Heading off to college and staying in a dorm room for the first time can be very challenging, stressful and even a little bit scary. Students experience such a variety of challenges during this time: lack of space, storage issues, living without amenities, keeping things organized and clean, lack of privacy – the list can go on and on. I’ve put together a few tips to this make this process easier, less stressful and even fun! I call them my Pearls of Wisdom….
PEARL #1 – LESS IS MORE: Resist the urge to bring “everything but the kitchen sink” from home! The best thing to do is bring only the absolute necessities needed to live for the next few weeks (as if you were going on a trip). This premise should also apply to sports equipment; only bring what is needed for the current season, not the next. Keep in mind there will be a break in a few weeks and out of season items can always exchange things when students visit home during the break.
PEARL #2 – A LITTLE TIME NOW SAVES MORE LATER: Plan on spending at least some of the first day setting up the room and putting away what was brought; factor in an additional period at a later time in the week, also. Take advantage of having help during move-in weekend, too, by setting up the most difficult items and organizing the most important spaces. Let those who came with you help; that’s what they came for. If the student doesn’t have assistance, connect with another student and help each other move in.
PEARL #3 – USE YOUR SPACE WISELY: Take advantage of listening to tips from those who came before the student. Returning students have usually tested out all the room configurations and found what works best and RAs (resident assistants) are happy to share their wealth of experience (since it’s usually the third year they’ve been rooming in a dorm). Some colleges even post suggested room layouts on their website. Most importantly keep the layout simple and be prepared to make changes later in the semester.
PEARL #4 – MAXIMIZE STORAGE AREAS: Use bed risers to raise the bed and create storage underneath; the height of risers used will determine how much storage you’ll gain and what storage containers to use. One set allows for a 7” container with wheels, two sets allows for a 12” (26 gallon) container and loft kits will open up space for a desk and chair. Don’t forget to maximize the closet space: double hangers or closet rod extenders create more than one area to place hangers and are a great organizing tool.
PEARL #5 – THE STURDIER THE BETTER: Be careful of purchasing too many inexpensive products; instead opt to purchase items that will withstand the rigors of college living. These could include Huggable Hangers®, 4 tier swing arm hangers, rolling wooden drawers or a closet dresser (both available from a home improvement store). Investing in products for the long term will be more cost effective and save a lot of time and aggravation with the need for less replacement.
PEARL #6 – IT’S NOT CAST IN STONE: Don’t think that organizing a dorm room is a one shot deal; it will take some time to customize the room and to make it comfortable for the student. Keep expectations realistic and stay flexible; be prepared to make changes as time goes on. The first year of dorm living always involves a huge learning curve as students find out what works best for them.
These pearls of wisdom should provide the student some simple and straightforward strategies to meet the challenge of living in a dorm residence for the first time. The student should now be able to reduce the stress that the challenges might create and alleviate the anxiety of a new environment. He/she will now be able to enjoy creating a new home, learning all about school life and experiencing this new adventure; by the end of the school year, they won’t even remember that they once thought it was even difficult!
Be sure to step over to our Recommended Product Section for a list of organizing products suggested by area local post-graduate students. Let us know if there’s any suggested products that you have found helpful … we’ll be happy to add it to our list. Here’s to a successful school year!