How to Organize & Maximize Space in a College Dorm

College dorm rooms and student housing often provide small living quarters so it is important to organize and maximize the space to accommodate the students’ possessions while supporting this new phase of life. With the new semester just around the corner, now is time to start planning ahead and gathering the supplies to make the transition easier. 



You may have to purchase new bedding to fit the student’s bed. Unless making the bed is an already established habit, consider NOT buying a bunch of decorative throw pillows. These pillows end up on the floor and create clutter. Keep it simple.



Do not take more clothes and shoes than needed. Closet space is limited and cramming in a bunch of clothes that will never be worn is not going to help. To maximize space, use only thin hangers (I prefer velvet-lined so clothes do not slip off). Use clear crates or bins (see below) to hold shoes and purses. Place folded clothes and underclothes in drawers. Purge closets and drawers often.



Planning a supply run to Costco or Staples is a smart move. University bookstores generally charge a premium for supplies purchased there so figure out what supplies are needed and purchase them before starting school. Consider ordering online and take advantage of free shipping and student discounts, and have the items shipped directly to the new place.



Plastic stacking crates and bins are GREAT! They come in many colors and are very functional. A crate turned on its side creates a cubbie set-up, which can hold snacks and non-perishable food items, books, etc. Turned upright with the opening on top, these crates and bins can house out of season clothing, supplies, file folders, etc. Add a piece of wood or a sturdy tray to the top crate and voila, you now have a small table for a lamp, laptop, printer, or wireless speaker. IKEA , Target, and Wal-Mart are great places for inexpensive dorm furniture and supplies.

Study Space

Everyone has different needs regarding study space. If the student studies or does homework in their dorm room, create a space that is can be free of clutter and will provide ample “elbow” room. There are lots of organizing products in all price ranges that are intended to create a more organized and orderly space.  Here is a fun favorite from Pottery Barn.






By this age, hopefully every student has an established bank account. Not only is this an important part of maturing, it teaches responsibility, budgeting, and begins building a credit score. Credit unions and banks offer great incentives for students to establish savings, checking, and even credit cards (insist on low limits). Use this as a teaching moment, and go through the process of reconciliation a bank statement reminding them that this should be a monthly activity.


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