Dorm Room Essentials: Everything You Should Bring with You to College

Female Student Moving-In
Are you ready, Bearcats? The school year is almost ready to begin! Before you know it, convocation will be here and you’ll be moving into your new home away from home here on campus. Figuring out what to bring with you to college can be daunting, especially if this is your first year. Don’t sweat it! We’ve compiled a handy list of essential items for you to pack from twin XL bedsheets to school supplies and everything in between (plus some fun extras to give you a great experience!). To make it easy, we broke everything down into categories. Take a look at the list below to see what you might need!

Dorm Bedding Items

Getting quality shut-eye every night is essential for your overall health and your success as a college student, so make sure your dorm bed is as comfortable as possible! You’ll want to bring 1-2 sets of sheets, cozy blankets, a comforter, a mattress pad, pillows, and pillow cases. Comfortable bedding will really help your dorm room feel much more like home. Your mattress will be a twin XL (80” x 36”), so remember to bring bedding that fits!

Bedding items to bring:

1-2 sets of sheets (twin XL)

Comforter (twin XL)

Mattress pad (twin XL)




Bath Essentials

Showering in the dorms is different from what you might be used to at home. Since you’ll be using a dorm bathroom, you’ll want to bring a shower caddy to store your items. Don’t forget shower shoes – they’ll help keep your feet healthy and clean! If you have an in-suite bathroom to share, check in with your roommate to determine who will bring the shower curtain and hooks, bathmat, and trashcan.

Bath essentials to bring:

Shower shoes

Shower caddy

Towels, including bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths

Shower curtain and hooks (if you have an in-suite bathroom)

Bathmat (if you have an in-suite bathroom)

Trashcan (if you have an in-suite bathroom)

Toiletries and Personal Items

No matter where you’re staying on campus, you’ll want to bring some basic toiletries with you, including towels, shampoo and conditioner, hair products and tools, soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a brush and comb, and more. While you may not plan on getting sick, it’s always best to be prepared just in case. Bring along some over-the-counter medications, any prescription medication you may need, and more. You can even put together a basic sick kit, which can contain a can or two of soup, medicine, cough drops, tissues, and any other items to help you feel better like your favorite tea bags. Be sure to update your sick kit at least once a year!

Toiletries and personal items to bring:

Shampoo and conditioner

Hairstyling products and tools

Bath and face soap

Travel soap containers

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Dental floss

Brush and/or comb


Razor and shaving cream

Nail clippers

Cotton swabs


First aid kit

Prescription and over-the-counter medication as needed


Antibiotic ointment

Sick kit

List of allergies and medications to keep in bag in case of emergencies

Laundry and Cleaning Supplies

Unless you plan on heading home every week to do laundry, you’ll need to use the campus washers and dryers to clean your clothes. Don’t forget to bring the essentials with you, including detergent, softener, and a laundry bag or basket to transport your clothes. Speaking of keeping things clean, it’s wise to keep those dust bunnies and germs at bay in your room. Having an arsenal of basic cleaning materials such as antibacterial wipes, a multipurpose cleaner, broom, and cleaning cloths or paper towels will help you keep your room feeling clean and fresh throughout the school year!

Laundry and cleaning supplies to bring:

Antibacterial wipes

Multipurpose cleaner

Cleaning cloths

Broom and dustpan

Laundry detergent

Fabric softener

Drying rack

Laundry bag or basket

Stain remover

Lint brush

Paper towels

Male Student Carrying Storage
Storage and Organization

One huge key to success in college is staying organized, and it all starts with your dorm room. Save time and headaches by organizing your items and keeping them in designated areas so you can find them more quickly (and not be late to class!). Remember, even though it might not look like it on move-in day, your dorm room is going to be relatively small, so use the space wisely. Arrange your shoes vertically with a hanging shoe organizer in your closet. Take advantage of that space under your bed by storing school supplies, textbooks, or even sealed snacks in under-the-bed storage boxes.

