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Articles / Campus Life / Your Future Dorm Room

Dec. 9, 2014

Your Future Dorm Room

High school seniors have already begun to receive the results of their Early Action and Early Decision applications. Next week, the big mid-December week, will bring the Ivies' ED/SCEA decisions. April may be the cruelest month for the Regular Decision crowd, but December can be one of both elation and disappointment for early applicants.

My topic today addresses dorm rooms and their “decor" (if, indeed, that term may apply to a room where college students live). Gender can play a significant part in how your future dorm room may look. If you are a guy, your room may benefit more from a Spartanesque approach. Simple functionality can pay off by making your room easier to clean, assuming that cleaning is, in fact, on your to-do list. A well-placed TV, futon, or empty beer can temple can augment your simple decorating tastes.

However, if you are female, well, then your room may function as a projection of your good taste and personality. Of course, if you're sharing your room with fellow females, then there may be a need for a United Nations-like summit to decide on what goes where.

Whatever your situation, as you begin to fantasize about your first-year residential college experience, I thought that I would throw some fuel upon your imagination fires to help you gather a plan for upgrading that industrial cinder block domicile where you'll be spending the better part of nine months, starting next year.

Our friends over at Campus Grotto sent me a great article that provides plenty of quality inspiration for your decorating duties. Here are some highlights, with Grotto's permission, and a few pictures from there presentation. I strongly urge you to check out the article and be amazed at some of the extremely elaborate approaches others have taken with their dorm rooms.

Grotto begins with an overview:

When you first enter an empty dorm you may notice the room looks quite minimal and you can't fathom how you and another roommate are going to live in this space for an entire year. Tiny dorm rooms with cinder block walls, florescent lighting, and little to no carpet come off a little institutional looking and are very uninspiring.

While many colleges around the nation have made a push to design more luxurious dorms over the past few years, it's your job to transform your dorm room into a more livable space. This is your home away from home while you're going to school, so you'll want to add as much comfort and personality to the room as possible. Given the small size of the room, designing a dorm becomes a test in utilizing space in the best possible manner.

Use these dorm room ideas to spur your creativity as you design your space.

Wall Decor

A dorm with plain and bare walls is boring and isn't going to cut it in college. You need to cover walls with the best possible decor you can come up with on a college budget.

Dorm Bed Ideas

Unfortunately, the bed is the centerpiece of most college dorm rooms. You can either hide it the best you can or accentuate it by adding duvet covers, throw pillows, and other bedroom decor.


Your desk is your sanctuary when it comes to getting work done in your dorm. You don't want plain and boring; you want something that inspires, keeps you motivated, and puts you in a positive mindset.

Dorm Storage and Organization Ideas

Your room would be a chaotic mess without proper organization.

Other Dorm Room Ideas


Dorm door mural.


The above is just an excerpt of all the good ideas that College Grotto offers on the subject of dorm room creativity. I have to laugh when I think of what my first-year dorm room was like. The pictures from the Grotto article look like the Presidential Suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City compared to what I lived in. At least we didn't have bed bugs or fleas.

So, spend some quality time thinking about how to make your dorm room a place where you'll want to be, rather than a place to avoid. To inspire you to upgrade your room's decor and make it more attractive, just do a simple calculation. Divide the number of nights you'll be spending there over the course of the academic year into the total cost of one year of college. That will give you a crude daily rate, just as if you were staying in a hotel (maybe the Plaza!). That should make you want to take full advantage of that likely pedestrian-looking little room from Day 1.


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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