Tag Archives | dorm

Image by Lana Hawkins

When it comes to studying, so much depends on your organization – where you study separates a straight-A student from an average one. You have to be organized, systematic and methodic in order to achieve success. And you have to repeat it day after day, from enrolment into college to graduation. The best way to get fully organized is to organize your study room – in your dorm or at home – and achieve a certain level of comfort in this area so you won’t mind spending countless hours there. Here’s how.

No Distractions
This may be the biggest problem for students across the USA – there are just too many distractions around them! Smartphones, TVs, computers, fridges, beds and other people constantly distract them from their studying, so they’d rather catch up with the revival of Gilmore Girls than do some actual work.

The best way to limit distractions is to remove them from your immediate surroundings. Leave the phone in the kitchen, unplug the TV, switch your Wi-Fi router off and forget about sleeping or eating for a few hours. Even if you are the most disciplined student ever, don’t try your luck around these interruptions and just leave them behind. Or, learn how to use them so that it’ll be beneficial for you.

Organize Your Literature
Exemplary students own tons of books, textbooks and other studying material that assist them. However, unless organized adequately, these will occupy your entire room in an instant. That’s why you need to come up with a good system. The most important thing is a proper shelf – regardless of how big it is, you must have one if you want to organize your books. If you have a problem with the space as all students do, think outside the box and, instead of purchasing a huge shelf, make one on your own or create a unique piece that doubles as a headboard for your bed.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Students possess too many things and bring too much stuff into their dorm rooms – and that’s only natural with the abundance of books, magazines, foods and drinks that go through their hands every single day. But, if this mess overtakes you, you’ll be frustrated and unable to hit the books.

Find time to clean your room once a week and figure out what you do and don’t need in your study area. That way, you’ll leave enough time for studying and won’t have to waste precious minutes cleaning day after day.

Investigate Alternative Spaces
You don’t have to study behind the desk all the time, you know. When in college, you can do basically whatever suits you, as long as it brings results. So, stop forcing habits you don’t enjoy.

For example, numerous students take their books to bed. While many think this is a bad idea and that your mind associates the bed only with sleeping, others think this is the best thing ever. Additionally, explore other spaces – relocating to the floor, the window seat or the kitchen can do wonders for your productivity.

Find a Suitable Desk
The problem with US dormitories is their what-you-see-is-what-you-get philosophy. While some don’t mind adaptations and redecorations, others frown upon any changes. This could be a problem for a number of students because their default beds or desks aren’t suitable.

That’s why you should find a way to bring in your own desk. See if your old high school desk is still functional, or make a new one. Both of these options are fine, as long as they allow you to study.

Organize the Desk
Now that you’ve found the perfect desk, it’s time to organize all your writing utensils and studying material. Purchase some pencil cups, desk organizers, vertical shelves, folders, file carriers, boxes and plastic containers.

Also, organize your wires and cords with a coated wire basket – this is especially useful with those excellent ergonomic standing desks that support your spine during longs hours of studying. Finally, if you need help keeping track of all your tasks, install a bulletin board.

The Results!
Once you organize your study room – whether it’s in your dormitory or at your home – you’re ready to go! You’ve got all your necessities close by, there are no distractions and you’re completely focused on your work. Soon you’ll realize that an organized study area will result in better grades.

This article was contributed by guest author Lana Hawkins.

Image by Sophia Baboolal, unsplash.com

Image by Sophia Baboolal, unsplash.com

My freshman dorm room was spartan. It looked like just about every other freshman’s room: a couple of posters, a calendar, a mini fridge. There were some magnets on the mini fridge, but that was the extent of making my room unique.

