The school year is quickly coming to a close and that means high school seniors will be going off to college. I have some advice on things to pack, having lived in a small concrete bunker called a dorm room. This will not be a complete list of everything needed, just a couple recommendations.


I can’t use a laptops touchpad for long periods of time. For me I need a mouse, but you might be fine dealing with it.


Before buying a printer, find out if you school has free printing, and how far away they are. If you do need a printer, I would recommend paying extra for a black and white laser printer. Laser printers are cheaper per page and don’t have ink heads that clog after disuse. Read the report from The Wirecutter for more arguments on this.

Streaming Device

If you are bringing a TV, you may want to purchase a streaming device. This device will allow you to play Netflix on your TV. But, if you are bringing a modern video game console, you can ignore this suggestion because they both do similar things. The most popular devices are Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Ruku.

Apple TV

This box will set you back $70. Buy it if you own an iPhone and use iTunes for everything.

Google Chromecast

If your life is integrated into Googles productivity suite, this device will fit you nicely. It allows you to stream music and videos, from Google Music and YouTube. This device requires your phone as a remote control. It retails for $35.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Buy this device if you or your family has an Amazon Prime subscription. Of all the options, I find this device to be the least capable.


If none of the other options seem right, buy a Ruku. They come in several different varieties and prices. Ruku is the most open option. It isn’t tied to a specific company.


Every good party has music. Try to find a good deal on a speaker system at Goodwill or a rummage sale.


Bring an incandescent lamp. Your room probably comes with a fluorescent ceiling light. This light will be extremely bright and harsh. When my roommate wants to sleep, and I need to study, a small lamp provides a nice compromise for both.

I have my lamp plugged into a Clapper. Yes, that infamous infomercial invention. If you loft your bed, you will likely want a way to turn off the light from in bed. This will allow you to leave the light on, while you climb in. You don’t want to trip.


Your dorm probably has cold and hard vinyl tiles like mine. Soften the floor with a throw rug or carpeting. If you linger around an expo show packing up, you could score a free piece. All of the carpet is thrown away.


Having a rug necessitates a vacuum to keep it clean. One of the college packing articles I read, recommended a Roomba. This is ridiculous. Who has six hundred dollars to spend on a robotic vacuum cleaner? Check if the housing office has a vacuum for checkout. Otherwise, an old dust buster will work perfectly fine. You can share it with everyone else on the floor, too.


Consider hanging a hammock underneath your loft. This will calm you down with a relaxing nap after a stressful day of college. Plus, your friends will love it and want to hang in it too.

Amazon Prime

Don’t over pack, because the room is smaller than it appears. With your .edu email address you can sign up for six free months of Amazon Prime*. If you forget anything, you can buy it on Amazon with free two day shipping. One of my coworkers shipped himself tissues when he was sick. Amazon is cheaper than the bookstore for most textbooks.

*I get a kickback for signups with this link. You can help a poor college student pay for his textbooks.

Label Your Boxes

After you receive your housing assignment, write your room number on all of the boxes and appliances. This will make it easy for lost items to get back to you. You could print out a label, or just use a Sharpie and some tape.

Take Pictures of any Room Damage

Before you start hauling everything into the room, take pictures of any damage done to the room. Is there tape residue on the walls? Broken furniture? At the end of the year, you will be responsible for any damage to the room. It will be much easier to prove your innocence if you have pictures of the condition before you moved in.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps. If you have any question, feel free to contact me.

I just want to end with a shout out to the incoming freshman at MSOE. I can’t wait to meet you. Come visit me in MLH 614.

Image Credit: Orientation 2014: Move In and Convocation – Nazareth College, Rochester NY by Nazareth College (CC BY 2.0)