Getting Ready for Dorm Life: Tips and Tricks for Organizing Small Spaces

by Tina ~ August 19th, 2015.

Life in the Dorm: Tips and Tricks for Organizing Small SpacesGoing away to college or university is often seen as a rite of passage, the first time living away from home for many young people.

If you’re not prepared, it can come as a bit of shock to arrive on campus with your personal belongings, only to discover that there just isn’t enough space for everything. A little advance planning can go a long way, so I’ve created this five-step guide to help you through this exciting moment in your life.

Step 1: Obtain as much information as possible from your school’s Housing Department.

Common questions include:

  • Are furniture and bed linens provided, or do you need to bring your own?
  • Are there any restrictions on what you’re allowed to bring?
  • What is the size and shape of your room?
  • What amenities are available in common areas?

You can probably find most of these details on the school website, but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call if you can’t find the answers you need.

Step 2: Get in touch with your roommate (if applicable).

With limited space, it probably doesn’t make sense for both of you to bring large items such as TVs and printers. See what arrangements you can make. Perhaps you can share the costs of renting a mini-fridge.

Step 3: Draft a floor plan.

As you might have done with your bedroom at home, map out your space, planning zones around your habits and preferences. Since you’ll be spending many hours studying and working on your computer, pay particular attention to lighting, both natural and artificial.

Step 4: Create a master list of everything you’ll need in your dorm room.

DormSmart’s free printable Dorm Room Checklist for College includes some great ideas for maximizing space in your dorm room. I especially like these:

  • Collapsible storage bins to use on shelves, under your bed, and in your closet
  • Storage hooks to hold book bags, purses, jackets, towels, etc.
  • Storage caddies for school supplies, makeup, etc.

You probably won’t need or have space for everything they suggest, so be realistic!

Speaking of being realistic, when you’re deciding what clothes and other personal items to bring, keep these two things in mind:

  1. What will you do while you’re away at school? There’s not much point in bringing hobby supplies if your time will be filled with part-time work, academic and social activities.
  2. How often will you be returning home? It may be more practical to bring only what you need in between trips, and to swap seasonal clothing as needed.

Step 5: Review your master list and create a separate list for items you need to purchase.

You might be better off shopping for some things locally after you’ve arrived on campus. This will give you a chance to make sure you really need and have the space for them, and eliminates transporting large items.

Bonus Tip: Be flexible.

Remember that no matter how much you plan, you may run into changes that are beyond your control.

Perhaps you were expecting a room on your own, and you end up sharing with someone else. Or the room isn’t quite the size you were told. Just roll with the punches, and don’t let it spoil this exciting time in your life.

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Illustration © Elvetica / depositphotos

Categories: home organization, organizing families.
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