Checklists You Need Before College

4 Ready-to-Go Checklists You Need Before College

The move to college is getting closer. Maintaining Ready-to-Go Checklists You Need Before College is not a very hard task. In movies, when kids move into their big dorm rooms, they bring a few suitcases and turn the room into a magical place. The truth isn’t quite like that.
You can see that going to college isn’t just about getting the things you need. It’s about the process you go through and all the ways you’ll change when you meet new people and live in a new place. That’s not a small thing.

So let’s look at some checklists for getting ready for college that you won’t find anywhere else.

Checklist #1: Prepare emotionally

You probably have never lived in a small room with one or two strangers before. But I’ll tell you a secret: it’s new for everyone.

Here’s how to emotionally prepare yourself for college:

  • Figure out what you want (academic, social, or personal).
    Make a list of your own morals and beliefs so you can make sure that the decisions you make in college fit with who you are.
  • Find out what activities make you feel good, and look into groups and activities on or near campus that you can do. Check out the college’s student life pages and meetup groups in the area.
  • Follow the social media accounts of clubs and interests you’re interested in.
  • Make a list of everything you’ve done well, and you’ll feel better about yourself. Ask your friends and family to tell you something about you that they think is special.
  • Spend time with your family one-on-one.
  • Spend time with good friends one-on-one.
  • Figure out how you’ll stay in touch with family and friends while you’re in school.
  • Take a trip on the spur of the moment and see what it’s like to do something out of the ordinary.
  • Plan how you will continue to follow your faith or spirituality when you are away from home.
  • Accept that the new things you do will make you different. Remember that even though change can be hard, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Checklist #2: Prepare Financially

If you worked during the summer or on the side while you were in high school, you probably know how to budget your money. But if you move away to college, it may be the first time in your life that you have to make decisions about money on your own every day.
It’s not impossible to live on a budget, but it’s easier if you plan ahead before you move out on your own. Here’s what you can do to get ready while you still have help at home:

  • First, figure out where your money for school will come from (scholarships, grants, work-study, job, parents, savings, private student loans, etc.).
  • Make a budget so that you can pay for things like books, car payments, insurance, etc., and know how much money you have left over.
  • Figure out how much you’ll spend on things like food and other college expenses (events, fees, etc.).
  • Use a banking app or a budgeting app to keep track of how much money you spend.
  • Keep to your budget in the months before college. Practice makes perfect, after all.
  • If you have extra money every month, don’t add it to your budget. Put that money in savings and act like you don’t have it. (Trust us, you’ll need that emergency fund one day!)
  • Every month, look at your bank statements.
  • Check your budget to see if you can start paying back loans while you are still in school.

Checklist #3: Logistics Planning

Now that you know what you want to do and have enough money, it’s time to get your brain ready for college. It can be hard to leave your family home, move into your dorm, get all your stuff together, meet new people, go to welcome events, and get to class on time.
Here are some tips to make moving in less of a juggling act and more of a memorable event:

  • If you can, take a look at the dorms before you move in.
  • Talk to your roommate a long time before the party and decide who will bring what.
  • Look for stores that ship to dorms, so you don’t have to bring things like bedding and refrigerators with you.
  • Know where the stores near your dorm are in case you forget something important and don’t forget to ask for a college student discount!
  • Plan for the weather before you move. Bring a lot of water if it’s going to be hot, and tarps if it’s going to rain.
  • On the day you arrive, get to your dorm as soon as you can. Parking can get messy.
  • Bring snacks to keep your energy up while you’re moving.
  • Accept the help of your family to move in and set up the room. This will give you more time to say goodbye and go to welcome week events.
  • Pack as little as you can, but know what you need. If you don’t have a car and go to a rural school, you should bring all the small things you can think of. It will be easier to get things when you need them if you go to school in the city, live close to your parents, or have a car.

Checklist #4 : The things

Things will always be forgotten. Here, checklists can come in handy.
The list below has things you need every day and more. Getting an education in Florida? You might not need to wear snow boots. Wisconsin? Sure thing.

