Monday, August 17, 2009

Surviving small spaces – The dorm

Congratulations!  Your student is off to college and to a new stage of independence. 

Depending on the type of room your student will be living in and how many room mates they have, you may need to alter this list.  It is especially important for roommates to talk before the initial move in date, if possible.  Not only will they be able to coordinate color schemes and make sure they aren’t bringing the exact same towels (nightmare!) but they will also know who is bringing the shower curtain, microwave, etc.  Most dorm rooms cannot accommodate excess furniture and will be equipped with a desk and chair, a bed, and a closet and dresser or a wardrobe.  Keep in mind that there will probably be a store nearby where you can buy laundry and cleaning products.  Not only will you not have to pack them, you can help your student map out a route to the store, see what else is along the way, and get used to their surroundings. 

First and foremost, think SPACE SAVING.


These hang in the closet and can be used to hold clothing, shoes, paper goods, and all sorts of odds+ends.  Sturdy.  Handy.  Inexpensive. 

Do not neglect the power of the over-the-door space.  Cubbies, towel bars, hooks, and mirrors with over the door hangers are a great way to save dorm room space.  If you have a bathroom, closet or wardrobe door… use them!!  (None of my dorm rooms even had closet doors.)


This is for use for more than shoes!  Think school supplies, messages, the possibilities are endless

      (Sheets, Comforter, Pillows, Light Blanket, Mattress Cover –you will want to cover your dorm mattress-trust us, and Mattress Topper)
Towels – 2 sets Don’t forget wash cloths and bath mat
Seasonal clothing
Sewing Kit (every RA doesn’t sew)
Small Tool Kit
Shower Caddy (to keep your stuff, well, your stuff)
Communal Shower? – Robe and Flip Flops
Electronics (Computer, Printer, Alarm Clock, Camera, CD Player, Ipod) 
–and accessories – mouse, paper, ink, CDs, chargers
Cell phone AND CHARGER

In the event that the student has kitchen access -
Skillet (for grilled cheese or eggs) *Rice-A-Roni is a college bonding food
One Pot (Mac N Cheese, anyone?)
And a measuring cup

Things that can be bought there:
Cleaning products
School supplies
A Rug
Cookware for the Microwave
Kitchen essentials (Foil, Plastic Wrap, Zip-seal Baggies, Food, Beverage, Towels, Oven Mitts, Etc)
Can opener
One good knife
Cheap Dinner Ware – plates, cups, spoon/fork/knife
Mug – coffee, tea, soup (Trust us, “Cup a Soup” isn’t the same in a solo cup.)
Extension Cords/Power strips
Desk lamp, if desk is not already equipped
Iron/Ironing Board (although you can always iron on your bed!)

Other things to keep in mind:
The extra large boxes of detergent may last all semester and be a little cheaper, but lugging it up and down three flights of stairs every time you need to do a load of wash is exhausting. 
Many dorms have extra long twin beds.  Regular twin sheets will not fit these beds.
Many students go home at Thanksgiving or between semesters – just in time for a change in seasonal clothing.
If you are an active participant in a certain sport, take your equipment (basketball, tennis racquet, etc).
Take it from a Florida girl, always pack a swimsuit.  It doesn’t take up that much space and it is one of those “you just never know” items. 
Inversely, you probably won’t need your snow boots in Florida, but you may need that swimsuit in Washington.
Pack a couple of business-type outfits for interviews/presentations.

Keep in mind that this is an especially emotional experience for even the most independent student.  Packing the stuff of life is more than just fitting belongings into suitcases, boxes, laundry baskets, and Rubbermaid bins.  While this isn’t just simple vacation packing, it usually isn’t moving out with all of one’s belongings either.  There will be a nearby store.  Parents will store out of season clothing/gear.  It is just the student and the empty dorm room.  Dorm rooms are usually tiny, but full of future adventure.

Thanks, as always, to my editor Elli.  Without you I wouldn’t be crossing all my T’s!  ~J

Julie Bavington
Organize With Julie, LLC
NAPO Member
If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized, and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  
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1 comment:

snaphappee said...

Great thoughts! I don't have one going off to college - this year. But in a couple years I may be pulling this back out to go over and over!