What to Expect When Dorming
By Kate, age 19, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Put your fears aside - I'm here to give you the complete 4-1-1 on dorming and what to expect!
1. Roommates - Maybe you have one, maybe you have three. Either way, those girls are your new family. They're there when you wake up, when you go to bed, and every moment in between (unless, of course, they're in class). And with roommates come drama, disputes, chaos, laughter, fun, and a bonding friendship. So, don't push them away. Don't avoid them, and don't be shy! Get to know them, hang out with them, do work with them, and have fun. Before you know it, all your fears of loneliness, homesickness, and awkwardness will disappear, and you won't be able to imagine living with anyone else.
2009 intern Sam has more on "What You Need to Know About College Roommates" in the August '09 issue.
2. Dorm rooms - Yup, it's probably smaller than your bedroom at home. And nope, it's not like an apartment. You get one room (unless you're a senior in a fancy school with fancy apartment-type dorm rooms). In that room will be two beds (or three or four, depending on how many roommates you have). There will be two desks (or more), and two or more bureaus. What does this mean for you? Don't bring your entire bedroom with you! Sharing is caring, and caring is giving the other girls their space, just like you would want yours. So, when it comes to move-in day, talk with your roomies. Figure out a way to set up the furniture so there will be room for all. Perhaps you will have one side and your roomie will have the other. Or, maybe you'll each get a corner. Either way, there isn't a lot of room. Bed risers will become your best friend - stash all those extra boxes and suitcases right under your bed for maximum space and efficiency. Try not to send them back home with Mom or Dad - you might need them for storage or if you drive, bringing some winter clothes home in the spring, etc.
For some "Dorm Must-Haves", 2009 intern Kristen has some suggestions.
2a. Furniture - Everything you need will be provided for you. Don't bring extra. It's a hassle to carry and will take up a lot of room. See my article on "Do's and Don'ts to Bring to College" (August '10) in last month's issue for more!
3. Privacy - There is none. The most privacy you will get is that one moment when your roommate is out and you're alone in your room - and even that isn't a lot. The walls tend to be thin and you can hear almost everything going on in your neighbor's room. If you can hear them snoring, chances are they can hear you doing whatever it is you are doing. Be respectful, and be aware of those around you. You may have your own room, but you are sharing with tons of other people in the same building. If you lived in an apartment with family before, this will be nothing new to you.
4. Bathrooms - There's the men's room, and there's the women's room. You get toilets, sinks, and showers, and maybe a few outlets. This is not your personal bathroom. There may be times when you go in and every shower will be taken. Or, you could get lucky enough and be in there alone. Either way, you must be considerate. No one-hour showers and don't make a mess. Mommy won't be there to clean up after you.
5. Food - Food will be provided. (See Editor's Note below.) A variety of meal plans may be available. The cost is often included in your dorming fees, so don't waste your own money buying food. Snacks are okay. And don't forget to attend each meal. It can be crazy the first few weeks or months, but don't forget what is important. Keep yourself healthy and well fed and you will be off to a great start.
6. Common rooms - There are usually some kind of meeting rooms or TV rooms in each dorm. Some will be for watching TV, some will have a kitchen, and some will be for studying. Use these. It's a great way to hang out with friends for a little relaxing time or get in some serious studying. And you might meet some of your neighbors too.
7. Parking - If you have a car, you will be able to park it in the parking lot near your dorm. You might need to pay to get a parking sticker, but it will cover you for a spot all year. The parking lot is like a little home for your car - treat it as you would treat your room. Be courteous of others and respectful of the property and environment.
8. Dorm design - Is it co-ed? Is it sorted by grades? Or is everyone thrown just thrown in? Depending on the college, it might be a little of everything. This is something you should find out before even applying, depending on what you want. Most dorms have a variety of people. There may be some dorms reserved for seniority or students with a higher GPA. This should all be mentioned on the college's website when you apply or you can find out by asking other students or faculty and staff.
9. Cable and internet - There are usually outlets for phones, internet, and TV already in the dorms, but this is something you should find out yourself with the college you are applying to. Most are internet ready, but you will need a cord. There is also a spot for a TV, but they may not provide cable for each room. Cable can be accessed in the common rooms though. So, you will probably be better off leaving your TV behind, or at least check with the school. You can watch all your favorite shows online anyway. Phone jacks might also be provided, but no phones. At this point, you probably already have a cell phone, so buying a phone for your dorm room would be a waste. Don't spend money on things you don't need to.
10. Finally, expect an exciting year ahead! Your dorm will be full of people working hard and ready to have fun. Mingle amongst your peers, hang out in the common rooms, cook up a late night snack, and have fun! But, don't forget to work hard! With living on your own comes responsibility. Think you're up for the challenge?
Editor's Note: 2009 intern Kristen takes "An Honest Look at Campus Food" in the September '09 issue. I might add, if you are given a choice of meal plans, to make the best use of your (or your parents') money, think honestly about how often you'll be eating in the dining hall. For health, improved concentration, and weight control, breakfast is a meal you shouldn't miss, but if you never eat breakfast and don't intend to start the habit in college, or if you'll be commuting home most weekends, then why buy a plan where you pay for 21 meals a week? Freshman year, I overbought, because I went home many weekends. Others underbuy (or skip their paid-for mealtimes) and then compensate with junk food. It's something to seriously consider, I think. As for campus food quality, that's a whole 'nother discussion! (lol)