I can thank Grove City College for a lot of things—finding my calling in Communication Studies, the best friends I’ve ever had, a renewed desire for knowledge, and…
…an obsession with dorm room shopping.
Yes, you read that right. Who knew it could be so fun to shop for utilitarian things like lamps, pillows, and storage containers? I was amazed at the sheer volume of options and opportunities to create a new room from a blank slate (especially since the sponge paint and wallpaper of my childhood bedroom certainly weren’t going to be featured on HGTV any time soon). Freshman year, my parents and I arrived on Grove City’s beautiful campus loaded with Target’s finest pink and purple dorm room supplies, and I quickly learned that although I had purchased every school supply available, I didn’t bring anything fun to hang on my walls, let alone the right tape to do so!
I’m no Joanna Gaines, but I’ve learned a thing or two from my four years of residency at Grove City College, influenced and inspired by creative Grovers like Rachel and her artsy space. Here are my top tips to create the perfect freshman dorm room you’ll never want to leave (except, perhaps, for the more-than-occasional slew of exciting events on campus):
Overhead lights are fine and functional, but I’ve always preferred a softer light to come home to. With just a few strands of twinkly lights and a floor lamp, you can easily set the stage for a quiet study session, Bible study, or movie night with hall mates and friends. Be sure to check the list of recommended and restricted dorm items here before making your final purchases.
What’s the best way to make your room feel like home? Get creative with posters, sweet mementos and photos of home, and touches of DIY charm. Aside from putting you at ease as you get acclimated to new surroundings, personalized décor can be a great conversation starter. Pinterest projects are also a great and inexpensive way to spend a night in, so don’t forget to bring ideas for future crafts. My roommates and I LOVED making cute signs for our walls and door to encourage friends on the hall to stop in. (Be sure to pack a lot of 3M strips to make sure your hard work sticks!)
Mix it up!
Don’t be afraid to rearrange your furniture—and not just when you move in. Your bed, dresser, wardrobe, and drawers are all easily movable, so you can give your room a fresh look throughout the semester. After a few weeks into my freshman year, I realized the top bunk wasn’t for me, so my roommate and I easily de-bunked our beds and still had plenty of floor space. The beds in the girls’ dorms can also be lofted, allowing you to fit your desk and drawers underneath to give you even more room for spontaneous dance parties (or is that just me?).
*Disclaimer: The photo above is from the Colonial Hall Apartments, which is a residence option for upperclassmen, mainly seniors. Although the furniture is different on freshman residence halls, take inspiration for décor from the apartment blog posts incorporated into this email!
It’s cheesy, but the people really do make the place. Your RAs (resident assistants) are already eagerly anticipating your arrival, praying for you, and dreaming up fun ways for you to get to know your hallmates. Rest assured, there will be SO MANY opportunities for you to meet people, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there (and out of your room!) to meet others in the quiet moments between activities. Keep your door open when possible to encourage hall-mates to say “hi,” and don’t underestimate the power of an invitation for a mug of hot chocolate or snack. Think about bringing a few fun board games or a deck of cards for those chill nights in.
Most importantly, don’t forget to pack your sense of humor, patience, and understanding—show yourself grace as you’re moving in and making yourself at home. Arranging and rearranging (and rearranging AGAIN) in a new place can be stressful—but you’re not alone. Your RAs, roommates, and hall-mates are there for you, just a knock away!