What’s this back to campus business?

I am a big fan of dorm decor ever since I saw my first-year double room, with grainy walls, low lighting and scruffy furniture. It adds character, homeliness and a dash of warmth to often drab spaces.

However, having lived in 3 residence spaces in my university career so far I have figured one thing. Half the things I buy in the name of new year dorm decor after ogling at Instagram accounts is not used as much as it should be.

How they get you

If I scroll through my Instagram and Facebook right now, there are numerous ads from Walmart, Chapters Indigo, Amazon and such stores with campaigns geared towards settling in new university students.

Their hook is a perfectly decorated, well-manicured dorm room that represents a prison cell turned into a sanctuary.  Their bait is your search entries on different websites. I order one pair of fitted sheets from Simons and all the ads facing me now are about dorm decor. It is an endless trap of clicking, and the clicks leading to more ads.

Why we fall for it

The pursuit of perfection. A positive aspect of university is the sense of renewal every academic year and even term. The changing schedule, responsibilities and activities, brings with it hope that we, students will change our ways and (continue to) grow.

So each year, as we restock our supplies, we order a bunch of new things to spruce up our dens. But as you may (or may not) have noticed a few months later, a lot of those things remain catching dust in a corner of your room. Or even worse, they do not last long enough.

Not only do these additional items add to your stuff when you’re moving out but those precious $$$ that could be spent on an exchange trip or online course are gone.

What to do

This is not to discourage you from making your residence a cozy hub of fun, friends and a good night’s sleep. But it is to be aware of the marketing efforts behind a simple ad that can lead you to a shopping cart worth tens and hundreds of dollars. Dollars that are much more needed in food, books and other essentials.

Take these simple steps to help you sort out a dorm decor conundrum without going bankrupt:

  1. Visualize what you want – this could just be in your head or on a Pinterest board. But knowing what you want the final product to look like can streamline your shopping list
  2. Targeted shopping – visit your favourite store or website and search for specific items instead of aimlessly browsing the back to campus section. You will end up feeling the need for items you don’t actually need.
  3. Assess your room – it is very important to realize your limitations and see your room as a real space. It is easy to get carried away and buy items off of the ‘get the look’ pages but your room won’t always look exactly the same. Imagine where you’ll place what to get a sense and buy only what you’re sure of.
  4. Functional over fancy – it is ironic to say this because deep, down we all want our rooms to look fancy like those on the Dormify Instagram account but think about what you absolutely need and then try to aestheticize it. A neon or metal alphabet accent wont be helpful if you are blocking a surface used for studying by placing it. At one point you will set it aside and it will go downhill from there.

P.S. no pictures in this post because I just couldn’t get it to and didn’t want to delay posting.