Don't let the prison cell dimensions discourage you. There are ways to carve out a little personal space.
Step 1: Decide private areas Decide with your roommate what areas you'd like to cordon off as private. Ideally, you want the room arranged so neither of you has to smell the other person's dirty laundry or see them get lucky.
TIP: Dividing the room down the middle is not necessarily the best choice.
Step 2: Take stock of furniture Take stock of the furniture in the room. A dresser or wardrobe can double as a space divider, letting you study — or not — in peace.
Step 3: Arrange beds strategically Try placing one bed against a wall, with the back of one desk next to the bed. Arrange the other bed and desk similarly, but against the opposite wall. This way, whether you're sleeping or studying, you won't be in each other's faces.
TIP: If possible, loft one of the beds, or lift it off the ground a few feet using bed risers. Your roommate will be less able to see you when you're elevated.
Step 4: Hang some drapes Consider hanging drapes around your bed. Your dorm mates will stop laughing once they see the great night's sleep you get with your blackout curtains.
Step 5: Put up screens Move vertical screens or freestanding curtain dividers around the room as needed -- like in front of your roommate when they're sucking face with someone.
TIP: Add cork to the panels of your room divider and they double as bulletin boards.
Step 6: Use headphones Invest in a good set of noise-canceling headphones so you can enjoy your music -- and your sanity -- while your roomie is making a ruckus.
Step 7: Set up a schedule Work out a schedule with your roommate so that you both can count on some solo time every week. Maybe they can make themselves scarce on Monday and Wednesday evenings and you can do the same on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Step 8: Get real Be realistic. Realize there are going to be times when you get on each other's nerves. Hey, there's always the library!
FACT: On average, an American student — and their parents — spends $957 on back-to-college gear.