As you begin to pack your child’s life into the car as they set off for college, you’ll notice just how much “stuff” they accumulate. While teens can’t take everything with them to college, there are ways to accommodate most of their things so their new dorm room feels like a home away from home.
Organizing expert Jill Pollack said the best use of space in a small dorm room is under the bed.
“You definitely have to utilize that space, so look for bins and boxes for under the bed storage like low, flat containers,” she said. “Those are perfect for sweaters or boots and since closet space is premium, you won’t have room for a shoe bag on the door, so it’s a good solution.”
Pollack also recommended using a shoe bag for the bathroom, especially if your new student is sharing a suite. Hair products, shampoo, slippers and shave gel are great items to stick right into the holders.
It’s also a smart idea to bring a good laundry basket and extra set of sheets so if the college freshman doesn’t feel like doing laundry, there’s still clean sheets to sleep on.
“Another great thing to do is to go up high on top of the closet. I like milk crates because they’re light and easy to stack,” she said. “A desktop organizer is a good thing to have to keep not only your stuff but your thoughts organized.”
As for utilizing wall space, Pollack, who is a huge fan of hooks, suggested the sticky hooks (like Command hooks) as they can hold a decent amount of weight and don’t ruin the walls. Hanging pajamas, sweatshirts, backpacks, purses and hats also saves some room in the closet.
“Don’t worry about the whole year, just get yourself set up,” advised Pollack on adjusting to the big transition. “College kids pack their lives into two or three suitcases, and learning to adapt is important. This is probably their first time away from home, and kids need to be responsible for their stuff.”
Pollack recommends that new students get the lay of the land at school first and then begin learning time management skills.
“Always find time and learn to manage it. Make an appointment with yourself for things you need to do, when and where you like to study, when you’ll do laundry, etc.” she said. “See what makes sense and don’t forget to socialize.”
A crucial component to getting used to any dorm room is the person you’ll be sharing it with, since you will be living with this roommate for the better part of a year, another change to adjust to.
“If possible, long before move-in week, get to know your roommate and discuss with them who brings the fridge and the television, and find out about what’s important to each other,” said Pollack on topics like study habits, pet peeves and general personality traits and interest. “It’s a relationship, and it’s something you need to negotiate and work on just like any other. Be respectful of your roommate in terms of cleanliness and sleeping schedules, and keep shared spaces like the bathroom neat for both parties. The key to living harmoniously in a new college dorm is open communication…and a little organization.”