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30 Things You Need to Know About Dorm Life

dorm life tipsProviding an unparalleled opportunity to live in community with your peers, college dorms may serve as the backdrop for some of the best times of your life. From applying for housing to learning to live with your roommate, here are 30 things you need to know about dorming in college -- and loving it.

1. Firsthand experience is helpful in housing decisions. Spend a night in a dorm with current students to get a feel of what life in that dorm is like. Then, you can make a more informed choice.

2. Community living has its perks. If you have the opportunity, choose to live in a house of students with similar interests, backgrounds, majors, etc. Living in one of these "theme houses" provides common ground to jump-start relationships.

3. Deadlines are essential. If you don't apply for housing before the deadline, your options will be severely limited, and in some cases, nonexistent. Unless you want to be homeless in college, apply for housing ASAP.

4. Most public school students live in the dorms. At public colleges, about 40 percent of full-time students live on campus, 40 percent live in off-campus housing, and 20 percent live with their parents.

5. Even more private school students live in the dorms. At private colleges, 64 percent of full-time students live on campus, 19 percent live in off-campus housing, and 17 percent live with their parents.

6. Dorms are loud. Unless you're accustomed to studying to the sounds emanating from a multitude of iPod speakers, pack your earplugs or seek shelter in the library.

7. Your RA is not the enemy. Resident assistants are there to help you adjust to college life and follow the rules so you stay safe at college.

8. Dorming isn't cheap. In 2008-2009, room and board cost an average of $7,748 at public colleges and $8,989 at private colleges.

9. On the other hand, dorm living can save you money. It can definitely be cheaper than renting your own apartment, where you'll need to pay for furniture, utilities, phone and Internet service, commuting, and more.

10. You may not control your roommate fate. If the campus housing staff makes roommate matches based on personal preferences listed on housing questionnaires, the choice is pretty much out of your hands. The best you can do is be honest about who you are and what you're looking for.

11. Picking a roommate is not a popularity contest. If you have the option of choosing your roomie, remember that you don't need the coolest or prettiest one, or even one who will become your BFF. You just need someone with whom you can dwell peacefully for a year or more.

12. Dorming is the ultimate opportunity to make new friends. Choosing a preexisting friend for a roommate can create tension and change the nature of the friendship.

13. You will get your roommate's contact information before move-in day. Connect with her on Facebook or over the phone to get any initial awkwardness out of the way.

14. Coordinating major dorm room items with your roommate is a good idea. For instance, you only need one TV and DVD player in your room.

15. Certain items are off-limits. Hot plates, candles, and halogen lamps are common dorm room no-nos. Review your dorm's restricted items list before you pack.

16. Expensive stuff and college dorms do not go together. You're better off snagging a sofa out of the trash than letting your mom buy you a new one. That couch will be sat on, slept on, and spilled on, so why waste money on something nice?

17. You can't fit the contents of your room at home into your dorm room. Don't even try. Your roommate will thank you for any restraint you show in your packing.

18. You might want a getaway vehicle. If your college allows freshmen to bring cars, take advantage of the opportunity. It's nice to be able to get away sometimes, and that's much easier to do when you don't have to mooch off friends to find your escape.

19. You can't bring Fido and Fluffy. Sorry, but pets are against the rules at most every school. If you need some love from furry friends, volunteer at a local animal shelter.

20. Meal plans are a lifesaver. Whether you have a choice of fixed meals or dining dollars, try to purchase as many meals in the dining hall as possible. College is enough of an adjustment; you don't need to add the stress of cooking to your plate, too.

21. Laundry skills are not optional. Get a crash course before you hit the dorm laundry room. No one wants to clean up a washer/dryer disaster.

22. Late-night fire drills are important. If your dorm actually does catch on fire (it's been known to happen), you'll want to have a safe exit strategy in mind.

23. Community showers are common. Prepare by packing a long robe, large towels, flip-flops, and a shower caddy to tote your shampoo and soap. And if you expect your dormmates to clean up after themselves in the shower, be courteous and do the same.

24. Dorm life lends itself to socialization. If you're looking for ways to get involved and have fun at college, you can find plenty of opportunities right outside your door - literally.

25. You will be surrounded by people. That can be comforting at times, and a drag at others. Go for walks by yourself or get up early when you need some quiet time.

26. Communicating preferences is critical. When it comes to key issues like sleeping, studying, and socializing, it's wise to lay it on the line with your roommate from the get-go. You don't want to find yourself living with a third "roommate" you never bargained for.

27. Confrontation is unavoidable. When you're sharing a small space, conflicts are bound to rise. Deal with issues head on rather than letting them fester, or else you'll be smelling the stink all year long.

28. Dorm romance does not end well. If you have to see him or her every day after you break up, it won't make for a pleasant living experience.

29. Roommate tension is normal. But if it's ongoing and you need outside help, talk to your RA. She's there to help you work it out so you don't have to get the heads of campus housing involved.

30. Living in close quarters prepares you for the give-and-take required in marriage or any major relationship. Learn to play nice with others now, and you'll be a much better companion later on.

Statistics Source: The College Board