DIY Dorm: SmartPhone Amplifying Speaker

Mashable recently pinned a tutorial on making an amplifying speaker out of a Pringles can. I love this idea because I am far too cheap to spend money on an iPod docking station. I may or may not have broken my last one by knocking it off the table during an intense dance party…

This project costs less than six dollars!

What You Will Need:

1 Pringles Can (minus the Pringles and crumbs)
Toilet Paper (approximately 14 inches)
X-ACTO Knife (or scissors)
Two Binder Clips (large)
Spray Paint (any color)
Sheet of Paper

1.Eat Pringles…

2. Trace the outline of bottom of your device (any iPod or iPhone that plays music out loud) onto the sheet of paper. Wrap paper over Pringles can, aligning the traced area parallel to the end of the can about an inch away from the can’s bottom. Use the knife or scissors (carefully) to cut around the inside of the outline. You want the hole to be a little smaller than your device so it will fit very tightly.

3. Position the binder clips metal hands open at a 90 degree angle. Rest the can on top on the clips so that they act as a stand. Tape the metal parts to the can.

4. Coat the outside of the can and binder clips with spray paint. Let dry for 2-4 hours.

5. Cut 14 inches of toilet paper. Insert throughout can – you want it to be evenly distributed.

6. Insert your device into your brand new amplifying speaker and start listening to your favorite playlist.

Other fun DIY Dorm Projects:

Smartphone Projector
Decorative Book Phone Charger
Instagram Coasters

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DIY Dorm: Instagram Coasters

Before you brush this project off (coasters? who uses coasters?), you’re going to want to take a look at the latest DIY we’ve come across. Using your very own filtered-to-perfection Instagram photos and a few inexpensive materials, we’ll be crafting some customized coasters that will look cool on any surface. Think of it as a new way to display your favorite photos.

What You’ll Need:

–    4in x 4in ceramic tiles (pick some up at Home Depot for only 39 cents)
–    Mod Podge
–    A foam brush
–    Felt pads
–    Clear, waterproof sealant (you can try Walmart for this)
–    Printed Instagram pictures (one for each coaster)

What You’ll Do:

1)      First you’ll need to print your Instagram photos. The easiest way to do this would probably be to screenshot them on your phone and email them to yourself. Once you’ve done this, you can size them so they’ll fit the tiles and print. I used photo paper to ensure that the ink would not bleed when coated with the Mod Podge (plus, it’s sturdier). Cut out each photo square.

2)      Mod Podge one coat onto each of your tiles. Place the photo square where you want it and press out any air bubbles. Let dry – wait 45 minutes to an hour to make sure it’s completely hardened.

3)      Apply 2-3 more thin coats of Mod Podge over the entire tile and on top of the photo. It’s best to apply it both vertically and horizontally. Let dry for an hour.

4)      To make sure the coaster remains water proof, spray a layer of sealant over top of it. Don’t spray too much or it will get goopy. Let dry (follow the directions on the can in order to determine how long you should wait). Spray a second coat of sealant and let that dry as well.

5)      Add the felt pads to each corner of the underside of the tile. Most of these come with adhesive on the bottom but, if not, use some hot glue to attach them.

6)      You’re done! Easy, right?

Send us some photos of your coasters – we’d love to see how they turned out!

Of course we had to Instagram ours once we were done!

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Build the Perfect Study Group

When it comes to studying, the phrase “strength in numbers” certainly comes into play. Study groups can be incredibly effective when it comes to mastering class material. You can pool your resources, compare notes, and help each other with tricky subjects. However, it’s important to use caution when selecting classmates to work with. We’re not suggesting you hold American-Idol-style auditions, but there are definitely certain factors to keep in mind.

Keep it to 4-5 people. The ideal number of people to work with ranges from 4-5. This provides enough brain power to make an impact without becoming another class meeting. Too many students will make it difficult to stay on task.

Stick with students who are on the same level academically as you. This may sound harsh, but it’s an important point.  A group member who is more advanced than the rest of the group will become frustrated or end up acting like a tutor. A group member that has no grasp of the material (or is just plain lazy) will only hold you back.

Also find students with similar goals and work ethics. Working with a study-nut who wants to meet every day will only wear you out. On the other hand, working with someone who doesn’t really care about their grade or academic performance will just aggravate you. Look for students who are in the same mindset as you are and won’t turn it into a competition. You’re there to help and support each other, not compare grades.

