From the best laptop for college to the cutest dorm bedding, here's everything you'll need for college.
When you're going through your college packing list, checking and double-checking (and triple-checking) each item off the list, the sheer amount of stuff you'll need for the next four years can be overwhelming. We get it. So to make packing for college as easy as possible, we've rounded up everything you'll need, along with our picks for the best option to buy for each. From a cozy cotton comforter to tissue packs for cold season, we've covered all of the bases. And once you check every item off the list, you can rest assured your college essentials are covered. College packing done in record time? Great, get out there and enjoy those last days of summer.
A Reliable (and Flexible) Laptop
A dependable laptop lands on the top of most college packing lists, and for 2018, we'd recommend one that's as versatile as it is reliable. The Lenovo Yoga 730 is a laptop with a cover that can flip around 360 degrees, turning it into a tablet with touch-screen capabilities. When you're sitting down to write a term paper, place it in the traditional laptop setup, and when you're sketching a design for class, rotate it into a tablet. Whether you're researching for a big project or taking a study break to watch a movie, this 2-in-1 convertible laptop can do it all.
To buy: $700 for 13", lenovo.com.
A Lightweight, Take-It-Everywhere Tablet
If you're taking classes that require a lot of reading or plan to take a computer with you to class, opt for a lightweight tablet you can easily throw into your bag and take on the go. Your back will thank you for not lugging heavy books around campus, and you'll be able to look things up during class and type up notes without carrying around your laptop. The LG G Pad weighs less than a pound, making it the perfect device to bring to the library or your friend's dorm room. Tip: When choosing a plan for your new device, opt for an unlimited plan—like one of Sprint's options with unlimited data, talk, and text—so you'll never have to conserve data while you're trying to cram for finals. Plus, the plans come with Hulu, so you can catch up on season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale in between classes.
To buy: LG G Pad F2 8.0, $150, sprint.com.
Unlimited Plan: For a family of two with the Basic Unlimited Plan, adding a tablet as a third line with unlimited data is $20 per month with autopay.
A Convenient Wireless Printer
Sure, you can always print your papers at the library, but when it's 30 minutes before your paper is due and every printer in the computer lab is blinking with a "low toner" error message, you'll be so glad you brought your own. This all-in-one printer can print, copy, and scan, all from the comfort of your dorm room. The built-in WiFi means you won't have to deal with cords and can print wirelessly from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone with the press of a button. Just 16-by-7 inches, this compact printer won't take up much space on your desk, and it's less than six inches high, so you can tuck it in between shelves. Careful, when your classmates hear that you have your own printer, everyone's going to want to print their papers in your room.
To buy: DeskJet 3755 All-in-One Printer, $70, hp.com.
A Unique Backpack No One Else Will Have
When you're hunting for one-of-a-kind essentials, whether a backpack or a throw pillow for your dorm room bed, Society6 is the answer. Choose a design by one of the hundreds of thousands of artists on the site, then have the design turned into a backpack that's sure to collect compliments. For those who don't want to look like everyone else in the class, this is the perfect site to order some creative statement pieces.
To buy: $70 (shown in Mountains by Margo Ku), society6.com.
Protective (and Patterned) Laptop Sleeve
Once you've invested in a laptop, keep it safe with a cushioned sleeve. And while you can always order the same black laptop sleeve as everyone else in your class, why not stand out with an adorable patterned one instead. Plus, this banana leaf design will remind you of summer vacation—even if you're stuck in accounting class.
To buy: $40, society6.com.
The Coziest Comforter
For a dorm bed, skip the cumbersome duvet cover you'll put off washing and opt for an easy comforter instead. This down alternative option is the perfect combination of a good price, twin XL sizing, and solid neutral colors that work in any space. And when it gets dirty, you can pop it into the washer and dryer for a refresh.
To buy: $40, target.com.
Cotton Bed Sheets
Priced under $20, this 100-percent cotton sheet set is a steal. Order two sets of white sheets in size twin XL so you can switch in the spare set while the other is in the wash. Want to build a bed with a little more flair? Choose vibrant peach or royal blue sheets for a surprising pop of color.
To buy: $20, target.com.
If you're moving into a dorm, you'll likely have to bring your own pillows. Think about how many pillows you normally use, and whether you prefer a fluffier or flatter pillow. Then, double-check that you have enough covers for every pillow you pack.
To buy: $4, target.com.
A Luxurious Bath Towel (or Two)
When you're buying bath towels for college, your instinct may be to grab the cheapest ones you can find—but this is one college essential that's worth spending a little more on. College showers typically aren't "spa-like," but when you invest in a high-quality towel, it can make your daily routine a little more luxurious. Our editors swear by Parachute's incredibly soft bath towels, and their lightweight cotton waffle towels are lightweight and roll up easily—perfect for a dorm room where space is tight. Also, rethink the white towel that will get dingy-looking fast, and opt for a light gray or charcoal instead. Tip: If you want to do wash less often, pack at least two bath towels that you can rotate out.
To buy: $39, parachute.com.
A Cohesive Desk Set
Since you'll presumably be spending a lot of time at your desk, spruce it up by investing in a color-coordinated desk set. Poppin makes it incredibly easy to match any color palette and decor style, with hues ranging from minimalist white to DayGlo lime green. Really want to keep your desk tidy? Add on an organizer (from $8, containerstore.com) to wrangle the erasers and keep papers in their place. Working at your desk will feel much more enjoyable when you're surrounded by supplies in your favorite color.
For late-night study sessions (especially when your roommate is already asleep), you'll need a desk lamp. Choose one in a fun color so it will look cute day and night.
