Everything You Need For College .

I’m headed into my senior year of college at Kent State University and while I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy to finish off my Fashion Merchandising degree, I’ve done my time on campus. Between living in a dorm freshman year, a sorority house sophomore year, and an off-campus apartment junior year I feel like I’ve done it all. 

I consider myself an expert at this point on what you need vs don’t need to bring with you. With back-to-school shopping in full swing, I figured now is the perfect time to give you the full rundown on anything and everything I’ve used over the years. 

So, without further ado here is a massive checklist of college essentials complete with links to shop! Walmart has been the perfect one-stop shop for me over the years— with a wide variety of affordable options I’ve found it easiest to just get everything in one big purchase! Here we go. #ad

Dorm Specific 

A rundown of items that I absolutely needed in the dorm.

  • Futon: We loved having a futon in our room. There were always people coming in and out of our dorm so this made it easy for people to have a place to sit besides the floor.
  • Storage Cube: If you plan one lofting your bed this school year, you definitely need to grab one for these storage cubes to help get on and off your bed. The added height is a must + these are extra practical since you can stuff extra blankets and miscellaneous items into them.
  • Rug: A rug is one of my top essentials as it transforms a space in no time, instantly making it feel homier. It also covers up the gross flooring that most dorms have. I recommend getting something affordable that can be tossed out at the end of the year if it gets destroyed… which trust me it will.
  • Three Plastic Drawers: These plastic containers have been lifesavers for me in almost every college apartment I’ve lived in. They are super affordable and give you tons of extra storage space. I’ve always used them for my socks, underwear, hats, etc. They stack easily too which is super convenient.
  • Shower Caddy: I was lucky enough to have my own bathroom freshman year so I never needed a shower caddy to take to and from the bathroom with me but it’s definitely a must if you are going to be in a communal living situation! If you do have your own bathroom, make sure to get one of those over-the-shower hangers to keep all of your shower stuff up and off the ground.
  • Brita: Although it does take up space in the fridge, a Brita was a must for me throughout college. Especially since not every dorm had a filtered water station. Don’t forget to grab a few changes in filters as you will need them throughout the course of the year.
  • Fan: Dorms get super hot. I recommend getting a small fan that you can leave next to your bed to help circulate the air at night.
  • Command Strips: When someone asks for a list of my college essentials, velcro Commands Strips are always at the top of my list. Most dorms and apartments won’t let you put nails in the wall so to hang any wall art I’ve always used these. They can hold so much weight and take no paint off of the walls when you remove them at the end of the year.
  • Power Strips: Power strips are an absolute must. The outlets tend to be in super inconvenient places and there are so few of them. With the number of electronics I needed to charge each night, it was necessary to have two power strips at all times.
  • Husband: It seems like such a random essential but a husband pillow literally saved my life throughout my college years. Most of my classes were online meaning I worked from home a ton. I love working from bed but being in it makes me feel lazy. I much prefer to sit up in bed with the help of one of these pillows. They are so comfortable, especially if you’re planning on being on your computer all day.
  • Vaccum: I used our mini vacuum so much throughout my college years. We went to school in the midwest where it was always snowing meaning we were always tracking in salt and slush on our snow boots. I would run the vacuum at least once a day. I swear it takes two seconds and makes the room instantly feel cleaner.
  • Basic Cleaning Supplies: Bring them! Bathroom spray, Windex, Clorox Wipes, and more. They are a must.

Everything You Need For College

my current apartment 

For The Apartment

A list of items you absolutely need in your first apartment. Or should I say, that I needed?

I feel like bedding goes without question— you’ll need a mattress protector, sheets, a comforter, a throw blanket, and some pillows. I’ve swapped mine out each year as I was always moving from one bed size to another but I loved having white. It’s so easy to clean when it gets dirty and makes the room feel so much brighter.