Communicate frequently. By having a continuous flow of communication, you and your group members are more likely to stay on the same page. Let each other know what you’re struggling with, if you’re going to miss a class, etc. Keeping up to date with each other will help you keep up to date with the class work as well. Consider sending out group emails or forming a message thread on Facebook so you can regularly update each other.

Make a schedule. While you don’t need to form an intensive program for everyone to follow, it’s important to have some sort of structure to your meetings. Pick a day or two to meet each week and cover the material you feel necessary after each class session. If it’s a tough subject, meet for a little longer. If the latest assignments feel very manageable, take a day off. Make sure you’re all on the same page and you’ll be fine.

Determine strengths and weaknesses. If you all feel comfortable with one subject area, don’t waste time poring over every detail together – you can review it on your own time. Find the topic that you all have questions about and pull your knowledge together then.

Keep our tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to building an A+ Study Group! Have you had a great experience working in a study group? Share your own advice below!

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Back to School Survival Guide

Summer is slowly winding down and, before you know it, we’ll be back in class guzzling coffee and scribbling down notes. Stay on top of your academic game with our ultimate Back-to-School Survival Guide. We’re bringing you everything you’ll need to build an awesome start to the semester – from must-have supplies to helpful hints and tips. Navigate your way through the Fall Semester with ease!


The first day of classes can feel like a whirlwind, but being prepared is a sure-fire way to alleviate any extra stress. Have these items on hand and you’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

  1. Planner: Write down any important info or deadlines. Start off organized and it will be easier to maintain throughout the semester. Don’t want to use a regular agenda? Try an app like PocketLife Calendar – sync it with your Google calendar to manage and modify all deadlines and class meetings.
  2. Refillable water bottle: Pick one up at your campus bookstore. Staying hydrated will help you keep your focus throughout the day.
  3. A small snack: Nothing can break your concentration like hunger. Try bringing one of our favorite brain foods and stay on task.
  4. Notebook + folder: Have extra paper just in case. Use the folder to keep any papers or handouts in order before you separate them by class.
  5. Class schedule: Have the building and room numbers on hand. Don’t be scrambling to find your classroom a minute before class starts. Whether you carry the paper or input the info into your phone calendar, find what works for you.
  6. Extra pens: It’s not worth it to risk running out of ink.
  7. Class textbook: Some professors kick off the reading on the first day. Don’t be unprepared.
  8. Cell phone: This item comes with a stipulation – make sure it’s on silent! Have your cell phone on hand in case you need to double check any information throughout the day, but DON’T let it be an interruption.
  9. Any assigned materials: If your professor says to bring in something the first day, make sure you actually bring it.


Give your semester a bit of structure and making your way through the sea of assignments and group meetings won’t seem so bad. Check out our helpful hints for a successful semester:

Figure out your schedule ahead of time.

Map out your classes and do a dry-run. There are few feelings more frustrating than the one that settles in when you’re lost. Don’t risk being late on your first day.

Get organized the night before. This is a tip that’s worked since elementary school. Lay out your clothes, pack up your bag, and your morning routine will run smoothly.

Pay attention to deadlines. Input important dates and deadlines into your calendar as soon as you know about them. At the beginning of each week, figure out what’s coming up and make sure you have it done.

Avoid distractions. Whether your weakness is social-networking or just regular socializing, avoid distractions that will impede your productivity. Find a quiet study spot of your own and know that, when you’re there, you better get to work.

Just 15 minutes can make a difference.

Wake up 15-minutes earlier than you need to. Giving yourself the extra bit of time will make you less rushed and, therefore, less stressed. Take time to enjoy your morning.

Give yourself a break. Don’t forget to take time to relax. Whether it’s a nap or hanging out with friends, your body – and mind – need to recharge. We’re not saying to blow off studying and sleep the day away, but after a long week you can afford to give yourself some rest.

You’re all set for a fantastic semester.  Do you have any tips to add?

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DIY Dorm: Book Phone Charger

Between phones, iPods, and computers, it often seems as though we are simply navigating our way through a seemingly hazardous tangle of cords and wires. It’s no surprise that we were thrilled when we came across the idea of a DIY docking station – and even MORE thrilled when we realized it involved some of our favorite things, books! Contain those unruly phone cords with your very own Book Phone Charger. Talk about a “novel” idea!

