32+ Unexpected Things to Bring to College for Ultimate Preparedness

Unexpected Things to Bring to College
Unexpected Things to Bring to College

When preparing for college, packing the essentials such as bedding, clothing, and school supplies is undoubtedly crucial. However, there are often unexpected things to bring to college that can greatly enhance your college experience.

The road to college is exciting, but many students find themselves leaving a lot of stuff behind in their dorm rooms and apartments.

There are some essentials in your dorm room that you can immediately name. But there are some unexpected things to bring to college that most people forget because of the anxiety that arises from moving to a new environment, starting classes, or meeting new people.

In this article, we will explore a variety of surprising and often overlooked things to bring to college that can make your dorm life more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable.

What are the Unexpected Things to Bring to College?

When preparing for a big move to college, remembering everything can be very stressful. Of course, you don’t forget to pack clothes, decorations, and other essentials. But there are some unexpected things you might not think of.

Here are some of the Unexpected Things to Bring to College which will make your life easier and avoid buying them when you get to school.

Power strip with surge protector

In a world where we heavily rely on electronic devices, having a power strip with a surge protector is a wise investment. Not only does it provide you with additional outlets for charging your devices, but it also safeguards your expensive electronics from power surges.

This small and often underestimated item can save you from potential damage and ensure your devices stay powered up throughout your college years.

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First aid kit

Health emergencies can happen anywhere, including college campuses. It’s essential to be prepared by bringing a comprehensive first aid kit. It should include items like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and basic medical supplies.

Having a well-stocked first aid kit allows you to handle minor injuries and illnesses promptly and be prepared for unexpected situations.

Portable laundry hamper

Managing laundry in a dorm setting can be challenging. A portable laundry hamper is an unexpected but invaluable item to bring to college. It allows you to conveniently transport your dirty clothes to the laundry room without leaving a trail behind.

Moreover, keeping your laundry organized in a hamper helps maintain a tidy and clutter-free dorm room.

Over-the-door shoe organizer

Space is often limited in dorm rooms, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice organization. An over-the-door shoe organizer is a clever solution to maximize vertical space. Not only does it keep your shoes neatly arranged, but it can also store small items like toiletries, stationery, or accessories.

This efficient storage hack saves you precious desk or closet space while ensuring easy access to your essentials.

Bedside caddy

Late-night study sessions and the need for immediate access to your essentials can be a challenge. A bedside caddy is a practical item to have, as it keeps your belongings within arm’s reach.

Whether it’s a book, water bottle, phone, or glasses, you can store them in the caddy and reduce desk or nightstand clutter. With a bedside caddy, you can stay organized and focused during those crucial study hours.

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Under-bed storage containers

When it comes to storage, utilizing the often-underutilized space under your bed is a smart move. Invest in a set of under-bed storage containers to store items like seasonal clothing, extra bedding, or other belongings that you don’t frequently need.

These containers help declutter your living space while providing an easily accessible storage solution.

Portable shower caddy

Navigating communal bathrooms in dorms can be a logistical challenge. A portable shower caddy becomes your best companion in these situations. It allows you to carry your toiletries conveniently to and from the shower area, preventing them from getting wet or misplaced.

With a portable shower caddy, you can maintain personal hygiene without worrying about the logistics of carrying your items.

Air freshener

Living in close quarters with roommates means dealing with various smells. An air freshener might not be the first thing that comes to mind when packing for college, but it can significantly contribute to creating a pleasant living environment.

Whether it’s a fragrant spray or plug-in fresheners, they help neutralize odors and keep shared spaces smelling fresh.

Sewing kit

Unexpected clothing mishaps can happen at any time, and having a basic sewing kit can save the day. A small sewing kit equipped with needles, threads of various colors, buttons, and safety pins allows you to handle minor repairs or alterations yourself.

From fixing a loose button to hemming a skirt, having a sewing kit ensures self-sufficiency in minor sewing emergencies.

Bluetooth speakers

College life is not just about studying; it’s also about socializing and having fun. Bluetooth speakers are an excellent addition to your college packing list as they enhance social gatherings and study sessions. You can enjoy your favorite music or podcasts with friends, creating a vibrant and engaging atmosphere.

External hard drive

In the digital age, data storage is crucial, especially when it comes to academic files, projects, and personal documents. An external hard drive provides additional storage capacity and acts as a backup solution for your important files.

With an external hard drive, you can have peace of mind knowing that your data is secure, even if your laptop experiences any issues.

