Dorm Life 101


Living in a dormitory can be an interesting part of higher education, particularly for first-year students who may be experiencing their first time away from the familiarity of home. For some students, living in the dorms may be one of the more entertaining phases of their life. Others may experience a level of homesickness, or the distractions of the dorm environment may make it hard to focus on school. In either case, it is important for students to be prepared for an interesting residential experience. Here are some tips for adjusting to and making the most of dorm life.

Create a space. When students get into the dorms, it is important that they create a space for themselves. In many situations, students may be sharing a space with one or more roommates. This means that they cannot necessarily take over the entire living quarters. But in order to get comfortable and situate themselves, students should do their best to decorate and accessorize their space in a way that makes it comfortable to live and work there. Carefully selected furniture, music, decorations or small appliances such as mini refrigerators all can help personalize the space.

Be flexible. The dormitory can include pranks, loud music, parties, games and late-night mischief. This doesn’t happen every day, but the student should be prepared to be flexible. The dormitory is a shared community, and while it typically has rules of conduct, there is also a certain amount of spontaneity that should be handled with patience and humor. Author and nationwide speaker Harlan Cohen suggests in The Naked Roommate, his New York Times best-seller on college life, that it is unnatural to leave for college with no expectations. Rather, students should leave for school with flexible expectations.

Find a study space. Dorms may not always be conducive to concentration, which is why students may need to find another space to study, such as the library. Students often want to be part of the action and be around other people, but the noise and interruptions of the dorm may make it too difficult to balance a social life and academic studies.

Establish ground rules. When students move in, it is important to establish ground rules with other roommates. This includes issues such as visitors, noise, personal property and conflict resolution. Setting guidelines will not guarantee that conflict is avoided, but it can certainly help people to avoid ambiguity so that behavior is not taken for granted throughout the year. Relationships with roommates can make a big difference in the happiness of students who live in the dorms.

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