivirus before you leave.
  • Stationery, notepads, files — pack all the things you’ll need for note-taking. If you like to make colorful revision sheets, bring colored pens and highlighters. If you have a way of organizing your notes, bring your binders. Don’t worry if you’re not sure about this yet though — learning how you learn best is a key skill you’ll pick up at college!
  • Textbooks — check your syllabi to see if there are any textbooks you’ll need to get in advance. You’ll always be able to get these at the university bookshops. Remember, you can often find cheaper copies online second-hand.

Make sure you know the climate of the state or country where you’re going to study! Dress for the seasons, and bring enough warm clothing to make it to Christmas break. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of winter without a decent coat. Bring all those clothes that you’re sure you’re going to wear, but don’t overdo it: now might be a good chance to streamline your wardrobe. If you’re looking to get involved with sports, make sure to bring your active-wear. One smarter outfit will also be useful.

Kitchen supplies, furnishings
Your college accommodation should be fully furnished, so you don’t need to worry about bringing too much here. You’ll have a good desk lamp for work, and appliances like toasters and microwaves should be provided. There may be a few things you wish to bring:

  • Plates and cutlery — it’s useful to bring a few of these, so that you have some spares, as inevitably things will break, and you might want to be able to have a bowl of cereal in your room without needing to go to the kitchen.
  • Cooking equipment — if you like to cook, and there’s a pan or two you’d like to bring with you, feel free to, but don’t feel you need to bring too much. Electrical cooking appliances like hot plates are generally not allowed in dormitories. This is especially true if you’re on a dining plan.
  • Clothes horse — this can be quite useful, if you don’t always want to use the tumble-drier. You can get ones that hang over radiators, and this can make doing the laundry that little bit easier.

Miscellaneous, electronics, toiletries
Ensure you bring all the chargers you’ll need for your electronic devices, and check they’re all functioning before you leave. Bring your favorite pair of headphones too, as these will be especially useful when you’re working in the library. Stock up on all those toiletries you need for daily life, but don’t worry too much, as you can stock up on these easily once there. On the miscellaneous side, make sure to bring all those important documents that you’ll need for the move. Your passport, ID, any insurance documents, and the like, are all must-haves.

This is a crucial one, that can often be overlooked! You don’t want to burn yourself out at college, and so an important part of this is making time for yourself, and the things you like to do to relax. You’ll have lots of socializing, working and exploring to do, but you’ll also need time to unwind. So bring whatever it is you like to do here: if you play the guitar, see if you can bring it with you; if you like to read, bring some fiction books; and so on. See what clubs are available at your college for an opportunity to meet people interested in the same things.

Last but not least, here’s one more unlikely but extremely useful recommendation: bring a door wedge! Leaving your dorm door propped open is a great way to make friends in the crucial early weeks of college. People walking by will say hi, and you’ll meet lots of like-minded people. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and start building those college connections that will last for life.

Here then is a checklist of essentials for college life. Work through these categories, and think about what you will genuinely need, and you won’t miss anything important; you’ll be ready and raring to go when you make the move. Good luck!

About the Author: Stephen attended the University of Oxford, where he received his B.A. in Philosophy & French, followed by his MSt in Ancient Philosophy. For the past five years, Stephen has taught and mentored students from middle school through college in positions all over the world, from the UK to South Korea. He focuses on language and humanities instruction, coupled with intensive writing skills and college application coaching. His language studies saw him teach English for a year in southern France, as well as holding a technical translation position in Spanish in Barcelona. He has received formal training in mental health support, and has substantial experience working with students with anxiety and depression. Stephen is a warm and dynamic individual, who focuses on creating an open and engaging learning environment. He is currently based in the UK, where he enjoys reading, taking long walks, and playing the guitar and piano.