Laptop lock

College campuses are bustling places, and the security of your valuable electronic equipment is paramount. A laptop lock is an effective deterrent against theft and unauthorized access.

By securing your laptop to a fixed object in shared spaces such as libraries or study rooms, you significantly reduce the risk of losing your essential device.

Memory foam mattress topper

Dorm mattresses are notorious for their lack of comfort. However, you can enhance your sleeping experience by investing in a memory foam mattress topper. It provides an extra layer of cushioning, conforming to your body’s contours and relieving pressure points.

With a memory foam mattress topper, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed for your academic pursuits.

Desk lamp with adjustable brightness

Effective studying requires adequate lighting, and a desk lamp with adjustable brightness can cater to your specific needs. Whether you prefer a soft warm glow for a cozy ambiance or bright light for intense study sessions, this versatile lamp ensures optimal illumination.

By reducing eye strain and fatigue, a desk lamp becomes a valuable asset during late-night study marathons.

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Noise-canceling headphones

College life can be noisy, with roommates, neighbors, and other distractions. Noise-canceling headphones become your sanctuary in such situations. By blocking out external noise, they help you focus on your studies or enjoy personal entertainment without disturbance.

Whether you’re studying in a bustling library or relaxing in your dorm room, noise-canceling headphones create a peaceful and immersive environment.

Mini fridge

Having a mini fridge in your dorm room opens up a world of culinary possibilities. It allows you to store perishable food and beverages conveniently, reducing your reliance on communal kitchen facilities.

Whether it’s keeping fresh fruits and vegetables, leftovers, or your favorite snacks, a mini fridge should be included in the list of unexpected things to bring to college as it provides you with the flexibility to cater to your dietary needs and preferences.

Microwave-safe food containers

Microwaves are a common fixture in college dorms, making microwave-safe food containers an essential item. These containers allow you to reheat leftovers or prepare quick and easy meals without the need for disposable containers.

By minimizing waste and ensuring safe food handling, microwave-safe food containers offer convenience and sustainability.

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Electric kettle

For hot beverages, instant meals, or late-night study sessions, an electric kettle becomes your best friend. With its rapid boiling capabilities, you can quickly and easily prepare hot water for tea, coffee, or instant noodles.

An electric kettle saves you time and money while providing a convenient and efficient way to satisfy your cravings or stay hydrated.

Whiteboard or dry-erase calendar

Staying organized and managing your schedule effectively is crucial in college. A whiteboard or dry-erase calendar allows you to plan and visualize your commitments, deadlines, and social activities.

It serves as a central hub for your daily tasks, helping you stay on top of your academic and extracurricular responsibilities.

Sticky notes and page markers

In the fast-paced world of college, quick reminders and study notes are essential. Sticky notes and page markers become your allies in this regard.

Whether you need to mark important pages in textbooks, jot down key concepts, or leave reminders on your desk, these small but mighty tools keep you organized and ensure important information is readily accessible.

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Wall-mounted file organizer

With the abundance of papers, handouts, and documents, it’s easy for your dorm room to become cluttered. A wall-mounted file organizer is a practical solution for keeping your papers organized and easily accessible. Providing designated slots for different subjects or categories maximizes desk space and ensures a tidy and efficient study environment.

Tool kit

While unexpected maintenance issues may arise in your dorm room, having a basic tool kit can save the day. With a set of essential tools such as a screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench, you can handle minor repairs or adjustments independently.

Being prepared with a tool kit allows you to tackle unforeseen issues promptly and maintain a comfortable living space.


Rain showers can be unpredictable, and getting wet on your way to class is far from ideal. Carrying an umbrella is a simple yet effective way to protect yourself from unexpected downpours.

By keeping an umbrella handy, you can navigate campus comfortably and arrive at your destination dry and ready to tackle the day’s challenges.

Board games or playing cards

While technology offers countless entertainment options, board games or playing cards are part of the unexpected things to bring to college. They get a nostalgic and social element to your college experience. These analog forms of entertainment provide an opportunity to bond with roommates and friends, offering a break from screens and creating lasting memories during downtime.

Space-saving hanger

Your dorm room might have some kind of closet, but it’s probably minor. When you share your actual bedroom with someone, you also share storage space. Another reason to buy space-saving hangers, also known as “magic” hangers.

These are basically horizontal bars with 5 holes and hooks on each end. You can put regular hangers through the holes and use the hooks to hang items on rods in your closet. As a result, on one hanger he hangs 5 ​​garments, leaving more hanging space for other garments on the actual rod.

