How to Prepare for College Dorm Life

The number one thing incoming freshman are most worried about during the transition from high school to college is leaving their parents’ house and moving into a tiny room with a stranger. On top of the usual stress over striking out on their own and trying to keep their heads above water academically, they will also be fretting over the potentially insufferable habits of their soon to be roommate. To assuage those worries, there are a few things to be done to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Sharing Quarters

The first and most essential thing to do is to open the lines of communication between roommates. Start getting to know each other before moving in, if possible. After moving in, there will need to be a long talk discussing habits, preferences, and laying out some rules to follow. Good things to discuss at this time are chores, bedtimes, cleanliness expectations, guest policies, and anything that could become an issue. This conversation and the guidelines that come from it will act as a sort of “Roommate Contract” that will help both parties thrive without inadvertently inconveniencing or disrespecting the other. In the event of roommate issues beyond the scope of this contract, it is very important to talk to that person first. Venting or gossiping about the issue to other people will only hurt the situation. If talking directly to the person does not help, explain the situation to the residential advisor and see what kind of relevant official policies can be followed to resolve the conflict.

Bring Essentials

Don’t bring too much stuff. There is not going to be space for an entire collection of action figurines or every pair of shoes in the closet back home. If possible, bring only seasonally appropriate clothing at first, then switch it out when home on breaks. Remember that dorm security is sometimes not the best, and there will likely be many people filtering through your room at any given time, so don’t bring anything too valuable or easily stolen that is nonessential, and keep those essential items like laptops well looked after. If roommate contact has been established before moving, check what they’re bringing to avoid unnecessary duplicates.

Academic Balance

Try not to forget that the main point of college is learning, and to do that effectively there will need to be a place to study. If both roommates are naturally quiet and studious, it probably won’t be a problem to just hunker down and study in the room, but if one or the other is a bit noisier or likes to have friends over, things could get a bit trickier. One might consider finding a good spot in the library or other quiet building to settle into, or carving out a “quiet time” when neither roommate invites friends over. In time, everyone will find what works for them, both in academic and social life. Just be careful not to get too caught up in the social side and let your studies fall by the wayside!