Packing for College - The 4-Box Challenge


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The time has finally arrived for you to leave home and go away to college. What an exciting time!

If you are like most, your bedroom is currently a disaster area with clothes, books, compact disks and miscellaneous items strewn everywhere. You want to take it all and you cannot decide what to take and what to leave behind, and at the moment, this seems like a bigger decision that deciding which college to attend. How many times have you packed, unpacked and then repacked that favorite sweatshirt? Take a break, relax and let me share with you some insights into how to pack for college.

1) Your dorm room is small – if you overstuff it with clothing and personal items, there will be nowhere to sleep or study (which is the reason you are going to college, after all!). Additionally, you might not make the best roommate if you are hogging all the square footage in your shared room.

2) You are not leaving forever> – your parents are not going to rent out your bedroom at home as soon as you leave for college and you are coming back. Think short-term… what do you need for the first few months of college? What is the weather like in your college town in the fall? Pack accordingly and don’t take everything you own.

3) Things are going to change, and fast – Once you get to school, especially if you are going across country or perhaps to another country; you will find that college life is more or less casual than you anticipated. It is a good idea to pack the staples; jeans, sweatshirts, a few clubbing outfits, pajamas and comfy study sweats and leave the rest at home. Once you have been at school a few weeks, if you find you are missing essentials from home, you can have mom or dad ship them to you or pick them up on your next visit back home.

If you want to succeed in taking what you need and leave the rest behind, try the 4-box challenge. Get four good sized packing boxes (but not appliance size) and line them up along one side of your bed, leaving plenty of free space in front of them. Get a marker and label them ‘clothing 1’, ‘clothing 2’, ‘school stuff’, and ‘personal’.

Now look around your room. One item at a time, place them in front of the box; sweaters and jeans in the clothing boxes, CD’s, toiletries and picture frames in the personal box, textbooks, duo tangs and writing supplies in school stuff. In this challenge, 2 boxes are allotted for clothing. One box should be essentials including your day-to-day clothing and the second box should be for special occasion outfits, your big fluffy bathrobe, shoes and a few purses.

If everything will not fit into the boxes, you must edit what you have selected. This is the toughest part of the challenge but with a little perseverance, you can do it. If you are having a tough time, ask yourself the following questions:

1) How many times have I worn this in the past month?
2) Will I use this item at least once a week for the next few months?
3) Can I live without it?

Keep plugging away until the boxes are full but not overflowing. Once you are done, close the boxes and tape them shut. You are ready to leave for college with your most favorite possessions. Now it’s probably time to clean up the aftermath!

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