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Fall has fallen upon us and the school year has started again, meaning thousands of college students have packed up their lives at home and crammed them into storage closet-sized rooms for the next year. While the small spaces can come across as quaint & cozy, the reality can often be cramped & cluttered. As a sophomore, I can attest to not having everything completely under control, but here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up to make the most out of dorm living!

Dishes & Utensils 

Assuming you’re going to want to eat food other than what’s offered in your school’s cafeterias, having your own supplies to do so are very helpful. When gathering said supplies, keep in mind that you’re going to be handwashing your own dishes, and unless you have the luxury of a suite-style room, you’ll most likely be taking all your soiled dishes to the community kitchen or bathroom to clean, so don’t overdo it. Mugs for instance, if big enough, can be multi-purposed as bowls too. A singular plate & set of utensils is more than enough for yourself provided you’re are responsible and wash them for next time when you’re done (please do this, as I’m sure your roommate will be grateful to not have to look at your 3-day old oatmeal). Disposable plates & silverware do have advantages as well, but in the interest of being eco-friendly, try to avoid them or only pull them out if you have multiple people over.  


Being as your dorm room is now your home away from home, decorations can really help make your room feel truly like your space. Blank walls are sad walls and often make the room look bleak and unlived in. For small spaces, filling the walls can create a lot more comfortable atmosphere. Trinkets, statues, etc. can look nice, but be mindful when thinking about your counter space. Plants, for instance, are great, due to the literal life they bring, and the fact that they are often kept on the windowsill for light. That cool dog statue though, that takes up a quarter of your desk can often cause more trouble than it’s worth when you need room to lay out a project or do homework and have to move it every time. Lighting can be a great way to change the vibe up as well. From everyone’s favorite fairy and LED lights to a cute lamp, let’s face it, anything is better than those nasty overhead lights. Mirrors are friends as well, try positioning your mirror across from a window to bounce the light around the room, ultimately making it appear bigger.  

Study Space 

If you’re like me, you love your bed and would spend all day there. But when it comes to schoolwork, take your laptop and notebooks elsewhere. It’s scientifically proven that doing things other than sleeping in your bed makes your brain associate your bed with those things. So, when it’s time to shut off and go to sleep, your brain thinks it’s time to surf the web or finish that paper, which will definitely not help you get the eight hours we all chase. With that in mind, take your work to your desk. Get a comfy chair if that will help you, or some cute pictures of you and your friends above your desk to remind you whenever you look up, that there one day will be a life without homework. If studying in your room still isn’t working or keeping you focused, go to your school’s library or coffee shop. Studious environments will put you in a studious mindset to help you be efficient and work hard. In addition, the staff at the library can always help you with tutoring, books on hand for research, or general assistance that the teddy bear on your bed simply cannot provide.  


Unless you’ve got a single room, there will be another human being sleeping not 10 feet away from you every night. To co-habituate in the best way possible, get to know them! You don’t have to be exactly alike, into all the same things, or mesh as people the best, but trying to at least figure out who they are as a person can make existing together so much easier. Some people choose their roommates beforehand, and if that’s you, you’re already golden. If you’re like me though and go in blind every time, it can be awkward. Don’t dismiss the person because you aren’t best friends the first week, give it time and you’ll eventually find yourself having long late-night chats about nothing in particular. They’re essentially a built-in friend, so if they’re down, explore campus together! Grab coffee or study at the library together, even activities that don’t require a lot of talking can help you become more accustomed to each other. Again, you’re living in the same room, might as well make the most of it and enjoy each other’s company. 

Communal Bathrooms 

This for sure was the part of dorm life I was dreading the most. Not having the comfort of your own bathroom to use as you please can be interesting at first, especially when you’re already running late, and all the showers are full. If you need to, other floors have bathrooms as well and while it may not be ideal, sneaking up or down a floor for a quick shower is never a bad idea. Shower caddy’s and shoes are a must as well. You don’t want to be soiling your clean feet with whatever grime is on the floor, nor do you want to be the girl who drops her shampoo on the floor every morning because she’s trying to hold eight other things as well. In past experience, I’ve found that bathrooms are actually great places to meet people on your floor and make friends. If you have a regular schedule, you’ll most likely be brushing your teeth next to the same few ladies every night, so get to know them! Dorms are so great for community and who knows, maybe asking if their face mask is effective could lead to a beautiful new self-care friendship. With this in mind, please be courteous to the other residents and janitorial staff by cleaning up after yourself. Don’t leave hair in the drain, pick up toilet paper if you drop it on the ground, and don’t leave trash everywhere. Common sense & respectfulness will aid you and everyone else in having a pleasant communal bathroom experience.  


College is what you make it, I know it sounds cheesy, but my goodness is it true. So, if you want to thrive at school, keep these tips & tricks in mind and make the most of your year however you see fit. You can’t get these years back when they’re gone, so go out there and kill the game ladies!  

Lauren Miller is a sophomore at Central Washington University majoring in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandizing. She enjoys Mac Miller, grapefruits, and acrylic nails. Her goal is to eventually study at Parsons School of Design in New York, and one day, be a designer at fashion weeks all over the world.
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