4 areas your child should declutter before heading off to college

Women in a house putting books in a box

The average American university and college dorm room is about 12 feet by 19 feet. Most of these rooms house two students, which means the amount of space a student has for his or her belongings is a mere 114 square feet. The back to school season is upon us and as many students prepare for their first year away at college, many households have some serious organizing – and decluttering – to do.

How to declutter to improve dorm room organization

To make the most of a dorm room’s small size, declutter the 4 areas below to improve the overall organization and functionality of the space.

1. Dorm closets

It’s likely there will be very little closet space in the dorm. The weeks leading up to the first day of school is a good time for you and your teen to sit down together to go through their clothes and belongings. Anything that has been sitting unused at the back of the closet or dresser drawer for more than a year can most definitely go. Before packing clothes for college, every item should be tried on. If it doesn’t fit, it should not be packed.

2. Dorm desks

In terms of workspace, dorm desks usually only have room for a laptop and a lamp. Don’t expect many desk drawers either. Ask your teen to pare down on school supplies that will no longer be needed at the college level. Those dried-out markers and glue can be tossed. If there are notes from high school your teen wants to bring to college, these should be put on to USBs to save space and reduce desk clutter.  

3. Dorm Bathrooms

It’s likely your teen will have a communal bathroom in the dorm. This means all toiletries should be able to fit into a shower caddy. Empty out the bathroom cabinet and toss any expired products and old makeup. Consolidate half-empty bottles of product and toss any old hair appliances that are no longer working.

4. Sentimental Items

It can be hard for a teen to part with sentimental things. To help with the process, ask, “do you remember exactly what this is from?” and “why is it important to you?” Asking these questions will make it easier to part with clutter. Consider keeping all sentimental items in one memory box, so that the bedroom at home doesn’t become a storage room for every single school project and sports trophy.  

Remember to pack up for college together so that you aren’t constantly getting calls and emails from school about misplaced items. Make it clear that the bedroom at home can’t be used as a storage room while they’re away.

When kids come home for Thanksgiving you may find they are ready to part with even more of the things they left behind.  

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