To buy: $39, pbteen.com.
Notebooks, Pens, Pencils, and Highlighters
Even though you're in college now, stocking up on fresh notebooks and pencils is still the best way to start a new school year. And while you may prefer to type your notes, some college professors don't allow laptops in their classes, so a pen and paper are still must-haves for your college packing list. Have some fun with it by picking notebooks in fun colors, old-school gel pens, ombre pencils, and highlighters shaped like ice pops. Plus, for every Yoobi item you purchase, the company will donate an item to a U.S. classroom in need. Don't miss their mini supply kits and adorable selection of erasers, too.
No desk is complete without a pack of Post-It Notes—and the new super sticky ones have twice the staying power so they won't fall off your computer screen. Order a variety pack in peppy colors, then use the larger ones for jotting down notes and the smaller ones for marking pages in your books. Go ahead and leave notes for your roommate, as well as passive aggressive messages to whoever keeps stealing your lunch from the communal dorm fridge.
To buy: post-it.com.
The Best Scissors
If these familiar orange-handled scissors are making you feel nostalgic, there's a good reason for it—these scissors have been around for more than 50 years. A home must-have that's stood the test of time, these are the scissors you'll reach for everything from cutting open a snack pack to wrapping a birthday present. They've earned themselves a permanent spot on our desks.
To buy: $17, fiskars.com.
A shower caddy is on almost every college packing list, and unless you're lucky enough to have your own private bathroom, you'll definitely want one to transport your soap and shampoo to the dorm shower. This convenient Casabella option comes with a detachable middle compartment—stash your toothbrush and toothpaste there so you don't have to carry your entire caddy to the bathroom every time you brush your teeth.
To buy: $8, bedbathandbeyond.com.
For stashing dirty laundry in your closet and transporting it to the laundry room, you're going to need a laundry bag. This mesh option is inexpensive, yet reviewers assure us it's extremely durable.
To buy: $6, containerstore.com.
Space-Saving Clothing Hangers
To save space in a tiny dorm room closet, buy thin clothing hangers that won't add bulk. These huggable hangers not only slide close together, but they have a hook design that allows several hangers to suspend from one spot.
To buy: $36 for 40, containerstore.com.
Display-Worthy Storage Bins
Storage bins are a college essential you'll need for stashing everything from snacks to socks. At just $5 a piece, it's worth ordering several. Plus, there are a dozen color options, so you can choose the hue that matches your decor style.
To buy: $5, target.com.
Command Hooks and Scotch Wall-Safe Tape
In a cramped dorm room, it's always a smart idea to take advantage of wall space. Buy some Command hooks that can hold everything from jewelry and hats, to backpacks and purses. Attach them to a spare wall or even the inside of your closet door, and when it's time to move out, they can be removed easily without leaving marks. Our favorite option: the pretty gold and copper hooks, shown at right.
For hanging up lightweight posters, calendars, and photos, grab some Scotch Wall Safe Tape, which won't rip paint off your dorm room walls.
Plenty of Tissues
No matter how much you try to avoid it, sniffles and colds will happen in a college dorm. To prepare yourself for this unavoidable occurrence, stock up on tissues, both tissue boxes you can keep in your dorm room, and some travel packs that you can toss into your bag.
To buy: $1 for 3, target.com.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
At some point, you're going to have to do at least some low-key cleaning in your dorm room. Rather than stock up on paper towels, order a couple microfiber cloths, like this colorful Casabella one. And there is more to these cloths than meets the eye—they're so tightly woven, they're actually capable of wiping away bacteria, cleaning on the microscopic level.
To buy: $5 for 2, target.com.
Some Basic Cleaning Supplies
While you don't need a huge collection of cleaning gear (nor will you have room to store it all), there are some essentials every dorm room should have: dish detergent, a multi-surface cleaning spray (we love this one), and laundry detergent form the trifecta of college cleaning must-haves.
When you're away at college, it can be difficult to find a store to buy these basics, and then there's the problem of lugging it home to your dorm. If you can pick up packages easily, a better option is to set up a customized subscription to Grove Collaborative, which lets you log your cleaning go-tos and will deliver them at a schedule you set. You'll never have to worry about running out of laundry detergent again.
Even if you plan to live in t-shirts and jeans for the next four years, a lint roller will still come in handy when you want to defuzz the pants you accidentally washed alongside your towels. Besides de-linting your clothing, try a cleaning tip our home editors swear by and glide the sticky roller over the surface of your desk or counter to pick up crumbs (psst...it also works if you've been eating on your bed and got crumbs on your comforter).
To buy: scotch-brite.com for retailers.
Whether you prefer tampons, pads, or a menstrual cup, remember to pack plenty of supplies so you're not caught off guard when your period rolls around. If you're feeling a little fed up with how "extra" feminine products have gotten, order a few boxes of Playtex Simply Gentle Glide. They have a clear plastic applicator, and none of the "extras." You have tests and papers and extracurriculars to worry about—why not make dealing with your period as easy as possible?
To buy: $8, amazon.com.
A Small-Yet-Mighty Desk Fan
The summer heat will most likely continue into the first few weeks of school, so order a tiny fan that's perfectly sized to perch on your desk as you work. It can stand upright on your desk or a shelf, and it also has a handle so you can hang it from a wall hook or on a bedpost.
To buy: $12, honeywellpluggedin.com.
A Durable Bowl and Plate
You probably don't need a complete dishware set in your dorm room, but you should buy at least a bowl, plate, and spork (yes, college is the time to finally put a spork to use). This versatile bowl comes with a lid, so if you have leftovers, you can toss them into the bowl and slide them into your mini fridge.