Printable Checklist for College Students

Catrina Cowart
Copywriter, Comma Copywriters
Read More
September 07, 2023
5 min read

At a glance

Now that you’ve made all the tough decisions—deciding to go to college, choosing one, and figuring out where to live—it’s time for the big move.

There’s a lot that goes into moving into a dorm or college apartment whether it’s closer to home or across the country. Moving costs can add up quickly, and if you’re just starting out your student journey, you’re most likely on a tight budget.

At, we know a thing or two about getting from A to B. Follow along with this college moving checklist, and together we’ll help you find the most efficient, effective, and affordable ways to move to college.

Moving steps for college students

Two months before move

  • Find a good packing list. Moving out of home means losing access to all the little things that make life easier, so don’t forget to stock up on the essentials, such as a shower curtain, bath towels, a mattress pad, and other bed and bath supplies. You can find tons of printable college packing lists online or download an app to help you keep organized.
  • Start packing your first (small) box. This box will not be packed or shipped with the others, but it will stay with you throughout the move. It will contain your important documents: a birth certificate, social security card, school transcripts, etc. Begin gathering these documents early so you can identify any missing items.
  • Back up your files. Before you pack your computer and its peripherals, back up important files and photos on a disk or flash drive that you can carry with you (maybe the box of essentials) during the move.
  • Decide what to sell or donate. You’re young, but you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Don’t be afraid to get rid of the items that aren’t college apartment or dorm room essentials! Sell items online or through a garage sale or donate them.

One month before your move

  • Research moving options. Renting a moving truck and having friends and family help you pack and load the truck is a flexible, affordable option for many students. Depending on which college town you are moving to though, a moving container may offer a less hands-off moving experience for you and end being as affordable as a rental truck. Schedule pickup for as early as possible on the morning of move-in day.
  • Buy packing supplies. Boxes, tape, packing paper, etc. Cover your bases with our ultimate list of moving supplies and save money by checking out our guide on where to buy moving boxes.
  • Care for your car. Take your car to a mechanic and consider what services you need for a long-distance drive or a move to a new climate.
  • Research TV, internet, and utility providers. If these services are not included in your rent, decide which providers you’ll use at your destination—and schedule service connection. You may need to coordinate this with your roommates. Check out our guide on how to set up utilities.
  • Obtain copies of your medical records. Also, make sure you will have enough of any required medication in case you don’t locate a new pharmacist or doctor immediately. Keep your prescriptions and medical records on hand—like in that essentials box we mentioned.
  • Make travel arrangements. Book your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel arrangements if necessary. If you’re driving long-distance, plan your route and stops.

Two weeks before your move

  • Change your address. Head to the United States Postal Service website and have your mail forwarded from the old place to new. Cancel scheduled deliveries or update your address there, too.
  • Open a bank account. If you already have one, update your address with the bank. Be sure your chosen bank has a branch nearby.
  • Confirm dates with relevant parties:
  • Get in touch with your new roommates. If you know who’s moving into the new place with you, reach out to them. It will make move-in day a bit smoother, and since space will be at a premium, you can collaborate on what to pack so that you don’t bring the same mini-fridge, trash can, or gaming console.

One week before your move

  • Begin packing! Schedule enough time to complete the packing at least two days before your college move-in date. Find a packing list online to make sure you’ve got the essentials (Think: Command strips, paper towels, cleaning products, clothes hangers, and more.)
  • Clean your room. Leave home on a high note by grabbing those cleaning supplies and cleaning your bedroom and bathroom like you’ve never done before!
  • Pack a day bag. Unpacking your personal items may take some time, and having the essentials for a day or two will help keep the move stress-free.

Moving day

  • Pick up the truck. If you rented a moving truck for the occasion, pick it up as early as possible to allow plenty of loading time.
  • Load up and go! If you’ve followed the college apartment checklist to this point, you should have a very simple (but busy) moving day. If you need some guidance on how to load your truck, take a look at our tips on how to pack a truck like the pros.

After you've arrived

  • Return the truck. If you rented a moving truck, make sure you don’t get charged for an extra day! Get the truck back on time.
  • Check your utilities. Make sure your electricity, water, internet, and streaming services are all on and running the way you need them to.
  • Take plenty of pictures. If there is damage anywhere, these pictures will come in handy when you have to prove the damage you didn’t create.
  • Hit up the welcome festivities on campus. If it’s your first year as a college student, participate in as many of the welcome activities as possible. This is your chance to get to know some new people!

The takeaway

Moving to college is a big life milestone. While it can certainly be overwhelming to head out into the world on your own, it’s also a huge opportunity for growth. Use this college moving checklist to streamline the process and help you enjoy the experience!

Would you like to learn more about moving to a college apartment? Check out for 10 ways to simplify your apartment move.


What should I bring when moving to college?

When moving to college, it’s important to coordinate with roommates to make sure you have all of the apartment essentials covered (and you don’t bring repeat items). You’ll want basic kitchen essentials like pots and pans, bathroom toiletries, trash cans, shower curtain, towels, etc.

What should you not bring to college?

You shouldn’t bring anything your roommate might already have to college, such as a microwave or trash can. If you’re short on space, avoid bringing belongings that won’t get much use (like books or a gaming console), and keep your wardrobe to a minimum.

How soon before college should you start packing?

It’s best to start packing for college about a week before your departure or move-in date. This will give you enough time to pack without being rushed and allow you to access all of your belongings up until a couple of days before you leave.

How many boxes do you need for college move-in?

The number of boxes you need to move to college depends on how much stuff you bring. Ideally, be prepared by having one or two small boxes, a few medium boxes, and three to five extra large boxes. You might also want to bring a couple of wardrobe boxes for easy clothing transportation.

Recommend resources

Looking for more resources to help simplify your move into your college apartment? Check out these guides from

Catrina Cowart
Written by
Catrina Cowart
Catrina Cowart has been writing full-time since 2009. Since starting as a writer and editor, she has worked with small business owners, retailers and others to produce marketable, SEO-ready content to boost their businesses. In her spare time, Catrina enjoys writing and illustrating children's books, traveling, and playing with her two small dogs.