Surviving the Dorms…

Have you ever tried to do that thing where you pat your head with one hand, and rub circles on your chest with your other hand? It’s kind of hard, not impossible, but hard. I think it’s challenging because one action is distracting you from doing another action. Sound familiar? Living in the dorms and doing well in school isn’t much different.

I think living in a dorm is something that every college student should do for at least one year. It is a great way to experience college as an underclassman, and it presents you with several opportunities that you probably wouldn’t get anywhere else. But there are few things that you should know and remember.

1. Go to class – There WILL be mornings where you literally wake up and don’t feel like moving. It will be 9 am or earlier, you can’t find your shoes, and your backpack is hanging from the ceiling fan. This may sound like a terrific opportunity to sleep in and watch reruns of The Price is Right, but you really should just get up and go to class. It becomes easy to take a few classes off here and there, but it will benefit you to try to make EVERY class.

My freshman year I made a bet with my roommate and suitemates to see who could miss the least amount of classes. I think the winner got like 40 bucks or something. The most important thing to remember is that if you stop going to class, you won’t have a room to stay in much longer. Try to get the best grades possible. I can guarantee you it will pay off later!

2. Don’t drink too much – If you are living in the dorms, chances are you aren’t old enough to buy alcohol, but we all know you still get it! If you do drink, try to limit yourself, and do it responsibly. More on this in a later post.

3. Don’t smoke too much – I am not talking about cigarettes here. If you are a smoker, that’s cool, just know your limits and don’t let it consume your life. Don’t get caught smoking in your room either, you most likely will get kicked out. More about weed and other drugs another time. So before you do anything stupid, Stop, Pauze, and Reflect!

4. Set rules w/your roommate – If you are rooming with someone lay down some ground rules during the first week. Some of the things you should think about are rules about noise – how loud, and at what times can you play music. Studying – set aside some “study only” times, etc., What to do if you have a date over. Cleaning schedules. There are plenty more, the best thing to do is to sit down with each other and figure out what works best for both of you. And if you are living with someone you already know, don’t assume you will automatically get along.

5. CLEAN YOUR ROOM! – I cannot stress this enough. Even if you are a complete slob, that doesn’t mean your room has to reflect it. Make sure you clean up “your” side of the room frequently to avoid “nasty-ass smelly room” syndrome. Have a vacuum close by, Windex, multi-cleaner, and other cleaning supplies. Make sure you and your roommate come up with a cleaning schedule that details who will be cleaning what, and when. Clean up those old pizza boxes and sunflower seed shells. I remember when I was living in the dorms, my suitemate had a huge pile of peanut shells by his bed. His room straight up smelled like a baseball stadium!

6. Make friends – One of the best things about living in the dorms is you get a chance to meet a bunch of new people. Depending on the size of your school you can have anywhere from 50-1500 living in your dorm. Remember to keep an open mind about different people. Not everybody is like you, and they didn’t grow up where you did. If you are on the shy side, take it slow. Try to meet one new person every week. You don’t have to be best friends with this person, but get to know them. Start saying hi to people on the elevator, start talking to the person at the front desk, go and knock on your neighbors’ doors and just say whats up. If you are chilling in your room by yourself and you aren’t studying or doing anything important, prop your door open, you never know who will be walking by.

7. Have fun – This kind of goes hand in hand with Meeting new people, but seriously, have fun. This will most likely be the first time in your life where you don’t have someone telling you exactly what to do and giving you boundaries. Take advantage of it! Go to parties, meet new people, learn, stay out late, do what you want to do! Thinking about your personality and career perspective will come sooner than you may like.

8. Don’t sell drugs – I know it sounds like a really easy way to make money, but the risk is usually not worth it and you’ll regret it deeply by the time you need to write an application.

9. Respect your RA – your RA is your resident attendant, and they are there to help you! If you have a serious problem with your RA, go to them and talk to them. They are typically only a few years older than you, so don’t feel like they are untouchable. Respecting your RA means playing by their rules, which are usually pretty lenient. If you feel a happy medium cannot be met, go and discuss your problems with the student housing administration.

10. Call home often – Remember your old roommates? Y’know, your parents? Call them once a week to let them know what’s going on with you. They love hearing about how your doing. Even if you don’t feel like talking to them, do it for them.

11. Don’t be a hermit – If you are shy, staying in and avoiding everybody will only make your shyness worse. The best thing to kick your shyness in the ass is to get out and meet people. It will be OK. If you honestly feel like you can’t socialize with anybody by the time the first semester is over you should contemplate moving out.

I am sure there are a million other things you should know, most of them are covered on this site. Just remember to have fun, and remember where you are, and why you are there, and you’ll be just fine.

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