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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Dorm Essentials: A Mega-List of Everything You Need to Pack

Written by Mikael M. Melo

Image by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash and Tyler Doupe from Student Life Network

Moving away from home to live in a dorm (or in off-campus housing) is hard enough. When you add to that the pressure of stocking up on things you need for the semester, feelings of anxiety can give way to eventual procrastination.

If you fail to prepare, well…prepare to fail. But since that’s not an option for us, I came up with this definitive checklist to help you get through this exciting (albeit confusing) time in our transition back to school.

NOTE: This list is made with the idea in mind that most dorms come with a bed, closet, lamp, garbage, cafeteria, and cooking appliances. Be sure to look into what your school offers you and what they do/don’t allow you to bring before embarking on your shopping spree!  

ALSO: This list is generally unisex, but obviously you’ll have to choose certain items to meet your needs based off your preferences. Different school programs may also require you to bring different things, make sure to plan ahead.


Bedroom & Living

  • Pillows
  • Pillow Cases
  • Comforter
  • Duvet Cover
    • WHY: Duvet covers are WAY easier to wash than a comforter, especially in a student laundromat. So just in case you spill your coffee, or any random stains appear on your bed (no judgment), having a duvet cover makes it easier to clean.
  • Decor Pillows
  • Bed Sheets
  • Curtain for Window/Closet
    • WHY: Most dorm rooms don’t have closet doors. Buying a curtain to hang keeps your room looking clean and tidy, even when your closet isn’t.
  • Curtain Rod and Rings
  • Clothing
    • Summer, fall, winter, and spring attire. Formal, semi-formal, casual, and workout attire. Coats, rain jacket, sweaters. PJs, hats, mittens, socks, underwear, etc.
  • Shoes
    • Sneakers, dress shoes, slippers, etc.
  • Memory Foam Pad for Bed
  • Chair
    • WHY: You may get a chair in your room, but unless you want your guest sitting on your bed, it’s always better to have a spare chair lying around.
  • Clock
  • Sleeping Bag
    • WHY: Look, you’re going to have friends visit and sleepover. Your bed’s probably going to be too small to share, so it’s good to have a sleeping bag on hand just in case.
  • Photos
  • Dry Erase Board
  • Hooks for Clothes and Towels
  • Wrapping Paper (Bulletin Board)
    • WHY: Most rooms come with some kind of bulletin board, but chances are that you may have been left with some unwanted graffiti on it. Use some wrapping paper to cover it and give your room a nice POP!
  • Closet Organizers
  • Hangers
  • Room Decor



  • Shower Caddy
    • WHY: If you share your bathrooms with an entire floor, it’s easier to have a shower caddy on hand to help carry all your bathroom necessities.
  • Tissues
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Shower Shoes
    • WHY: You never know what was just on the floor. People’s feet are nasty, it’s just safer to have a pair of shower shoes on hand.


School Supplies

Personal Care

I’m not claiming you need to buy every single item off this (extremely detailed and well-organized) list of things to pack for your first year. Pick and choose what you feel is necessary and fits into your budget.

Remember, post-secondary is what you make it and ultimately, you don’t need a bunch of material objects to survive first year. Just bring that positive attitude—it’s all uphill from here!


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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.