The Ultimate Dorm List: Everything You Should Bring and Keep Home

We are less than a month away from the first day of college, and for many people that also means less than a month away from move in day. Move in day is one of the most exciting, nervous, anxious, and exhilarating times in any college students life. The feeling of freedom and excitement of your own domain. I remember checking every list and and ever pinterest board on what to bring and what to leave and other move in tips. After 2 years in the dorm, and almost 2 years in an apartment, I can successfully say that I have a pretty good grasp on what you should take with you and what you should leave behind. I was very lucky that I only lived 2 hours away so if I left something important at home, I met my mom in the middle or took the drive home and grabbed it (and maybe spend the weekend too 😉 ). Living in a dorm room also taught me some amazing life lessons and also many hacks as well.Well enough of me blathering, here is a list of everything you should take with you and everything you should leave behind. 


What to Bring With 

~Backpack and Other School Supplies

You would be shocked but there are actually people who left their backpack at home during move in week. This should seem obvious but please do not forget your backpack. Everything in there is probably required for classes, so please bring it. 


~Comforter, Sheets, Etc.

That blue dorm bed is the bed you will be laying on for the next 9 months of your life. Having a good comforter and set of sheets can really bring a room together, as well as provide a good night’s sleep. Before you move in, please wipe down that mattress. Not everyone does so before you put anything on there  bust out the lysol wipes and get cleaning. I also recommend a mattress pad. It’s just a protection layer between the mattress and your sheets so I highly recommend that. Depending on where you go to school too, a warm blanket is a must. Going to school in North Dakota is COLD with a capital c. With things such as polar vortex, that extra blanket may be just what you need. If you are going to school in a cold climate, I would invest in a nicer, heavier blanket. I would also have 2 extra throw blankets on hand, because believe me, it can get cold. Do not forget your pillows as well as the university usually doesn’t provide them and if they do, DO NOT USE THEM. As long as you are warm and snuggly, it will begin to feel like home.



Once again, this should seem like a no-brainer, but many people have to go by them the day they move in. If you take away one piece of advice from here please take this away. HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ON MOVE IN DAY. I remember setting up the cable box in my room and I realized I didn’t have any batteries. My friend from back home who moved in the same day as me, decided we would run to target to get batteries. That was probably the worst decision we ever made. When we pulled into Target, there was a sea of cars and college students all buying the last move in essentials. In conclusion, try to remember everything so you don’t have to spend 2 hours in the checkout line for a pack of batteries. Ok back to the topic at hand. Depending on the type of residence hall you are staying in, you may have to bring your toiletries and towels with you. I was lucky to have a shower in unit, so I didn’t have to use a communal shower. If you have to use a communal shower, I highly recommend getting a portable shower caddy that can fit body soap, shampoo, conditioner, your loofah, and whatever else you need. If you do have a private bathroom but have roommates, I still recommend getting a shower caddy. I have had to many of my friends complain about using their shampoo, or their toothpaste. If you are weary of them potential using your toiletries, purchase a caddy and hide it from your roommate. 


~Storage Containers

Most dorm’s usually come with an average size closet with a couple shelves (or a wardrobe), a bed, a desk, and maybe a dresser. Unless you are a minimalist please heed my advice and get some extra storage containers. I bought two and it worked pretty well for me. You can keep snacks, cleaning supplies and other things in them so I highly recommend picking up a few. Most places like Walmart and Target have some that worked well for me. You can grab them here. However, if you are planning on keeping anything heavy on top, I would recommend picking up a butchers block or a wooden cutting board, just so it doesn’t cave in on the top. I kept my Keurig and the Cup drawer on top and it bent it in, so I would recommend you do that. 


~Cleaning Supplies

Now that you have moved out of the house, you may realize that cleaning doesn’t get done by itself. The University of North Dakota is actually wonderful and cleans your bathroom once a week (mop, sweep, clean toilet, etc) but that’s all they will clean. When you move in, I would hope you would wipe down the furniture like the dresser and the bed before you put stuff inside of it. Most of my furniture was wood based, so I grabbed some Pledge multipurpose cleaner as well as Windex for my mirror. I also cooked a lot, ever in the dorm, so I always had some dish soap handing. Make sure you bring laundry detergent as well! I highly recommend the pods because then you don’t have to carry the entire bottle up and down the stairs. Being able to grab a few pods saves so much time! I also recommend bringing some Clorox Wipes just to wipe down the kitchen before and after you use it. I also kept some by my desk because I would eat my dinner there. Needless to say, cleaning supplies are a must!