My girlfriend doodled between classes. She drew colorful creatures like a starfish and a mermaid, with funny sayings written in the blank spaces. No one else in my dorm had “nonconformist pig says moo” or “citrus fruits are tangy” mini-posters. I graduated college almost half a decade ago, and I still have those drawings. What decor knowledge can I pass on? If you want a dorm room unlike your neighbor’s, DIY art is perfect. Plus, this leaves you with art projects that will stay with you through graduation and beyond. Let’s look at some cool projects you can do to quickly make your room stand out. Bear in mind these might not come cheap – but your dorm room will be one-of-a-kind.

Crates and paper
Care to take a guess at what the two major materials needed for this project are?

With just a wooden wine crate and wrapping paper, you can create a display case. The harder part is deciding what you want to display in the crate.

Getting the components should be hassle-free. A local winery or tasting room should have a wooden wine crate that you can buy cheap, or they might let you have one for free. You probably have wrapping paper already. Or, take a quick trip to the store. Some glue and your preferred method of hanging from a wall (that won’t damage the dorm and void your security deposit), and you’re done.

Container magnets
I would have failed college if not for caffeine. I had a lot of fancy tea tins left over after all-nighters. Glue and a magnet can turn the tins into container magnets for your fridge. If the tin is metal, you may not even need glue. Throw some pencils and a sticky note pad in, and you’ll never lack for something to write on or with. Quick, simple, and useful.

Locker and magnets
Not ready to leave the high school aesthetic behind? You can find cheap lockers for sale online, often used, to give the room an already lived-in feel. Use them as-is, or slap on a new coat of paint. A solid color or design, taping art to the sides, or just plastered with the tea container magnets, gives you plenty of options.

Chalkboard anything
Nearly every college student has a chalkboard or whiteboard on their door or wall. How do you stand out? Chalkboard paint. A few coats and now your table is a chalkboard. Or your mini fridge. Or your desk (that you brought from home. Repainting any college-provided desks is not recommended). Any flat, solid surface becomes a chalkboard with this paint, making leaving messages for your roommate a breeze. Or just watch as your new dorm friends doodle obscene images – but that’s what the eraser is for.

Pallet headboard
If you can’t find a place to give you a couple pallets for free, you aren’t looking hard enough. Just be sure to clean and sanitize the wood first, to prevent the entire dorm from getting sick off the germs that could be hitching a ride. After ripping apart the pallet and cleaning it, sawing pieces to length, and screwing it all together, voila – pallet headboard.

Custom wallpaper
Cover an entire wall with custom removable wallpaper. It’ll put those tired pop-culture reference posters to shame. This could be a giant photo of your face, a beautiful landscape completely different from what you see out the window, or a giant geometric design – whatever you can think of to send off in a digital file. Vinyl or cloth, all you need is a high-resolution photo, and you are set for a custom wall without having to actually change the wall – which could cost you a pretty penny when you move out due to lost security deposit.

Paint-dipped picture frames
You’ll need to spend some time in thrift stores for this project, looking for old picture frames that preferably still have photos or paintings in them. Use some painter’s tape to make a solid line across the photo or painting, and paint everything on one side of the tape – including the frame. Or go crazy with patterns, like diagonal stripes. Now you have a repurposed, modern paint-dipped picture frame.

Frameless photos
Don’t like frames? Use these display hacks and even the photos around your room will be different. Large paper clips can prop the photos up, or use Washi tape to affix photos to the wall. Or, hang a clipboard with a photo clipped in.

String art
A wooden board, paint, a hammer, nails, and string are all you need. It seems simple, but it can be time-consuming. Paint the board, hammer in the nails, and wind the string around the nails to create amazing string art. Hard mode: use the negative space to create the art instead. Subjects are near-limitless, so despite string art being somewhat common, your subject can stand alone. The more complex, the less likely it has been done, at least in your dorm.

Though quilling paper is definitely easier with the proper tools, it can be done with scissors, a few toothpicks, and glue. Instead of making cards, mount your quilled art in a shadow box. Hang it from the wall. You can find inspiration from Pinterest for anything from simple designs to complex.

