What to Bring to Campus

For many students, their first year in college is the first time they experience living away from home or sharing a room. Students often bring particular items to campus based on personal preference. But keep in mind that your student can purchase or bring additional items from home after moving in. Remember, along with packing the essentials, your student should be sure to bring a sense of self, a sense of purpose, and a sense of humor.

Living in the Residence Halls

University Housing provides

University Residence Halls provide furniture which can be “lofted” or stacked to create more floor space.

  • Bed
  • Mattress and mattress pad
  • Desk
  • Desk Chair
  • Bookcase or hutch
  • Dresser
  • Mirror
  • Compact refrigerator (size varies from 2.4–3.1 cubic ft.)
  • Window coverings
  • Closets
  • Wastebaskets/recycling bin
  • Cable TV and Ethernet connections

Find information specific to each Residence Hall online.

Appliances that are not permitted

Extensive food preparation is not allowed in resident rooms for sanitation and fire safety reasons. The following items are not permitted:

  • Toaster ovens
  • Electric frying pans and grills (including George Foreman Grills®)
  • Crockpots or slow cookers
  • Any cooking appliance with an open heating element or exposed heat source
  • Candles
  • We also strongly discourage halogen lamps

School Supplies

The type and variety of school supplies first-year students need depends upon courses and personal preference. For example, English 100 requires red pens, introductory chemistry requires safety goggles, and many math classes require a calculator. If students wish to purchase school supplies before arriving on campus, we encourage they select the type of general supplies that they found most helpful in high school, such as notebooks, folders, a planner, pens, binders, and paper. Specialized supplies can be purchased once the course syllabus has been distributed. A syllabus will feature information on class expectations, assignments, grading, and the materials needed for the course.


Students can find out about textbooks and other materials they will need for enrolled classes, or classes they’re considering taking, from a number of resources:

  • Student Center on MyUW (my.wisc.edu): textbooks are listed on a student’s enrolled class list, and on the Class Search.
  • Campus-area bookstores
  • From instructor e-mails sent out shortly before classes begin: some instructors will e-mail the syllabus to enrolled students, which may list course materials and required textbooks.

Students may also be required to purchase course packets, lab equipment, and/or art materials. These items are available at campus or local stores.

Cost-saving tips for buying textbooks

  • The University Book Store allows students to compare textbook prices from different websites all in one place and choose whether to buy new, used, digital or rent. They also accept the Wiscard as a form of payment in store.
  • Look for used copies at local bookstores that buy back textbooks.
  • Consider renting through a local bookstore or an online textbook rental site (do a Google search online for “textbook rental”).
  • Campus libraries keep copies of high-cost textbooks on reserve. Check the UW libraries website “Course Reserves” section.

Be sure to purchase the correct textbook edition. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN), the 10-digit number that uniquely identifies books published internationally, is included in the Student Center Textbooks listings if the instructor has provided it.

Things to consider bringing

Room/personal items

  • Microwave
  • Carpet or area rug
  • Computer, Ethernet cord, memory stick
  • Printer, paper, ink refills
  • Batteries (all sizes)
  • Can opener
  • Camera
  • Detergent/fabric softener/stain remover for high-efficiency washers
  • Laundry bag/basket
  • Food (snacks, dietary needs)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Silverware
  • Cups, plates, bowls (some w/lids)
  • Storage/file bins
  • Futon
  • Television and DVD player
  • Reading lamp/desk lamp
  • Fan
  • Raincoat/umbrella
  • Iron/board
  • Reading light
  • Alarm clock/radio
  • Cell phone
  • Headphones
  • Plastic food-storage containers
  • Padlock (each resident in housing has a drawer with a clasp on it so they can use their own padlock)
  • Adhesive hooks/mounting tape
  • Small tool kit
  • Surge protector/extension cords
  • Power strip
  • Disinfectant spray and wipes

Medicine cabinet items

  • Health insurance/prescription card
  • Names and phone numbers of home primary care and specialty care providers
  • Prescription medicines and refill information
  • Thermometer
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain and fever
  • Throat lozenges
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Basic first aid supplies:
    • Adhesive bandages (ex: Band-Aids)
    • Antibacterial ointment
    • Hydrocortisone cream

Toiletries and personal hygiene items

  • Shower shoes (flip-flops)
  • Bath tote (to carry bathroom items)
  • Personal hygiene items (shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush/paste)
  • Bathrobe
  • Towel
  • Soap with container

Cleaning items

  • Broom/dust pan
  • Lint brush
  • Dishsoap and cloth/sponge
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuums are provided upon resident request


  • Blankets
  • Comforters
  • Pillow
  • Bed sheets (“Twin XL” sheets fit UW Housing beds)
  • Regular twin sheets with extra deep corners or jersey sheets (T-shirt material) also fit UW Housing beds