35 College Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed (2024)

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must have college essentials

Of course, there are the typical must-have college dorm room essentials, like a comforter, a bathrobe, and a reading light…but what about the less common college necessities and things that you’ll need for college?

This guide is all about Unexpected Things to Bring to College this Year.

You’ll be thankful you didn’t forget these college must-haves!

Trust me…you’ll be SO glad you remembered to bring these with you! 😊

Unexpected Things to Bring to College + College Necessities You Don't Want to Forget!

Of course, you’ll want to check out this master list of things to pack for college and these cute dorm room rugs, but this list below includes all the things I wish I brought to college. These dorm room essentials are frequently forgotten, but super helpful unexpected things to bring to college!

Have an AWESOME school year! HELLO, college!

1. Air Purifier

Holmes Desktop HEPA-Type , 3 Speeds plus Optional Ionizer small Air Purifier, HAP242B-U, Black
Air Purifier

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You never know how often college dorm rooms change their A/C filters. Get an air purifier to clean the air. It will also help with allergies!

2. Handheld Vacuum

best vacuum for college

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Tiny places get dirty quickly. A vacuum will become handier than you’d expect!

3. White Board

whiteboard for college dorm room
Whiteboard Set

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Have a whiteboard outside your college dorm room door.

Your roommate can write you fun notes and you can leave fun comments for your friends, like, “TGIF! Happy Friday!”

4. Party Supplies and Costumes

college theme party supplies
Photo by Sophia Lee

Can someone say frat and sorority-themed parties? You’ll want to have fun glitter and costumes on hand to avoid a last-minute scramble.

5. Pepper Spray

pepper spray for college packing list
Pepper Spray

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Every woman should have pepper spray. Keep it with you just in case.

6. Hot Water Heater

hot water heater for college and electric kettle
Hot Water Heater for College Dorms

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If you have room, go ahead and get a microwave and a coffee maker.

If not, a hot water heater with instant coffee will do the trick when you need a caffeine boost or a late-night tea to help you sleep.

7. Command Hooks

command hooks for twinkle lights
Command Hooks

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Whether you are hanging fairy lights to decorate your college dorm room or need an extra place to hang your coat and sweatshirt, command hooks are your solution.

8. Reading Light for Night

small neck reading light
Reading Light

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You’ll want a desk lamp of course, but a small reading light at night will be appreciated by your roommate.

9. Fan

Lasko portable electric fan for college
Lasko Fan

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If you get hot at night, get a small fan to keep you cool. A cooling mattress pad will help too.

10. Rainboots, Umbrella, and Rain Jacket

cute rainboots and raincoat for college
Rainboots + Raincoat

Be prepared for any rainy day and look cute too!

11. First Aid Kit and DIY Medicine

first aid kid for college
First Aid Kid

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You never know when you may get sick or need an Advil. You will be a life-saver too if a friend needs a last-minute band aide.

Pack medicine too.

12. Noise Canceling AirPods

noise cancelling headphones
Apple AirPods Pro

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AirPods are GREAT for listening to music while studying, heading out for a quick run, OR blocking out noise at night!

13. Mini Steamer

mini steamer for college and travel
Hilife Steamer for Clothes

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An ironing board is hard to fit in a small dorm room, but a mini steamer will do the trick!

14. Cute PJs & Slippers

cute pajamas for college with polka dots
Satin Pajama Set by Serendelicacy

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You never know who you may run into in the hallway at night! I LOVE these pajamas and this pair of cute slippers.

soft cushy slippers for women by Parlovable
Soft Slippers

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15. Power Strip

power strip with USB charger for college
Surge Protector Power Strip with USB

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You may have limited outlets in your dorm room.

16. Photo Display Grid

photo display grid for college dorm room decor
Photo Display Grid

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Hang up photos of family and college friends with a fun and easy-to-hang photo display.

17. Jewelry Hanger

Wall-Mounted Rustic Wood & Gold Tone Metal Jewelry Organizers / 24 Hook Necklace & Bracelet Racks/Hanging Earring Bar for college packing list
Jewelry Hanger

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A jewelry hanger is beautiful AND makes it easy to choose what to wear each morning.

18. Desk Bookshelf

college dorm room decor with bookshelf above desk
Useful Bookshelf!

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Get a bookshelf for above your desk and show then add photos and decorative items.

19. Alarm Clock with Reading Light

cute alarm clock with sunrise to wake up naturally
Hatch Restore Alarm Clock

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This cute alarm clock is attractive and also doubles as a smart reading light.

