Plastic milk crate shelves and cinderblock coffee table bases are so last century. Don't get us wrong, re-purposing is still cool; but knowing how much aesthetics as well as functionality can affect mood and productivity, it only makes sense to try to re-purpose with a little panache.
Take, for instance, those CDs that you last put into an actual CD player back in 2007. Artfully mount and frame one or more and you have (nearly) instant wall art.
Afraid of paper piles growing out of control once you inadvertently leave a few on a desk? Not ready to file them away? Use a system of overhead wires and small magnets to suspend important, urgent papers where you can see them. When they stop being urgent, take them down, file them, or purge them. That's just organizer-speak for getting them out of your life (trash, recycle, donate, whatever).
Short on cash? Nothing says you have to go on an expensive shopping spree to your local Swedish home decorating store, either -- although there's nothing wrong with that. You can find decent storage options at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets just as easily, and at prices that better reflect a college student's seat-cushion-found-change budget.
Will boring, legal file brown cardboard boxes clash with your design scheme? Spray paint 'em! (In an open, ventilated area of course -- not in the dorm.) You can also get rolls of colorful adhesive laminate to breathe new life into old but still functional containers and furniture.