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Ah, college. A time of self-discovery, personal growth, and hopefully some learning along the way.

Before all that, though, there’s always one big hurdle to cross—moving into your dorm!

Dorm life can be a ton of fun, but it’s got a lot in common with moving into your first new apartment, or moving at all, which means it can be a huge pain. The stress of making sure you have everything is compacted by the fact that dorms don’t typically offer a lot of space.

But all is not lost! When your move-in day approaches, there’s a few things you can do to try and make it as stress-free as possible for everyone. Here’s a few tips we’ve pulled together to help try and smooth out some of the…less appealing parts of moving into your dorm:

 

Make sure you have everything by day 1

The last-minute scramble for school supplies doesn’t stop at college. In fact, it probably involves more stuff than ever because now you need to furnish your part of the dorm! Make sure to factor in enough time to buy both the regular round of school supplies (backpacks, pencils, probably a new tablet or two, etc) and the sort of creature comforts you’re going to need while you’re there like hampers, pillows, closet storage bins, and so on. You’re probably going to have a pretty long list, especially if you’re starting your freshman year, but going in with your list checked off will save a lot of time in the long run.

 

Get ready to move in a hurry

A lot of colleges will have set time limits on when you can move your things in, so whatever it is you’re bringing, try to make sure it can be set up quickly. Try to avoid taking a lot of bulky furniture, instead looking for things like office chairs and desks that can be assembled when you get there and moved into the dorm itself more easily. Keep all your clothes, supplies, and furniture neatly compacted and ready to move in a hurry—you don’t want to get shut out of your dorm with two bags left in the car!

 

Don’t be afraid to move stuff around

A lot of students think that the furniture that’s already in your dorm has to stay there, but in most cases it’s actually easier (and better in the long run) to move it around. Talk to your roommates to see what works best with what everyone brought with them, and feel free to relocate until everyone can stay organized. You need to make room for that fridge stand somehow, right?

 

Look up and down for organization

Due to the limited space of a dorm, you might have to think outside the box a little bit to make everything fit. Get some standing wire shelving for the walls without shelves (or hang wall shelves if your school allows it), store things under the bed or under the dresser as needed, and don’t be afraid to get a little more creative than you might have at home.

 

Don’t be afraid to send stuff back home

A big mistake a lot of people make when packing for their dorm is to overestimate how much they’ll need for their first few months there. Focus on seasonally-appropriate clothing and don’t get too bogged down on packing winter clothes just yet to save room. Bigger amenities like your video game collection and your favorite bike might be better off in your parents’ garage for the time being, as they’re going to be too much of a pain to store in such a limited space. It might be a little heartbreaking at first, but you’ll notice how much space you saved yourself and you’ll be glad you did it.

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