Whether you’re an incoming first-year student or a returning upperclassman, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the things that make living away from home just a little bit easier. You’ll need big items like computers and clothes, but there might be some smaller, useful items you might not be thinking about as you pack your parents’ car.
Our student staff from the Office of Residential Education has you covered with a quick list of tips to help ease the stress of packing and keep you prepared for campus life.
1. Pack business casual clothing.
In addition to the usual daily ensemble (college casual is an appropriate term), you’ll want to bring along some business casual attire for campus employment, group gatherings with faculty and staff, and meetings with alumni. You never know when you can make a first—and lasting—impression.
2. Make your room feel like home.
Your college dorm or apartment will be your home away from home for nearly nine months. A sturdy rug can not only serve as a helpful way to keep things clean and tidy, it can also help add dimension and enliven your space. Posters and pictures on your wall can serve as cheerful reminders of family and friends or provide extra motivation to Do Great Work.
3. Set up your bed for comfort.
We know how crucial sleep is to recovery and daily focus. At the end of a long day of classes, work, campus activities, and studying, you’ll want a comfortable bed to fall into. Bring a mattress topper and your favorite pillows to make your bed feel more like home as soon as you arrive on campus.
4. Stay organized for living and learning.
Each dorm room is equipped with a closet, but bed risers will lift up your bed frame and give you a little extra storage underneath. Plan ahead for the height of the risers so you can bring along storage bins to fit the increased space under the bed. You should bring along extra hangers for the closet, and don’t forget something to keep yourself organized outside of your room, such as a planner or journal.
5. Stay hydrated and happy!
Whether you have a kitchen in your living space or not, it’s a good idea to bring reusable dishes, cups, and utensils. It’s better for the environment and you don’t have to make quite as many trips to take out the trash. Also, bring a water filter pitcher to keep the tap water clear and cool and avoid the added expense of purchasing water bottles all the time. And, of course, bring your favorite snacks just in case local stores don’t carry those items. The Commons Marketplace does carry an array of snacks, desserts, coffee, and essentials in case you run out. Finally, bring Vitamin C tablets or multivitamins to help augment the healthy cuisine at Dining Services.
6. Keep clean in shared spaces.
With shower spaces shared between multiple rooms, it’s a good idea to bring along shower shoes to keep your feet clean, like flip flops, sandals, or rubber shoes. Don’t forget a laundry basket and detergent to wash your clothes, and a Tide-to-Go pen is almost a must-have regardless of where you’re living. You’ll be thankful to have one nearby after dripping honey mustard on your favorite shirt on chicken finger Fridays.
7. Bring your best buds.
A good pair of ear buds or headphones is needed on a busy college campus. Whether you’re sitting among other students while studying in the quiet calm of Musselman Library, or hanging out in the hustle and bustle of the Janet M. Riggs Student Center, you’ll want headphones that keep outside noises and distractions at bay and allow for easy listening to presentations or music.
8. Stay dry.
The weather in south central Pennsylvania can change at a moment’s notice. When it turns to rain, you can often see campus wanderers rushing to the nearest building or using whatever objects on their person to block the drops. Bring an umbrella, waterproof jacket, and boots, and make sure to check the weather before going about your day.
9. Bring IDs for campus employment.
It’s easy to find an exciting job through Handshake, Gettysburg’s online job listing managed by the Center for Career Engagement, but getting through the hiring process can be time-consuming without proper forms of identification. Every student needs to present original and acceptable identity and employment authorization documents and have those verified in-person with an individual employee. Coming to campus without the necessary items could lead to a delay in getting that dream job.
10. Pack a mask.
Masking is no longer mandated on campus for students and employees, but people may choose to wear a mask if they wish. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, both the individual and their close contacts will be required to mask indoors for a determined period of time. Additionally, a number of local medical facilities are still requiring masks to enter.
By Corey Jewart on behalf of Residential Education student staff
Photos by Shawna Sherrell, Camryn Counsil ’25