Heading off to college is always a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, you’re excited to step into a new life and see what the college lifestyle is all about. On the other, you might be nervous to experience such a distinct change of pace.

The Complete and Only College Student Checklist You’ll Ever Need

You’re leaving home, taking on an academic load, forced to meet new friends, and start life anew in many ways. It’s a lot! One thing you can do to ease that stress, though, is to ensure that you’ve got everything you need.

We’re going to offer a college student checklist today, giving you the essential things that you have to remember. There’s a lot that you could bring, so we’re breaking things down into essential categories. Hopefully, the list below can ease the stress of moving off to college.

Let’s get started.

The Ultimate College Student Checklist

The most important thing to start with is your housing and schooling items. We don’t mean toiletries and pencils; we mean tenant agreements and class enrolments.

Ensure that your fundamentals are in order. It’s easy to forget to sign up for things or slip up on a document that needs signing. Each school is different, so there’s no clear guide on what those things might be, but there tend to be a lot of them.

Go through your email and look for anything that you might have missed. Maybe there’s a form that needs your attention, or perhaps a class you thought you signed up for was full.

Run through the web portal for your school and check for any notifications, messages, or bulletins that might impact you. Look at your course schedule and see that you’re signed up for everything you thought you were.

These things seem like obvious ones, but there’s something that a lot of college students forget. They forget that these types of things are the ones that our parents took care of up until this point.

There are a lot of people who take care of most things themselves from an early age, but the majority of college students are stepping into that ownership for the first time. Adult tip number one is to make sure you check all of the boxes before you hit the road to start school.

Coursework Essentials

Once you’re sure that you’re all set with the University, it’s time to look at the particular classes you’re taking. Each college course might come with its own separate set of things you need to pick up.

It’s not like high school, where the books and materials for classwork were offered to you. Instead, you might need to buy extra books, materials, and more. Further, you might have the requirement of a few pieces of reading over the summer.

The last thing you want to do on the first day is to show up unprepared. So, look over your syllabus. We’ll say that again, look at your syllabus. The number of well-intentioned and intelligent college students who forget to check the syllabus is very high.

Generally speaking, college professors put the most pertinent information into the syllabus. Go through each syllabus that you’ve got, and even check with your professors if you need to. See if there’s anything you need before classes start.

School Materials

Now it’s time to pack up all of those pens, pencils, notebooks, and binders.

It’s smart to have at least one notebook for each one of your classes, along with a binder to match. Do yourself a favor and actually buy and use a binder for each class.

You’ll have a lot of paperwork to keep track of. While much of modern-day education is digital, professors tend to use paper to provide tangible learning material. You’ll also be expected to hang onto that material for a long period of time.

So, have binders. You should also invest in a good pen and good pencils. You’ll use them a lot, whether or not you type notes into your laptop. Beyond that, look to find any organizational materials you can.

You will underestimate the amount of organization that college requires. It’s more intensive than high school ever was, and it can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared. One beautiful thing, though, is that class tends to require a notebook and pencil.

That’s generally it. Aside from any materials that are specific to the course, you just need to show up, listen and have a way to document what you’re hearing.

Choose a Laptop

Going to college requires that you have a few pieces of essential technology. The first and primary technology to have is a laptop.

If you’re unable to get a laptop, note that most schools have student resources that offer rentable laptops. The school’s website, along with your advisor, will have insight into how that works.

That said, a brand new laptop does come in very handy. It allows you to work on schoolwork at any time, any place, and at your convenience. Laptops also give you the ability to keep in touch with your friends and family, make video calls, and a whole lot more.

There are a lot of excellent Lenovo options for students that fall well into most people’s budgets. Unless you’re a gamer, you won’t need to get too much processing power.

College tends to require just the bare minimum from your computer. You’re watching videos, writing documents, and managing emails for the most part. That said, degree programs that involve graphic design, music, information technology, or programming might need more computer power.

Those are things you can ask your advisor.


Your college fit might be the main thing you’re thinking about at this point. That’s alright, though, because everyone else is worrying about their appearance as well.

It’s a shame, but it’s a fact of life. You want to look good when you step onto campus, and can anyone blame you for that?

Before you start picking your first-day outfit, however, make sure that you’ve got the quantity of clothing that you’ll need. A general rule of thumb is to have two weeks’ worth of clothing. If you bring much more, you might sacrifice a lot of your dorm room space.

Two weeks’ worth might not seem like a lot, but remember that you’ll have access to laundry at all times. If you’re not a fan of doing laundry, well, there’s not much we can do for you. Join the club.

On top of your school clothes, try to bring a few things that you’d like to wear out. Bring one or two nice outfits, too, as you don’t know whether you’ll have to go to any events with dress codes.

Finally, have something very casual to wear as well. You will get tired in college, and you’ll need something comfortable to rest in.

Toiletries and More

The “college bathroom setup” is something that stands out as a little unusual in some cases. Unless you’ve got private bathrooms, you’ll need to gear up in ways that you haven’t before.

For one, we recommend getting some shower shoes. These can be flip-flops or anything else that you can get wet. You’ll shower in the same showers like everyone else, even though they’re divided up.

The floor gets gross. There’s no other way to put it. Further, you’ll need a tote of some kind to carry all of your soaps and shampoos down to the bathroom. Try to find a little carryable holder that can house things like your toothbrush, conditioner, body wash, and whatever else you use.

While you’re at it, pick up a stick or two of deodorant. If deodorant isn’t your thing, pick up an abrasive loofah. College is stinky sometimes, and you will pick up on that stink.

You’ve been warned.

Dorm Room Digs

Now that you’ve got the essentials in place, you can start looking at your furniture and dorm room accessories.

Generally speaking, dorms with couches are the most enjoyable to spend time in. Get some seating for people that you want to come over.

Also, invest in a few things that you can add to your desk to improve the ambiance. You might not be one to study in your room or at the desk, but there will be times when you have to.

A desk lamp, an ergonomic keypad, a little picture of your dog, or anything else to make the desk a comfortable place for you. You should also find ways to organize and manage your clothing.

They’ll have dressers for you, but you might need a hanger or two. Finally, pick up a jumbo-sized laundry basket, and you’re ready to hit the road.

Note that you will forget a thing or two. Just plan for that, and expect a trip to the store a week or two into the experience.

Are You Going to College Soon?

Becoming a college student is a big next step for a lot of people. Your future’s in front of you, and it’s scary to make that first leap. The more you know about college, though, the easier it will be to go with confidence.

We’re here to help. Please explore our site for ideas on how to be a smart student, information on the education industry, and much more.