Entering college and moving to a dorm means total freedom from your parents. This independent lifestyle involves learning about all sorts of fun adulting stuff like doing the laundry and cleaning. Yup, there’ll be chores but don’t let that stop you from enjoying one of the most important phases of your life. You haven’t just unlocked a whole new level in the game of life — the game has now become open-world. You’ll have the liberty of making your own decisions on everything from your schedule, food, and education to making friends, partying, and relationships. On top of those, you’ll also have the unique experience of living with people that you may or may not like at all.
Dorm Life: Things You Should Know
Living in a dorm is vastly different from your personal bedroom. That can either turn into a teenage dream or a brutal nightmare. So, here’s a survival guide to help you steer away from making the wrong decisions AND make the best out of your stay. Master this list and live a worry-free dorm life!
This tip is for students who are still deciding which dorm hall to move to.
Some colleges multiple dorm choices. Their locations and prices could be different. Other factors you shouldn’t overlook is the room condition and the social aspect of the dorm halls. The official information can be biased. One dorm research hack is to ask the current students. They’ve been living your future life, so ask them for their first-hand experience. Which dorms are the quietest? Which dorms have the most social energy? And which dorms are the scariest? You’ll get some answers that will serve as useful data points. And you’ll be able to make a more informed decision based on the info you’ve gathered.
Not sure who to ask specifically? Here are three ways to reach out to current students: high school alumni, forums, and social media. If the college you’re going to is close to your hometown, there are likely alumni from your high school who are attending the same college. Your next best bet is online forums. Try Reddit, official or unofficial forums for your college. If all fails, you can always seek out current students on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
When you’re ready to move to the dorm, pack only the essentials. Bring only what you need because you wouldn’t want your room looking all messy with the unnecessary clutter you bring from home. Here’s a list of the most important things to pack:-
- ID – this is the single most important thing to bring. If you’re allowed to take only one item with you, bring your ID.
- Other important documents. E.g. college admission letter, dorm hall payment receipts etc.
- Winter clothes
- Laptop computer
- School supplies – pen, pencils, erasers, ruler, backpack, tote bag, stapler, etc.
- Pillow case, bolster case, blanket – you don’t have to bring these if the dorm provides them
- Face wash and other skincare products. Shower gel etc.
- Deodorant & body spray or fragrance. First impression is important and smelling bad can hurt your self-confidence. Speaking of deodorant. Have you heard of Tawas powder?
Another helpful tip is to review the list of prohibited items. Every dorm has its own rules, but some common restricted items are candles, matchsticks, and halogen lamps.
For more complete pack list ideas, check out these articles.
- What to Bring to College: The Ultimate College Packing List – CollegeInfoGeek
- The Ultimate College Packing Checklist – Unpakt
- What to Bring to College: The Best College Packing List Ever – HerCampus
- Minimalist College Packing List – Vivid Gift Ideas
You probably have an average-sized dorm room. The room won’t be spacious, so you have to figure out how to utilize every square inch of your room. Usually, dorms don’t allow drilling holes on the wall and have strict restrictions on renovations. So portable storage solutions like plastic boxes and drawers are your best friends.
To start off, reclaim the space under your bed. You’re probably already storing your luggage bags in there. You can put storage boxes there for things that you don’t need to access frequently. For example, winter clothes when it’s out of season and extra school supplies. In addition, you might want to invest in a standing shelf or a bookcase that would help make your room more organized. Read this article for more dorm room organization tips.
Having more storage space means that your desktop is less likely to get cluttered. Without clutter on your desk, you can stay focused and study effectively.
Getting on your roommate’s good side may just be the best decision you can make during your stay. Your roommate should be like your other half and ally. On the worst days, your roommate will be the first person to cover up for you or defend you. Start by talking to them (here’s a list of topics to talk to a new friend), share what you have, and respect their personal space. Your dorm life would definitely suck if you don’t like the person you’re living with. See this dorm life tip if this whole buddy-buddy approach doesn’t work out.
