Now that your favorite student's dorm room is stocked with all the essentials — a television, video game console and junk food — it's time to get serious about their studies. When it comes time to type up that term paper or cram for an exam, your kid needs a work space that's free from distractions and equipped with all the supplies necessary to get the job done. Follow these steps to set up a dorm desk that suits your kid's style.
Choosing the Right College Desk
When selecting a desk for the dorm, ask yourself a few questions: How much space can the student devote to the desk? What type of work do they plan to do at it? How much storage space do they need? If the dorm room is crowded and space is at a premium, opt for a corner desk that takes up a small footprint. Laptop or writing desks are ideal if the student is only working with notebook computers, tablets or laptops. If they're running a desktop computer, look for a larger desk with channels for cords and plenty of room for monitors. If your student plans to keep all their textbooks and study materials tucked away in the workstation, a desk with a built-in hutch is an excellent choice.
Keeping the Work Space Organized
Once the desk is standing proud in the dorm room, outfit it with organizational hardware to help your favorite student work smarter. Use desk trays to help them arrange homework assignments by due date or to separate notes and handouts for each class. A desk caddy is good for stowing writing instruments within easy reach. Hanging wall pockets are a great place to keep dictionaries and other reference materials nearby as the student writes papers. Drawer organizers help your kid sort smaller items, such as paperclips, pushpins and thumb drives, in a designated space without cluttering the work surface.
Selecting a Seat
Your student is likely to spend a lot of time sitting at the desk each semester, so seating isn't a decision to take lightly. To prevent back strain during all-night study sessions, look for an office chair with lumbar support. If the dorm room is carpeted, make sure the wheels of the chair glide easily across the floor. Have your kid test the chair to ensure a comfortable fit for their body. Their feet should rest flat on the floor, and their arms should be at desk height to keep their shoulders from getting tired. Look for a chair with a back that reaches the middle of their shoulder blades, and make sure their spine is well-supported. 
Deciding on Lighting
Whether your student is skimming over class notes or drafting a research paper, they need the right lighting. Gooseneck and task lamps provide adjustable lighting that's ideal for focusing on a specific project, such as reading. More traditional table lamps provide all-over illumination for when the student is surfing the internet. If surface space is limited, opt for a clip-on lamp to keep the work area uncluttered. If the desk light needs to stay on for long hours, an LED lamp can keep energy costs under control.  Some lamps even have integrated micro USB ports, letting your favorite student conveniently charge mobile devices from the desk.
Stock Your Workstation
Once your student's desk is set up the way they want it, it's time to fill it with everything they need to work without interruption. Fill the desk drawers with plenty of printer paper, index cards and notepads. To help them keep their studies separate, give them folders, notebooks and binders in different colors, so they can match these to their classes for easy identification. Stock up on highlighters and pens for marking up textbooks, and throw in some sticky notes for jotting down ideas. Calendars and planners help your student keep track of important dates and deadlines, so they never miss an assignment.
The transition from home to dorm isn't always easy. You can make it a little smoother by giving your kid a study sanctuary that lets them work without distraction. With an organized, uncluttered work space, your kid can focus on the assignment in front of them and work efficiently, leaving them plenty of time to get back to those video games.
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