As 20th century architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said, "Less is more."
Ten years after you've graduated college, you probably won't even remember, much less look back fondly upon, all the gadgets you owned or souvenirs you acquired in that four-year (or so) sprint through early adulthood. More likely, your best memories will be shaped by the experiences you shared with classmates. Your relationships, triumphs, struggles and personal growth as part of a community -- items without a price tag but that carry infinite value -- will vastly eclipse in importance the material concerns of college that seemed so critical at the time.
No one expects you to live like a Gregorian monk when you move into the dorm. (Well, your parents would probably love that, but let's be realistic.) What we invite you to consider is the notion that "less is more" when it comes to stuff. Especially in a cramped dorm room.
Think about it another way: The less stuff you bring, the less you have to pack and schlep when it's time to move out. That also means the less you'll potentially have to toss, so living light is also good for the planet.
Tip: If you really want to save money and the environment, visit a college campus at the end of the semester before your scheduled start; Bring a pickup truck or moving van; load up on perfectly good loot that upperclassmen and graduates are throwing away; then stow it all safely in your parents' garage or shed, or in a private storage unit until your move-in day!
So here's the big picture: Neatniks (neat and organized people) have gotten a bit of a bad rap over time as compulsive individuals, people who are perhaps overly obsessed with creating and maintaining order in what they perceive as a messy world. In actuality, being organized enough to use your dorm storage wisely is a worthy discipline. Like all disciplines, it's hard work -- until it isn't. Put another way, it might feel like a lot of effort until you're so used to it that it no longer seems like work. It stops being something you do, and becomes rather something you are.
We'll leave the last word to our organizing expert Ellen Faye, who says, "Any investment of time in getting organized will pay off many-fold in the future. You attain (an organizing mindset) by doing it a little and finding success. When you see that order makes life easier you'll be much more motivated to invest the time to create the order. The more success you have the more you're willing to put the time in. The more time you invest in getting organized, the more success you'll have."
Author's Note: 5 Tips for Making the Most of Dorm Storage Space
When you have a whole lot of space, it's difficult to nigh impossible to resist the urge to fill it! More space, for many people, means acquiring more stuff to make it feel less empty, which means working longer and harder to pay for said stuff, which means finding a bigger and more expensive place...with yet more space. It's a recipe for living life on a hamster wheel. The good news is you can establish good organizational habits now to live life more on your terms, and the college dorm is an ideal place to learn. One of the smartest life skills a student can pick up is good space management and personal organization. You might not be graded on these directly, but they will make your academic life far less stressful. What's more, those learned skills will prepare you well for handling the constant barrage of demands you face once you enter "the real world" of managing a career and personal life.
- College-Connecting.com. "How Big Are College Dorms? (And Other Questions About Living Arrangements in College)." (July 21, 2012) http://www.college-connecting.com/blog/how-big-are-college-dorms/
- Faye, Ellen. "Dorm Room Organizing Tips." Ellenfaye.com / Ellen Faye Organization. (July 22, 2012) http://www.ellenfaye.com/ellen_files/Dorm%20Room%20Organizing%20Tips.pdf
- Faye, Ellen. Certified Professional Organizer. Personal interview (electronic). Conducted on July 31, 2012.
- Stevens, Lt. Col. Mark. "Institutional Corrections." North Carolina Wesleyan College. Jan. 6, 2004. (July 20, 2012) http://faculty.ncwc.edu/mstevens/111/111lect12.htm
- The Container Store. "The Dorm Room Basic Six." (July 19, 2012) http://www.containerstore.com/tip/college/basicsix
- Unclutterer.com. "Organizing your dorm room." July 26, 2007. (July 22, 2012) http://unclutterer.com/2007/07/26/organizing-your-dorm-room/
- Wermick, Ashley. "Dorm 101: Must-Haves for Dorm Room Organization." CollegeFashion.net. Aug. 22, 2010. (July 19, 2012) http://www.collegefashion.net/author/ashley/
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