  • Velvet Hangers: I’ve been a velvet hanger girl for as long as I can remember. These take up less space than plastic hangers and keep your clothes from sliding around. A must! 
  • Shoe Rack: Shoe racks are another thing that I bought several of throughout my college years. I always had more shoes than I needed but these kept them nice and organized. I’ve saved these to bring to my first big girl apartment too. 
  • Shoe Compartment: Over the door shoe hangers are also great if you’re looking to maximize your space. I’ve always had one of these to keep my flip-flops, sneakers, and slippers in one space.
  • Under-the-bed Containers: Under-the-bed storage is so underrated and something I recommend to everyone going through college. I’ve lifted my bed with bed risers every year so that I could stuff some of these containers underneath. This is such an easy way to stow away items that aren’t in season or that you don’t reach for as frequently. I prefer the kind with wheels! 
  • Laundry Basket: Collabsapble laundry baskets are a must. These fold away so easily but fit two-three loads of laundry. I kept one of these under my bed all three years of college and it was the best! 
  • Towels: Don’t forget your towels! I had two body towels and two hand towels so that I had backups if people visited or if one was in the wash.
  • Shower Curtain: Shower curtains are a must—don’t forget the liner and the rings. I needed to bring all three of these items all three years of college. 
  • Bath Mat: Definitely bring a bath mat with you—you’ll definitely want something that you can throw in the wash week as they get gross so quickly. 

Everything You Need For College

For The Desk 

Some items that are a must at my desk.

  • Pencil Holder: I always have a million pens, highlighters, and markers. I keep them in one big cup on my desk for easy access. 
  • Star Bookcase: I’m a big reader so I’ve got tons of books in my apartment. I just got this adorable star file so that I could organize some of them. This is such a cute way to keep them out in the open. Plus, I love when everything is gold to match. 
  • Tape Dispenser: I’ve had this clear acrylic tape dispenser since I started college and it’s gotten me through! I find that it’s a must to have tape on deck at all times.
  • Stapler: The same goes with a stapler. You’d be surprised how frequently I reach for this. 

School Supplies/Tech

I’ve taken 13-18 credit hours each semester and yet I was a Covid student meaning most of my college experience was online. I had a handful of in-person classes over the years, but living in post-Covid world we really didn’t use too many school supplies besides our computers. Sharing a few musts below.

  • Planner: I’m a big visual girl so writing in a physical planner is a must for keeping myself organized. I’ve used a Happy planner from Create 365 all of college and swear by them. I use the size big horizontal layout. 
  • Five Subject Notebook: I know some people take their notes on an iPad or type them out on their computer but I’ve always preferred to handwrite them. I found that a five-subject notebook was all the room I needed. It was so convenient having everything in one notebook too!
  • Computer: In today’s age you absolutely cannot do college without a laptop. I’m on my second Mac and would never change to anything else. I have a MacBook Pro 13-inch and it is the best. If you’re using Adobe programs I highly recommend a Pro over the Air. They are designed with higher processing speeds and can withstand much more wear and tear. 
  • Alexa: The only other electronic I’ve had in my apartments is an Alexa. I have two actually—one that I keep in the living area and another that I keep by my bed. I swear I use this for everything, from playing music to waking me up, to setting timers. I couldn’t do college without them! 
  • Printer: My freshman year of college I was a double major with Journalism so I wrote tons of papers. I wasn’t the kind of student who ever liked going to the library and since it was so far away, it made sense for me to get my own printer. I used it a ton and although it took up space, it was so convenient.

For The Kitchen 

I feel as though kitchen wear really speaks for itself. I’ve had my own kitchen for the last three years so I’ve acquired quite a handful of dishes/cooking utensils throughout that time. I feel like it’s all pretty self-explanatory so I’m just linking a ton of my favorites down below. You can’t go wrong. 

Whether you’re in the dorm or an apartment I will say these plastic 50-cent plates and bowls are my number one recommendation. These are microwave and dishwasher safe and are seriously the best. I have a handful of them and honestly don’t feel the need to swap them out for anything “nicer” anytime soon. They also have cups and other sizes that all match. I’ve had the pink since freshman year! 

  • Pots/pans
  • Silverware
  • Brita 
  • Pyrex dish 
  • Can opener 
  • Basic kitchen utensils (tongs, spatula, etc)
  • Pot holders 
  • Dish towels 
  • Ice cube trays 
  • Containers 

Phew, I think that’s everything! At least that comes to mind right now. If I think of anything else I’ll be sure to update this post for you. If you’re off to college or your first apartment this year, I hope you found this post helpful. I know I sure wish I had a big ole list like this one when I was shopping years ago. 

And while I finally feel like I’ve mastered the packing list, I’m prepping for a semester in Italy and am back to square one having no idea what to bring with me. If you’ve studied abroad before please please please give me your recommendations down below. I’d appreciate any and all advice as I’m definitely starting to get antsy about it all! Of course, I’ll keep you posted as I navigate this new journey, Stay tuned! 

With love, McKenz 

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