Dorm Room Items

  • Lamps (desk, bed)
  • Hanging/string lights
  • Choices for storing (under beds, cubes, in closets, etc.)
  • Wall pictures and art
  • Calendar/dry erase/message board
  • Cushions on the floor with covers
  • Clock that runs on batteries
  • Bed risers raise your bed so you can store more things under it.
  • Sticky hooks
  • Fan/heater for a room
  • Mirror
  • Plants
  • Air mattress (for when someone crashes)
  • Air freshener with essential oils


  • Sheets (x2)
  • Towels (shower, beach, and hand towels)
  • Washcloths/loofah
  • Pillows (sleeping, throwing, reading)
  • Mattress pad
  • Foam on top
  • Blankets, comforters, or duvets (don’t forget to bring one that you can use outside)
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket and lingerie bag
  • Pen to remove stains
  • Detergent
  • Sheets for the dryer
  • Quarters
  • Bath mat
  • Toilet mat
  • Iron and an ironing board (if you like your clothes to be wrinkle-free).

Things for school

  • USB drives/external storage
  • Stapler/rubber bands/tacks/tape
  • Paper and printer
  • Pens/pencils
  • Sharpener
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • List cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Scissors
  • Highlighters
  • Ruler
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes


  • The laptop and the things it needs (keyboard, wireless mouse, stylus, etc.)
  • Stand and case for a laptop
  • E-reader
  • Tablet
  • Speakers
  • HDMI and Ethernet cords
  • Power strip
  • Extension cord
  • CD player
  • Headphones
  • Camera
  • Cell phone
  • Chargers for all kinds of things
  • Extra batteries

Shared with another person

  • Stereo
  • TV
  • Plate à chaud/microwave
  • Coffeemaker
  • Small fridge


  • Allergy meds
  • Prescription drugs
  • Antacid
  • Aspirin
  • Vitamins
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Sterile bandages
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Cough medicine
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and products for styling hair
  • Comb/brush
  • Tools for styling hair (flat iron, curling iron, etc.)
  • Face wash, soap, and body wash
  • Face and body lotions
  • Brushing, toothpaste, and flossing
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Swabs of cotton
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Control of births
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand mirror
  • Tweezers
  • Contact lenses or glasses, as well as a solution
  • Toilet paper
  • Meds for colds and flu
  • Decongestant
  • Bug spray
  • Deodorant


  • Bathroom shoes (flip flops)
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Pants and jeans
  • Shirts
  • Sweats
  • Pajamas
  • Slippers or house shoes
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts
  • Gear for cold weather (hats, mittens, scarves)
  • Sneakers
  • Boots
  • Formal shoes
  • Dress for business
  • Dress clothes and clothes for going out
  • Dress clothes for going out
  • Swimsuit
  • Clothes for exercise
  • Umbrella
  • Backpack
  • Organizer & Jewelry
  • (A poncho and rain boots)
  • Baseball cap or sun hat?
  • Or a spa wrap
  • Things to Clean
  • Hand towels
  • Trash bags
  • Lightbulbs

Cleaner/wipes that can be used for everything

  • Lunch bags made of plastic
  • Soap for washing dishes
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues
  • Kitchenware and equipment (bowl, plate, cup, mug, fork, knife, spoon)
  • kitchen tools being shared (stirring spoons, tongs, peeler, spatula, strainer)
  • Bottle of water
  • Can opener
  • Tea towel
  • Oven mitt
  • Small dustpan and broom
  • Hand vac

Food (ask your roommate about allergies before purchasing)


Granola bars



Dried fruit

Peanut butter and other nut spreads





Water in bottles


Easy-to-heat mac and cheese



Yoga mat


Pillow for meditating

Texts from religions

Musical instruments

Art supplies

Fun books to read

Luggage for weekend travel/travel home


  • Credit/debit cards
  • License
  • Student ID
  • Registration and insurance info for a car
  • Card for health insurance
  • Birth certificate copy
  • Social Security card copy
  • Passport
  • Who to call in an emergency
  • Information about financial aid
  • Make a class schedule.
  • Each month, make a budget.
  • Information about your campus account (meal plans, etc.)


  • Bike, helmet, and lock
  • Safety signal
  • Flashlight
  • Pepper spray
  • Safe for a dorm room

Good luck! You’ll do great!

About James G. Barr

I am an international student. I am a doctoral student and teaching assistant at a University in the United States. Aspiring students looking to make their educational dreams come true, we offer generous scholarships to help you reach your goals.

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