Storage and organization items to bring:

Small storage containers

Clothing hangers

Under-the-bed storage boxes

Hanging shoe organizer

Bonus: trunk and/or lock box

School Supplies and Electronics

Maybe the first thing that comes to mind supply-wise when going to college is the school supplies you’ll need. What you’ll need will more than likely be very similar to what you took with you when you were in high school. You’ll want to bring the basics, including pens and pencils, notebooks, folders, index cards, sticky notes, and more. It’s smart to keep a designated folder and notebook per class to help you stay organized. You’ll also want to bring any electronics that you tend to use, along with their chargers. While a computer or laptop is not required, it could come in handy. However, McKendree offers several spaces and computer labs to help you type up and print out any papers or assignments you need to do!

School supplies and electronics to bring:


Planner or agenda

Pens and pencils



Stapler and staples

Index cards

Sticky notes

Paper clips and binder clips

Rubber bands



Stamps and envelopes

Backpack or messenger bag

USB flash drive and/or memory cards

UL-approved surge protectors


Any personal electronics you use, including MP3 player, stereo, cell phone, camera, etc.

Chargers for any electronics you choose to bring

Bonus: laptop and/or desktop computer

Female Student Putting Clothes in Closet

You might feel compelled to pack practically all the clothing you own when you go off to college. You actually will need less than you expect, especially if you attend campus events, which tend to have plenty of Bearcat swag (or visit the bookstore to find the hoodie you’ll basically live in for the next few years!). Bring a handful of tops and bottoms, pajamas, a few sweaters and hoodies, light and heavy jackets, cold weather gear, a few pairs of walking shoes, and a set of business-casual clothing. Don’t forget the hangers!

Clothing to bring:



A few sweaters and/or hoodies




Light and heavy jackets

Cold weather gear, including gloves, a scarf, and a hat

A pair of boots

1-2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes

1 set of business-casual clothing, including a pair of dress shoes

Masks for classes (not required, but welcomed!)

Female Student Hanging Room Decorations
Dorm Room Decorations

Of course, you could keep your room undecorated and bare, but what fun would that be? Your dorm room will become your own little sanctuary that you can retreat to for quality rest and study time throughout the year, so we encourage you to bring the things from home that give you joy! Think posters, pictures of your friends and family, a fan, and a dry-erase board for your door. Just remember to bring sticky tack to help you hang your decorations; nails, pushpins, 3M strips, and anything else that could damage or leave holes in the walls are not allowed.

Room décor items to bring:

A few favorite posters

Photos of your friends and family, framed or unframed

Sticky tack to hang things up (no nails, pushpins, or 3M strips are allowed)

Desk lamp and/or floor lamp

Fan or clip-on fan

Bulletin board and/or corkboard

Dry-erase wall calendar

Dry-erase board for your door

Art such as canvas art, tapestries, wall decals, etc.

Bonus items: string lights, beanbag chairs, pouf pillows for additional seating options, gaming systems and accessories, and a TV/DVD player – just check with your roommate first!

Miscellaneous Items

Last but not least are a few of the extraneous items that might not seem important at first but will definitely come in handy as the year goes on! We recommend bringing an alarm clock, a small trashcan, an umbrella, a can opener, and other miscellaneous items. You’ll also want to check in with your roommate to see who will be bringing a microwave and mini fridge.

Miscellaneous items to bring:

Alarm clock

Small trashcan

Quarters/money for laundry

Paper towels

Light bulbs

Reusable water bottle

Food storage containers

A bowl, plate, cup, mug, and silverware

Can opener


Microwave and mini fridge, an area rug, and small water filter pitcher – just be sure to check with your roommate first!

Things McKendree Provides

There’s no need to go out and purchase big-ticket items for your dorm room; we’ve got your back! McKendree provides basic furnishings for all residential areas, including a bed with mattress, desk, chair, closet space, and a dresser. Some of our facilities include additional furnishings as well. You’ll also have a designated mailbox and key to pick up any mail or letters you may receive from your friends and family back home!

Leave These Things at Home

Appliances with exposed heating elements like coffee makers or toasters

Candles or incense


Alcohol, drugs, and real or prop weapons

Anything that could leave a hole in the walls or remove paint, including LED light strips and 3M strips

Remember, if you find that you forgot one of the necessities at home on move-in day, you’re sure to find it at the bookstore on campus! Happy packing, Bearcats – we can’t wait to see you on campus in just a few short weeks!