If you’re going to university for the first time, you’re likely going to spend the few weeks before your departure anxiously trying to select what to take to university with you.
Subject to whether or not you’re a light packer, you can easily spend too much money when thinking about what to take to university, particularly if you want to ensure you’re ready for anything. But, keep in mind, university life isn’t very different to regular life back at home – except that at university you won’t have your parent around to iron your beloved t-shirt or buy you toothpaste.
Below is our detailed university checklist, listing all the things that any university student could conceivably need… plus a few extras. Necessities are listed first and non-compulsory things second. Examine the whole checklist and tick each item off while you pack.
University checklist: Important documents
- Passport (or other ID)
- Driver’s license (if you have one)
- All official university correspondence, including acceptance letter
- All student loan documents (to keep track of when your loan repayment is due, and so you can follow up if required)
- Details of accommodation and contract
- Bank account details and recent bank correspondence
- Bank card
- National insurance card/details
- Student discount cards (e.g. 16-25 Railcard, NUS card)
- Insurance documents (for foreign students, who may be required to purchase health insurance)
Note: Keep all these items either in your wallet (ID, bank card, etc.) or in a secure place in your room. If you keep all your credentials together, you’ll always know where to search.
University checklist: Electricals
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Mobile phone and charger
- Extension cable/s (more useful than you might envisage)
- USB memory stick (for backing up important assignments)
- Desktop printer (with ink and printer paper)
- iPod or MP3 player
- Games console (yes, we’re in the “optional” section now!)
- A small TV
Note: With electrical things, be careful to take with you only what you know you’ll use. For example, having your own printer can be useful, but most university libraries will offer student printing services. For items such as games consoles and televisions, ensure your reasoning for bringing them is well justified – you don’t really want to be spending too much time alone in your room, do you? Why not see if you can live through the first term without all those home comforts before deciding.
If your electrical items are worth more than you can afford to lose, you should think about purchasing insurance before setting out to university. Sometimes, student accommodation is covered by external contents insurance already, but do not assume this.
University checklist: Stationery
- Pens and pencils
- A4 lined notepad(s)
- A4 binder(s)
- Post-it notes
- Paper clips
- Sticky tape
- Course readers and other study books
Note: Resist the temptation to spend money like water on overly expensive stationery when you decide what to take to university. You’ll be burning through paper and pens like a mouse through cheese, so restrict yourself to a limited budget!
University checklist: Kitchenware
- Cutlery (teaspoons, tablespoons, knives, and forks – enough for yourself)
- Crockery (plates, bowls, and mugs – enough for yourself)
- Other utensils (e.g. chopping board and a sharp knife, wooden spoon, spatula, cheese grater, potato masher, colander, bottle opener, tin opener)
- Saucepan and frying pan
- Scissors (do not attempt to double up as toenail clippers)
- Baking tray
- Oven gloves
- Tupperware container(s)
- Washing up liquid and sponge
- Recipe book
- Snacks (setting out to university without snacks is like going to Barbados without a sunhat)
Note: Typically, if residing in halls or other shared private housing, you will already be provided with a kettle and a toaster, and also some cutlery and crockery. If you’re not sure about what you can take off your university checklist, get in touch with your university’s residential services for more information on what will be provided.
University checklist: Bedroom
- Mattress protector
- Duvet and pillows (opt for a higher tog duvet – e.g. 13.5/15 tog – you’ll thank me for the tip on those long winter nights)
- Duvet cover and pillow covers
- Laundry bin (doesn’t need to be cane, a big and strong plastic bag will do!)
- Clothes hangers
- Alarm clock (as a backup for the day when you inevitably drop your phone down the toilet)
- Desk lamp
Note: Most halls of residences will supply students with standard single-size beds in their first year, but confirm with your university’s residential services before purchasing any bedding. Also, the more blankets you have, the better.
University checklist: Clothing
- Casual clothes (t-shirts, jumpers, trousers)
- Underwear (pants, socks, bras)
- Dressing gown and slippers
- Winter coat and jacket
- Gloves, hat, and scarf
- Shoes (trainers, smart shoes, casual shoes)
- Smart office outfit (for possible part-time job interviews)
- Fancy dress
University checklist: Bathroom
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Washbag (particularly useful if you’re sharing a bathroom which is not so far away from your bedroom)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Shower gel
- Razor/ shaving foam
- Towel (x2)
- Hand towel
- Toilet roll
- Tampons/sanitary towels
University checklist: Healthcare
- Any personal medications and prescriptions
- Basic first aid kit (e.g. pain relief tablets, plasters, cold and flu medication, allergy tablets, antibacterial lotion or spray)
- Details of current GP and doctor’s surgery
- Glasses and prescription
- Birth control pills and/or condoms
Note: All incoming university students should enroll in a local doctor’s surgery at the beginning of their university life. This will save you from having to wait in line for hours at a drop-in center, completing forms on the day that you’re actually ill.
University checklist: Miscellaneous
- Sturdy bag (capable of carrying stacks of books)
- Photographs of friends and family
- Small sewing kit
- Matches or a lighter
- Books for personal reading
- Films/TV series boxsets
- Board/card games (e.g. Monopoly, Hungry Hippos, or a pack of cards)
- Hairdryer/ hair straighteners etc.
- Bike (plus helmet and a strong lock)
If you are still not sure of what to take to university and whether you should buy anything beforehand, consider going to university with only a very light load. This will ensure you don’t purchase anything useless – after all, it will be just as easy to purchase what you need the moment you’re settled in, either on your own or as a group with your new fellow flatmates.
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