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student housing

Student Life

8 DIY Dorm Room Storage Tips for College Students

March 23, 2021

Dorm rooms are notorious for being small, crowded, and in most cases, outdated. To make matters worse, you either end up sharing a dorm room with a complete stranger or living in close quarters with no break from a friend. Dorm life can be stressful! Add clutter into the mix and it’s a recipe for frustration, anxiety, and an overstimulating environment. Most dorm rooms are equipped with a bed, desk, and dresser for each inhabitant, but have minimal open floor space no matter how you lay the room out.

The good news is that there are ways to make your dorm room a more comfortable, livable space by increasing storage and reducing clutter. Here are the top DIYs to keep things neat and tidy in your dorm.

1. Add Shelving: In a dorm room, shelves are your best friend! While many dorms have restrictions on what can and cannot be installed on the walls, there are shelving options you can purchase or DIY that are made to sit on your dorm desk. They are raised enough to not infringe on your workspace while still offering convenient access to things you may need, like books and chargers. Plus, if you have a cat, they’ll love this idea too. Cats always need a space up high to rest and observe.

2. Make Use of Underbed Space: The beds in dorm rooms are usually relatively small and lightweight, making them good candidates for being set onto risers. The higher your bed, the more storage space you open for yourself underneath. The options for shelves, baskets, and tables that can comfortably sit underneath a dorm bed on risers are virtually unlimited.

3. Don’t Waste Door Space: The back of your dorm room door and closet door are perfect spots to add more storage for bulky items, like shoes, and small items, like jewelry and makeup. Over-door storage bags are available with all kinds of different shapes and sizes of cubbies and pouches. There are even shower curtains with storage pockets that you could DIY into back of door storage.

4. Baskets: You can find baskets in all sizes and materials, with some being cute and made to be seen, while others are better kept put away. You can even purchase plain baskets or “ugly” baskets and DIY them into something that suits your aesthetic. Regardless of the kind of basket you choose, you can use baskets for just about anything. Dirty laundry, food, school supplies, and hygiene supplies can all be kept in baskets, making for easy access without adding clutter. 

5. Get a Rolling Cart: Rolling carts make great dorm room storage additions because you can use them to keep just about anything out of the way and off the floor, but you can easily scoot them out of the way to access other areas anytime you need to. Hardware stores carry wheels you can attach to furniture items, so you can even DIY your own rolling carts with baskets or shelves.

6. Use Magnets: Magnets are an inexpensive, accessible storage solution. You can attach magnets to just about anything and then store the magnetized items on metallic surfaces. You can use this trick for spices, hygiene supplies, towel hooks, and most lightweight items. If you have a large enough metallic surface, you can even attach magnets to a basket and make use of the storage potential of the exterior of a dorm refrigerator.

7. Pegboards: While pegboards may not be the most attractive items, they are an excellent space-saving solution and can be more chic than you might think. Pegboard hooks can be rearranged to allow space for even oddly shaped or sized items. A pegboard can be rearranged at will to meet your current storage needs, whether you changed to new products or the seasons changed. Pegboards are often lightweight enough to be mounted with sticky strips or magnets, so they can be used for storage in open wall space.

8. Eliminate Excess: You can open up dorm space by doing something as simple as getting rid of items you don’t use or need. Have you moved from your summer wardrobe to your winter wardrobe? See if you can store your warm weather clothes with a family member or friend. Maybe it’s a new semester and you don’t need all your textbooks anymore. Look into textbook buyback programs, selling your textbooks online, or offer them to a friend or underclassman who is entering the course you just completed. Anything you can do to clean up items that do nothing but take up space will help you make your dorm more comfortable.

Conclusion

DIY projects are a great way to make your dorm room your own creation and to unwind after long hours of schoolwork. DIY dorm room storage won’t just add to your aesthetic, either. Increasing storage in your dorm room will improve your mood, decrease your frustration and anxiety, and help you have more pleasant interactions with people, especially your roommate. 

Dorm living and college are both stressful enough on their own. A dirty, cluttered, chaotic environment will only increase your stress levels. Imagine how much more relaxed you’ll feel by having an open workspace for studying or enough open floor space to practice yoga or meditation. And of course, don’t forget to protect all of your stuff from the unexpected with renters insurance!

Student Life

Your Rights as a Renter: A Guide for College Students

February 4, 2021

Going to college is a huge opportunity and one that offers an incredible number of unique and first-time experiences. At the same time, it will likely be the first time you’ve lived away from home, figured out your schedule, and made your own rules.

