How to Keep It Clean

Time & Life Management

Part II of Graduating! Now What?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to Keep It Clean

If you read last week’s column about helping your high school graduates learn how to make decisions, then they have a good start on becoming self-reliant. This week I am going to focus on living quarters.

I haven’t met too many parents who can say “My [son’s/daughter’s] room is very tidy” without breaking into serious laughter. Most teenagers have a messy room. It’s almost an assumption.

Due to the fact that I work with college students, I have seen more than my share of disgusting dorm rooms – fortunately only via the Internet. Messy dorm rooms are where lost homework assignments, missing instructions for papers coming due, and cell phones with dead batteries at the bottom of a pile of clothes that smell like a locker room can be found – or not. Keeping one’s environment orderly in the teen years is often difficult to accomplish. However, if young people work on the requisite habits before moving into a college dorm room, their chances improve for success later on.

Students, this is for you.

This summer, use your excess unstructured hours to go through your bedroom and get rid of those items that you no longer need. If you have a ton of photos and awards from your school days, put them into a scrapbook album, or a memory box for safe storage and tuck them away atop the closet. Items that you don’t care so much for anymore, throw out.

There is bound to be clothing that no longer fits or works with your current style, so bag those to donate or give to younger teens you know. Now is the time to assess your wardrobe, get items repaired, and organize what you want to keep and use.


If you are done with high school, chances are you don’t need to keep your vocabulary test from 8th grade any longer. You can probably toss out a good percentage of such schoolwork. You may want to hold onto crucial exams you excelled on, papers you wrote that you are particularly proud of, or special projects you wish to look back at. Keep report cards and any other important documentation, of course. Create a file or files for the papers you are keeping, and put them in a portable unit or a filing cabinet. A portable one allows you to tuck it away in your closet or elsewhere so it isn’t in the middle of your room.

Look at the remaining objects around your room and determine what you will need to take with you to college. Start thinking about what you use often and what you really don’t. Since the living spaces on campus are small, you can only take a very small amount of personal items. Most college dorms now have a virtual tour; you can often find out the measurements of closet and storage spaces so you can plan what will fit before dragging your entire wardrobe across the country.