Learn How to Survive Your First Dorm Room

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Tips for Surviving Your First Dorm Room

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Moving into your first dorm room is an exciting prospect that's all about learning to live on your own and negotiating the hurdles that come with it. Read: mostly dealing with your dormmate.

If the prospect of this new experience is stressful for you, consider these helpful tips for surviving dorm living.

What to expect

Not quite sure what you will be getting yourself into by choosing to dorm your first year at university? You can definitely expect to find:
  • Noise - if you like to study in complete silence you're going to want to do that at the university library, for the most part dorms are not the quietest place on campus
  • A minimum on privacy - between your dormmate, your dormmates friends, your friends and the other students on campus, it will be hard to find moments of complete privacy
  • Various personalities - you won't just be encountering one personality at university, but all the personalities, some of which you will mesh with and others you won't
  • Opportunities - getting to know people in your dorm will likely open you up to new opportunities, which you should be willing to take advantage of, whether they be in everyday life or to advance you in the future
  • Distractions - with all the goings on in a residence hall, it will be difficult to not be distracted, however, it's important to keep on top of your studies and don't let procrastination set in too hard


Below you will find some general tips for making the most out of dorm room life while at university. Chances are by the end of your first semester you will have your own tips for incoming students based on your own experiences.

Try not to overpack.
It's tempting to pack everything you might possibly need for life in your first dorm, but it's also important to remember that you will be living in a small space that you are sharing with another person. Focus on only packing things you know you will actually need, keeping in mind that you can always bring more belongings back with you when you return from a break.

Don't forget the essentials.
With that being said, there are some items that are absolutely essential to your survival at college, such as a pair of flip flops for the communal shower and comfortable bedding. While some items can be left behind, do not neglect the essentials.

Work on having a good relationship with your dormmate.
Since you will be spending a lot of time with your dormmate (even when you don't necessarily want to) you still have to live together, so it's important to be friendly and respectful. You don't have to be best friends who do everything together, but you also don't want to make an enemy.

TIP: Remember, if things don't work out you can always request a transfer or switch roommates come the new semester or new school year.

Plan a chore or cleaning schedule.
No one likes a messy or lazy dormmate, which, let's face it, may be you. To keep chores even and so one person in the dorm doesn't end up doing all the work, discuss a chore schedule with your roommate. Alternate chores such as taking out the garbage and dusting, with both of you agreeing to keep your side of the room in order.

Always have snacks and water on hand.

Most campuses do not have 24/7 areas to eat on-site. To avoid any hunger pains (especially when you should be focused on studying) keep your dorm well stocked with both snacks and water. This is where a water pitcher with a built-in filter comes in especially handy.

Protect your valuables.
If you have any valuables in your dorm (particularly phones, laptops and tablets) do not leave them lying out in the open when you are not there. All electronics should also have pass codes that are required to access their information.

Find where your Resident Advisor is located.
Just in case you may require them throughout the course of the school year, make sure you know how and where to locate your Resident Advisor (R.A.). Consider introducing yourself on your first day to make a good impression.

Work on making friends.
Yes, you have studying to do, but that doesn't mean you cannot make friends in your downtime. One great way to do this is to keep your dorm room open while you're inside. You'll be surprised at how many people stop by to say hello.

Do not neglect your homework.
On the other hand, when it's time to do your homework or study for a test, put your newfound friends aside and go to work. It's incredibly easy to fall behind and equally damaging to do so.

TIP: Invest in some serious noise-cancelling headphones for when you need to hunker down, avoid distractions and just and get your homework done.

Be open to new experiences.
Finally and most importantly, be open to new experiences. Is there a get together happening in your residence hall? Pop in and say hello. Is someone organizing a study group? See if you can participate. Your university years are a time for personal growth and learning about yourself and the only way to do that is to explore new opportunities to find out what appeals to you.

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on August 21, 2014

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