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I spent this summer – my last summer as a student ever – interning here at HGTV.com. The beginning of August has only reminded me that it’s only a matter of weeks before I head back to class for my final semester at the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!).

I’ve lived on campus all four years of my college experience – two years in a “traditional” two-person dorm and two years in an on-campus apartment. At this point I could probably, pack, unpack and rearrange all the furniture to maximize the space in just a few hours.

That wisdom came with experience, however. Like many other students, I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college fretting over what to bring to my new home. Mix together my panic with graduation money and things quickly got out of hand:

What I Thought I Needed to Be Organized:

What I Actually Needed:

  • Paper shredder
  • 10 composition books
  • Multiple laundry bags
  • Laundry basket
  • More than three rolls of tape
  • Magazine rack
  • A plastic bin in every size
  • High school term papers, “for reference”
  • Pocket shoe organizer
  • Hangers

Needless to say I went overboard, much to the dismay of my poor parents who had to lug it all across the state only to have to turn around and take it all back when everything was intruding on my roommate’s side of our tiny room. Here’s what I’ve learned from the chaotic mistakes I made:

320 Sycamore shoe organizer idea

Melissa from 320 * Sycamore cut a hanging shoe rack to fit her narrow closet doors.

My favorite trick for keeping things tidy is investing in a couple over-the-door pocket shoe organizers. They’re inexpensive and readily available in stores at this time of year. They have deep pockets – making them perfect for stashing toiletries, school supplies, and snacks – and what’s best is that you can keep them behind a door or tucked away in the closet.

You could also try attaching clear folders to the wall for a neat place to hold homework, papers or a collection of menus for those late-night hunger pains:

hanging pocket folder organizer

Remember that whatever you do, organization is priority number one in a dorm room. Priority number two is not attempting to take your house with you to college.

For more creative ideas on controlling clutter in a dorm or small space, check out:

Clever Uses for Everyday Items in the Home Office

Repurposing Household Items for Closet Organization

Stylish Storage Solutions



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Jessica YonkerJessica Yonker is a writer for HGTV.com and a professional glitter handler in training. She loves decorating her friends' homes without their permission and practicing for her inevitable appearance on...


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