A small toolkit

A small toolkit is especially important if you’re moving into an apartment and might need a bit of his DIY work. But it’s also helpful if you live in a dormitory. The student kit contains some basic tools, but it’s not overly complicated.

Look for sets that include items such as hammers, sturdy scissors, tape measures, screwdrivers, and pliers. Even better if you can find a kit that consists of a set of hex wrenches and interchangeable screwdriver tips.

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Cloth steamer

In the list of unexpected things to bring to college is a cloth steamer. This is only necessary if you are worried about wrinkles in your clothes. If you don’t mind, you can safely skip this point. But if you do buy one, look for the mini version so it doesn’t take up too much space. Expect to be able to buy steamers from big brands like Black + Decker for just $17 at Target.

One alternative you can have on hand is an anti-wrinkle spray. It may be easier to apply, but it may not remove wrinkles as well as a steamer.

Also, it costs money to keep this spray on hand and use it regularly. If you don’t mind taking the steamer route, this is definitely the more economical route in the long run.  


If you have to walk down a hallway to shower, buy a cheap bathrobe to make it easier. This allows you to undress, shower, then slip back into your bathrobe, walk back through the hallway to your room, put on your comfy clothes, and enjoy your privacy.

It’s nice to have a bathrobe handy, even if you’re sharing it with just one person. You can leave it on in the shower and put it back on when you’re done, without worrying about drying it in a hurry or getting your clothes wet for the day.

Flip-flops or other shower shoes

Again, for communal showers, the need for specific objects arises. In this case, it’s shower shoes (flip-flops if you don’t mind). It helps you avoid getting infected when using the same shower as dozens of other people.

If you share a room with a roommate, it’s easier because you only have to take care of one other person. However, if your roommate isn’t very good at cleaning shared showers, it’s worth having these safety shoes just in case.

Stain remover stick or wipe

Even if you do your laundry at home over the weekend, it’s likely that you’ll end up needing to use your dorm’s washer and dryer. You also don’t want to scrub the hard-to-remove stains because you accidentally walked into the dining room dressed in white for pasta night.

You can avoid these problems by carrying a stain remover pen or wipes with you everywhere you go. That way, if there is a problem, it can be dealt with immediately.

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Reusable water bottle

Buying food and drink on campus isn’t likely to make you into the bargain hunter Hall of Fame, but it’s easy to retreat when you’re stuck between classes and see no other options. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle instead.

There’s also the option to refill your water from the fountain, so you can save money on more important things like drinking coffee at the library during a late-night study session.

Peppermint or Chewing Gum

Speaking of coffee, if you drink this alone, you will probably smell coffee. When you have bad breath, you don’t want anyone to smell it. So keep your favorite bad-breath candy or gum handy.

Even better, chewing mint gum can reduce daytime sleepiness, according to a study from Coventry University. Even if you don’t drink coffee like Lorelei Gilmore, mints and gum can help, especially if you’re bored in class and need focus.

Laundry basket

You need a laundry basket because you have to throw away your dirty clothes somewhere. Laundry bags are a popular option for college students who bring their stuff into the laundry room, but without a frame to hold them upright, you can’t get the most out of a large laundry basket.

Look for a laundry basket like this or a collapsible laundry basket that you can put away when your laundry is clean, for example, right after you get home for the weekend.  

ID Lanyards

It can be tedious to constantly pull out your school ID card and scan it to open the door or show it to an administrator. Wearing your ID with a lanyard around your neck makes the process much easier.

You can also purchase lanyards at campus bookstores, but it is recommended that you do so before starting college. Perhaps buying it at a bookstore can be more expensive than buying another strap at a store like Target or ordering it online. 

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FAQs on Unexpected Things to Bring to College

How many clothes to bring to college?

2-3 weeks’ worth of clothes

How many bras do I bring to college?

at least 3 everyday bras, in addition to some sports bras, depending on how active you are

How do you pack clothes for university?

use Space Bags to pack your clothes, towels, and bedding

Should I bring a mirror to college?

A mirror is not only a useful tool, but can double as a decorative piece


Packing for college goes beyond the essentials. By considering unexpected items that can enhance your college experience, you can optimize your living space, stay organized, and make your time in college more comfortable and enjoyable.

From practical and functional items to tech gadgets, personal care products, and comfort essentials, the inclusion of these unexpected items will undoubtedly contribute to a successful and fulfilling college journey. So, think beyond the obvious and pack wisely for an extraordinary college experience.



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