These tips are not limited to just dorming college freshmen, but a few tips might be more relevant to dorming students than commuters. I dormed my freshman year, and I don’t regret it. I recommend it to anyone who considers dorming. Here are some (aka tons) of tips I have written. Some things are obvious, but are good reminders, and some are things I wish someone told me before I started my dorm life.
- Never ever study in your dorm. Don’t be like me; for almost a whole quarter I believed I would be able to study in my room. That’s a joke…you’ll never get anything done unless you have good discipline and you can study with noise. There are, of course, exceptions with oddly quiet dorms or dorms during the last half of the year where people shape up and realize they actually have to study or else they’re going to fail out of college.
- Therefore, go somewhere quiet to study. It’s probably good to change it up to keep yourself from getting tired and bored. Study room, library, etc. Explore new places.
- Meet up with a study group only if you’re caught up in your individual studying. Being in a study group is less efficient if you don’t know your stuff already. Think of it as more of a reinforcement. This means you’ll have to make sure you’re caught up if you ever want to have a study group. Study groups usually mean a good excuse to get together and procrastinate if no one actually knows any of the material yet.
- Make sure you complete any extra worksheets given and then go to office hours for any help or clarification. It will probably help a lot for your exams.
- Don’t delude yourself by just saying “I need to study more” because will you really? If you find yourself having trouble with getting things done or managing time, take some time out of your day to plan out a schedule for at least an entire week. Plan every hour. Then make sure you follow it. Try not to stray too much or else you’ll be back to your old ways very soon.
- If the study areas tend to fill up before and during finals week, that will be a problem. At my college for example, sometimes our study area fills up really quickly. So make sure you use the rest of your day as efficiently as possible because you might not be able to find a quiet place to study at night. If you find that you’ve got nowhere quiet to go, try to go to bed instead. Then you can wake up early in the morning. Or, if you definitely need to find a place to study at night, go explore and find new areas that have less people.
- The truth is, most people don’t go to office hours (especially online schools students). I didn’t. I think the best way to motivate yourself into going is to take one day where you visit all of your office hour locations. Now that you know where they are, you have a better chance of going to them. In some cases, I would plan to go to office hours, but I didn’t even know where they were, so I got lazy and didn’t bother going.
- Find a way of writing down your due dates and assignments. I personally used a small dry-erase board on my wall. Others use sticky notes on their bookshelves. Recently I tried using this website to keep myself organized: CollegeRuled. Some people use agendas. Some people put them into their laptops or cell phones. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an email reminder or a reminder from a classmate. Otherwise, you’re pretty much responsible for remembering and if you don’t, it really sucks when you find out later that you got zero points because you forgot.
- Go to free tutoring and get a paid tutor if you need to. If anything, at least go to free review sessions. They are usually very helpful for the exam.
- When you’re reviewing all of your material for an exam, it helps to write down important things or things you’re unclear about on a huge white board. Writing it down helps, and then having all of the information in front of you on the white board is a great review when you read over it again.
- When you’re feeling really sleepy and unproductive at the library, take a 15 minute nap. If you feel weird napping where people might see you, get a cubicle. It’s less noticeable and no one can see you anyway. The nap usually helps and you’ll be able to focus much better afterward. If you’re with a friend, have them wake you up, or set an alarm on your phone just in case.
- Use Rate My Professors to look at any possible reviews of professors. In college, unless you know an upperclassman, it is difficult to know which professor and which classes to take. Rate My Professors can help in deciding, depending on who is more difficult, etc. Remember, take each review with a grain of salt because professor can change their ways and students might write bogus reviews to throw you off.
- Choose a time slot that will work for you. Don’t choose an 8 AM class if you were never able to wake up past 1 PM. Weigh out your options. Is the really awesome teacher worth taking at 8 in the morning if you never wake up to go to class?
- Figure out whether gaps in classes will work with you or against you. Some people use them efficiently to study and then have the rest of the day to themselves. Others only waste this time and a back-to-back schedule would be better for them.
