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The Ultimate Back-to-School Checklist

It's that time squad! Put away your bikinis and whip out your Herschel backpacks - back to school we go. I know going back-to-school shopping and/or starting college can be stressful but having a packing guide helps make the process a bit less grueling and well, more satisfying as you check each item off the list.

I'm here to lend expertise from experience so your fall 2019 semester is the best one yet. Whether you'll be living in a dorm, apartment, or sorority house, this list will provide you with all of your college life essentials, plus a few extra useful hacks that can improve your life or just help you to build out your stylish, college-chic aesthetic.

My college story started at University of Colorado Boulder in 2017 and I'm now entering my Junior year (I swear I was just moving in my freshman dorm yesterday), moving out of my sorority house and into my first apartment! While it's all fun & exciting to finally have my own place, I can relate to the struggle of those move-in day jitters: meeting your roommate for the first time is stressful to the max.

On that note, let's start with the freshman dorm must haves (PRO TIP: print this article and cross off as you start packing):

(*asterisk is code for an extra important item)

Having a cozy bed is arguably the most important part of a dorm room because that's where you'll be enjoying most of your time after a long day of classes. It's always the little things that add to a cozy vibe and make a small space feel like home (or, as much as it can without the home-cooked meals & your sister's clothes).


● Bedding (Target & U.O. are my holy grails for bedding)
● Foam mattress topper
● Mattress pad*
● Twin XL sheet set
● Pillows
● Pillowcases
● Throw blanket
● Throw pillows
● Under bed storage
● Over-the-door mirror (I love putting fun stickers on mine)
● Moveable storage* (this is so important as space is very minimal in dorm rooms)
● Wall decor/art
● A bedrest support pillow
● Removable wall hooks
● Double sided tape
● Sleeping mask (apply Night Owl™ Reviving Eye Complex before putting your sleeping mask on)
● Disinfecting wipes*
● Mini Vacuum or Swiffer
● Broom
 Dirty Laundry Basket

● Push pins
● Mini toolkit
● Clothes hangers


● Stapler and staples
● Printer paper
● Planner*
● Calendar or whiteboard
● Pens and pencils
● Pencil holder and sharpener
● Notebooks
● Folder with pockets
● 3 × 5 index cards*
● Sticky notes
● Paper clips and binder clips
● Rubber bands
● Tape
● Scissors
● Highlighter pens (multiple colors)
● Ruler


● Bathrobe
● Shower caddy*
● Shower shoes*
● Towels
● Antacid
● Aspirin/pain relievers
● Vitamins
● Band-Aids
● Cough drops
● Shampoo and conditioner
● Hairstyling products (I love Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray)
● Body wash
● Toothpaste and toothbrush
● Dental floss
● Comb/brush
● Tweezers
● Nail clippers
● Hair dryer/straightener/curling iron
● Razor & shaving cream
● Skincare**
● Cotton swabs

For me, living in a dorm environment definitely caused my skin to become more sensitive and prone to breakouts. I'm sure the all-nighters, late-night pizza, and copious amounts of coffee didn't help either. After determining my skin type, I was able to develop a perfect routine for my oily and acne-prone skin.

I suggest a 3-step routine being mindful of a college student's schedule: I am most-likely not going to keep up with a 13-step skincare routine while simultaneously trying to get that degree and maintain a mildly acceptable social life among a million other things.

Step 1: Morning and Night: Pre-Req™ Invigorating Foaming Cleanser

Step 2: Morning and Night: Rush™ Clear Complexion Wipes with 2% Salicylic Acid

Step 3: Morning and Night: Double Major™ Moisture Relief Gel

Let's move out of those college dorms now (I can't say I will miss the dining hall food) and move on to an apartment/house checklist just as you move up in this world. It's always difficult to decide what to keep and what to toss from your dorm room (most of it is probably ready to hit the trash if we're being honest). I recommend checking out Marie Kondo's KonMari method if you're leaning towards a hoarder vibe - this helps tidy your space and can transform your life.

An apartment checklist can help streamline the process on move-in day and sort out what you really need. Follow the checklist below, print it maybe and keep in mind there's usually always a Target right around the corner if you happen to forget anything (no melt downs necessary).

