2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, college students included. This spring, due to the COVID-19 crisis, virtually all college students had to pack up their stuff and leave campuses at a moment’s notice — a logistic nightmare for most.

Universities around the country are currently making plans for the fall semester. For some, online classes will continue, while others have the option of returning to school in late summer or early autumn. One of the country’s busiest college cities, Durham, North Carolina, will see at least a portion of its college students enrolled in the local universities returning by the end of the summer.

College students expected back in Durham in early fall

A portion of Duke University’s undergraduate students in Durham have the option of arriving back at campus as early as mid-August for a shortened semester that will conclude before Thanksgiving. The University decided to reduce the on-campus student population by 30 percent in order to create a safer environment.

This means that campus housing will be available only for first-year students, sophomores, and students that require accommodation due to academic or personal reasons. The rest will continue learning from home. “This change in plans is deeply disappointing for all of us,” said Duke’s University President Vincent E. Price. “At the same time, the challenges we face together are temporary, and we are working to ensure both that the Duke experience we are offering this fall lives up to our extraordinary potential and that the Duke of the years to come is an even stronger, more vibrant community,” he added.

North Carolina Central University is also preparing to welcome students safely back to its Durham campus at the end of August, for a semester that will end on November 24, 2020.

One thing is clear, though: this year, more than ever, it’s important to properly organize your dorm room and all your stuff. A neat, decluttered room will help you stick to the social distancing, health and hygiene rules. Also, should the situation require, you’ll be packed and ready to go in no time.

Here’s how to make sure your dorm room is up to the task during these unprecedented times:

1. Focus on categories

Go through your stuff and sort everything based on categories – books and office supplies, clothes, shoes, electronics, kitchen items. This way, you’ll be able to decide if you have packed too many of the same types of items and to leave a few unnecessary things behind.

Once you’re ready to unpack, you can designate areas for each category of items – a move that will allow you to stay organized and find anything you need quickly. For example, you can turn your nightstand into a media unit for your laptop, phone, tablet, and so on with the help of a charger station. That would save you a lot of space and also help you when you need to look for your chargers and an available power outlet.

An inexpensive and easy-to-install over-the-door shoe organizer helps you group all your footwear together, so you’ll always know where to find them. Also, in case you need to pack up your dorm room at short notice, you can simply fold the organizer with the shoes inside. Follow this organizational rule for all your belongings and you’ll end up with a streamlined, easy-to-clean dorm room.

2. Use baskets, boxes, and closet organizers

Invest in good quality containers for your dorm room. Under-bed storage bags or boxes will actually double the capacity of your closet, but just make sure you buy ones that are lidded, to avoid dust bunnies getting into your clothes.

Foldable boxes and drawer divider bins allow you to fit more stuff into your closet and drawers than you thought possible, and they’re also easy to put away while not in use. Finding a particular item in the closet becomes easier, and so does keeping your wardrobe in perfect order.

A few basic baskets around the room – behind the door, or next to the bed or the desk – are very helpful for containing the clutter. Whether it’s an extra blanket or pillow, your backpack, gym bag, umbrella and so on, the goal is to have your stuff away from your floors and chairs and neatly packed in containers.

3. Rent a self storage unit

Dorm rooms are small, and you probably have roommates, so, inevitably, there’s very little storage space available. You can compensate for that by renting a self storage unit in Durham, located close to your dorm. This way, you can enjoy a neat, clutter-free room while still having the things you need at arm’s reach. Moving in and out of the dorm room is also a lot more manageable if you rent a storage unit.

4. Invest in a good quality desk organizer set

It’s difficult to focus and get your schoolwork done when your desk is a mess of textbooks, notebooks, post-its, and pens. A sturdy desk organizer with multiple compartments, capable of holding all of your stuff, makes a world of difference. This way, you’ll be able to thoroughly and regularly wipe and disinfect your work surface, which is a must during these times.

5. Keep the cleaning supplies at hand

The experience of going to college doesn’t normally include a lot of dorm room cleaning, but it looks like, this year at least, students will have to be a little more diligent about it. One way to ease up the task of cleaning your dorm room is to put together a cleaning caddy with all that’s needed – paper towels, clothes, sponges, and cleaning and disinfecting sprays. Keep the caddy at hand and wipe all the surfaces in your room and bathroom regularly.

6. Get a heavy-duty laundry basket

Doing laundry is not fun, but unfortunately it must be done regularly, now more so than ever. A heavy-duty laundry basket that properly holds your dirty clothes and your detergent will make the chore more bearable. Make sure you get one with comfortable handles, that you can easily carry between your dorm room and the laundry room.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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