The average dorm room at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is just over 200 square feet. It comes with extra-long twin beds (which can be bunked or lofted), two desks, two desk chairs and two chests of drawers. The closets are built-in and compact.
The secret is figuring out how to fit all of the "stuff" a new student brings into one neat and tidy space that is color coordinated and not too dorky.
In addition to that, there is the $$ factor. According to the National Retail Federation, parents will be spending about 3 percent less this year on clothes, electronics, dorm gear and food to prepare for college, compared to 2010.
Here are some ideas on how to establish a home sweet home for college students for the next nine months.
* Storage Plus
Hanging closet organizer + Rolling colored drawer + Under-the-bed storage bags = Tidy
Organizing dorm rooms has become a fine science and many specialty products exist for just this purpose. Figure out your needs, then head out to find storage boxes, tubs, hanging bags and more to accommodate them. New this year: Bright colors have been applied even to the most boring storage items.
* Bedding Plus
Cool comforter or duvet cover + XL Featherbed + Throw pillows = Cozy Bunks
Remember that the extra-long length is a must for dorm bedding. Call your roommate to check on his/her colors so you don't look too matchy-matchy. Individual touches, such as throw pillows or small end-of-the-bed coverlets, can be practical and make a statement.
* Desk Plus
Bed laptop desk + Bendable neon-colored light + bunk pocket = Tech heaven
Bring the basics -- powers strips, surge protectors and extension cords. But this year get a docking system that combines great speakers with a bed-side clock. Don't forget a cooling pad for your laptop. Organize your tech items with a bunk pocket, which slides under the mattress and holds remote controls, ear buds and your cellphone.
* Miscellaneous Plus
Funky message board + Wall decals + Beanbag peace signs chair = Cool room
Forget the usual whiteboard. Get a personalized version that reflects your personality. Although there may be restrictions on hanging pictures, wall decals will go up and come down without a scratch. If you can't buy a new futon, just buy new slipcovers to cover the one you have already.