Let's start where you'll be spending most of your time, besides the library of course!



● Mattress (say goodbye to that twin size bed: top 5 best feelings EVER)
● Mattress pad/mattress topper
● Sheets
● Pillows and pillowcases
● Comforter
● Blankets
● Rug
● Lamp
● Desk
● Dresser
● Wall Art


Once you've got the basics now you really release your inner Pinterest board self

● Fan* (if your apartment doesn't have A/C or it doesn't reach your room, a standing bedroom fan is so crucial)
● Additional storage boxes/containers*
● Trash bin
● Hangers
● Shoe rack (buy a hangable one if you need extra space)
● Mirror
● Alarm clock (if you don't trust your phone - we all have those nights where our phone alarm *suspiciously* doesn't go off)
● Dry erase board
● Additional lighting


● Shower organizers (Suction cup baskets)
● Bath Towels
● Shower curtain
● Hand towels
● Towel hooks/towel bars (if your apartment doesn't have them already)
● Air fresheners*
● Toilet brush
● Toilet paper
● Plunger
● Bathmat
● Rug
● Hand soap
● Toothbrush holder
● Toiletries
● SKINCARE** (you have more room now!)
● Bathroom cleaning supplies
● Hair towel
● Washcloths
● Small trash bin
● Hairdryer

My bathroom skincare must-haves:

1. Cheat Sheet™ Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes

I use Higher Education's Cheat Sheet wipes every night to take off my makeup after a long day on campus. They work for all skin types and leave the skin feeling refreshed and hydrated before bed.

2. Study Buddy™ Clarifying and Brightening Mask

Another one of my must haves is Study Buddy™ Clarifying and Brightening Mask. This is the perfect mask for acne-prone skin and helps melt away impurities and clear up my skin when my skin needs it most. It's also perfect for Bachelor Monday's with the girls (all my roommates use it now). It was awarded Teen Vouge's Award for 'Best Acne Mask,' so it's pretty legit.


● Plates, bowls, and mugs
● Set of forks, knives, and spoons
● Mixing spoons, whisk(s), and spatulas
● Mixing bowls and measuring tools
● Colander
● Vegetable peeler
● Can opener
● Bottle opener*
● Skillet or frying pan
● Covered saucepan
● Large stock pot
● Sheet pan
● Dish towels*
● Oven Mitts
● Napkins/paper towels
● Toaster
● Coffee Maker** (stay caffeinated ladies)
● Baking staples (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, etc.)
● Spices (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)
● Cooking oils (vegetable, olive, coconut, avocado, etc.)
● Vinegar (red wine, white wine, balsamic, etc.)
● Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.)
● Tupperware
● Kitchen timer
● Aluminum foil
● Plastic wrap
● Paper towels/Holder

If you feel your inner Chrissy Teigen bubbling to the surface, you may want to stock up on some cleaning supplies along with a copy of Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen.


● Dish sponges and dishwashing brushes
● Dish and dishwasher soap
● Trash bags/large trash can
● Mop
● Broom
● Dustpan
● Swiffer/Swiffer pads*



Now, the fun part! You can add your own flair and make your place feel like home.

● Couch
● Coffee table
● Rug
● Accent throw pillows and blankets
● TV & TV stand
● Floor lamp
● Wall art
● House plants (if you can't keep them alive opt for fake)
● Candles
● Outdoor furniture
● Chairs/additional seating
● Laundry basket
● Laundry detergent or detergent pods
● Fabric softener sheets
● Iron
● Ironing board
● Stain remover*
● Downy Wrinkle Spray


● TV
● Wi-Fi router
● Printer
● Power strips/surge protectors*
● Extension cords*
● Speaker*

So, there you have it, my collegiate friends. Hopefully this checklist helps you have a smooth move in day with no catfights with mom and dad (or whoever is helping you move your crap). This is also a great time to whip out those hidden Pinterest boards you've been stowing away for this exact moment. It's time for your innermost Joanna Gaines/ HGTV self to shine through. Lastly, remember that these are once in a lifetime experiences and just sit back and enjoy the ride: dining hall and all!


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