Washi door
Washi tape is a fixture of dorm rooms. Your roommate probably used it to frame a poster. What won’t the average student think of? Washi tape on your dorm door. You can make lines and patterns on your door, or block out your initials, all without harming the door.

Paint a chair
Not only are you going to repaint a folding chair, you are going to reupholster it, too. It’s easier than it sounds. All you need to do is cut fabric, and staple it over a cushion. Easy, right? Use the same technique from the paint-dipped frame to spray-paint the chair. It’s an extra step, but color blocking can make the chair look like part of it has been dipped in one color, with the rest of the chair another color. Coordinate the fabric with the color(s) of paint – use a color wheel and color theory. If you are using a patterned fabric, make sure to staple it facing the right direction. It’s a bit of work, but you will have a chair that is all your design.

This article was contributed by guest author Cole Mayer.

Image by Jeff Sheldon, unsplash.com

Image by Jeff Sheldon, unsplash.com

Your things are moved in, your parents have left, and you and your roommate have claimed your spaces in your new dorm. Then it hits you: you’re stuck in this concrete box for the rest of the semester. Here are a few ways to make your dorm into a safe and well-organized home and have a happier college living experience.

Finding Space in Your Space

Maybe you have several bags full of clothes, or maybe you brought more books than you’ll have time to read. Fortunately, many dorms are laid out in easy-to-organize ways with lots of corners, ledges, and sometimes ample closet space.

Attaching caddies to existing dorm furniture is one way to find room to store school supplies. A little searching and cash can create storage space in closets and even off the side of a bed with shoe organizers, totes, and plastic storage stackers. If your dorm has bunkbeds, they can be used for shoes and clothes. It’s easy to find plastic boxes and caddies to keep track of your toiletries and make sure your roomie doesn’t walk off with your shampoo. If a bookshelf would take up too much space or you just don’t want to have to move one, you can create one using existing floor space or a part of your desk by lining up your books and using a bookend, which can be made from a box to hold your pens and other small supplies.

The Electronics Slide

It’s a common complaint: your dorm was built 30 years ago, and doesn’t have enough outlets for you and your roommate to charge all your devices. Americord power strips and extension cords are your friends, but make sure to use them safely. Don’t daisy-chain by plugging one power strip into another. It’s safest to plug your computer into a wall outlet rather than a power strip.

Along with your various cords, it’s good to invest in some Velcro strips to keep everything coiled neatly. This will also help distinguish your phone charger from your roommate’s or your friends’, who might need to charge their phones in your room. Keeping your cords neat will also prevent time-consuming tangles, and make sure you keep your external devices in order.

Dorm life can be rough. You and your roommate may part ways in sophomore year, and that class you thought would be easy may be the worst thing to happen to you. But with a few simple tweaks, your school-assigned lodgings can become a well-ordered sanctuary.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

Image by Roman Kraft, unsplash.com/

Image by Roman Kraft, unsplash.com

Starting college is a big and often scary event. Moving away from home and beginning a life in a new place with new people can be overwhelming. To make your transition easier, turn your dorm into a welcoming sanctuary! Your dorm room will be your home for the next year, and the style of it can make all the difference in how quickly you settle into your new life. Here are some tips to help:

Coordinate With Your Roomie

Getting along with your new roommate is a pretty important part of making the best of dorm life, so get to know them beforehand. One way to break the ice is to talk about what you want for your shared space. Even if you’re moving in with your best friend, coordinating the details before move-in day is important. Some topics to discuss include:

  • Figure out who is bringing what before move-in day. Dorm-living means limited space, so if you both bring a mini fridge, you’ll find yourself running out of room pretty quickly.
  • Aside from not having double items, you’ll want to be sure you have everything you need. Don’t assume your roomie is bringing something and find out at the last minute that both of you thought the other one was bringing cookware.
  • It’s also important to ask if they have asthma or any allergies to certain products. The last thing you want is to start cleaning on move-in day and have your roomie get an asthma attack.

