College Life: Freedom and Small Spaces

A Convocation degree certificate

Oh yes, college. The first time many kids are freed from the strict rules of their parents and are free to form their own identities. For many this is a struggle between finding the right balance of social life and studying – after all, you aren’t having a college experience if you flunk out. There are about a million different sources of stress that a student might have, because it is exactly like high school, except with harder classes, busier schedules, less home and more work. One of the worst things, for me when I was starting out, was adjusting to the dorm room. The thing is functionally a closet. There was hardly enough room to turn around without hitting my roommate. If you are moving into a small space for the first time, here are a few things I wish that I knew from the start.

Vault the Bed

Bunk bed

You are really going to want to vault the beds. Yea, this will mean that you must climb into bed, but it also means that now you have the whole space under the bed for storage or desk space. Believe me, that’s what you’ll want. The bedroom is tiny, and it will not get bigger over the semester, it will never feel bigger. It will only slowly eat away at you.

Organize Yourself

Organised place

I don’t know if I have already said this, but the space is small. Any amount of clutter will look horrible. You need to organize everything, that doesn’t mean that everything should be practically perfect in every way all the time. It does mean that you should probably sweep the floor every couple of days, probably keep the desk clean.

That Furniture Probably Stays


My dorm room was made to seem much smaller than it was by the presence of two dressers, wardrobes, desks, night stands, and chairs. I wasn’t allowed to get rid of them, they were part and parcel to the room. What we did was put the night stands inside the dressers so they were out of the way, and then stacked the dressers on top of each other. It wasn’t the best system in the world, but it freed up a lot of space. There wasn’t much that could be done about the chairs. We needed the chairs.

Realize Right Now That You Have Too Much Stuff

  • Electonics boxes

You have too much stuff. Odds are you are coming from a situation where you have your own room, with a closet and a dresser all to yourself and life is great and wonderful. You are going to occupy a 100 square-foot space with another person who had the same experience. You both have too much stuff. Not all your clothes are going to be in your dorm room. There is not room for your book collection. You will not pass go, you will not collect $200.

Over the Door Storage is Your Friend

Over door storage

You cannot utilize floating shelves, you cannot hang things from the ceilings, you cannot really alter the room in any way. What you can do is get some of those over the door shoe holder things and use them as general storage. That will go a long way to help keeping the place organized. Believe me you will need it.

Dorm living is hard. I didn’t have a kitchen, shared a bathroom with three other guys and they were filthy, and neither my roommate nor I realized that we had so much stuff. That was all a part of the learning experience. Learning what you have and learning what you need and how those two overlaps, but more importantly learning where they should.

Something else that is incredibly important, and especially if you are going far from home for school, get a storage unit for books or clothes. You might have brought it with you, and realized that you just don’t have room for it. This provides a great solution to that problem, and will allow you to easily transition to a better place after your dorm life is over.


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