Back To College Shopping List for Each Year of School

Back To College Shopping List for Each Year of School

As summer begins to wind down into the very last of its hot, hazy days, a new season approaches — back-to-school, of course! Going back to college is so different from going back to middle or high school, with one of the biggest differences being the content of your college shopping list. Not only do you have to buy your regular school supplies, but you have to look for dorm and home essentials, which can be overwhelming. Campus Colors has you covered with the ultimate college shopping list for each year of school!

Shopping List Based on Year of School

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or rising senior, see what essentials you need based on what year of college you’re entering!

  1. Freshmen
  2. Sophomores 
  3. Juniors
  4. Seniors 


Welcome to campus! Here is a college dorm shopping list full of essentials you’ll need every day for your first year of college and beyond! 

You’ll need some comfy, cozy bedding. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep — that will start with quality bedding! Bring more than one pillow, at least 2 sets of warm, cozy sheets and a comforter that’s both comfortable and reflects your personal sense of style. You’ll also definitely need bath towels, a shower caddy, washcloths, loofahs and other shower essentials. Whether you have your own bathroom or have to go communal, you’ll need a quality shower caddy to keep your shampoo, body wash and other shower necessities in. Bring more than one towel (you’ll need one when your other is in the laundry) and be sure to stock up on washcloths, scrubbing brushes and loofahs! A durable backpack is an absolute must. Your backpack is going to be your lifeline in college — don’t skimp on this! Look for backpacks with several pockets that are big enough to fit your laptop, textbooks, water bottles and other school necessities. A water purifier or a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter is also good to have. You might not always have access to perfectly clean, purified water in the dorms, and keeping filtered water handy will be an absolute gamechanger. Another gamechanger is having a mini umbrella on-hand in your backpack. It will be your saving grace for those random showers or thunderstorms on your way home from class! If you’re going to school somewhere with unpredictable weather or lots of rain, rain boots will also be a must. 


Welcome back, sophomores! Whether you’re staying on campus or moving into your first apartment, you’ll need some essentials on your back to college shopping list. 

You’ll need push pins, command strips/hooks and other fixtures to hang your posters, calendars, pictures and other wall decor or art. Look for ones that won’t rip off the paint or leave big holes in the wall come move out time! You don’t need to bring every single pair of shoes you own to college, but for the ones you’ll actually bring, you’ll need a shoe rack or organizer to keep them organized in your closet or bedroom with room for your other things. Speaking of your bedroom, nothing is worse than having to sleep in a hot, muggy room. Dorms or apartments won’t always have air conditioning or ceiling fans, so be sure to bring your own fans to stay cool! For mealtime, don’t rely solely on paper plates and plastic silverware — find some cups, plates, and silverware to eat your meals on! They’re better for the environment and you’ll never have to worry about running out. Doing laundry is an annoying but mandatory part of college life, and you’ll need to put a laundry bag or basket on any shopping list for college students. You’ll need something sturdy and reliable to move your clothes to and from the laundry rooms! Keeping a hamper in your room is also an easy way to keep your clothes out of the way and ready for laundry day!


Alright, juniors, even if you think you’ve got everything you’ll need for back-to-school, give this list a check to make sure! 

Dorms and apartments have sporadic, randomly placed outlets with minimal accommodation to fix this issue. Bring your extension cords so that you always have an open outlet. Also bringing extra HDMI and USB cords will be game changers for charging your phone and laptop or connecting your devices to a television. First aid kits are going to be lifesavers on sick days or when you get a papercut. Fill your off to college shopping list with bandaids, tylenol or advil, pepto bismol, allergy and cold medicine, cough drops, a thermometer, sanitary products, tweezers and everything in between. Clothes hangers and drawer dividers are another essential. Maintaining your clothes is important, whether you’re going to a job interview, career fair or meeting. Keeping your college apparel neat in your dresser and closet is key to staying sharp and keeping things organized.

A desk lamp is going to be critical when you’re studying late at night and your roommate wants to go to bed or you just need a quick and easy source of light. A lap desk is another important study aid. Studying or working in bed can be uncomfortable and difficult. Lap desks eliminate this problem and will become your go-to for late-night edits on your papers or studying for exams. 


Seniors — one last year! While you may have quite a collection from over the years, take this time to start looking for quality essentials this back-to-school season to last long after graduation! 

Air fryers do everything! An air fryer is an easy way to make quick and delicious meals, and you can make just about anything in them! Perfect for dorm or apartment cooking. The line at Starbucks might be too long before those 8AM classes every day to wait for an early morning pick-me-up. Even if you think you won’t need one, invest in a Keurig or coffee maker just to be safe. It’s also safe to not underestimate how important a microwave will be in your everyday life. This is a big one you won’t want to skip! Some dorms or apartments will come with these, so it’s worth confirming before you purchase one! A toaster or toaster oven might not be at the top of your list of must-buys, but you never know when you might need one. Depending on what you’re looking to cook, you might need one or the other.  You’ll definitely need a mini fridge, the single most important appliance in your space — don’t forget about it! Just like microwaves, some dorms or apartments will already have refrigerators available, so double check before you splurge. 

No matter what year you are, give this whole list a glance to see if you missed anything for your college shopping list before move in day! The one thing absolutely everyone will need — regardless of their semester standing — is trendy college apparel! This will be a staple in your wardrobe whether you’re off to class, a tailgate or anywhere in-between!

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