The first year away from home for a college freshman can be overwhelming. All of a sudden the checks and balances of home life with parental oversight, curfews, balanced meals and the family routine disappears. Use the summer months to help your college-bound freshman start the school year off right by providing ideas and resources to help her manage and organize her space and time.
"A plan will help [your student] keep things organized when packing and make the moving and getting settled process go so much smoother," says Pam Hagge, a family organization consultant and owner of Room for Improvement.
1. Small-space design star.
Encourage your college-bound teen to connect with her roommate before school starts to coordinate furnishings and avoid overpacking. Dorm rooms are generally small. Plan to divide the space into areas for sleeping, studying, relaxing, and snacking.
2. Raise the roof.
Loft beds lift sleeping quarters off the floor, creating additional space for study and living areas. Purchase or build your own. Or, check with students who are moving out of the dorms and are selling their loft beds through Craigslist or the dorm bulletin boards.
3. Stash it, store it, stack it.
Integrate multi-functional furnishings. If your student plans to set up a TV, for example, include a TV stand where he can also store healthy grab-and-go snacks. A storage ottoman is another great option, providing extra seating and a convenient spot to house shoes and other accessories.
4. Hook up.
With Command hooks, that is. "These hooks are great for coats, robes, wet towels, etc.," Hagge says. And, they're easy to remove when it's time to move out.
5. Stay scatter-free.
Use a portable shower caddy to keep bathing essentials together. A shower caddy is especially helpful for students who live in a dorm with community bathrooms.
6. Lay off on laundry.
Getting laundry done isn't always easy in the midst of a demanding college schedule. Hagge recommends bringing plenty of undergarments. Keep in mind that jeans, sweaters, and shirts can often be worn more than once, stretching out the time between visits to the laundry facilities.
7. Break it down.
Planning out efficient living quarters is important, but also map out schedules ahead of time. Becca Renteria, who just completed her freshman year at Kansas State University, says her planner is essential to keeping her organized. If available, she recommends purchasing the planner printed by the university. "These planners have a wealth of extra resources that can be extremely helpful such as maps of campus, drop days, athletic events, and campus events," she says.
8. Coordinate course work.
Once your student receives her course syllabuses, she can write down all the deadlines for assignments, projects, and tests in her planner. "I also like to write my course schedule at the front so I have that time blocked off," Renteria says. "After that, I add in all of the other activities such as work, practice, and leisure activities."
9. Think bright ideas.
Renteria says she uses different colored highlighters to help her manage her schedule. At a glance she can see if time is blocked off for work (blue), tests (yellow), and so on.
10. Get techy.
If a traditional planner isn't your student's style, check out a range of available apps for managing college schedules.
With a little foresight and coordinated planning, your newly minted freshman will have the mental and physical space to transition into college life successfully and invest his resources trailblazing his personal path to success.