Amongst all of these first-time experiences, there are a couple of instances where you may be taken advantage of because of your inexperience with the process. Some of these instances may orient around your first rental experience. Because of this, it is essential to do your research and know your rights as a renter. 

Getting into a Rental

As you first start applying to and looking at rentals, there are several things to take into consideration. For instance, how much are you able to pay for rent each month with or without utilities included? Are you willing to live with roommates? Do you have specific conditions that you can’t live in?

Determining these things will help you set a budget and narrow your search a bit. Once you start looking at places, you should also think about your rights and requirements for living, such as:

  • Deposit Limits: Most states have rules about how much a landlord can charge you to secure your spot in a rental.
  • Documentation of Rental Facility Conditions: If you have to pay a security deposit that will be used to fix and clean things when you leave, it is important to document the condition when you move in with pictures and notes that are signed by both you and the landlord.
  • A Lease Copy: You will be provided a copy of your lease agreement. Read it and ask questions before signing.
  • Livable Conditions: Landlords are required to meet certain standards of living conditions that include working utilities, safety features, and free from certain types of damage including asbestos contamination, mold, or vermin.
  • Rental Raises: Your lease stipulates what your rent is for the duration of your lease and it cannot be raised until your lease is up.
  • Insurance: Your landlord may or may not require you have renters insurance, but it is always a good idea. Check out GradGuard for renters insurance that’s made for college students.

Making it Your Own

Once you’ve researched your rental rights, asked questions about them, and feel good about signing your lease, it’s time to start moving in. There are plenty of exciting things you can do now that you have your own place, so take the time to make it your own! As you make yourself at home, you should keep certain things in mind like:

  • Privacy: Your landlord is not allowed to come into your home without giving you notice and a reason.
  • Decoration Abilities: Your landlord cannot tell you how you can or can’t decorate your rental as long as you are not damaging anything.
  • Prohibitions: Your lease will stipulate prohibitions like painting walls, putting large nails or screws in to hang things, or tearing out carpet.
  • Landlord Installations: If you’re interested in installing anything that could make the rental facility more valuable or more energy-efficient, talk to your landlord about it. You may not be able to install it yourself, but your landlord may be open to the changes. Then they can cover some of the costs and install it themselves.

Being a first-time renter can be an awesome experience if you take the time to find a good place to live with an honest landlord. Do your homework and know your rights as a renter — things will work out for the best!

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Student Life

The Best Streaming Device Options for College Students

January 8, 2021

Studying can be grueling. One sure-fire way to escape your frazzled brain is a few good hours of binge-watching your favorite series.

Many students make do using their laptop, tablet or even just their phone for watching TV. But, without breaking the bank, it’s possible to make this all-important down-time a little more comfortable.

To upgrade your setup in a worthwhile way, there are a few things to consider.

We’ve compiled a list of recommended streaming devices based on price, quality and usability features. 

Apple 4K

With a starting price of $179, the new Apple TV 4K might be a little unnecessarily pricey for your budget, unless the added features make it worth your while. Yes, you can get Airplay or Apple TV+ on other hardware, but this latest updated software allows for linking up to your PlayStation and Xbox controllers for an all-in-one entertainment device.

Between the Apple Arcade game streaming service and the vast extent of cloud gaming options, if you’re an Apple fan, this may be the most solid system choice moving forward. Certainly, when it comes to the number of titles available through one device, it’s unparalleled. In addition, for cable-powered apps it features a zero sign-on setup.

If you’re not an Apple lover, check out the best value-for-money Android TV boxes

NVIDIA Shield TV 4K

Before we get much more budget-friendly, let’s talk about the NVIDIA Shield TV 4K HDR streaming media player. This device will set you back around $200 and yes, its fantastic quality – but for such a hefty price tag you have to ask yourself, do you really need it? Unless you are a hardcore gamer and/or have a 4K TV, probably not. That said, it is arguably the best in its class – fast, voice-control enabled and with superior Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound. If quality is your thing and you can afford it, you won’t regret it.

Amazon 4K Fire TV Stick

This little Amazon Fire TV stick was certainly designed with ease of use in mind. With a recommended retail price of $62.97, this remote bundle comes with a new wi-fi antenna for optimized 4K Ultra HD streaming. That, added to its Alexa voice command capabilities, makes for a superior streaming experience.