20. Vanity Mirror

vanity mirror for college dorm room decor
Vanity Mirror

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A mirror will make it easy to apply makeup in your dorm room vs. going to the bathroom.

21. Shower Caddy

shower caddy for college
Cute and Practical!

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You’ll likely need a shower caddy to carry your shampoo, razor, and soap into the shower daily!

22. Stain Remover Stick

Stain Remover Stick for College
So Handy and Useful!

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A stain remover is always handy to have around! 

23. Velvet Hangers to Save Room in Your Closet

Velvet Hangers for College Dorm Room
Essential for Small Closets!

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You can get plastic hangers at Target, but velvet hangers take up much less room!

24. Rubber Sandals for the Shower

College Shower Sandals
A Must-Have!

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You never know what feet problems people may have. Wear flip-flops or rubber sandals in the showers for college.

25. Full-Length Mirror with Storage

Mirror with Storage for College
So Useful!

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Target has many affordable $10 mirrors that go over college dorm room doors, but a mirror doubling as storage is an added bonus!

26. Bathrobe

You probably thought to pack bath towels and washcloths for college, but a bathrobe is really nice! Plus, it’s perfect for colder days in the winter!

27. Water Bottle

You’ll want to stay hydrated (it helps you think better!). Get a reusable water bottle with a lid that is leak-proof guaranteed.

28. Bed Risers

Bed risers are your secret weapon for your college dorm room. Bed risers give you extra space to stash extra things under bed (think storage space!), like shoes, your winter clothes, and snacks.

29. Eye Mask

Eye masks will totally transform your life! When your roommate is up late or the sun's rising crazy early, an eye mask will allow you to get your beauty sleep, especially on the weekends when you can sleep in!

30. Laptop Case

You'll likely be lugging your laptop to and from class and the library! Don't forget to buy a cute laptop case to protect your laptop. 

31. Slippers

In addition to shower slippers, don't forget to pack your comfy slippers with you to college too! Slippers will come in handy for wearing in your dorm room and for walking to/from the bathroom at night. These slippers on Amazon are so, so cute and affordable too!

32. Condoms

It's cool to be safe. Make sure to pack condoms for college, or order them online from Amazon. You always want to be prepared.

33. Airborne

It's no fun being sick!! Rather than waiting until you are sick to get medicine, try to prevent yourself from getting sick with Airborne. This is not just an unexpected thing to pack for college, it is a college necessity to pack!

34. Can Opener

A can opener…for college? You bet! You never know when hunger may strike, and you can easily keep cans of soup or tuna in your dorm room. This college must-have doesn’t take up too much room and will come in handy.

35. Formal Dresses 

Colleges are full of cocktail parties, sorority parties, and fraternity formals and semi-formals. I wish I had spent time going out and buying at least 3 formal dresses before heading off to college. If you aren’t sure where to shop for a formal dress, I’d highly recommend Lulus. They have so many formal dresses that are just perfect for college students!

Plus, you’ll need a formal dress for sorority rush too!

What Do People Often Forget to Bring to College?

In addition to a power cord, velvet hangers, shower shoes, costume accessories, and a reading light, other items that people often forget to bring to college include a bathrobe, a trash can, food storage containers, and earplugs.

What Is Something Every College Student Needs?

There are dozens of college packing lists out there, but a few must-have essentials that every college student needs include laundry supplies (a hamper and laundry detergent), hangers, a backpack or a bag for carrying books, a laptop, twin XL sheets for bedding, towel and washcloths, shower shoes, a shower caddy, and a mattress pad (to make the bed more comfortable).

What Are Fun Things to Bring to College?

If you want to pack some fun things to bring to college, consider packing a whiteboard (so your neighbors can write notes on your dorm room door, or so that you can write your roommate fun notes), costume accessories, fairy lights (for decorating your dorm room), board games or card games (like Cards Against Humanity), soft and fluffy throw pillows, and a big, fluffy bathrobe.


In conclusion, there are so many college necessities that you won't want to forget to bring with you to college! Some of the top unexpected things to bring to college include a handheld vacuum, an air cleaner, pepper spray, and costume party accessories.

More College Guides for Students

Ultimate College Packing List

Fun Dorm Room Ideas

How to Get Into a Sorority

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15 Unexpected Things to Pack for College by Very Easy Makeup
15 Unexpected Things to Pack for College
unexpected things to bring to college
Unexpected Things to Pack for College

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