As your high school graduate prepares to make the move from home to dorm, keep this checklist of college essentials handy.


No. 2 pencils or mechanical pencils

Large eraser

Ballpoint pens in a variety of colors for note taking

Notebooks or loose-leaf notebook paper

Ruler with English and metric measurements

Sticky notes and flags (Many bookstores will allow students to sell back books that haven’t been written in or highlighted; use these tools to mark important passages and make notes in books without writing in them!)

Correction fluid or tape

Organizational helpers

Three-hole punch

Backpack/messenger bag

Scotch tape


Scissors (It’s smart to buy one large pair and one smaller, craft size pair.)

Study aids

Index cards (Great for making flashcards.)

Highlighters in a variety of colors

Calculator (Check class requirements before investing in an expensive one. Graphing calculators, for example, are required in many college math and science classes.)

Schedule/planner (While many students now use their smartphones to set reminders about due dates, class times, and appointments, a hard copy is recommended for those without this type of electronic tool.)

Basic living materials


Roll of quarters or loaded laundry card (depending on what your school requires.)



Laundry detergent

Laundry tote (The laundry room may be a hike from their room.)


Drying rack for laundry

Plastic cups, utensils, and plates

Water bottles


Can opener

Small refrigerator (Double check what size is allowed before purchasing.)

Vitamins, allergy meds, and pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Cleaning wipes

Air fresheners

Flip flops or other shoes to wear in the shower

Case for carrying toiletries to and from the shower (Though these vary, choose one that has holes in the bottom for drainage.)

Desk lamp for a well-lit study space

Handheld vacuum cleaner

Tool set (This should include the basics, such as a hammer, screwdriver, and nails.)

Clock radio (Check out the iHome, which functions as an alarm clock and speakers!)

Ear plugs

Extra storage, like a trunk or storage boxes



Printer (Most schools allow students access to printers; if so, this item may be unnecessary.)

USB flash drive (To make yours recognizable, find ones fitting your personality.)

Power strips

Extension cords


Wireless Internet Card or Mobile Hotspot — compare before deciding — to get online anywhere

Fun stuff

Board games

Deck of cards

Umbrella and rain boots


Wall art (and adhesive strips or hooks)

Bulletin board/cork board/dry erase board (and necessary accessories)

Share on Pinterest