Heading to College? Here’s What to Pack

This article was originally published in August 2021. It has been updated in June 2024 to remove references to COVID-19.

Going away to college is a huge life change, and it’s natural to wonder what to bring with you. It might be your first time having a roommate, so you’ll want to connect with yours before arriving on campus to talk about anything that can be shared, such as a TV or a gaming system, so you don’t have to clutter your space with doubles.

To know what to expect, check out this dorm room tour by Alyssa Stalaboin '23, a Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management major, for a taste of a JWU residence experience:

Then, check out our list of things JWU students and staff have suggested, categorized to help you plan ahead for your big move to Providence or Charlotte.

Personal Items

You won’t want to leave home without bringing your driver’s license, and once it’s issued you can carry your JWU student ID to scan into buildings. But it’s also good to have a social security card (stashed in a safe place), ATM or credit cards, and bank information so you can keep an eye on your spending and access your cash.


Sure, there’s the stuff you already know you can’t live without, like your cell phone (and its charger) or your computer/laptop to write papers. Maybe even your gaming console. But two other items suggested by the JWU community can come in handy as well: headphones so you can block out noise or keep others from being bothered by your own beats, and a surge protector to plug all your stuff into.

Karina Rodriguez adds two items she found useful while studying Culinary Arts at JWU: "Batteries and a small tool set."

You'll be able to rent a MicroFridge (combination microwave and mini fridge/freezer) from JWU for your residence hall, so there's no need to bring a personal refrigerator or microwave. If you can't live without your coffee maker, pack that mini-Keruig and its K-cups; just make sure your coffee maker has an auto shut-off feature. JWU wants all of our students safe, so appliances such as hot plates, Crock Pots, toasters and toaster ovens, Instant Pots, air fryers, deep fryers, George Foreman grills, electric skillets and waffle makers are not for residence hall use.


photo of an extra-long twin bed in McNulty Hall

As exciting as it is to be away from home with so many events and activities, everyone has to sleep sometime! Just remember that your JWU residence might not have the same bed size as the one you’re used to at home. Pillows and pillowcases are usually pretty standard, but you’ll want to bring the right sheets and comforter for your JWU bed size. Most residence beds will require extra-long twin sheets, so grab some cute ones now, as stores planning back-to-college sales tend to discount prices in August! The one exception to the XL twin-sized sheet measurement is in Providence Harborside Village, which has full-sized beds.


You’re still going to need the stuff you use every day, so plan ahead to pack when you can and replenish through the year! That means bringing bath towels/washcloths, deodorant, hair products, razor/shaving cream, soap/bath gel, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, lotion and nail care items. It's handy to pick up a shower caddy so you can keep everything together in one place. And don’t forget to grab a pair of flip-flops to wear in the residence hall showers!

If you’re moving into a residence with a private bathroom, don’t forget three other important things: a bath mat, a shower curtain, and toilet paper!


You’ll want to be at your best while studying and meeting new people, so you’ll want to make sure you have the essentials, from any prescriptions or vitamins you need to take to Q-tips, lotion and cleansers.

It also helps to be prepared for any emergency, so bring some cold/allergy and pain medicine as well as some Band-Aids and a thermometer.

And be sure to stay hydrated, especially if you plan on joining an athletics team! Take advantage of water bottle refilling stations around campus by bringing a reusable water bottle with you, too.


A JWU student holds an armful of clothes as she sorts her closet in her residence

Sure, you know to bring everyday clothing. But there’s also clothing you won’t wear every day but might need. This includes rain gear such as a jacket and umbrella. Be prepared for winter with the right gear, from hats and gloves to boots — these are a must in Providence, but even Charlotte can get a few inches of snow a year!

With opportunities to intern at local companies and attend college fairs, you’ll absolutely want to make sure you bring professional attire with you. You’ll also want to bring some hangers for your closet to make sure they stay as wrinkle-free as possible during the move. You can bring an ironing board and iron, but make sure your iron has an automatic shut-off feature.

Culinary students, don’t forget your chef whites! Read up on what items should go with them, too.

Cleaning Supplies

Part of moving out of the family house to attend college is experiencing living on your own. Even if you don’t mind a messy space, your roommate might, so be prepared to do at least a little cleaning in your room so you can locate the things you need!

If you have a private bathroom, you’ll want to bring some bathroom cleaning supplies, all-purpose cleaner, paper towels and a broom/dustpan. Your room will need a trash can (lining them with trash bags will keep them nice and clean inside). You’ll also need to keep those clothes we mentioned clean and wearable, so you’ll want to bring a laundry basket/linen bag, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets for the washers and dryers in each residence hall.

Study Needs & Décor

image of a decorated Providence residence room

First you’ll want to make sure you have adequate study supplies, from notebooks to pens/pencils to highlighters. You’ll also want a stapler, tape and scissors to keep handy. Don’t forget a desk lamp so you can see what you’re working on, and a clock if you need something besides your phone alarm to wake you up for morning classes. It’s also helpful to bring a lock to keep your computer secure.

Once your study space is set up, though, have some fun with the rest of your space! Bring pictures and posters to spice up your walls, and bring 3M Command strips to hang them without damage. Make your desk chair comfier by bringing a seat cushion. A 5x7’ rug could add some color and personality to your room, too — or hang some twinkle lights for year-round cheer!

The only items students are asked NOT to bring to decorate their space are candles and wax warmers, incense, halogen-style lamps, oil lamps, lava lamps and secondhand furniture. (Who wants to worry about a bed bug infestation when you're making friends and learning new skills?)

Finally, if you’ve arranged to bring a pet into a pet-friendly residence hall, don’t forget everything your animal companion will need for a happy living experience, from food to dishes to toys to pet beds to grooming supplies.

Happy decorating, Wildcats!


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A Letter to Future First Year Students

How to Live with a New College Roommate 

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