Editor's note: This news column was written by Sheryl Carson, Kearny County Extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, who is training with Linda Beech at the Finney County Extension Office this month.

"Mom, I labeled this moving box as personal care products. The next box will be filled with bedding. I wonder what else I will need for my first year of college dorm life." At this time of year, just before college classes begin, many households are undergoing similar conversations.

Dear first-year college student, before filling those boxes, have a check list in hand. Develop that list from those items that you definitely know you need, such as toothpaste to maintain your engaging smile. Secondly, add to the list items that don't come readily to mind: a container to store emergency snack food to keep you awake late at night to complete that paper due the following morning and a roll of quarters to do your laundry. Also, check with the college regarding those items that are definitely not allowed, such as air conditioners, space heaters, toasters, your pet dog, cat (snake?), according to Megan O'Leary-Buda of Campus View. Megan's suggestions can be found at http://www.collegeview.com/articles/CV/campuslife/what_to_bring.html.

Create categories for your list to assist you with identifying those items to take to college. Sample categories include linen and laundry items, first-aid kit, falling asleep and waking up, cooking and eating utensils, storage needs, electronic paraphernalia, toiletries and office/desk supplies. Some of these categories and others can be found at Campus Life by Anna Kendall. Anna offers common sense reasons for the items needed by a student new to college life. You can read about these at this website: http://campuslife.suite101.com/article.cfm/firstyear_college_students_checklist.

To reduce the burden of packing and moving, determine supplies that you can purchase once you arrive, have unpacked and relaxed from the trip. Tissue, soap/detergent, fabric softener, trash bags and light bulbs are examples of necessary items that you don't have to bring from home but are available in your college town.

Consider items that you will share with your roommate. Some commonly used items that can be shared to reduce space consumption are TV, DVD player, microwave, audio equipment and small refrigerator. Contact your roomie to determine who will bring which items. Ask the college for their policy or the protocol for contacting a future roommate. A more thorough list of potential items needed by students can be found at the College Board web page http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/college- success/9763.html.

You are a unique person with unique needs, nevertheless, contact the college for a list of items that students, in general, tend to need. You may find that space is at a premium in the dorm room so you will probably have to identify your needs and eliminate or reduce your wants. Determine your needs then determine what available space, if any, you can use for the luxury items that you want but don't need.

Finally, choose boxes that are the same size or closely similar in size and shape for efficient use of space in the trailer as you pack the containers filled with your precious belongings that you will be moving.

Good luck, and don't forget to make packing space for the most precious of items that will increase your comfort level as you adjust to a new way of life as a first-year college student.

Visit the Living Well blog at http://SWKTalk.com/livingwell.