If you’re entering college for the first time or going back for another year, you might be freaking out a bit right now because of all the packing you have to do. Let’s face it, packing for school is pretty stressful, and sometimes you might have no clue where to start. But rather than stressing this year, take some advice from the new e-book “Create Your Space, Create Your Life: Set Yourself Up for Success at College,” before you start packing those bags!

Bring Only What You Need, Use, Love, and Will Fit

When it’s time to start packing, remember one very important thing: you’re working with a very small space at college. At the very least, you should plan on having a small bureau, a narrow closet, and some desk drawers to use, so you’ll need to be selective and pack strategically.

As you start your packing process, use The F.U.N.E.L. System to determine what you really need to bring with you:

Ask yourself these five questions about each item.

  1. Will it Fit?
  2. Will I Use it?
  3. Will I Need it?
  4. Does it Express who I am now or who I want to become?
  5. Do I Love it?

If you can’t answer “yes” to the first question and to at least one of the other questions, odds are you don’t really need it! So leave the item at home.

Then, separate what you know you will need from what you think you might need. Place the items you’re unsure of in a box in your home bedroom and ask your parents to send them along if you find that you need them later.

When it comes time to packing your clothes, keep it simple and observe the 100% Clothing Rule: only bring the clothing you’re 100% sure you’ll wear. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the climate you’re living in, your planned activities, and your college’s vibe. And hey, bringing a small wardrobe to college also leaves you room to add new pieces if your style changes, which it inevitably will as the year goes by.

Pack the Important Stuff!

A transition or security object: When you’re packing for school, don’t be afraid to bring one or two transition objects (like a soft object to take to bed or a poster to hang on your wall) that connect you to home, family, and childhood. Your treasures from home will help ease your transition process and time away from home, and will comfort you. And don’t worry that your roommates and friends might make fun of you because they likely have one in their dorm too!

Supplies for a Healthy Lifestyle: Purchasing and packing items for school gives you a chance to create a better environment. By choosing health-conscious items (think healthy cleaners, school supplies, and bedding), you’re more likely to live a healthy lifestyle at school. Here are a few categories you’ll want to include in your back-to-school shopping list: healthy household cleaners, safe laundry products, safe personal care products, non-toxic school supplies, a shoe rack, healthy furnishings and storage items (like containers made of fabric, cardboard, or other natural materials).

Pack with Proficiency

The things you take to school influence your life in more ways than you could imagine! And your environment (your dorm) affects your quality of life too. To learn more about this and gain tips on living your most successful and happy life at school, check out “Create Your Space, Create Your Life: Set Yourself Up for Success at College.”

After eight years of helping hundreds of college students maximize their small, shared living spaces on campuses around our country, dorm sleuth and Successful Spaces owner, Mary Roberts and Brandeis graduate, Chrissy Callahan, have written a 10 chapter e-book, “Create Your Space, Create Your Life: Set Yourself Up for Success at College.” Download a free packing list and check out Successful Spaces on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

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