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What should I bring to college?

A comprehensive checklist to track everything you need to bring or buy.

Run a quick online search for what to bring when moving into a college dorm, and you’ll find that there’s no shortage of packing lists, shopping lists, and checklists to help with ideas on what to pack.
Most of these lists include essentials, such as bathroom, personal care, closet organization, cleaning supplies, kitchen accessories, electronics, and even dorm decor—so you can give your side of the room a little more personality!
So I created my own and am making it available as a template to share with others.
If you’re ready to try it now:
Make a copy

What’s unique about this checklist?

Many of the checklists you’ll find online are bulleted lists you can print out or copy and paste into another online document. What was missing were digital checklists that can be checked-off from a phone or easily shared with other friends or family members who can help source items.
So, after browsing through many of the top ten online lists out there, I decided to create my own, digital checklist I can view from any device. I happen to be helping someone move in to a college dorm soon and wanted a checklist I could share with other family members that lets us all check things off as we go.
For me and my family to get a better sense of everything that needs to be done before we send off my kid, I wanted to be able to mark items in the list as items we already have, items we need to buy and items we can borrow from (or share with) roommates.
The packing list also comes with the following benefits:
A pre-populated list with items inspired by other top ten online college dorm room lists
A list that can easily be customized for our needs
A checklist with items you can actually ‘check-off’ and easily track the status of
The ability to filter your packing list so you can view only those items you need to buy, , or borrow,
A digital format that can be viewed from any laptop or mobile device with a browser
A doc that can be easily shared with others, so they can help source items & check things off

What items are not on this list?

While every school has slightly different policies, there are some items that are almost always provided for you by the school and items that are usually prohibited, especially in dorms.
Here’s a list of items that students typically leave at home:

Provided Items

Typical list, but check with your school:
Twin bed—XL, 80 inches long, 30 inches wide (student housing)
Closet or wardrobe and dresser (student housing)
Desk and chair (student housing)
TV and internet connections (student housing)
Window coverings (blinds or drapes)
Smoke detectors & sprinklers
Trash and recycling containers

𝙓 Prohibited Items

Typical list, but check with your school:
Alcohol or alcohol containers (typically in student housing)
Illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and hookahs
Tobacco and electronic cigarettes
Firearms, weapons, fireworks/explosives
Candles, incense, and electric fireplace (typically in student housing)
Pets (sometimes fish in up to a 10 gallon tank are permitted)
Wireless routers (typically in student housing)
Air conditioners (typically in student housing)
Space heaters and electric dryer (typically in student housing)
Halogen lamps (typically in student housing)

How to use the packing list

Step 1: Make a copy of this doc, then reset to remove sample statuses

To be able to customize and use the packing list, you’ll need to make a personal copy:
Copy doc
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to remove statuses before you start checking things off. After you’ve had a chance to take a quick peek at the (to see how it works), click this button:
Reset doc

Step 2: Customize the packing list the way you want

Customize the by adding new items, choosing a category, and any other related notes.
To add and remove items from the packing list:
Click the Add new item button or the plus sign (’+’) to add any item to an existing Category. Click ‘X’ to remove items you won’t need.
Click the Details button (’i’) to add additional notes or update the status or category of any item.

Not sure how to customize the list? Check the FAQs below for more ideas from other lists.

Step 3: Review everything in the packing list to find out what you still need

Head to the page to review each item and mark their Status in one of three ways:
Have it
Buy it
Borrow it
Not sure? Just leave it ‘blank’. At least you’ll know that you’ve reviewed the item already. Again, if you don’t need the item, just click the ‘X’ to remove it from the packing list.
Once an items is packed, mark it as Packed. To view all the items that still need to be packed, check the Click to view only unpacked items box.

Step 4: Review the Shopping list for items you’ll need to buy

Anything you marked as ‘Buy it’ on the Packing list page will appear in the page
Go to the page to add Stores and URLs of items you found online you’re interested in
Pro-Tip: If using Chrome, and use the (a.k.a. Coda Bookmarker) to automatically clip URLs to the ‘Shopping list’ table while you are browsing.
Check things off as Bought it once you’ve ordered or picked up items. Items will be highlighted in the Packing list in green to let you know it’s ready to be packed.
Click the Details button (’i’) to add additional notes, add order numbers, expected delivery or pickup dates, or any other shopping notes. If sharing this doc to , then invite them via email by share this doc with them by clicking the dropdown list in the Name column, then selecting People not in doc, and scroll down and select Invite person. You’ll share the doc with them with ‘Can edit’ permissions.
Pro-Tip: Once you’ve shared it with other, you can leave comments/notes in the Details section of each item for each other. Just hit the details (’i’) button to find the ‘Comments’ section.

Step 5: Add contact info for items you’ll borrow or share with others

Go to the and add the names of people you can borrow or get second-hand items from, or roommates you can share purchases with.
Check Got it once you’ve picked up the items or your roommate has confirmed they’ll bring an item. Items will be highlighted in the Packing list in green to let you know it’s ready to be packed.


What if I don’t see my favorite stores in the Shopping List?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to update the list and the main website address
Pro-tip: If you highlight the store, it’ll appear highlighted in that color in the Shopping List

How can I view the checklists from my phone?

Send the URL/link to your doc to your phone browser via email, iMessages, or AirDrop.
From your phone, you can check off items from your packing list, shopping list, or borrow list by swiping any item to the right and tapping the checkmark (✔️).
You can either do this from your desktop browser menu by selecting File > Share, or click the ‘Share’ link at the top right, then click Copy doc link to email it to yourself.

How can I get to the checklist more quickly from my phone?

To add this doc as an ‘app’ on your phone, you can either download the Coda app, or convert the webpage into a tap-able shortcut on one of your home screens:

Why are some items in the list colored?

All sustainable products are marked in green.
All items that have already been purchased or picked up and ready to be packed are highlighted in green.

Where can I see some examples of customized versions of this list

Here are a few you can get ideas

Where else can I find more packing lists?

Most school websites have packing lists. Search for ‘dorm move-in’ or ‘move-in day fall’ to bring them up. Then, just customize this list accordingly.
Other great resources for ideas on what to bring:

If you’re looking for a more basic checklist, check out the

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