Sarah’s College Survival Guide: 10 Dorm Living Tips

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider

Given that this weekend marks my last few days of living in a dorm room with my sweet roommate, I thought it was time to give some dorm living tips. First, I can only speak from experience, but I can say that dorm life has been one of my favorite parts about college. That might not be the case for everyone, but I personally found so many benefits of living on/close to campus, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re living away from home for the first time.

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{my dorm room set-up for the 2015-2016 school year}

If you’ve been following me on Instagram @sarah_thebella, I’m sure you’re very well-acquainted with my room. I’ve been in this comfy, little space for two years now, and I’ve really enjoyed it, but it did come with some difficulties. Dorm life was a big change for me, and sometimes, it wasn’t always easy sharing a small space and living in such close proximity with others, but I grew to love it…so much so, that I’ll be doing it again next year! Look out for some dorm inspiration posts on the blog, because I can’t wait to decorate again! For now, here are 10 dorm living tips for making your future dorm life livable, comfortable, and “home-y”:

1. Establish guidelines with your roommate(s) in the first couple weeks.
If you’re living with another person in your dorm room, it’s really important to establish some ground rules, because you probably have different living habits. Some examples of things to discuss include what to do when friends come over, what items in the room can be shared, or what to do if the other person comes back late at night. You’ll want to do it as soon as possible, so you avoid awkward, uncomfortable situations in the future.

2. Invest in a good set of headphones.
Dorm walls can be thin! If you don’t want to be distracted by noises outside your room, I highly recommend buying a good set of headphones or earplugs to block out sound. I use these Panasonic headphones, because they’re super affordable and get the job done, but if you’re easily distracted by noise, I recommend investing in a better pair like these Bose noise cancelling headphones.

3. Make your bed in the morning.
Making my bed was a rare occasion in high school. My mom used to nag at me every day to make my bed, and I hated doing it – especially since I was gonna mess it up the same night anyways! It was a different story when I came to college though. Since our beds took up such a large area in our space, they were a huge eye sore if they were unmade. So, my roommate and I agreed to make our beds in the morning. They really did make our room look cleaner, and after a long day, it was really nice coming home to a nicely-made bed.

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{cute + practical storage}

4. Don’t sacrifice practicality for a cute room. 
Like many high school seniors ready to go off to college, I had a dorm room Pinterest board dedicated to dorm decor and DIYs. I was obsessed with wanting to make my room look good! I learned in my first year of college that it’s not worth having a cute room if you can’t use the space properly. For example, I chose to put all my textbooks on a top shelf, since I thought they were an eye sore. It wasn’t a good idea, since I always needed to stand on my chair to reach for them. This year, I learned to put the things I reach for most in more practical places, which has been really helpful in saving time.

5. Be prepared with necessities before you get sick.
When living in such close proximity with so many people, getting sick is inevitable. The germs spread fast, so make sure you’ve stocked up on vitamins, medication, stuffed animals, or whatever else you need when that time comes around!

6. Closet space is limited. Bring only what you need.
I made the mistake of bringing my entire wardrobe my freshman year. It was hard to decide what I wanted to bring, so I just brought it all! My tips for a college wardrobe could probably make another blog post in itself, but as a guideline, bring a few “going out clothes”, a set of “interview clothes”, and stock up on comfortable and practical everyday pieces. Most girls on college campuses prioritize comfort above everything else, so workout clothes, soft tees, and leggings will be your best friends! Besides those, I think every girl should own these closet essentials.

7. Participate in dorm events!
You’re not guaranteed to be close to your roommate or people in your hall, but I found some of my best friends living in a dorm setting by actively going to events hosted by my dorm. If your dorm hosts events free for residents like the Casino Night we had in our dorm a few weeks ago, make your best effort to attend! Your dorm experience is what you make of it…and who knows. You might just find your best friends!

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{amazing roommate and neighbors from freshman year}

8. Find time to organize in the first few weeks.
If you spend your first few weeks finding a “home” for all your things, I promise you’ll thank yourself later. I really appreciated that my roommate had a label maker, because I was able to label anything I needed. I also really loved having these drawer organizers for my underwear and clothes. They were so, so helpful getting ready for the day.

9. Don’t trust everyone.
Some people won’t be as nice as you, and you don’t want to learn this the hard way. I feel grateful to live in a place where I feel comfortable leaving my things around the dorm and lots of girls are willing to share their things, but this isn’t always the case. Be careful where you leave your belongings, and try not to leave them unattended, so they don’t get stolen!

10. Buy multi-purpose products to save space.
Most people don’t have a lot of space in their dorm rooms, so it’s best to buy products that will serve multiple uses. My favorite example is washi tape. Washi tape is the best, because you can use it to label things, stick papers on your wall, and decorate your planner, so you eliminate the need for other items. Some other multi-purpose products I really like are my organizer task lamp that also doubles as an organizer and another outlet.

Thank you for stopping by on the blog today! I’ll be studying this weekend for my last final on Monday, so…it is what it is. Haha! Hopefully I find some time to relax, too! I’ve linked some products below of things I talked about/pictured in this post, but stay tuned for some fun upcoming College Survival Guide posts like my picks for the best graduation presents and some essential items you need in your college dorm room. Have a great weekend!


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  1. 5.14.16
    Unknown said:

    such great ideas and soooo pretty!! Love it♥
    Selina | Selinas Inspiration

  2. 5.15.16
    Sarah said:

    Thank you for the sweet comment, Selina! Hope you're having a great weekend! XO, Sarah

  3. 5.15.16

    I was privileged to read your post. and I left a comment. so great to meet you. I’m “following” you. I hope you have a great weekend.

  4. 5.17.16
    Sarah said:

    Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! XO, Sarah

  5. 5.23.16
    Unknown said:

    your dorm room is way too cute!!!! I don't have a dorm but I may need that palm pillow for my home!!

  6. 5.23.16
    Sarah said:

    Ah you're so sweet, Vanessa! Thanks so much! It's such a fun piece and it really brightens up the room. XO, Sarah