Plan a Color Scheme

Having a room that flows together creates a more harmonious environment. Even if you and your roomie like different colors, you can still create a color scheme that works together. Here are some ideas:

  • Purple and gold make for the perfect, regal room. You can mix and match pillows and other accents to pull together a great look. Pink and orange or pink and green always go together well, too. Plus, with such a variety of shades available — in any color — there’s bound to be something you and your roomie can agree on.
  • Black, white and yellow go together well and make a kind of ‘blank slate,’ so almost anything will match it. You and your roommate can decorate to your heart’s content without worrying about clashing.
  • Keep in mind that your bedding may get dirty more quickly than usual. If you’re using your bed as a kitchen table, study and hangout area, chances are it’s getting more wear than before. While you want your bedding to coordinate with the rest of the room, be sure to get colors and fabrics that can stand up to the task of multi-purpose use.
  • Monochromatic schemes can be a great way to add some color to a room. Pick various shades of one color (think a range of blues) and mix and match with pillows, bedding and accents.

Decorate for Style and Utility

It’s pretty common for dorms to have rules against putting holes in the walls, but luckily there’s plenty of ways around that:

  • There are tons of products that are made to stick and then be removed. You can use Velcro stickies, 3M command hooks or poster putty to hang things on the wall.
  • Since floor space can be pretty limited, think vertically. Utilize the walls and ceilings to get the most from your room. Hanging organizers are a perfect way to take advantage of vertical space. Creative storage solutions will make a big difference in how much free space is available in your dorm.
  • Discuss decor with your roomie to find out what they like and dislike, as well as what common interests you may have. For a bonding experience, you can even make some DIY decor together, creating something that has a little bit of both of you in it.

Dorm life doesn’t have to feel cramped and generic. You and your roommate can make a space that showcases both of your personalities. With a little work and creativity, your dorm will be the perfect place to start your new adventure.

This article was contributed by guest author Megan Wild.

Image by Georgia Southern on Flickr

Image by Georgia Southern on Flickr

Whether returning from school after a much needed summer break, or going back to school after a brief lapse to finish your degree, there are several things you need to prepare in advance to make the transition smooth. Getting organized and prepared for the school year in advance can help ease the transition to student life, calm your nerves and create a more enjoyable experience.

Access Your Syllabus
It used to be that you had to wait until the first day of class to obtain your syllabus. Now, many teachers make the syllabus available online for students to view ahead of time. Once you know your class schedule, you can often check the class website for any notes and other materials you’ll need for the class. Make a plan for your semester and schedule specific times to complete work for each class. This way, when you arrive on campus, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and not miss a single beat.

Electronics, Tablets, and Computers
These days, you can’t attend school without some basic electronics. A tablet, laptop and note-taking devices are all important items that will serve you well in college. When you consider the average cost of a year of tuition, the cost for upgraded hardware is well worth the investment. The average tablet will easily last you through a four- or five-year program. Make sure your laptop is powerful enough to run your word processing applications and any other student-specific apps you might need to participate in your classes. Install any software you need before arriving on campus. If you don’t yet have all the software you plan to use, look online for companies that provide student discounts. Often, you can get discounted or free software from your school, so make sure you check around before paying for any new software.

Get a Storage Unit
Especially for students living in shared housing and dorms, a storage unit such as The Storage Center can make your college life much safer and less stressful. Paying a set monthly fee to store your less-oft needed valuables in a storage unit can protect you from potential theft and damage of your items.

Buy Items in Bulk
Water, food, extra school supplies, and anything else that you don’t need immediate access to can be placed in your storage unit. This can help keep your valuables safe, save you time and manage your budget since you won’t have to run to the store every time you run out of paper or notebooks. Take a trip to a warehouse and buy your supplies in bulk for the entire semester. This way you can concentrate on your studies, and worry less about budgeting for school supplies along the way. Plus, when you go home for the summer, you’ll have a unit ready and waiting to store your items.