Read also: 21 Things to Do in Dorm Room When Bored
Befriending your roommate is only the first step. The second step is to communicate your preferences on crucial issues like sleeping, privacy, dorm rules, and studying. It’s best to be upfront on the first day so you don’t catch yourselves in a misunderstanding later. If you don’t like people sleeping over or bringing alcohol inside the room, don’t beat around the bush and say it directly.
You’ll have it easier if your RA is your friend. Some dorms have rigorous rules, but your RA can let some of them slip if you’ve been kind to them. They’ll be more understanding if you come home past your curfew or if you want to throw a little dorm party. Even if you don’t a
You’ll be living here for quite some time, so why not decorate your room to your taste. The comfort of your home’s bedroom is somewhere far away. Your dorm room is your new home now. Make sure that your dorm room becomes a place you want to come home to every day. Here are some dorm decor resources:-
- 21 Pink Dorm Room Decor
- 25 Chic College Dorm Room Ideas for Girls
- 30 College Dorm Decorating Ideas – DecorBuddha
Whether you’re throwing a party or just eating pizza, always clean up after yourself and do it immediately. Your mom’s not here and you’re sharing the space with other people. Don’t get into arguments for being lazy and dirty. Maintaining cleanliness is a sign of respect for other people and it keeps everyone safe and healthy.
If you don’t want to go to class looking and smelling like a smelly dish rag, remember to change and wash your clothes. No, perfume isn’t going to fix the odor coming off from the top you’ve been wearing for the past three days.
You also need to pay more attention to how to properly wash your clothes. One pro-tip is to not let your laundry basket overflow. It’s better to wash small batches than work harder on a big pile. It prevents you from running out of something to wear and making your room stench of dirty clothes. Second, pay attention to washing instructions. If you don’t do this carefully, you’ll be surprised that your favorite sweater has reduced from a large to a small or your whites getting all stained up. Other garments such as the leather jacket require more specific care and you should spend time learning how to care for them.
One of the biggest cons of dorm life is a shared bathroom. You have no idea what kind of nasty habits other people have or how thorough the cleaning personnel cleans the bathrooms. The dorm might provide some soap and what not but those can easily be contaminated. Avoid unpleasant surprises by bringing your own toiletries, especially towels, bar soaps, and bathroom slippers.
Rule #1 of dorm life: never run out of snacks. Snacking is a serious topic, especially when you’re a student or if you work from home. Why? Here are some important reasons:-
- It fixes your hunger – hunger affects your mood and performance
- Snacking provides the instant energy boost that you urgently need
- It’s super convenient
- Healthy snacks provide nutrients that your brain and body need to function optimally
Snacks come in handy when you’re too lazy to go out, the cafeteria’s closed, or it’s past your dorm’s curfew. Maintain a healthy supply of healthy snacks in your room at all time. Here are some healthy and easy snack ideas perfect for students:-
- Healthy Dorm Room Snacks – NuGo
- Your Cheat Sheet to Healthy Dorm Room Snacking – Pinnacle Health
- 16 Healthy Snacks To Keep In Your Dorm – The Oddysey Online
Other options are easy-open canned food, instant noodles, chips, and microwaveable food. Eating healthy is important but sometimes junk food can really improve your mood.
Make friends, be sociable, be considerate. You can be the best person in the world but you can’t control how your roommate or other members of the dorm behave. Other people aren’t necessarily as considerate as you are. Sometimes they can be noisy, dirty, or worse – stealing from you.
The bottom line is if you feel unhappy and uncomfortable, you can always request for a transfer to another room or hall. In some special cases, the college administration may even allow you to move off-campus early. Your happiness and your academic success should come first. The social life is toxic anyway if you’re constantly feeling stressed and unhappy. Remember to always put yourself before others.
Read also: Things to Know About Staying in a Dorm
Life at Dorm: Good or Bad?
No matter where you are in life, or whether you have stayed at a college dorm before, what do you think of the life at dorm based on what you know? Do you think it’s a fun experience and a friendship incubator like many people (and dorm brochure) claim? Or do you think it’s too draconian to require freshmen and juniors to stay in dorm?
Anyhow, if you’re living the dorm life right now or are moving to a dorm, I hope the tips above will help you become a successful dorm dweller.
BONUS: Dorm life videos on Youtube