It’s college move-in time. For many, this is the first time students will be living away from home and moving into a smaller space. It might even be the first time sharing a room—and a bathroom—with someone. With a roommate and limited space, if you’re a soon-to-be college student, you might be in for a wake-up call.
A college dorm room isn’t just a bedroom anymore – it’s a kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom all in one. We’ve got some safe and easy problem-solvers to prepare you for dorm living.
1. Make Your Own First-Aid Kit
A parent isn’t going to be there with bandages and pain relievers whenever you need them. Putting together your own first-aid kit is an inexpensive and simple way to make sure you’re ready for any minor injuries or illnesses. It’s also something many first-time students forget. Pack a container with bandages, cough drops, cold medicine, antiseptic wipes, pain reliever and cotton balls.
2. Cool it Down
If your room comes without air conditioning it may get pretty hot, especially during the first few weeks. By hanging a damp towel in front of your window, you can quickly cool down your room and keep the hot air out. You can also put a frozen water bottle in front of a fan to help spread cool air on the really warm days.
3. Keep it Smelling Nice
Candles are a big no-no in dorms. They can be a safety hazard and set off fire alarms. Don’t worry – there are easier ways to keep your room smelling fresh and clean. Try putting a dryer sheet or car air freshener in front of your fan to freshen up your space. Wax warmers are another alternative.
4. Maximize Your Storage
Every inch of space matters in a dorm, so organization will be your best friend. Don’t underestimate the power of under the bed storage. A lot of dorm beds can be raised or lofted. If yours doesn’t, consider investing in bed risers.
Your closet can be just as powerful a friend when it comes to storage. You might want to bring your entire closet to school, but space is limited. When packing for school and before heading home for breaks, plan ahead for the change of weather, rotating clothes for each season and optimizing space in your closet for only the clothes you will wear. Use bins on the bottom and top of your closet for added storage. Folding your clothes and placing them vertically, not horizontally, in drawers can help add more space in your college dorm dresser. You’ll also have a better view of what clothes you brought.
5. Manage Your Time
You’re on your own for the first time and suddenly have club meetings, homework, group projects, practices (if you play a sport), classes and more to keep track of. Plug important deadlines into your phone calendar or a to-do list app like Todoist or Wunderlist so your schedule stays with you wherever you are on campus. Placing a dry erase board on your desk or wall can help you manage your time by creating the perfect check list, schedules for project and test dates, or messages for your roommate.
6. Make Laundry Day Easy
Invest in a laundry bag with straps or wheels. Often laundry rooms are in the dorm basements, not on your floor. Lugging a laundry basket or hamper up and down the elevator (or worse – the stairs) can be a real hassle. A laundry bag with straps or wheel will make your life so much easier.
7. Remember Your Keys
Losing a dorm key can be costly, but locking yourself out of your own dorm is time consuming and – let’s be honest – embarrassing. Attach your keys to a lanyard or a carabiner on your backpack. And when you get back into your room, place a hook or colorful container by the door to remind you when you leave to grab your keys. Just be sure to put them back in the same place each time.
8. Decorate Safely
Make your space your own, but beware that damage comes with fines. Washi tape, poster putty and removable adhesive-backed strips and hooks allow for easy, worry-free wall decoration. Extension cords can be a huge help when decorations, chargers or furniture quickly take up all the available outlets. However, improper use of extension cords can be dangerous and lead to severe damage. Check out our electrical extension cord tips to ensure easy dorm living.
9. Keep Your Stuff Safe
A college dorm is not the place for family heirlooms or expensive jewelry. If you have something of value you need to have on campus, consider investing in a safe. They provide safe storage for cash, credit cards, jewelry and more. For bigger valuables like a TV, laptop or game consoles, remember to lock your door and keep the items out of plain sight when not in use. Take pictures, label your name or write down serial numbers of your valuables so if something does go missing and is later found you can prove the item is yours.
College is a new experience with the chance to make new and possibly life-long friends. While you’ll be able to join tons of clubs and make friends in your classes, having an “open door” policy is another way to meet new people on your floor. Bring a door stop and prop your door open when you’re relaxing in your room. You’ll be surprised at how many people stop and say hi.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
There’s definitely a lot to look forward to when you move in. Remember, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and you can never be too cautious about your own safety. Always keep your door locked when you aren’t there and follow the dorm’s instructions to ensure you have a memorable experience and safe year.
One final tip for parents: Make sure your insurance coverage is up to date. If your student has a car for the first time or is making the move off campus to an apartment, contact us today to make sure your coverage makes the grade.
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