- Start off your first quarter with an easy load. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed the minute you start college and you will want to have time to get settled into college life.
- PAY YOUR FEES ON TIME. This is extremely important. No one (well, for most colleges) is going to call you up and baby you to pay for your fees. If you don’t pay on time you can risk having to pay for extra fees, getting your classes dropped, and even expulsion.
- Make use of your meal plan and “steal” (technically you probably paid thousands for that meal plan) some food from the dining commons! If you’re a girl, it’s much easier: bring your purse and a couple of ziploc or plastic baggies. Or if anything, bring back some fruit and EAT IT (a lot of the time they end up being thrown away).
- The first week or so of dorm food is usually awesome. But after a while it might get tiring. To keep yourself from growing utterly sick of dining commons, try to stick to only one entree per meal. Since everything is buffet-style, you’ll want to get a little bit of everything, but you’ll get tired of everything really fast if you do that since most dining commons end up reusing their dishes for other days. Just get one entree per meal and change it up each time.
- Sometimes you get sick of dorm food and it’s nice to eat out. It’s also a great way to spend time with your friends. But don’t forget you also paid for a meal plan, if you have one. Plan out how much you have to eat at the dining hall so that you won’t be left with 30 unused meals at the end of the year.
Your Dorm Room
- Clean up after yourself frequently. Tidy things up. Most dorm spaces are small, and it can get messy really fast. Just keep up with keeping things clean and it won’t be a chore at all. A lot of people let their rooms go until there is a huge mass of doom, slowly swallowing up the entire room.
- When you receive your room assignment, contact your roommate(s) and figure out who is bringing what, general sleeping habits, etc. You don’t want to all move in and find out there are three televisions and no fridge.
- Try to set up some rules beforehand. Don’t always leave things up to “common courtesy” because when you live with someone, things don’t always work out the way you expect. When can guests be brought over? Is there any borrowing allowed? Study with or without noise? etc.
- Sometimes beds can be raised to have more space underneath. Especially handy to put drawers, mini-fridges, and the like.
- A microfridge is very handy. You can store food/drinks and heat up anything any time you’re hungry. There is usually a common kitchen for the entire building to use, but it’s a hassle sometimes to have to go there just to get a glass of milk. Shared fridge might also be a problem because your stuff might be used without permission or could be messed with.
- If the bed turns out to be really hard and uncomfortable, buy a memory foam pad or something similar to put on top of the mattress. It will make a huge difference.
- Closet space is usually very minimal. Make use of hanging more than one clothing item on one hanger. Put in some organizers or extra shelves/drawers.
- Always have plastic utensils, cups, and plates.
- Have a good desk lamp if one is not provided. You’re going to be using it a lot for studying or when your roommate decides to sleep earlier than you. If you like to study on your bed, it might be a good idea to get a clamp-on lamp and stick it on the headboard.
- Shower caddys are usually a must-have, whether you store it in the bathroom or your room. It will make it a lot easier to transport and it keeps all of your toiletries together.
- If your bathroom doesn’t have a changing area, it might be helpful to change in your room or in a bathroom stall before and after your showers. Some like to use robes and others are fine with a towel.
- Use shower shoes. They can be simple flip flops. You have no idea what goes on in showers and walking barefoot in the bathroom is kind of gross.
- Beds are usually “extra-long twin” beds. They do that in case anyone is super tall. It’s a pain, though, because you’ll have to buy bed sheets specifically for your dorm unless your bed at home is extra-long. If you don’t want to spend too much money, use some temporary sheets for a little bit, and wait till after school starts. That is when all of the popular dorm items will go on sale.
- Putting up photographs, decorating and personalizing your room will make it feel much more like home. Also, they will make great conversation starters when you invite people over to your room.
- If you have a choice in choosing your bed and moving the furniture around, I would suggest having your bed in such a way so that your head will not be the first thing seen when the door is open. You might be sleeping and your head will be the first thing that people will see when your roommate opens the door, or light might shine directly into your face.
- Keep your laptop fully charged as often as possible. You never know when you might want to go to the library and find that there are no outlets open, or you might just feel like hanging out in someone else’s dorm room with no open outlets.
- If possible, get TWO chargers for your laptop. One to leave at home and one for your dorm. If you ever visit home frequently or at all, it will be very handy. I’ve had too many friends who ended up in trouble because they forgot to bring their charger. If you’re lucky you’ll have a friend who will let you borrow theirs for a bit. Or, you can just make sure one of the top items on your list is a laptop charger when you are about to leave for home or for the dorms. Same goes with cell phone chargers.
- Invest in some good earphones. You’re gonna need them when you don’t feel like listening to your roommate complaining about how bad of a hair day they’re having.
- You might want to have an external harddrive to back up all of your files on. It is not pretty when someone loses all of their notes and files during finals week.
- Keep a USB stick handy all the time for when you need to save school work or even just transfer files with a friend. You never know when you need to save something. Additionally, make use of your email and make it a habit to send copies of your documents to your email. It might save your rear end in the event that you’re away from your computer and need to access or print one of your assignments.
- Invest in a camera or camera phone to capture all your memories.
- Check your email and keep your eyes open for any free campus events. Gotta take advantage of FREE events, the possibility of getting FREE stuff, and having a great time with your friends!
- Do some research on good places to eat around campus. When you’re tired of the cafeteria food, you’ll want a change. Take note of places open late too – midnight runs are really fun with some friends.
- Explore your campus. You might find some nice places to study, great photo opportunities, places you never knew existed, a peaceful place to relax, etc…who knows what you’ll find.
- Check out the locations of your classes beforehand, so you’re not as nervous in being able to find your class. Being early will also keep you feeling relaxed, and you can use that time to chat with some new people.
- The first few weeks of college will be prime time. You need to make your best efforts to put yourself out there and meet new people. Everybody is new and the friendly factor is extremely high. It is best to make friends before people start getting comfortable and form groups, since those are harder to break into.
- Don’t be afraid. Everyone is just as nervous as you are. If you are open and friendly, you will have no problem making new friends.
- During the first few days, grab a friend or roommate and go around the entire building, greeting each room. It’s a great way to see who you’ll be living with and you’ll be off on a good start in making new friends.
- Join a club! Check out a couple and see if you like any. It’s best to find one you like and focus on that. Don’t worry if you can’t find a club you’re interested in. Despite trying a few clubs my freshman year, it took me almost two years to finally find one I really liked.
- Leave the door to your room open if you want people to pop in. People are usually attracted to open doors when they’re bored and it’s really easy to meet people that way.
- If you are thinking about dorming with a friend, rethink that. Sometimes it’s best to separate friends and roommates because being friends with someone is entirely different from living with someone. You don’t want to end up hating your bestfriend because you found out he/she is a terrible roommate. Also, if you room with a stranger, that’s automatically a new friend and someone new to meet. The next best solution would be to request to live in the same building as your friend. That way you will still have the comfort of each other if you ever need it.
- Dating people in the same building. In my opinion? DON’T DO IT. It spells trouble. It gets super awkward if it doesn’t work out, and you’re going to hate seeing your ex every time you go to the bathroom or hang out with your friends in the common room. It works out for some people, but use your judgment and be aware of the consequences.
- Be friends with your Resident Advisor (RA). He or she will be really knowledgeable and sociable. Remember, they are usually not that much older than you, only by a couple of years.
Last but not least, you may want to check out my List of Things to Bring to College.
College seems like a whole new place, and that’s because … it usually is! That’s not a bad thing at all. You just need to transition into a new life and it will be an awesome experience. As you can see, this list is seriously comprehensive. See how much I care about incoming freshies? Now that you have these tips in mind, your transition to college life might be a little easier.