What You’ll Need:

Two hardcover books of your choice (make sure they’re books you don’t mind damaging)

Utility knife

Phone Charger (preferably an extra)

Scotch tape



What You’ll Do:

1)      Pick which book you’re going to use as the holder for the charger. Take the end of the charger that you plug into your phone. On the upper corner on the spine-side of the book cover, trace around this end. Don’t place the slit right on the edge of the book, leave some space as your phone will be docked here. From the outside in, you will be pushing this end of the plug through the hole you cut out.

2)      Using the utility knife (and caution!), cut out the slit you just traced. This might take some effort since you will be cutting through a hard book cover. Make sure the end of the charger fits through this hole (from the inside of the book cover, outward). This will be where you “dock” your phone or iPod.

3)       Now, you’re going to cut out the compartment that the cord will be “hidden in.” Open your book to the first page. Mark a rectangle that takes up almost the whole page – leave a ½ inch margin on each side.

4)      Using the utility knife (as well as caution AND patience), begin to cut out the rectangle you just marked through the pages. You may have to do this a section of pages at a time, since the knife will most likely not cut through all of the pages at once. Continue cutting until there is a hollow deep enough to fit the cord.

*In order to keep the pages in place, I used a few piece of tape on the inside of the compartment.

5)      Now, closer to the corner diagonal to where you placed the hole for the plug, you need to cut a small strip through the pages. This will be where the other end of the plug exits the book. Measure a small strip roughly the size of the cord width and cut. *Again, I used some tape to keep the pages in place.

6)      Now, place the phone-end of the charger through the hole you cut. Within the compartment, wind the cord so that the majority of it is within the book. Allow the remainder of the cord (that will go into the wall) to wind out through the strip you just cut.

7)      Place the second book on top of the first. You can either glue it or simply place it. Plug the cord into the wall, dock your phone or iPod and – voilá! – a new docking station.

Necessary? Maybe not – but it’s a pleasant alternative to having cords run everywhere! Try out this easy DIY for yourself. Have any tips or advice of your own? Post a comment!

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DIY Dorm: Magnetic Memo Board

How many times have you forgotten something because you simply didn’t write it down? Luckily, I have found a great solution on Instructables that is affordable, easy, and fun to make. It’s an awesome way to stay organized and is great because you roommates can use it too! What is it exactly? A homemade magnetic memo board! Stick it right on the fridge and never forget “the little things” again!

Make a note of it for later!


1 Memo Pad or Small Notebook

1 Pen/Marker/Pencil/Sharpe

2 Small Magnets (one for the notepad and one for the pen)

Super glue (Hot glue or very sticky tape works too)

What You’ll Do:

Step 1:

Put a dab of glue on the back cover of the memo pad. Make it less than an inch from the top of the cover, and center it diagonally (more or less). Let it dry, and then test it on the fridge, to make sure it sticks. Note: Taping the magnet onto the pad works fine too.

Step 2:

This step basically consists of attaching the magnet to a point on the pen that will not hinder use of the pen. I attached mine under the clip on the pen because that was the place I thought would secure the magnet best. Hold the pen and put a dab of glue on the place you are going to put the magnet. After, place the magnet and hold it until the glue sets. When you are done, try it out on the fridge to make sure the glue is strong enough and to make sure that the magnet will hold the weight of the pen.

It’s THAT easy! What else helps you get organized?

Written  by Guest Blogger, Myles Marcus

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DIY Dorm: Smartphone Projector

Nowadays, we can do almost anything on a smart phone: send emails, play games, and even watch movies. Sometimes, however, squinting at the small screen can leave our eyes feeling tired. Rather than watch a movie or show on the tiny screen, why not magnify it via your very own projector? Check out this fun and simple addition to our DIY Dorm series:

What You’ll Need:

  • Shoe box
  • Duct tape
  • X-acto knife (works better than scissors)
  • Magnifying glass (try a larger lens – aim for 3-4 inch diameter)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Phone stand (or something to act as a stand for your phone)

What You’ll Do:

Duct tape any openings.

1.Cover all holes and gaps in the box using the duct tape. You don’t want to allow any light to enter or leave the box except for where you will place the magnifying glass.

Mark around the lens.

2.Go to the front and center of the box (on the shorter side). Place the magnifying glass there and mark around it so you will know where to cut. I suggest cutting a slightly smaller hole that you can push the magnifying glass lens into.

3.Using your X-Acto knife, slowly cut out the hole you just marked. Patch up any rough edges with duct tape.

