6 Survival Tips for Dorm Life

Heading out on your own for the first time is exciting. Living in a dorm on your college campus is an adventure all on it's own. If you are part of the graduating Class of 2017, you'll be packing up and moving out in the next few weeks. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you get to your new home. These are six tips to surviving your freshman year in the dorms.

Expect Noise

Living in a building with dozens of other freshman is going to be noisy. Sometimes you'll want to join the party and sometimes you'll have to forego the fun to study, or sleep. Of course there won't be loud music and partying all the time, most dorms have rules about those things, but just in case you're not up for what's going down, invest in some earplugs.


Privacy can be hard to come by with communal living. You share a bedroom, a bathroom and your common areas. It's important to find a place outside the dorms or even off campus where you can be essentially alone. Some place like a park, cafe, coffee shop or bookstore. Finding "me" time is important.

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Like I just said, just about everywhere in the dorm is a shared space. The showers are no exception. You usually don't have the luxury of leaving your things in the bathroom. Having your shower essentials in a handy caddy will save you time and keep you from that moment when you are wet and soapy and you realize that you forgot your razor. Again.

Another biggie for the shower are flip flops. Showers are full of bacteria just waiting to stick to your feet and give you athlete's foot. Yuck! Have a pair of flip flops dedicated to the shower.

It Take All Kinds

You'll meet all tons of new people at college. And for the most part, you'll like them and get along. But, there will always be personalities that clash. There are many reasons why two people may not agree.  When somebody is away from home, living on their own for the first time, or trying to live up to a set of expectations, it’s understandable that even the most easy going person could be a little edgy. Yes, there will be some people that you just don't gel with. It could (hopefully not) be your roommate or a kid down the hall. In those cases, try to figure out what the root of the problem could be and a possible way to work it out.  That way if you need to confront that person, you will have an idea in mind to smooth things out, rather than just a bunch of stuff to complain about.


Feeling Snacky

Food will be high on your list of priorities. Since mom isn't there to whip something up or steer you to last night's leftovers, you'll need to have a plan. Find out what foods are available through your school’s meal plans. Most universities require freshmen to have a meal plan. Be sure you know when meal time is. Don't miss out.

When keeping a stash in your room, head to your nearest grocery store or Target. It’s a lot cheaper in the long run to buy a full sized box of granola bars than buying them for a dollar a piece at the student store.

A big bone of contention for roommates is eating each others’ food or your roommate's friends eating your food. You and your roommate should think about having a “shared pile” of snacks for the both of you. This stuff would be bought by both of you and up for grabs for whoever.


Get to Know the RA

Your Residential Advisor (RA) is about as close to “parental supervision” that you're going to get – so doing right by them is in your best interest.

RA’s are usually upperclassmen that work with the school to keep an eye on  the students on each floor in a dorm. So in a sense they do have some authority over freshmen, but  they are students too! Just like you they are trying to keep the school, work, and friends dynamic going, so making life harder for them will not make life easier for you. I'm not saying you need to be BFFs with your RA, but  introduce yourself and get a feel for them. Build a rapport to let them know you’re on the level.

You’re going to find yourself dealing with all sorts of situations while living in the dorms – that’s just part of the college experience. But the important thing to take away is a basic understanding of the ins-and-outs of the system. When you have a grasp of what to expect that will make the transition much smoother. Stay focused, work hard, and be social…everything else will work itself out.

Shawna Parks