Roku Streaming Stick

If you’re not much of a gamer and you really need a bargain, then this super affordable streaming option might be your best bet. The Roku Streaming Stick currently comes in at just $29.40 and is easily portable to boot. With supported internet services that include Netflix, HBO, Prime Video, Hulu with Live TV, Apple TV, Showtime, The Roku Channel, and Google Play, it’s a great all-rounder as well as Alexa voice-control friendly.

Micca Speck G2 1080 Portable Digital Media Player

The Micca Speck G2 is an affordable choice that has a portable-friendly design and is powerful enough to stream whatever you’re into. Supporting a wide range of connections and files, this device comes with a car power adapter and although not voice control enabled, has a full function remote control. For anyone worried about cost, at just $37.99 this little streamer might be all you need. 

Matricom G-Box Q (v3) Android Media Mini PC

With an Android OS, the Matricom G-Box Q² is well worth a mention. With a sleek, portable design, this fast-processing device is the closest thing to a PC that’s all play. Unlike many streaming devices, this is a full android computer designed for your living room, that is free from any restrictions. You can install and customize all your favorite apps and it also supports Amazon Prime video access. Priced at $77, it’s a lot for your money.

Final thoughts

These are just some of the streaming device options available and it’s well worth doing your homework before making your purchase. Not only do the prices differ considerably, but both the quality and applications for use do too, and it will pay off if you research the options based on your personal preferences. Happy streaming!

Student Life

Testimonial: Protect Your Stuff This Semester With Renters Insurance

January 4, 2021

College might feel like one big protective bubble. As much as people like to think that it will never happen to them, the reality is that crime can affect anybody.

Closed-in environments, like college housing units and apartment complexes, are often especially targeted by thieves. In fact, 30,000 or more burglaries related to college students and campuses are reported each year, according to the U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security.

However, there are certain measures one can take to ensure peace of mind about personal belongings staying safe. One of those measures is protecting your stuff with renters insurance, which came in handy for a student at San Francisco State University when her laptop was stolen from her dorm room.

Eyu first learned about GradGuard’s Renters Insurance when she started school at SFSU. Based on the affordability for college students like her, she purchased a policy while living in the dorms on campus.

One day, when she went to the bathroom, she left her dorm room door cracked open. Her laptop was on her bed before she left, and when she returned, it was gone. Eyu filed a police report for the theft and then called GradGuard to file a claim.

She was reimbursed for her laptop and was able to purchase a new one.

“I learned a lot from this situation,” Eyu said. “I can’t afford to pay for another laptop. So if it wasn’t for that insurance, I don’t know… I probably would have never had my laptop.”

Don’t be a victim to theft! Protect your stuff for college, including your laptop, bike, and backpack, with GradGuard’s Renters Insurance.

Safety Student Life

Protecting Your Apartment From Winter Weather

December 21, 2020

Snow may look great outside your home, but you should make sure you know how to deal with it if it ever gets out of control or threatens your safety.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re safe at home for the rest of the winter, especially if there’s a storm:

One basic way to protect your home or apartment from snow is shoveling. Buy a medium-sized shovel and make sure that walkways and sidewalks are completely clear after a storm. Shoveling helps you and your neighbors stay safe from black ice and other post-snowstorm dangers. It’s also a smart idea to use salt on any walkways to help melt ice quickly. As always, be careful while you’re out there clearing things up! Inside, make sure to have welcome mats so everyone can clean off their boots before entering, and eliminate tracking water into the house that could lead to slips and falls. You don’t want to be liable for any injuries at home!

Another way to keep your place safe and sound during a storm is by checking up on the heat. During a storm, there’s always a chance that you may lose power. Be sure to keep the heat running—keep yourself and your roommates warm just in case! If your heat does not appear to be working properly, be sure to talk to your landlord ASAP—don’t get stuck in the cold during a storm.

One thing tenants may forget about is ice buildup in unusual places. For example, ice can freeze and accumulate at a rapid rate in your downspout or other exposed pipes. If enough snow builds up in the pipes, there could be disastrous results. Make sure to check with neighbors, roommates and landlords to be sure that your pipes stay ice-free, especially after a big blizzard.

An important snow safety tip for your apartment is be prepared. If a big snowstorm is in the future, make sure you’ve taken care of everything ahead of time at home. Be sure to keep blankets and flashlights out in the open in case your heat or power goes out. If it looks like a blizzard could last for days at a time, stock up on plenty of food and household essentials like soap and toilet paper, just in case you won’t be able to get to the grocery store for while. If you have a car, put it in the garage or an area where it won’t get snowed in.

