What to bring to college

Soon you'll be packing your bags for your first year of college. Many freshmen arrive with massive boxes and suitcases only to discover they brought too much or forgot something important. Don't be that person.

Unless students are participating in summer bridge programs, those on the Premium Plan can move in Aug. 18 at the earliest and students on the Standard Plan may move in Aug. 19, according to the Ball State Housing and Residence Life website. Drop-off days will be available Aug. 10-13 by appointment if students want to move in their belongings into their rooms ahead of time.

It can be a little scary at first, but here's a guide on the do's and don'ts of what to pack:

Do pack:

  • Clothes for the summer and fall. It will likely be warm the first few weeks and you won't have room for a year's worth of clothes.
  • Clothes hangers
  • Pairs of shoes, but not too many. We know you only wear the same two or three pairs. Plus, you will need shoes to keep you comfortable when walking to class.
  • Bed essentials - comforter/ bedspread, pillow(s), bed linens and a blanket
  • Eating essentials - coffee mug, drinking cups, dishes and silverware for snacks. Plastic silverware can replace regular silverware to avoid cleanup, but remember to recycle.
  • Bathroom essentials - robe, shower shoes, towels, washcloths, soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors and a small shower caddy for carrying it all to the shower.
  • Laundry essentials - laundry basket/bag, laundry detergent, dryer sheets and spare change.
  • School essentials - binders, folders, paper, writing utensils, backpack, calculator, agenda planner and computer or laptop, though there are computers in the library that all students can access and those who live in residence halls have access to a computer lab in their building.


  • Fan
  • Flashlight
  • Umbrella
  • Batteries
  • Cell phone charger(s)
  • Extra power strip
  • Desk or bed lamp
  • Sewing kit, but learn how to sew before you bring it.
  • Poster putty or command strips to hang up posters and pictures. Tacks and nails are not allowed in the dorms. (Some even have cement walls, so they won't get you far.)
  • Headphones/earbuds so your music doesn't bother your roommate.
  • Portable speaker(s) so you and your roommate can jam out.
  • TV/DVD player/streaming device. There's usually a common area TV in residence halls if you don't bring one, but having one in your room is always a bonus.
  • Minifridge/microwave. Check with your roommate about possibly sharing. Two microwaves and minifridges aren't necessary and will take up vital room. Dorm kitchenettes typically have fridges and microwaves for common use.
  • Snacks. But don't overdo it - that's the whole point of having a meal plan. But then again, no one ever complained about there being too much food, right?
  • Crates or stacking containers - they will make storing things in your room much easier.
  • Paper towels and glass cleaner. Cleaning wipes are also a plus to have in the dorms.
  • Band-Aids and a first-aid kit.
  • Cold medicine/aspirin. You will get sick and still have classwork to do, so be prepared for it.
  • Face masks. To start the fall 2021 semester, everyone will be required to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status. Plus, they're useful to have if you visit any businesses that require them.
  • Hand sanitizers for personal use. Hand sanitizing stations will also be available in residence halls and campus buildings.

Don't pack:

  • Air conditioners. Most dorms will charge you and require a doctor's note to use them.
  • Extension cords. Depending on how many electronics you have, you may not need them.
  • Candles
  • Pets
  • Printer. You already pay for on-campus printing. Use it.
  • Halogen light bulbs and/or lamps
  • Excessive dorm decor
  • An ironing board
  • Bulky luggage
  • Hotplates, skillets, toasters, toaster ovens
  • A desk chair. Dorms come with chairs.
  • Any personal collections. If it takes up room, you should just leave it at home.
  • Stereotypical college food. Leave the easy mac and cheese, Ramen and potato chips behind. Those foods may fill you up, but they are likely to leave you feeling slow and tired.
  • Anything fancy or too nice. When you can find cheaper alternatives, it's best to keep expensive items in a safe place.
  • More than two sets of bowls, plates and silverware. If you have more, you will just dirty them and ignore the cleanup.
  • Winter clothes. If you are going home in the fall at any point, they're not needed and will take up too much space in your room.
  • Anything your roommate already has. Check with them before moving in, as it will save a lot of hassle when moving and organizing.


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