Dorms & Campus Life Tips

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What should I know about having a roommate?

Keep Roommate Communication Lines Open!

Learning to live with a perfect stranger can be a mind-boggling, utterly stressful task. Remember, politeness doesn't make up for standing up for yourself. There are certain things you should tolerate, and there are certain things you should let your roommate know are bothering you. Know the difference, and act upon it. Stand up for your basic living rights, and question whether you need to hold back on certain liberties or not, for the sake of you and your roommate.

   

The Spring Theory

For persons with strict parents, I give you the well-known spring theory. Your parents have squeezed down the spring so hard, and once they let go, the spring starts bouncing all over the place. You, as a newly-released spring, have the option of going buck-wild upon your release, but how safe and smart is this? Have fun, that's for sure. But be safe about it.

   
How can I be safe on campus?

Get to Know Your Resident Assistant

Knowing your resident assistant is a must if you're living in a dorm. They are your student advisors to campus life, and can give you great insight on classes and professors, as well as good help and intervention with troublesome roommates.

   

Make Friends In Class

Making a friend in each class you have will make a big difference in those times when you have to miss class. That friend of yours will be more willing to lend you notes and give insight than a person whom you do not know.

   
How can I make my dorm room look better?

Dorm Rooms

For added space in your dorm room, you can prop your bed up on decorated cinder blocks. This allows you to have added space under your bed to store things you don't need all the time. The decorated cinder blocks also give your room added personality.

   
How should I handle situations with my roommate?

Why Your Best Friends Don't Always Make the Best Roommates

Some people think that rooming with their best friends will eliminate grievances, but be very careful. Of all the stories I've heard, this isn't a good idea. One particular story involved two girls who've been best friends since elementary school. If anyone would look at their room now, they'd see a manila-colored line of masking tape across half of the room. They've halved up everything but the kitchen and bathroom area, and all hell breaks loose if one of them or their personal items crosses the other side of the line. Just really consider that living with a person is different than liking a person.

   
Should I get on a meal plan?

On That Hallowed Meal Plan

Try a meal plan, especially if you are not a good cook. Keep track of your expenses and how often you use the meal plan. This will help you decide if it is worth paying for the meal plan for future semesters.

   
How can I be safe on campus?

Basic Safety Tips

Know your security options. Make sure you are aware of any past incidents on campus, know where your emergency call buttons or emergency phones are on campus, and know the number to the campus police. Never travel alone past sunset. At parties, never leave your drink out of your sight. You never know what someone could put in it when you're not looking.

   
How can I get along with my roommates?

Roommates

Is there something your roommate does that drives you nuts? Accept individuality; you will both get along much better. Don't sweat the small stuff and learn to pick your battles carefully.

   

Meet Your Rommates Early

Concerned about who your roommate is? Call or write them before moving time to find out what they are bringing (3 TV's may be a bit much), what their major is, and anything else you can find out.

   
What are the benefits of living in an apartment, rather than a dorm?

Living in an Apartment

There are benefits to living in an apartment, rather than a dorm. One of the best things is privacy. Living in an apartment gives you the opportunity to have your own room. Also, having to pay rent at the first of the month, phone bills, water, etc., is a good precursor to life after college. You learn a greater independence as well. If you have roommates, you will be able to split the rent. When at the leasing office, make sure you can somehow get separate leases in case a roomie skips out, and always have a backup plan.

   
What are the benefits of living in an apartment, rather than a dorm?

Get Separate Leases

If you decide to live off campus, but still plan on having a roommate somewhere else, make sure you get separate leases. If a roommate backs out, at least you won't receive a "Notice to Vacate" letter.

   
How can I go abroad to study?

New Experiences

Studying abroad can be a great way to have a new adventure. Studying in a new place can change the way you look at yourself and the people around you. Most people feel that studying abroad gave them a better understanding of what the world is like. So if you're curious what life in England, India or Mexico is like. Look into finding programs through your school to study abroad. It might just be the chance of your lifetime.

   
Should I join a fraternity or sorority?

You Don't Have to be in a Fraternity or Sorority.

There are other ways to get involved outside of a Greek community. There are volunteer centers for community involvement, common-interest clubs for friendship, and personal academic connections. I, for one, joined the Honors Program and found a diverse group of friends, not to mention travel and academic opportunities. (And it is not just a nerd haven, so don't feel bad). :)

   

If Your School Has TA's

Get to know your TAs as well as your professors, especially if your professors seem a little aloof. Teaching assistants can sometimes be your lifeline.

   
How can I go abroad to study?

Study Abroad

One of the easiest ways to study abroad is to "exchange places" with a student of a similar age in the country that you desire to visit. Many students want to come to the USA but need a host family. Their family hosts you, your family hosts them.

   
How can I make my dorm room look better?

Youth Hostels

Youth hostels are around the world and provide inexpensive and safe housing for students. They are also a great place to meet fellow travlers and get information about the city you are staying in.

   
How much stuff should I bring to my dorm room?

Don't Bring Too Much Stuff to Your Dorm Room

If your parents help you move into your dorm room, it may be tempting to fill their car with piles of belongings. It's easy to picture how you'll make use of this special pillow, that set of books, the perfect study lamp, and so on. Stores work hard to sell heaps of new furnishings to college students.

And it's true that dorm rooms can feel a bit cold and impersonal when you first arrive. But it's important to remember that you're not actually moving in; your dorm room is not your new home.

In June, after finals, you'll be stuck with having to somehow deal with the rug and the extra lamp and all the pillows and books and so on. Many times the dumpsters on college campuses are crammed with perfectly good things that students end up throwing out in June, as they suddenly realize they can't fit more than a fraction of it into an airplane or into a friend's car. So, go easy on the volume of what you acquire, and you'll save yourself a lot of work at the end of the year.

   
Is it a good idea to move off-campus and live with friends?

Moving Off-Campus with Friends

Once dorm life has gotten old, and you're really done with getting woken up at 2 am the night before your final exams, a fun next step can be renting a house or apartment together with some friends. Expect to have both wonderful times and awful times together, because you actually will have both. Try to figure out enough of a chore / task schedule so that nobody ends up stuck with all the housework.

But remember to schedule fun things with your roommates as well: a household trip out to the beach or the mountains, a dinner together once or twice a week, or whatever works for all of you. Living with roommates can (and will) have its difficult moments, but it's a learning experience that is absolutely worthwhile. It can teach you as much about life as any academic course.

   
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