Summer’s half over, and all those 18-year-olds who graduated in May and June have packed up their rooms and headed out to Wal-Mart, Target, garage sales to find things for their new and exciting dorm rooms.

We all know that dorms can be a drag. But honestly, they’re what you make of them. Here’s a little bit of insider knowledge on getting the best out of the dorm experience.

1. Get moving

A lot of dorms come furnished, and the furniture is all in its place. But it doesn’t have to stay there. Move the furniture, the bed, the dresser, and anything else that’s on site in order to maximize natural light and space efficiency. Getting risers for the bed also creates extra storage room.

2. Don’t be afraid of color

College is a time to be bold. Want to have a bright-green bedspread or a funky zebra lamp? Go for it! Leave the Superman sheets at home and go for something a little more jazzy. A Google Image Search on “dorm room stuff” pulls up hit after hit of bold colors. Don’t be bland!

3. Get personal

Your parents don’t like your Sex Pistols poster or the wall of CDs you built? Who cares? You’re in college. Show off your personal style in your room.

Many kids come into their own, so to speak, when they’re in college. A lot has to do with the fact that, yeah, you’re away from people who try to regulate most of what you do. Bring your true personality into the room, and celebrate that your mom or dad won’t be able to tell you to take it down.

4. Clean

Seriously, kids. I know college is great because we don’t have to do chores and so on … but guys, dorms are small places and a mess is not cute. It doesn’t have to be pristine, but take out the trash regularly, make the bed, show off all the cool stuff you bought for the new dorm room.

When stuff breaks in the dorm, there’s usually a maintenance crew to fix it. But there’s no cleaning service and no Mom or Dad, so it’s all on you, okay? Get with it.

5. Let there be light

In addition to colored bedspreads and awesome posters, there needs to be light in the room. And little fluorescent bulbs aren’t gonna cut it. Get a desk lamp, a floor lamp, string up lights across the ceiling … just get some extra light in there.

It’ll make the space more friendly, and honestly, better light has been shown to increase productivity. Because as much fun as you’re going to have in your tricked-out dorm room, don’t forget that you’re there to get an education too.

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