Dorm Life

Freshman advice for adjusting to college life

Attending college as a freshman can be an overwhelming experience. For many students, it will be the first time in their lives that they live away from home. It may also be the first time a student has had to share a room with someone else. For these reasons and more, adjusting to college life can often be a difficult task. Below we will provide you with helpful college freshman advice for becoming accustomed to dorm life and making the transition a little easier.

The Sharing Aspect of Dorm Life

If you have never shared a room with a sibling in the past, having a roommate may be one of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to college life. For the first time, you will be required to share your personal space, possibly with someone whom you have never met. This can often be an overbearing situation.

To help make adjusting to dorm life easier, we recommend contacting your new roommate(s) prior to leaving for your first semester. This will allow you to get to know each other before even meeting, and will also give you the chance to discover each other’s interests, likes, dislikes and more. By becoming acquainted with your roommate(s) prior to arrival, it will help you to understand what is important to this new person and provide for a more communal dorm life.

Once you arrive to college as a freshman, our advice is to also have a discussion with your roommate(s) in order to establish preferences. One such preference is whether or not your roommate(s) prefer to go to bed early or are night owls. Another recommended preference to establish is the level of noise which can be tolerated. It is important to create a level of comfort between you and your roommate(s), and by determining each other’s personal needs, you will be more likely to avoid conflicts and have an enjoyable college dorm life.

The Dorm Life Experience: Meeting New People

A large part of adjusting to college life is being surrounded by new faces. Moving away from family and friends can be a frightening thought. You are not alone, though. Most of the people you will meet for the first time during your dorm life experience will be in a similar situation. Embrace this new setting. College is a great place to meet the people who will become some of your best friends for many years to come.

The best way to meet new people during the early part of your dorm life is to get involved on campus. Participating in available campus programs provides an easy way to meet new faces and to see what college life is all about. Typically, most campuses will have kick-off activities for incoming students to take part in. You can also utilize your school’s web site as well as bulletin boards around campus to aid you in your search for appealing clubs and organizations.

Some additional college freshman advice for meeting new people is to participate in activities held in your residence hall. This will allow you to meet people in the dorm aside from your roommate(s) and others on your floor. Your resident assistant will help to create a great community, and by simply leaving your door open and participating in hall programs, you will be able to make friends quickly during your college dorm life.

College Freshman Advice for Dorm Room Items

Before leaving for college, we recommend going to your school’s web site to determine which dorm room items are permitted and which ones are not. Often times, colleges will have a list of prohibited items on its Office of Residence Life page. These items may include space heaters, air conditioners, toasters, microwaves and pets. It is also a good idea to contact your roommate(s) to clarify which items he or she will be contributing to the room. This will help to avoid bringing duplicate items as well as verify which items you will have access to during your college dorm life.

To help make sure you do not forget anything, here is a checklist of items to bring during your first year of dorm life:

  • Alarm clock
  • Bed linens/towels
  • Carpet/throw rug
  • Chair/bean bag
  • Clothes drying rack
  • Clothing/outdoor gear
  • Compact refrigerator
  • Computer
  • Cup/mug/glass/plate/bowl/silverware
  • Dish soap
  • Fan
  • Fish
  • Handi-Tak to hang posters
  • Hangers
  • Iron
  • Laundry bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Medicine
  • Microwave (one cubic foot)
  • Plants (real or fake)
  • Radio/stereo
  • Rolls of quarters for laundry
  • School supplies
  • Sewing kit
  • Shower caddy
  • Telephone
  • Toiletry items/soap dish

Dorm Life Safety

With so much to think about while adjusting to college life, campus safety can often be overlooked. Whether participating in a student function, or attending a campus party, it is important, however, for students to be aware and in control at all times. To help you stay safe at school, not only in your own dorm but throughout campus, we recommend taking precaution by following this college freshman advice:

  • Study the campus—Explore the campus and neighborhoods with respect to the routes you will be taking to and from classes and/or any activities. Also take note of where emergency phones are located.
  • Share your schedule—Be sure to share your class/activities schedule with your family and friends to create a type of “buddy system” and allow your peers to be aware of your intended whereabouts.
  • Travel in groups—Always travel in groups and use a shuttle bus at night. Also, avoid “shortcuts” and routes you are unfamiliar with.
  • Gauge the social scene—Drive down fraternity row during the weekends to determine whether or not the social scene appears safe, or if it is reckless and possibly dangerous. If you decide to pass up on dorm life later in your tenure, make sure to carefully examine off-campus student apartments to assess safety and security.

To help make certain your college freshman year and the years to follow are out of harm’s way, please follow this advice and take the necessary precautions to guarantee your safety. To play it safe, use this helpful Campus Safety Audit to evaluate each school you visit.

By following this college freshman advice, you will help to ensure your first year of dorm life is as exciting as it is pleasurable.

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This article was written by Jeff McGuire

1 Comment

  1. Roommate Harmony

    Nice article! It’s a very exciting time to move in, meet new people, strengthen independence, and make your own path. We advise incoming freshman to have cautious optimism – unfortunately, not all dorm situations are as smooth as we’d like them to be. Making it work is part of the process.

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