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University Bound Checklist: From Packing Your Things to Mental Preparation

University Bound Checklist: From Packing Your Things to Mental Preparation

September 7, 2021

The ending of high school and the future prospects of university or college are common chapters in most people’s lives. However, many people do not realize how much preparation goes into readying yourself for college until the time comes.

Over 2.3 million students enroll in university or college every year. They all should know it is not just about packing everything you will need and somehow making it all fit into the car; it is also about preparing yourself mentally, logistically, and financially.

While not all students leave home for college, 58 percent of U.S. students go to a college within 100 miles of their hometown. Leaving for college is a daunting task and using a checklist to ensure you do not forget anything is always a good idea.

Financial Checklist

Throughout high school, many teenagers have jobs to afford the extra things they want and to hopefully build up their savings account. However, moving away to college is a whole other animal comparatively.

Some college students are entrusted to make major financial decisions without the help of an adult for the first time in their lives.

The responsibility can be intimidating and can go awry if the student is not prepared for the change. Budgeting living expenses is a skill that many of us learn while in school.

Below are some critical tips for setting yourself up for financial success at school while you are still in the comfort of home:

  • Plan where your college tuition money will be originating from – grants, student loans, scholarships, work-study, savings, working income, or parental help
  • Price out your budget so that your necessary school expenses are always covered – textbooks, car and phone payments, or insurance
  • Craft a grocery and food budget ahead of time.
  • Use banking services to easily monitor your accounts.
  • If you have money left over from your budgeting, put it into savings rather than spending it.
  • Practice sticking to your budget before you leave home.

Logistical Checklist

Many things need to be planned and executed before the first day of college, some even before you even start packing. Choosing a school is often a difficult choice for many students in their senior year of high school, but logistical planning can commence once that choice is made.

In order to ensure a smooth transition from home to college, mark these things off of your pre-college to-do list.

  • Tour the dorms before moving day.
  • Get in touch with your dorm mate and compare what each of you is bringing. Dorms are small, and space is limited. There is no need for two toasters.
  • Consider having things like bedding or refrigerators shipped to your dorm rather than having to pack and transport them.
  • Check out the surrounding areas of your school to get a feel of where stores, banks, and gas stations are.
  • Arrive early on dorm move-in day. The school campus will be overflowing with new students and their families.
  • Bring lunch so you can eat while you work.
  • Pack as light as you can while still being aware of what you will need. Try to keep personal items to a minimum. Instead, focus on things you know you will need to use every day.
  • Attend orientation and first-week events.

Emotional Checklist

Change is difficult for everyone, and college is a significant change. Moving away from home and into a tiny room with strangers can be challenging for anyone, especially when you consider the fact that 34% of college students have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

Allow yourself to feel your emotions and prepare yourself for the changes ahead of time.

  • Clearly identify your goals/reasons for why you are attending school.
  • Make a list of your own ethics and morals. This may help you make hard choices should they arise.
  • Seek out activities that you enjoy before school starts – Chess club, karaoke night, yoga classes
  • Follow social media accounts linked to your college. This will help you find people who enjoy the same things you do.
  • Build yourself up by listing your accomplishments.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family before you leave.
  • Decide how and when will be the best times to communicate with the people closest to you.
  • Consider taking a trip or vacation before school starts.
  • Make time for relaxation and self-reflection.
  • Go to school knowing that new experiences will impact your life, and remember that change is rarely easy.

Packing Checklist

Moving away to college is different than just moving into another house or apartment. Life in a dorm room is cramped, and space is minimal. College students need to be mindful of what they pack, and while forgetting some things is inevitable, checklists can make a big difference in your preparation.




Dorm Room List:

  • Lamp
  • Storage – under bed containers/closet hangers
  • Décor / photos
  • Calendar/dry erase boards
  • Clock
  • Rug
  • Seating
  • 3M hooks
  • Mirror
  • Fan and heater
  • Bedding – sheets, pillows, comforter, mattress topper
  • Toiletries – shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, hairbrush, loofah, towels, razors, etc.
  • Laundry basket – laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain remover, hangers
  • Clothing

School Supply List:

  • Laptop – keyboard, stylus, mouse
  • USB drives
  • Printer and paper
  • Folders, notebooks, pencils, sticky notes, highlighters, rulers, index cards, etc.
  • Laptop case, bag, and stand
  • Tablet – headphones, speakers
  • Cords – HDMI, ethernet, chargers, extension cord, power strip
  • Camera, phone, E-reader, charging power bank
  • Small appliances – T.V., hot plate, microwave, coffeemaker, mini-fridge, stereo

Additional Bathroom/Medication List:

  • Any prescription medication
  • Over the counter painkillers
  • Allergy meds
  • Antacid
  • Vitamins
  • First aid kit
  • Tweezers
  • Toilet paper
  • Cold meds
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant

Cleaning and Household Items List:

  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • Wet wipes
  • Clorox wipes
  • Lightbulbs
  • Tissues
  • Kitchen utensils – bowls, plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives, mugs, pans, spatula, tongs, etc.
  • Dish soap and scrub brush
  • Can opener
  • Oven mitt
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Hand vacuum
  • Batteries

Basic Dorm Food List:

  • Popcorn
  • Beverages
  • Peanut butter
  • Bread
  • Jerky
  • Oatmeal
  • Soups
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Granola
  • Fruit snacks

Personal Items List:

  • Journal
  • Books
  • Art supplies
  • Music
  • Yoga mat
  • Photographs
  • Special things from home

Documents List:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • Driver’s License or I.D.
  • School I.D.
  • Health insurance card
  • Copy of social security card / Copy of birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Car registration and car insurance
  • Medical alert paperwork
  • List of emergency contacts
  • Class schedule
  • School account information
  • Financial aid paperwork

Additional Safety List:

  • Bike and helmet
  • Flashlight
  • Pepper spray
  • Whistle
  • Locks
  • Small safe

Final Thoughts

Moving away to college is a big step that millions of students take each year. Carefully checking and re-checking lists can help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure your preparedness. Thoughtful planning leads to smooth transitions throughout daunting changes.

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