The Dorm Room: Set It Up For Success

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It’s the end of summer, and you’ll be starting college soon. This is the time when you’re fretting over your class schedule, wondering what clubs to join, and hoping you’ll have a tolerable roommate. But when moving into the dorms, you should also think about how best to organize your room. The way you set up your space can have a big impact on your academic success and emotional well-being.

Scout it out in advance.

When you visit the campus before school starts, take special note of the dorm rooms. What’s the layout like? What furniture is included? Do they have rules against bringing certain items? Take measurements for things you may want to bring, like an area rug, curtains, or television and stand. Coordinate with your future roommate so you can compare styles and make sure you’re not bringing duplicate items.

When it comes to packing, be conservative.

Don’t take big, unnecessary items. Do you need the keyboard AND the guitar? Will your roommate appreciate the life-size cutout of Antonio Banderas as much as you do? If you really miss something and decide you need it, you can always get it on your next trip home.

Establish routines. Then stick to them.

Decide on a weekly laundry day and a separate cleaning day for each major part of the dorm: the bathroom, the bedroom, and the appliances (mini fridge and microwave). This will keep you on top of the chores so you can focus more easily on school and fun. You roommate will likely also appreciate a clear-cut schedule in which everyone does his or her part.


Keep your desk clear of random objects. Clutter makes it harder to concentrate on work. Get unnecessary items out of the way with various storage solutions. Storage ottomans provide extra seating, back-of-the-door organizers hold lots of smaller items, and under-the-bed containers store whatever you need, out of sight. In a shared bathroom, a shower caddy is a must (as well as shower shoes!). Also, think about double hanging racks to store more clothing in those small dorm closets. And, even though there is generally a spot for your books in the university-issued desk, it’s never enough. Consider using space-saving bookshelves that attach to the wall. They are easy to install and take down, with just a couple holes to fill in at the end of the year.

This is undoubtedly a momentous and stressful time for any new student. Everything is new, and thinking about your career as a college student can be overwhelming. So, as you unpack, think about the ways you can control this next phase of life. By carefully organizing and setting up your dorm room, you create an environment of calmness and order that will set the tone for your upcoming year.

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