Back to School Spree: The Good, The Bad and the Forgotten

College campus move in is about to begin, and as someone who has moved to my dorm rooms in a different way every year, I have the expertise to tell you how to get it done without all the pain.


Especially for those first year students, packing for college can be crazy. I mean, how are you supposed to not take everything you own? Recommendation: take what you know you’ll need and leave the “what if I get invited to an animal print party and don’t have my $10 zebra pants from Kroger in my closet” outfits behind. From there, you can either buy what you realize is missing or have your family members bring more when they come to visit. Seriously, take 6 pairs of shoes max — 7 if you go to a school in the South where cowboy boots are uniform on Game Day.


Every year, I used the Bed Bath & Beyond Pack and Hold to get stuff for my room. An easy pick up, check out, and back-to-moving-in stop that allows you to prepare ahead of time. This included my bedding, pillows, any storage, lights, and desk essentials. This is also how I got hangers, my steamer, and my tea kettle. Doing the work ahead of time make the day of a lot easier.

Every store that will have room supplies will likely have bare shelves when it comes to college move-in, so be smart about what you leave to chance.


My junior year, I had a job interview right before my move-in slot. Talk about stressful. My mom and I had to load all my stuff into the rental car before heading to campus so I could interview and then go move in. I got the job (I still work there four whole years and two different states later), but the hassle made the day more stressful. Try to keep the day clear to move, unpack, and then relax.


Every year, there is horror story after horror story about someone’s car being broken into in a hotel parking lot and the college student losing everything they had for their dorm. Don’t be this person. If theres a secure parking garage, still think twice before leaving valuables behind. It’s a pain to shuffle back and forth between the car and the hotel room, but it keeps the worst from happening. If you live close enough to your college where you don’t have to stay somewhere overnight before, make sure if you pack up your car beforehand to keep it in your garage or somewhere that won’t attract the eye of individuals looking to take your stuff.


Arrange how you want your bed, dresser, and desk (and any other furniture your school provides) first before bringing everything into your room. Don’t make it more difficult on your self by having to shuffle furniture around all over your belongings. Leave them in the cart or right outside the hallway, take the 10 to 15 minutes necessary to move things around, and then fill in with everything you brought.


Don’t just throw everything into your car, the moving cart, or your room without some kind of organized system. Have bins and boxes that allow for things to be neat and concise when you move them. It saves the stress, makes things less chaotic, and allows for things to be organized before they are put away. This box is only shoes? Great, in the closet. This one’s clothes? Same place. Sheets, pillows, and comforter? Put on top of the bed. School supplies? Place on desk. This also helps with directing parents who might not know where you want things.


These are staple college dorm needs that you don’t want to forget.

  • Black-Out Curtains
  • Towel Hooks
  • Hangers (get more than you need)
  • Toothbrush Holder / Shower Caddy
  • Shower Shoes
  • Tool Kit
  • Laundry Basket
  • Steamer
  • Vacuum/Swiffer
  • Cleaning supplies
  • (If necessary): Shower curtain w/ waterproof side


  • Shower rod instead of curtain rod
    • Easier for temporary living; less instillation required and holds up just as well.
  • Shoe rack
    • Organizes the bottom of your closet so it’s not a mess (keeps clean from bugs and dust)
  • Extra empty storage
    • Great for when you acquire new things and need places to store them
  • Air fresheners allowed by your dorm
    • Some schools don’t allow candles or wall plug-ins, but there’s a great variety of other air fresheners that you can leave out to keep your room smelling nice
  • Air Mattress
    • Especially for any dorm with a twin bed, this can be a life savior for unexpected visitors or friends who don’t want to go back to their rooms at the end of the night.
  • Tacks instead of nails
    • For hanging certain decor, it may be more useful and accessible to use wall tacks instead of nails, especially with dorm room requirements regarding hanging items in the room.


  • Over-the-door mirror from Target (and other places)
    • It’s $10 to $20 depending on where you look, and it is so deceiving. It bends and morphs your body and has had really negative effects on a lot of girls who’ve had it in the past (see me and Hannah in our Sophomore year room).
  • Iron and Ironing Board
    • I never had one and with the limited amount of room available, it’s just not worth it when a steamer can get the job done.
  • Any chairs or room furniture
    • This isn’t a warning against buying, but figure out your layout first before ending up with a bunch of stuff that won’t fit.
  • Backrest Pillow
    • I’m typing this when looking at the shell pink backrest pillow I got from Bed, Bath & Beyond my freshman year in the Pack and Hold and it’s been 6 years and has been in every room I’ve had since then and I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Just some food for thought.

This list does not encompass everything, but I do wish I would have known to get before it was too late, especially as someone who didn’t have a car for the first 3 years of college (and my fourth-year move in). Have fun with moving into your dorm, make it feel like home, and make sure you have the space to study and enjoy your college experience!


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