~Practical Clothes

I know looking cute and stylish in college is some people’s top priority, but take it from the person that brought every piece of clothing to school, YOU WILL NOT WEAR HALF OF IT. I looked cute for the first week and then after that, I think I wore sweatpants every single day. I also lived in a cold state, so sweat pants kept me warm in between walking to classes. Before you move in, try on your clothes and see what fits you best. I would have a wide variety of T-shirts and blouses. I would have between 5-8 hoodies and a variety of jeans/shorts/sweatpants. I would bring a couple of dressier outfits as well because some professors want you to dress up to present. Usually 2 black pair of dress pants and a few blouses or dressy shirts should do the trick. I would bring 1-2 dresses with as well. Depending on if you are going greek or not, you may need extra. Our greek life has a snowball once a year and you need to dress up. When it comes to shoes, only bring a few pairs. I had two pairs of tennis shoes (one for campus and one for the gym), a pair of rain boots, 2 pair of snow boots, 2 pairs of dressy shoes (that match your dressy outfits) and some sandals. I know you think you may need it all but I promise you, you will not need it. 


~Important Documents (Driver’s License, Auto Insurance Card, Etc)

You may not realize it, but those documents are soooooo important. If you get into a car accident while you are away you will want that insurance card available to you. I also know many people that drive up to Canada for the weekend and forget their passport at home so needless to say, please bring all important documents. I recommend purchasing a small safe that is hidden to keep those important documents. You may also get sick while you are on campus (because other students are disgusting), so you will need that insurance card to get the care you need. 


~ A Fan

Before you move in, check the temperature. I moved in a day early and it drizzled (thank goodness) but the next day when everyone moved in, it was 93 degrees. I was lucky enough to central air in my dorm (thank the heavens) but many students weren’t as lucky. If it is going to be hot, I do recommend bringing in a fan for by your bed and a fan to circle air around and cool off your room. 

I had a few friends ask to come over and spend the night because it was so hot in their room on the 5th floor with no AC. They were lucky I was a nice friend ;). A simple box fan does the trick for many, but I would recommend a clip on fan for your head board or guard rail, just to keep you cool at night. 


What to Leave at Home:

X Collectibles

I know having things you collect and cherish sounds great to bring to school but I beg you to PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COLLECTIBLES AT HOME. I know you may want to show off that baseball card collection or beanie baby collection, but anyone you show it to could be someone who steals it. I heard a horror story a few years back of someone who brought their Princess Diana beanie baby to campus and it got stolen, that bear is worth about $10,000. If you do insist on bringing them with lock them in a very heavy safe, but it would be best if you just left them at home.


X Large Cooking Devices (Griddles, George Foreman’s)

If you have no idea how to cook a George Foreman grill might seem like a good idea to cook burgers and such. Please, do not bring these to campus. Unless you know what you are doing and you don’t have a meal plan, then you may have an excuse. Not only are they not allowed in most dorms, they are a huge fire hazard and can take up space. We had someone who tried to make homemade fries in my dorm and the grease in the deep fryer lit on fire! You do not want to be the kid that sets off the fire alarm in the middle of December on a cold night. Not only will you feel stupid but everyone will hate you for a short time. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, please keep your cooking devices at home.


X Candle’s

Once again this may seem obvious but apparently not too many people. Although candles may smell nice and make a great decoration, having them is usually forbidden. At my campus, you can’t have one just for decoration. They are a huge fire hazard, so please stick with your wall plug ins and your air freshener sprays. Usually while you are gone on Christmas Break, the R.A.’s check your rooms. If they notice to many things that go against policy, you can get kicked out of your room. If it is one small candle, no they will not kick you out but they will schedule a meeting and talk to you about it. It is better to just not bring one than worry about it.


X Pet’s (Unless Service Animal Suggestions)

I know that moving to college can be difficult not only on your family, but your pet as well. Unless your pet is a service animal registered under disability services, please do not keep a pet in your dorm. At most campuses you can only keep fish in tanks smaller than 20 gallons for a reason. If you bring in your pet illegally, not only can you have a massive allergy issue, but you may have to pay to replace carpeting and furniture, as well as lose your dorm. Instead of bringing them, try getting home occasionally so you can spend some good quality bonding time.


X Weapons 

College can be a new and scary place to some people. Unfortunately people do break into your room if you don’t lock it up. You may feel you need a gun or some sort of weapon on campus. No matter your political views on this, most campuses don’t allow weapons on campus. Now you don’t necessarily have a weapon there but you can have a weapon in disguise. I have a tall blue vase that my brother gave me as a move-in present. He then proceeded to tell me that if I held it like a baseball bat, it could crack a few skulls (it has a very heavy base). I think you are allowed knives on campus (for cooking and such) but don’t bring the switchblade to campus.  If you think you need to bring a weapon, find a good sturdy vase and you should be good. 


This is just the start of lists on stuff to leave and stuff to bring to your dorm. If you use your best judgement, you can kind of figure out what to bring. Sometime in the next few days, I will be releasing a list of what to bring, so you can check it as you pack. If you have any questions in the meantime or just want to chat, you can find me on Instagram @sushineandseasoning or email me at Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more school related content over the next few weeks.

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