Most college students would like to have a car, but in most cases, it’s not really necessary. Even if you do have a car for weekend outings and exploration, consider getting a bicycle as well. Using your bicycle on campus can be one of the easiest ways to get quickly between classes. This is especially important if you need to schedule one or more classes within 5 minutes of each other. You’ll be grateful during the hot, summer months that you decided to have a bicycle to trek around campus. When you go home for the summer, you can keep your wheels in your storage unit and not have to worry about taking it home with you.

School is an exciting time in your life, and by preparing for the semester in advance, you can make your experience a success. It’s important to limit and reduce your distractions as much as possible. Going to the store, dealing with car issues and wasting time trying to fix and old and outdated computer take away from time you could be using to enjoy your college experience. Save money and be prepared for anything by staying organized and planning your semester in advance.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakle.

Image by Matt Radick on Flickr

Image by Matt Radick on Flickr

Moving out for the first time can be intimidating, and for many university students it’s a completely new experience. I remember my first day on residence was nerve-wracking. It was my first time away from home and I would be living with three complete strangers. Would we get along? Would they have bad habits that would cause problems? Could I potentially annoy them in some way? I went into first year residence with an open mind, and I learned many things in the process, especially in regards to dealing with roommates and solving our problems. Here are a few tips that I have for creating good relationships with your roommates.

  1. Clean up after yourself: Whether it’s after cooking or taking a shower, your roommates will not want to see your mess and will definitely not want to clean up after you. Remember that these areas are shared spaces and that it is your job to clean up after you’re done.
  2. Sharing is caring: Don’t be afraid to share with your roommates. It’ll show them that you aren’t self-centred and that you see them as friends. Better yet, they may share things with you as well!
  3. Speak up if you have a problem: In first year, I had two roommates who never spoke about their problems with each other. This caused tension between them for half the year. Don’t let problems fester and boil over. If you have a problem with one of your roommates, bring it up and find a way to solve the issue immediately.
  4. Respect your roommates’ space: Your roommates are sure to have schedules that aren’t similar to yours and have belongings that are off limits. Respect their space and in turn they should respect yours as well.
  5. Divide up the chores: If you’re living in a dorm or a house, chances are you will have to clean the place once a month. Create a schedule where each individual has to clean an area and where the work is balanced between all of the roommates.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it should be that communication is key between roommates. You’re going to be living with these people for at least eight months, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure that living with each other goes smoothly. A toxic relationship with your roommates can ruin the residence experience and also affect your grades. If you put in the effort to have a good experience, your roommates will certainly do the same. Treat your roommates the way you would want to be treated, and in turn you will have a great first year with them.

For some more tips on how to get along with your roommate check out this article. 

Image by Great Beyond, Flickr

Image by Great Beyond, Flickr

So, it’s about that time of the year again. Finals, counting down until summer vacation and of course MOVE OUT. Before you can live out your fantasy of lounging in the sun on a raft in the pool with an ice cold lemonade in your hand, you have to pack up all of your stuff.

Normally this is considered a chore and even a burden during the rush of the end of the year, but what if packing up and moving out of your dorm, apartment or house could be simple? Well, it can be.

Here are a few tips on how to get your dorm ready for move out:

