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What to bring to college

Posted 9 a.m. Friday, July 19, 2024

A student moves in at the UW-La Crosse campus in fall 2021.

Top ten items to pack, plus the full college packing list

At the start of August, your college packing list is probably beginning to take shape. We're here to help. UWL's Residence Life staff knows all about what to pack for college, and here they have provided the full list, plus ten items that are commonly overlooked. For more move in details, visit UWL Residence Life website. 

  1. Headphones or earbuds - Remember you have a roommate(s), so anything that involves watching lectures or videos online would best be done using headphones. You’ll want the ability to focus on what you’re working on and cancel out other noise. Along those lines, make sure your device has video and audio capabilities.  
  2. General first-aid kit - When you get sick, you don't want to have to run to a store for OTC medicine. It's helpful to have a few things handy for minor illnesses. Bring things like pain relivers, Band-Aids, tissues, and medicine you might take for a head cold or nausea.
  3. Late night snacks - If you typically need that late-night — 10 p.m. to midnight — boost of energy while studying, think through snacks and microwavable meals to bring with or pick up on campus before it gets late.  
  4. Health insurance information - and not just the card - Get to know your plan and coverage in case you need to use it. For instance, local healthcare centers in La Crosse include Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System. Does your insurance prefer one over the other? Is either health system in-network for your insurance? These are the main questions health center staff will ask to refer students appropriately within the community.  
  5. Identification/passport/social security card - If you plan to work on or off campus, you'll need the original documents to complete any Human Resources onboarding. It may feel safer to keep them at home, but it can be frustrating to not have them when you need them. Bring these items and then store them securely so you always know where they are.  
  6. Umbrella - And other weather related items to protect you from the elements. This may be the most forgotten item! It's easy to forget that you'll need to walk outside between classes and to get to your meals. Having items that help you navigate the rain will keep you more comfortable during the day.
  7. Powerstrip/electrical devices - Your residence hall room may have a lot of outlets (UWL residence hall rooms have from six to eight), but having a fused powerstrip is not a bad idea. It protects your electronic devices and can assist with creativity in your room set up. Be aware that plugging in too many items may lead to an overload of the electrcial system for the room (and your neighbors) so be strategic in what you bring.
  8. A good water bottle or two - It's important to keep hydrated and while drinking fountains are available, it is much more convenient to have your own water bottle. You can also use one of the many water bottle fillers across campus to refill your bottle.
  9. A box fan for the window and/or a clip on fan for your bed - With two or three people in each residence hall room, it is unlikely that you are all comfortable at the same room temperature. Fans that are strategically placed can help you meet your own personal comfort needs.  
  10. An adaptable attitude - You can plan a lot when you are considering what to pack and how to set up your room. But remember it is just fine if you move in and then decide you need a small drawer unit or a bigger rug. Do not feel like you've only got one shot to bring everything you need.

Tips on packing for college

Some of our wonderful student volunteers helping during move-in for Fall 2022.

When to start packing for college?   

Do it in shifts and watch for deals as you go. Most students start thinking about their packing list after receiving their roommate information. This gives roommates a chance to connect and avoid doubling up on items. Keep in mind, residence hall rooms are not large, so good planning will allow you more space while still having everything you need.  

How to start packing for college?  

Start with what makes a place feel like home to you. That might be a four-cup coffee pot, a picture of your closest friends or a favorite blanket. Then, fill those boxes with necessities.  

Packing for college do’s and don’ts  

Members of the "Move in Crew" help haul items during fall 2016.

Do bring these necessities:   

  • Small microwave (1000 watts or less) 
  • Snacks
  • One or two sets of plastic-ware (plates, forks, etc.)  
  • Water bottle
  • First aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment packets, tweezers and pain relieving medication. 
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Multiple power strips (surge protector)
  • Umbrella
  • Boxed fan
  • Sandals to wear in the shower and a shower tote to carry toiletries 
  • Pillow
  • Extra-long twin size bedding (you may want more than one set)
  • One or two set of towels
  • Hangers
  • Laundry supplies including basket and detergent
  • If lofting a bed - furniture for under a loft (79" or less in length)
  • Social Security Card and photo ID - If you are planning on getting a job on campus you will need the original to complete I-9 forms. And you’ll need the photo ID to vote.
  • Health insurance information
  • School supplies: (Besides a backpack, what other items do you need? Some ideas are: planner, stapler, pens and pencils, highlighters, notebooks, sticky notes, index cards tape, scissors and calculator.)
  • Clothing and shoes appropriate for the season you are in - rainy weather and dry. (If you will go home before winter, wait on bringing winter gear).
  • Health and grooming supplies  
  • Cleaning supplies (more than wipes)
  • Bathroom supplies if you'll be living in a suite-style residence hall. If your hall is suite style, then you'll have a private bathroom for your suite, and you'll need bathroom supplies like toilet paper and bathroom cleaning supplies. At UWL, Eagle Hall is a suite style residence hall. See features of your specific hall

You may also want:  

  • Reading lamp - Small lamp that clips to bed is helpful for getting into bed or reading in bed. (bring an extra bulb)  
  • Small area rug (any hall besides Eagle or Reuter)
  • Reusable to-go containers, zip lock bags, paper towels and dish soap
  • Basic kitchen equipment such as a saucepan and spoon if you envision cooking for yourself
  • Water filter pitcher – if your hall doesn’t have a water bottle filling station
  • Workout clothes and shoes
  • Gameday gear to cheer on athletic teams
  • Organization bins  

Don’t bring   

Most students tell us they brought too much! Check the Residence Life policies to know what is not allowed. Here is a general list of items not allowed at UWL.  

  • Items with the potential for an open flame (Candles with wicks, Incense to burn, fireworks/firecrackers)
  • "Food board" - Board that places weight on the built-in bookshelves
  • Items that produce wireless signals (routers, printers, etc.)
  • Adhesives for walls, furniture, doors, desk, etc. other than blue or green painter's tape
  • Items to be posted or hung on either side of residence hall windows
  • Homemade lofts - (provided)
  • Trash can - (provided)
  • Fridge - (provided)
  • Air fryers
  • Pets - (fish are welcome)
  • Air conditioners (provided for medical needs.)
  • Space Heaters
  • Lamps with plastic shades, halogen lamps, or multiple light lamps
  • Non-UL approved electronics
  • Non-LED lights
  • Non-fused or multi-plug outlets
  • Hoverboards or electronic skateboards
  • Weapons of any kind
  • Toaster (allowed only in Reuter Hall kitchens)
  • George Foreman-type grill (allowed only in Reuter Hall kitchens)  

  Questions about UWL specific items? Email housing@uwlax.edu.  

For a detailed listing of furnishings provided in UW-La Crosse residence hall rooms, visit your specific hall page.  

Forget something?

Students study in Murphy Library on the UWL campus in fall 2017.

Murphy Library is a great resource on the UWL campus if you need to borrow something. Students can check out items with their UWL student ID. Murphy has:

  • Charging stations
  • iPads and laptops 
  • Headphones
  • Leisure reading books (both e-books and physical books)
  • Staplers
  • Scissors
  • Umbrellas

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