It’s that magical time of year – time to pack up and leave behind high school home life for the wonderful world of college. Leaving home for the first time and heading to the dorm can be exciting, a little scary, and a bit hectic. Here are 5 tips that can help your  move into University life be an easy and less-stressful process.

1. Keep your important personal documents with you.
Have your drivers license and (if already issued) student I.D. handy. Most schools send out instructions for check-in and move-in including a schedule and parking information a month or so prior –  make sure to have this handy so when you arrive you can double check where you’re going and what to expect.

2. Review the can’t-have and can’t-do’s of dorm life.
Every school has policies for dorm living. Most prohibit items such as hot plates, electric counter top grills, Christmas lights, curtains, and burning candles. Also think in terms of decorating – some schools discourage the use of tape to hang up personal pictures and many dorm rooms are cinderblocks which make hanging a bulletin board nearly impossible. Knowing these policies ahead of time will help you avoid packing items that will either be confiscated or take up what little storage space there is since they cannot be used.

3. Skip the retail store must-have list.
When you walk into any retail store selling “dorm” items, there is bound to be a list of things you must have. Skip the list – it’s often filled with many items that you can’t have, won’t ever use, or won’t have room to store. Stick to the pre-buying basics: mattress pad, comforter, sheets, pillows, towels,  trash can, desk lamp. It will save you money, energy, and space.

4. Only pack the essentials.
That is, stick to what you really need to bring and already have as opposed to what you can get when you’re there. Personal items ( clothing, medicine, toiletries) and basic room items that you will need for your first night (comforter, sheets, pillows, etc.)  should be purchased ahead of time, packed, and ready for move-in day. Anything extra such as decorative items, food, and school supplies can wait to be purchased until later in the move-in day or the following day. Besides pens, pencils, and highlighters, you may even want to wait to buy school supplies until during the first week of classes when you can really determine what you will need.

5. Pack with storage-friendly containers.
It’s no secret that dorm rooms are small. Most contain a 2-3 drawer dresser, a closet or wardrobe, and a desk with a few drawers. Packing items in storage bins will make packing easier and give you a place to organize things once you’re in the dorm. Think: under-the-bed container, 3-drawer container, and an extra container that you can pack with items and later use to store your non-perishable food or towels and sheets. Target has some cute decorative plastic containers that will add some color to your room.

Keep in mind that there will be a lot of people moving in so be organized, stay patient, and try to enjoy the experience! Your first year will be over before you know it. Oh, and don’t forget your shower shoes.

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