  1. Make a Plan – Just like everything in life, it’s better to lay out a guide for yourself so you don’t forget to pack anything or run out of time.
    • Get Prepared: Make sure you set things like breakables aside so that you have time to pack them at the end. Give yourself enough time (with maybe an extra hour or two) so you can study before your last final instead of worrying about those last three boxes.
    • Supply Yourself: Check to see that you have everything you need. Boxes? Packing tape? Bubble wrap? Newspaper? Suitcases? Make a thorough list for these items and make sure you have them all before starting. You don’t want to make four runs to the store while everyone is saying goodbyes with a pizza party (yum!)
    • Decide what to do: If you’re shipping your items home, storing with a company, friend or at a self-storage locker, make a decision and do it quick! You don’t want to be the one asking a friend to lend you their truck last minute or wind up paying inflated pick up prices with movers.
  2. Deal with the big items – If you live in an off campus apartment or house, this could be pretty common. You’ll want to assess your items and figure out what you’ll do with them – shipping, storing or moving? Protection for furniture is key for all instances.
    • For mattresses, make sure you box or cover them with plastic to keep dust and bed bugs out.
    • TVs are always best in boxes or packing blankets, and be sure to keep your remote somewhere safe!
    • Dressers and desks should be covered with plastic or cardboard to prevent scratches or other damage. Don’t forget to empty your items and secure all of the drawers and shelves so they don’t open or separate during the move.
  3. Stay Calm and Pack On – Even though this probably seems like a super stressful time of the year, remember that summer is just around the corner and that it’s not the end of the world if you have one box left to pack after your final. You’re there for school, and exams are still your number one priority. Here are a few more tips to keep you organized:
    • If you’re storing your items, don’t forget to set aside the stuff you want to take home this summer (hint hint: shorts, bathing suits, flip flops, passport etc.)
    • Driving home? Make a plan for which route you’re going to take and have your playlist ready to rock! (Don’t forget to fill the tank)
    • During your exam study breaks, pack a little. It gets you moving and you’ll get work done while you’re on your break. (Packing playlist anyone?)
  4. For more info on packing and some awesome tips for packing up specific items, check out our FAQ.

    This article was contributed by our friends at Dorm Room Movers.

Image by kcolwell, Flickr

Image by kcolwell, Flickr

Living with a total stranger might seem intimidating at first, but you can beat the initial awkwardness by making an effort to get to know your roommate. 

  • Grab a coffee or snack together. If you end up sitting stiffly across from each other in your empty dorm room, walking and talking might be a more comfortable and casual setting for that first conversation.
  • Don’t ignore your roommate! Say hello and goodbye when you enter and leave the room. Ask how their day went, invite them to grab a bite to eat, or introduce them to your friends.
  • If you already have a friend on campus, invite both of your roommates to hang out with the two of you.

Don’t expect to be instant best friends.

  • Focus on living compatibility. If you have a roommate who respects your sleeping schedule, cleanliness standards, and noise level tolerance, you’ve scored big time.
  • It’s nice to make an effort to include your roommate in social activities, but it’s also okay to have different friend groups as long as you can be open, polite, and comfortable while living with each other.
  • Remember, you’ve gone from not even knowing this person existed to living in a room with them. Allow your relationship to grow over time!

Set some boundaries and respect each other’s schedules, property, privacy, and personal space.

  • Respect your roommate’s sleeping schedule. Try not to be noisy or disruptive when they are trying to sleep.
  • Try not to be a slob! Keep your side of the room clean.
  • Don’t wear their clothes or eat their food without permission. Not okay.
  • Simply telling your roommate when you plan to invite friends over is not enough. Ask them if it is okay ahead of time, and don’t pressure them to say yes.

Communicate. Living with someone in close quarters is hard work, and you deserve to feel comfortable in your own living space. It is super important to be able to talk to your roommate about any problems you might be having.

  • Don’t assume your roommate can read your mind! He or she might be completely unaware that he or she does something that bugs you. On that note, ask your roommate if you do anything that bothers them. You might be doing something annoying, too!
  • The idea of confrontation might seem awkward and uncomfortable, but staying silent won’t solve any problems. Your stress and resentment might grow, and the tension will erode your relationship over time.
  • Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly – you don’t have to be overly critical or argumentative. Try to be calm, patient, honest, and prepared to compromise. Explain what’s bothering you, suggest a solution, and talk about it. Afterward, tell your roommate that you’re going to run out for a coffee, and offer to bring one back for them. It’ll give you both some space.

Be nice. Everyone gets stressed out and homesick at some point during the school year. You are the one person that your roommate will probably see every day – it’ll be nice if you can count on each other for support.

Good luck!