My personal philosophy with packing is to bring the bare minimum that you absolutely know you will need and then buy more things as you figure out what exactly your room needs—you don’t know what will fit or if you’ll actually need extra storage space or anything until you actually get there. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that I consider to be essentials. If you want to bring more than that, and need suggestions, you can find other lists online, this is just what I personally would bring.
- Bedding: bedding is definitely an essential. Bedding sets generally come with sheets and pillow cases and then you buy the pillows and comforters separately. Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells it, and Barnard has shuttles that go there, but you can find it cheaper at places like TJ Maxx (there’s one in the Upper West Side) (Ross and Marshalls are in the same category as TJ Maxx and also have stuff—there aren’t any in NY that I know of, but there might be one near you), Target (there’s one in East Harlem and another one in Marble Hill) (Walmart and similar also have stuff, but there aren’t any nearby), Costco (I think there’s one in East Harlem), and online places such as Amazon. Don’t forget a pillow, you can get those at the same places. A lot of people also get a foam topper to put on top of their beds, which may or may not be essential for you, depending on what kind of mattress you sleep on now (it was essential for me). Also, your bedding preferences are totally up to you, there are no rules about it—if it wouldn’t drive you crazy to have oversized bedding, then go for it (the correct size is twin XL).
- Toiletries: I would pack these in your suitcase, and carry travel size of everything in your carryon so you will be able to shower as soon as you get on campus. I would also recommend bringing a semester’s supply of all of these things because it’s probably cheaper in your hometown than it is in NY.
- Shower things: Shampoo, conditioner, soap, towels, anything else you would normally need for a shower, are obvious, but also remember a shower caddy and shower flip flops—you do not want any part of your body to touch the floor of dorm showers. I also found that a turbie twist for drying hair and a bathrobe have made my life infinitely easier.
- Other toiletries: deodorant, toothpaste/brushes, hair product, lotion, hair removal thingz, whatever else you need for your maintenance routine. ALSO, I would highly recommend either investing in reusable menstrual hygiene products (such as the divacup) or I’d buy a semester’s worth of pads/tampons before coming—they’re ridiculously expensive at Morton Williams (the closest place to campus) and it’s just nice to not have to worry about that. Buy laundry detergent locally or have some shipped to you from Amazon because laundry detergent is heavy and will cost a lot to ship.
- Medications and first aid: make sure you have a full semester’s worth of your prescription meds or that you will be able to fill your prescription in NY. Also, stock on up ibuprofen, allergy meds, Neosporin, bandaids, and any cold/flu supplies you might need (cough drops, cough syrup, etc.). Those are good to have on hand because you never know. Also, if you have any old injuries that might be prone to strain again (like if you broke your wrist or strained your knee a while ago or something), it might be a good idea to keep braces for your old injuries in your room in case you re-injure yourself or strain it or something.
- Things to share with your roommate: talk to your roommate about a minifridge, a coffee maker or hot water boiler, and anything else you might want to share. I’d save talking about a rug or any additional furniture (if you want that) for when you have a better idea of the size of your room.
- Kitchen/cooking things: honestly, you probably won’t be cooking all that much—you have such a big meal plan and cooking in the quad is pretty logistically difficult. But I would bring some tupperware to bring to the dining halls so you can stock up on snacks for later. I would also bring some disposable or cheap cutlery and plates. Don’t bother with pots/pans/actual cooking supplies.
- Office supplies: a lot of packing lists list a ton of office supplies that you will probably never use, and that’s silly. However, which office supplies you will use are highly dependent upon your personal preferences. Think about what you used on a day-to-day basis in high school and bring those. Definitely bring pens, pencils, your preferred notebooks for each class, a stapler (actually pretty important, though), and other things you use to study on a regular basis. (Post-its, highlighters, planners, etc.) You do not need to bring a printer and probably will not have room for it anyway—there are printers in your basement.
- Various room things: hangers for your closet, a power strip because who knows where your outlets will be placed, blue painter’s tape so you can hang things up immediately, a fan if you are not in Sulz.
Other than essentials, I wouldn’t worry about buying things ahead of time and would instead buy them as you need them, especially things like extra storage containers, rugs, and lamps. You don’t know what will fit into your room or what you will even actually need.
Also, check out Barnard’s prohibited items list.
Other things I have written about dorms: