Dorms become like a second home to many students during their university experience. And while dorm life can mean making new friends and having exciting adventures, adjusting to new routines is not always easy. Since most students who come to the dorms have no prior experience living outside their parents’ homes, the reality of taking care of themselves and sharing space with strangers can be overwhelming.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that dorm life has to be a total culture shock. This list of excellent tips compiled by Custom-Writing.org will help you settle in and make the most out of your student life.
🔝 Top 9 Tips for Dorm Living
1. Establish Communication with Roommates
When you move into a dorm, you must be ready to share your space with other students. Establishing a friendly relationship with your roommates is crucial if you want to feel comfortable in a new environment. Here are our best tips that will help you to connect with new people and avoid misunderstandings:
- Set ground rules—and revise them if necessary. It’s best to agree on a specific set of dos and don’ts from the very start. If certain things or conditions are especially important to you, mention them so that you and your roommates can avoid conflicts. Remember that it’s best not to overstep your boundaries and be open to a conversation.
- Accommodate each other’s schedules. Living together is not the easiest task, especially when you and your roommates have different habits. That is why it can be beneficial to compromise and schedule a specific time for using the room or the shower.
- Agree on the use of shared personal possessions. It’s not unusual that dormmates share things to save money instead of buying all the necessities. Specifying which items are personal and which you are willing to share makes life in the dorm much easier. You can use name tags and make exceptions for emergencies to avoid problems or misunderstandings.
- Take necessary precautions. Living in a dorm increases the chances of other people having access to your personal things and confidential information. That’s why it’s best to protect the files on your computer by using software that blocks unauthorized users. Agreeing to rules about locking doors to keep your personal belongings safe is also essential.
- Respect each other’s needs. As much as it is essential to establish specific rules, it’s also necessary to remember that your dormmates are individuals with their own habits and preferences. Respecting each other’s space and lifestyle is absolutely necessary when sharing the same room.
2. Set a Budget and Stick to It
Another important thing about living on your own is sticking to a budget. Let’s talk a little bit about the ways you can do that.
Most students who begin studying at university live in a college department and have no stable income. Having a set budget and a certain amount of money for emergencies is essential so that you don’t suddenly run out of cash at the end of the month. For that reason, knowing how to use your budget sensibly is a skill almost every college student needs to learn. Below are some actionable tips that will surely help you:
- Analyze your monthly income. This amount of money includes scholarships, money sent from your family members, part-time job salary, etc.
- Assess your monthly expenses. Keep track of how much money you spend each month on the things you need and want. You can do it easily via your bank’s app.
- Do the math. Calculate the difference between your monthly income and your expenses.
- Create your budget based on the results of your calculations. That way, you can easily adjust your spending habits. A budget will help you see if you can save up some extra money or if you need to spend less on the things you want. We also recommend you avoid taking out credit loans at this point: they will surely mess up your budget.
3. Ensure Good Sleep in Your Dorm Room
One thing you shouldn’t hesitate to spend your money on is sleep. Dorm rooms are notorious for their uncomfortable beds. It may not be so easy to take naps during your breaks or to enjoy deep sleep since your roommates may have different schedules, snore, or toss around a lot. We would advise you to bring the following items:
- Mattress topper. It will make your sleep more comfortable.
- Good pillow. It’s better to invest in one good quality pillow instead of buying several small ones.
- A heavy blanket. You should be prepared for the cold, especially if your dorm is in a northern state.
- Earplugs and eye mask. These items may come in handy if you are sensitive to light and noise.
4. Schedule Your Alone Time
Starting a college and meeting new people can be exciting, but even if you’re an extrovert who enjoys being surrounded by people, everyone still needs their “me time.” When you share a room with other people, it might be a little harder to get some time for yourself. But don’t worry—there’s always a way! Check out these excellent tips that’ll help you get the alone time you need and make your college experience so much better:
|☕||Go to a cute cafe or coffee shop. If you can find a small place where none of your friends usually hang out, you’ll have some time to read a book, enjoy a podcast, or just clear your mind and have one of your favorite drinks.|
|🛋️||Find a go-to study spot. Having a favorite study place on campus can take some pressure off you. You also wouldn’t have to worry about making noise when you study outside your room. Instead, having a study spot can keep you motivated and help you stay focused. The change of scenery also helps to take your mind off certain things and recharge.|
|📚||Go to the campus library. A library is a good option if you want to find some peace and have a quiet study session.|
|🍀||Go outside. Going to a park may be a good idea if you have some spare time in your schedule, especially when you’re stressed out. Walks in nature can help you relax, and you’ll feel more energetic afterward.|
|🎶||Listen to music with headphones to drown out the noise. When it’s especially tough to get some alone time, listening to music can be a way to tune out and have some time to get lost in your thoughts.|
5. Find Ways to Handle Homesickness
Most people move to different cities when they start college. Living far away from family for the first time may result in serious homesickness. Homesickness is not unusual among students, but the feeling can be pretty debilitating. Still, there are ways to make you feel better and get over the longing for home:
- Find a way to keep in touch with your family and friends as often as you wish. There are plenty of ways, including voice and video calls, to help you get updates and chat with people close to you.
- Find a hobby. The easiest way to overcome homesickness is to surround yourself with interesting people and do something you like. If you start doing things you really enjoy, joining clubs, or attending courses, you may also find people who share your passion. Keeping yourself busy and having a good circle of friends will help you overcome the longing for home and make your college experience richer.
- Make your personal space feel like home. Bring some of your favorite plushies from home with you and decorate your room the way you like. Don’t be afraid to express your personality!
6. Learn the Basics of Housekeeping
Before moving into the dorm, students generally have no prior experience living alone, so housekeeping can be a challenge. Keeping your room clean is essential: since several people share the same space, it may get messy pretty quickly. It’s not unusual that many conflicts between roommates are caused by misunderstandings or disagreements regarding chores and cleaning responsibilities. That’s why we suggest that you don’t forget to:
- Wipe all surfaces when you finish using them;
- Vacuum, sweep, and mop regularly;
- Do the dishes;
- Do your laundry.
It’s also important to have the essential cleaning supplies, such as:
- Dish soap
- Dish sponge
- Broom and dustpan
- Garbage bag
- Reusable paper towels
- Disinfecting all-purpose cleaner
- Microfiber mop
7. Be Open to Differences
One of the key tips to having a healthy dorm life is to be open-minded. When you randomly get roomed with someone, this person is likely to come from a completely different background. Respecting each other regardless of differences is essential if you want to avoid conflicts and make new friends. You can also think of it as an opportunity to learn new things about people and the world around you!
Below we’ve compiled some helpful tips:
|What you can do if your roommate…|
|🌏||Comes from a different culture||Most people are proud of their heritage, so you shouldn’t be nervous to ask questions related to your roommate’s culture, as long as you are polite. Let your curiosity help you understand your roommate better and learn about their culture.|
|⛪||Has different religious views||Religion can be a touchy topic, but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing is not to impose your religious views on your roommate. Instead, try to have an honest conversation, and maybe both of you can learn something new.|
|🏳️🌈||Has different sexual preferences||Don’t freak out if your roommate has sexual preferences different from yours. If they happen to prefer the same sex, it absolutely does not mean that they will be attracted to you. In college, you’re bound to meet more people who are open about their preferences and who they love, so having a roommate with different sexuality may be an opportunity to learn new things and meet interesting people.|
|👪||Has a different upbringing||Sometimes conflicts between dormmates arise due to their different prior experiences. However, when things like that happen, it’s better to step back and take a breath. You and your roommate may just need to find a middle ground and take this opportunity to learn more about each other’s upbringing.|
8. Consider Cooking in Your Dorm
Even though you don’t have to make your own meals as a student, it may be worth a try if you want to maintain a healthy diet or save some money. Buying essential cooking supplies will allow you to make smoothies and fresh salads, which is an excellent way to take care of yourself. Here’s what you may consider taking to your dorm room:
- Mini fridge. A mini-fridge is optimal if you want to store raw ingredients such as fruits and veggies, which are often in short supply in college meal plans. You should also consider getting a mini-fridge if you want to use perishable foods like meat, eggs, and milk. It’s also helpful for stashing your leftovers.
- Knife and cutting board. It’s always handy to have a knife and a cutting board, even if you don’t do much cooking. You can use these items to make yourself a sandwich, salad, or simply chop some fruit.
- Kettle. If you are a tea lover or have a habit of making some overnight oatmeals, having a small kettle is a necessity for you! It’s also a perfect choice if you want to enjoy some quickly-cooking rice or noodles from time to time.
- Hot plate and pot. If you plan to cook or roast your meals from time to time, these two items are essential.
- Toaster. A toaster is an excellent option if you enjoy sandwiches and don’t want to spend money buying them. It’s much easier, cleaner, and cheaper to make them yourself.
- Blender. A blender is a good choice for those who enjoy smoothies and prefer a healthy diet. It can also help you make delicious oatmeals.
9. Get to Know the RA
Imagine there’s a problem you can’t solve on your own. What should you do? For that reason, every dorm has a resident advisor (RA).
The title may vary from place to place—resident advisor, resident assistant, community assistant, community advisor—but the concept stays the same. An RA is an upperclassman who lives in the residence hall with other students, answers their questions, and provides support. Usually, the RA is the first person students meet upon moving in on campus. Community advisors are also the ones who are responsible for organizing social events.
Student residents benefit from the presence of an RA who provides much-needed support and can answer school-related questions. It also happens that many colleges offer perks like a financial stipend or a single room to those who take on that role. Being a community assistant also helps develop social, leadership, and problem-solving skills, which are surely beneficial. So, why not consider becoming an RA later on?
😊 4 Dorm Life Tips for Introverts
We have previously mentioned many perks and hardships of living in the dorm. In this section, we’ll give some advice for introverted students to whom having some alone time is necessary to feel recharged. Dorm life can be overwhelming at times, so here are some tips that might help you to adjust and feel more at ease during such times:
- Create a comfort zone for yourself. Making your living space cozy is definitely something you should consider. Buy yourself some plushies, fluffy blankets, beautiful fairy lights, or plants. Making the corner of your room comfy will make it easier to feel comfortable in your new space and relax after a long day of classes.
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Even if socializing doesn’t come very easy to you, staying locked in your room is not an option. Try to make some new friends who can keep you company during lunch or with whom you can play video games from time to time. When someone approaches you, don’t shy away. Instead, focus on asking simple questions to better get to know the other person.
- Find friends who are similar to you. Finding people with whom you can establish a real connection is the best way to feel comfortable in a new place. You can try joining clubs to meet people with similar interests. That will make it easier to strike up a conversation. There’s always a chance to meet other introverts who share your hobbies and look for genuine friends.
- Prioritize face-to-face interactions. Social media or streaming platforms like Netflix serve as a substitute for real-life interactions for many students. However, these things can never replace face-to-face communication. Don’t get too invested in your phone and social media. Instead, try to make some friends in real life. Even if you have just one friend you can rely on or talk to, your college life will improve significantly.
🎓 11 Bonus Tips for Freshmen
And finally, we would like to share some advice from students who’ve already experienced life in a dorm. These tips will make the life of any college resident much easier:
- Raise your bed. Getting bed lifts will maximize under-the-bed storage and create more space for you to store personal items and clothes.
- Consider smart storage. When you move into a dorm, you have to realize that there won’t be much space to store your stuff. Set some space aside and bring stackable drawers with you. We also recommend you take advantage of under-the-bed storage and adhesive hooks.
- Get a pair of shower shoes. Since showers are shared in the dorm, there’s a high chance of getting foot fungus. To prevent it, we strongly advise you bring a pair of flip-flops to use in the shower.
- Get a pair of rubber boots. Taking a couple of waterproof boots is a good idea, especially if your college is in a state where it often rains.
- Use a bike to get around campus. Since university campuses are pretty big, biking is an efficient way of quickly getting from one place to another.
- Take advantage of your college discounts. Many organizations and clubs offer students discounts or even free food (including pizza!)
- Don’t bring a printer. If you are thinking about buying a printer, forget that idea. Every campus has printers, plus you can access most study materials online.
- Try the Pomodoro method for time management. Time management is a skill that most college students need to work on. If you’re struggling with concentration, we suggest using the Pomodoro method. The point is that you commit to a 25-minute work period before taking a break for 5 minutes. You must repeat the cycle four times before taking a more extended break.
- Avoid doing your laundry on weekends. Most people do their laundry on weekends when they have more free time. If you wash your clothes on a weekday, you won’t have to compete for a washing machine.
- Bring a small safe for storing essential items. When you stay with other people, there’s always a chance of having your personal belongings stolen. For that reason, getting a small safe to store important items is a good idea.
- Bring an Ethernet cable. Since many people use dorm wi-fi, bringing your own ethernet cable is a good decision that will save you time and nerves.
✅ Dorm Life Checklist
Moving in on campus is very similar to moving into a new house. There are a lot of things to keep in mind. All the study and document-related questions make it even harder to consider every detail. To help you avoid unnecessary problems, we created this checklist of all the things you need to pay attention to:
- Identify your goals. Take your time to think about your social, personal, and academic goals. That way, you’ll know what your priorities are, how to manage your time, and where to focus your energy.
- Know what activities recharge you and what triggers your procrastination. Spend more time doing things that motivate you and fill you up with energy while avoiding things that exhaust you and decrease your self-esteem.
- Decide how you’ll continue to communicate with friends and family. Make sure to find ways and time to talk to your family and friends, as they may be one of the biggest sources of support during your college days.
- Know where the local stores are near the dorm. Take your time to learn more about the area where you will live. That way, you won’t feel completely lost during your first weeks.
- Pack as light as possible. Remember that dorm rooms are not very spacious. Only bring the essential items!
- Make a list of school supplies and dorm room items and use it when you’re packing. Review this detailed checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Thanks for reading this article! We hope you found it helpful. Share your ideas or dorm experiences in the comment section below, and feel free to share the link to this article with your friends. Our final advice is: have fun and enjoy your college experience!