If you’re not sure about the state of your apartment for the rest of the winter, talk to your landlord to discuss any concerns. It’s important that you’re 100% sure your place will be safe during a storm or blizzard—peace of mind is key during the wintertime. Also, consider renters insurance to help cover your personal belongings and protect what’s important in your home in the event of an accident.

Stay safe for the rest of the winter! Spring is just around the corner!

This article was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.

Student Life

How to Make Dorm Life More Comfortable

October 30, 2020

When you had a tough day in elementary school, you could come home and talk to Mom or Dad while they made dinner in the kitchen. When you had a rough time in middle school, you could spend the evening sprawled in front of the television, unwinding in safe security. When you had a challenging day in high school, you could retreat to the familiar serenity of your bedroom.

Now that you’re in college, though, everything is new. Your workload likely feels enormous. Your social life is constant. And when you feel overwhelmed? Well, you want to have a safe place where you can withdraw to recoup and recover, right?

Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you turn your dorm life into a sanctuary that’s as calming as your childhood home.

Don’t Neglect Nostalgia

First and foremost, if you want to quickly establish a sense of comfort in your dorm, it’s important that you purposefully bring some of your home along with you.

You can do this by packing things like:

  • Photos of your family.
  • Wall-hung art/pictures from home.
  • Your own bedding with the smell of home.
  • Mugs, silverware, and any other daily items that can remind you of home.

The more small reminders you can have of the home front, the easier it will be to introduce a sense of familiarity with your new living space.

Think About Physical Comfort

Before we get to the decorations and setup of your dorm, it’s important to address the physical comfort of your space. The three main items in question are:

  • Your bed: Do you have a good bed to sleep on? If not, can you bring a memory foam mattress, good bedding, or anything else to improve your sleep?
  • Your desk: Do you have a comfortable, spacious area where you can work on homework or study for hours at a time?
  • A chair: You don’t want to literally break your back while you’re working in your dorm. Make sure your chair is comfortable and has good lumbar support.

While all of these are important, you don’t need to break the bank for them. There are many ways that you can thrift and repurpose older furniture for your own use. You may even be able to bring some furniture from home.

The important thing is that you keep an eye out for quality items that will make your space more inviting.

Steer into a Warm, Cozy Feel

Once you have your basic furniture needs tended to, it’s time to start focusing on a comfortable feel to go along with them.

Start by identifying a few words that embody what you want your space to feel like. While each person’s taste is different, if you want a comfortable space, you’ll probably want to include words like cozy and warm in there somewhere.

When it comes to creating a cozy bedroom, you may not be able to do bigger projects, like paint the walls, but it’s still easy to tap into those fuzzy feelings with small details, like getting a headboard, setting up a few potted plants, or plastering a lamp.

Don’t Forget the Ambiance

Along with the decor, it’s also important to remember the ambiance of your room. Of particular interest are:

  • The smell: College dorms can be especially rank, and it’s important to fight that tendency. Try setting up a diffuser and some essential oils to claim a positive, predictable aroma for your space.
  • The sounds: Make sure you have a good way to regularly pump your dorm full of comforting sounds. A smart home device and Bluetooth earbuds are both excellent college student gifts, whether you request them from someone else or give them to yourself as a house warming present.
  • The lighting: Don’t surrender to those stark dorm lights. Bring a lamp, hang Christmas lights, and generally look for ways to get some mood lighting set up in your space.

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

From a comfortable workspace and bed to a cozy ambiance and a warm decor, there are plenty of ways to easily turn a stark dorm room into a comfortable paradise. Refer to the list above, brainstorm how you can apply these ideas to your own dorm, and then start cobbling together the most comfortable dorm on the campus

AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Other Safety

Growth In Campus Fires & Crimes Confirm The Value Of Renters Insurance For College Students

July 25, 2018

According to Clery Act reports, in 2017-2018, the number of fires that occurred in on-campus student housing facilities was down 12.3% from 1,938 to 1,726 fires. In addition to fires, the number of reported criminal offenses decreased by around 1% from 38,000 to 37,573. The data for criminal offenses is based on reports from nearly 6,000 institutions and the data for fires is based on reports from 686 institutions and 701 campuses.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “We recommend families consider renters insurance because college students and their parents are often caught unprepared, and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education.”

In fact, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, suggests that “college parents make a plan in case their student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause.”

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computerRenters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property. Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.

2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.

3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause – True renter’s insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

Fees added, “college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renter’s insurance before the start of school. For about $12.00 a month, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.”