Push the lens into the opening.

4.From the inside of the box, push the lens into the opening. Tape the handle to the inside of the box (to keep the lens in place).

5.Line up your smartphone or iPod with the magnifying glass and mark this space. This is so you will know where to place the phone whenever you use it. Place your “phone stand” on the spot you just marked and glue it down (if you’d like it to be permanent).

Phone Stands

6.You’re ready to use your new projector! Turn the screen brightness up to the highest setting on our phone and open the video you wish to view. You will have to place the phone upside down in order to have the picture appear right-side up.

** Most phones will continue to flip the image so it is right-side-up. Locking the orientation usually fixes this problem. Find out how to do this on the iPhone here.

7.Just turn off the lights and – voila! – you’re all set to go. A darker room will show a clearer image.

Fancy technology? Maybe not…but plenty of fun just the same! You may have to play around with the project and figure out what works best for you and the specific materials you have.

Try out this project for yourself and let us know how it goes! Do you have any tips to share? Post a comment below!

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DIY Dorm: Scotch Taped Nails

I did a little experimenting with some scotch tape last night and ended up with this really cool manicure, so I’m going to teach you how to do this too. It’s super easy and turns out great!

The supplies you need are: two nail polish colors of your choice, top coat, a pair of scissors, and some scotch tape

Step one: Paint your nail the base color (I chose gold) and let it dry

Step two: Take a little square piece of tape and cut a triangle shape out of it

Step three: Once your nail is completely dry, place the tape at the top of the nail so that the triangle cut out is at the tip (firmly press the tape down so no nail polish can leak under it)

Step four: Take your second color and paint in the triangle


Step five: Let it dry all the way and carefully peel off the tape, finish off with your top coat and now you have super cute nails!

I only did one triangle on each hand and painted the rest black, but you could easily do this on all of your fingers!

Do you have any cool DIY manicures? Show us yours, or try this one out and let us know if you like it!

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe Leach

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DIY Dorm: Customized iPhone Cases

Most iPhone cases are super cute, but who wants to drop $30 – especially when you can make your own for about $10. I found these awesome ideas that are easy and adorable! Check them out and maybe you’ll have your latest DIY project!

Studded Phone Case – Everyone knows studs are a hot trend right now, so why not carry that over to your iPhone case. All you need is an iPhone case (you can get them on Ebay for like 5 bucks!) iron on studs (look at Etsy for these), a ruler, and some super glue.

1) Measure your desired placement for the studs and draw out the lines to make sure that your studs are evenly placed

2) Once your is placement drawn out start to superglue each stud into place and let it dry overnight

3) Once it’s dry you can pop right into your phone and now you have a stylish (and cheap) new phone case!

Feather Phone Case – This super cute and trendy case only requires a clear phone case and a feather or set of feathers (you can find these at your local craft store). Make sure your feathers are flat enough that they will fit inside the case.

1) Take your feather or feathers (depending on your preference) and cut to fit inside your case

2) Lay it flat on the case and pop your phone in

3) This one is also easy to mix and match so your feather can match your outfit everyday!

Do you have any ideas for your own phone case? Post a comment and we’ll share it with our readers!

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe Leach

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DIY Dorm: Painted Glass Jar

As someone who is always on the hunt for an easy way to add spice to my room, I am so excited to share this project with you. While browsing the design blog, Poppytalk, I found my inspiration for the newest edition of DIY Dorm. Why not take bottles and jars meant for the recycling and turn them into something beautiful and colorful?  I decided to start with a small, empty jar and turn it into a pencil holder. Keep reading for tips and instructions!

What You’ll Need:

1 Glass jar
Acrylic paint
Paintbrush (optional*)

What You’ll Do:

1) Remove the label from the jar you’ve chosen. (Tip: In my experience, a stubborn label can usually be removed with a Brillo pad, water, and soap if needed.) Rinse out any remaining contents and let dry.

2) Add a dollop of paint to the inside of the jar. Slowly rotate and swirl it around until the entire inside is covered with the paint. This may take a few dollops, depending on the color and thickness of the paint. (Tip: I used a paint brush to help spread stubborn patches.) Let dry.

3) Add any other additions to the outside of your jar, whether it be stenciled letters or appliques.

Add some water and fresh flowers or an electric candle to add some mood lighting to your room. I went with a stylish pencil holder but it is up to you! Either way, you’re left with a quaint new edition to your dorm. Enjoy!

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