By Dean Tsouvalas
Domenique Ciavattone is a junior at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., and a dual communication/global issues major. She says keeping a neat and healthy room is important for college students, and is a good investment of time that pays off in better grades, comfortable campus living and peace of mind.
1. Buy items that serve dual purposes.
Clutter, she says, is every student’s common enemy. “One great way to unclutter your space is to look for and buy those items that serve dual purposes,” she says. “I bought a lamp that is also an all-in-one organizer,” she says. “They can hold paper clips, post-it notes, pens, pencils, tape…lots of students use them and they’re available at Staples, Target and other stores.”
Furniture that also serves several different functions is key, according to Domenique. “Lots of students like to put their beds up on risers and then store things in bins underneath,” she says. “They now make ottomans with a top that opens for storage and other multifunction features that are perfect for uncluttering a room and getting the most out of your living space on campus.”
She says desk organizers are also a must to keep your work space uncluttered. “While some students say that they do most of their studying at the library, the fact is you need to keep your study area clean in your room,” Domenique explains. “When a room is messy, it is hard to work there, and I have always felt that it is important to keep the spot where you study there as clean as possible, because it’s the place you come back to…even if you do study at the library, you end up back in your room, and often finish your work, there.”
2. Keep a personal recycling bin.
Cardboard, paper, beverage bottles and other recyclables are common-clutter items in any dorm room, according to Domenique. “While most college residence halls today feature recycling bins for students, it’s good to have a container or two in your room dedicated to recycling, because you may not always want to make that trip down the hall or to another part of the building–and things can pile up fast,” she says. “I keep a couple of containers in my room exclusively for recycling, and it’s easier to dump them out once a day than to make multiple trips.”
3. Sanitize your surfaces.
Finally, she says, staying healthy on a college campus can be a challenge, especially during the colder months. “It’s easy to get sick when everyone seems to get a cold,” she explains. “I keep a container of Lysol wipes in my room and wipe down all the surfaces once a week,” she says. “It doesn’t take much time, and it is a lot better than getting sick.”
4. Keep the food situation under control.
Sheryl Delieto is a junior at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., where she majors in fine arts and photography. She says keeping a clean living area means students must learn to handle food (and food boundaries) in a different way from their home situation, where family members typically raid what’s in sight during mealtimes or when they’re hungry—then leave it up to parents to ask them to do the dishes. The more casual atmosphere of college sometimes makes it easy to forget this, but not letting a food situation get out of hand is important, she says.
Whether you’re sharing a small fridge in the residence halls or a full kitchen in a campus apartment, there are new rules to learn. Because some people may buy the same products, she recommends “writing your name on the food packaging or assigning different areas of the fridge” for each roommate. “Unless you are living with really good friends, it sometimes becomes a free for all,” she says. Hurt feelings, or a messy kitchen or both are a common result.
As for shared food, Sheryl notes, a good rule is to “never eat the last of something without asking.” She also feels it is important for all roommates to “share responsibility and take turns doing the dishes” so they don’t pile up–and turn into a science experiment.
5. Bring a bike to campus.
“The best advice I would give an incoming freshman would be to bring a bike with them,” says Ashton Cortright, a senior business administration major at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. “Instead of bringing a car, or relying on others for transportation, or depending entirely on your feet to get around, having a bicycle for transportation, exercise and fun, right from the start, is a really smart move.”
On some campuses, she notes, freshmen are not allowed to bring a car. “No campus in the country prohibits you from bringing a bike—and many colleges and universities are adapting to the new interest in cycling, adding more bike racks, providing better storage for bikes and are encouraging you to bring a bike,” she says. “Frankly, there’s no better way to wake up in the morning and to arrive feeling great and prepared for class,” she adds. “It’s even better than a cup of coffee.”
She says riding a bike helps new students meet new people, fellow students, staff and faculty members who share a bond in their preferred method of transportation. “Here’s a well-kept secret that I’d like to share with freshmen,” she adds. “Having a bike means that you can get to your first class more quickly than if you walk or even if you drive, bypassing traffic, not having to find parking…as a result, you can actually sleep in a little later, each morning.”