Surviving Dorm Life

Leaving your family's home and moving into a dorm or other shared living space can be a difficult experience. Most college students take time to adapt to their new living situation. Read on to learn more about how to survive, and thrive, in a dormitory.

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A dorm (short for dormitory) is an on-campus living facility where students share rooms with one or more roommates of the same gender. It's uncommon for a room to have its own bathroom. Usually there is a single common bathroom shared by all the students on a floor or hall.


Dorm living requires sharing close quarters with another person who you may or may not get along with. While this situation can make building friendships easier, it can be quite stressful if roommates do not 'mesh.' Your roommate may snore too loudly, fail to clean up after themselves, or keep late hours too frequently. Perhaps one of the best ways to handle a strained living relationship is to maintain open, honest communication with each other. Resolving issues can be much easier when both residents make a point to listen to one another and remain respectful. If civility fails, however, students should contact their resident advisor and see if other arrangements can be made.

Time Management

Dorm living is often the first experience of life away from your parents. While resident advisors are generally assigned to each floor to control wild parties and other disruptive behavior, students are still relatively free to do as they wish. It is not uncommon for those spending their first year in the dorm to suffer academically. Too many late nights and social gatherings may make attending class, completing homework, and studying for exams difficult. Students can prevent this from happening by making a point to manage their time effectively. Scheduling recreation time for yourself is important, but be sure to set time aside specifically for homework and class.

Adapt to Your Surroundings

Dorm rooms often don't contain a full kitchen, or a washer and dryer. While eating out is always an option, there are alternatives. You can bring portable kitchen devices, such as small indoor electric grills, hot plates, or microwaves (depending on your schools regulations). You can also rent or purchase a small refrigerator to keep food fresh and beverages cold. Dishes can be washed in the bathroom sink. You can survive without a washing machine or dryer by making good use of campus laundry rooms or off-site laundry facilities. Enjoy a laundry night with your friends or roommates.

Dorm living can be a memorable part of attending college. While many students struggle with the transition, others consider the friendships established and lessons learned to be among the most important of their lives. Taking the time to prepare for dorm living can help make your overall dorm and college experience much smoother and happier.

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