Originally Posted: Jan 6, 2014
Last Updated: May 2, 2018
Moving from the comforts of your parents' house to a college dorm can be exciting and liberating. But a change this big is bound to come with a unique set of challenges. To help you prepare for dorm life and get the most out of living on campus your freshman year, here are a few mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
1. Secluding yourself in your dorm room
I get it, I get it. After a long day on campus, all you want to do is shut your door, plug your headphones in, and relax on your bed. Just remember, though, that shutting yourself in your dorm sort of blocks you off from meeting the people on your floor. By keeping your dorm door open, you’re signaling your interest in making new friends. As people walk by, they’ll greet you, and soon enough you’ll begin recognizing faces. If you want to take it one step further, be proactive and walk around your floor, saying "Hi" to everyone you come across. College is the perfect place to be social and outgoing.
2. Getting peeved at your roommates, and then not saying anything
“They never take out the trash,” you furiously text your mom. And then you continue to boil in your anger, and it builds. . .and builds. . .and builds. Yet you don’t say anything because, as aggravated as you are, you don’t want to start something. Actually, guys, by not confronting the issue, you’re harboring your irritation, and that’s never healthy (bottling up your feelings is probably one of the most frustrating feelings EVER). So to prevent this from happening, set up ground rules with your roommates up front. Make a schedule and switch turns taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom, or tidying up the rooms every week. And if something still doesn’t go smoothly and you find yourself becoming cross? Say something politely. “Hey, have you taken out the trash this week? Just a friendly reminder!” is all that’s necessary.
3. Not cleaning up after yourself
Trust me when I say that there’s nothing more annoying than having a roommate who won’t do his or her part. Cleaning up after yourself is basic stuff. Don’t leave food and beverages all over the room (gross!), always pick up your clothes, and make sure your textbooks and notebooks aren’t strewn across the floor for your roommates to trip on. Try to contain your messes. We all become untidy sometimes, but pick a day every week to straighten up—Sunday’s a great day for this, because you may need to clean your dorm after a possibly crazy weekend. Plus, it’s refreshing to begin the school week with a neat living space.
4. Rooming with all of your friends from high school
Entering college closely surrounded by your high school friends may make you feel secure, but in the long run, it prevents you from making new, long-term friendships. By rooming with companions you made in high school, you’re essentially trapping yourself in a bubble that’s difficult to burst. Go in blind! As scary as it may sound, you’ll be forced to make new friends, and sometimes, we need that kind of push (no shame).
5. Drinking in the dorms
If you’re underage, you shouldn’t be drinking anywhere, especially in your dorm. But if you’re of age and you’re going to drink, you still shouldn’t do it in the dorms. I repeat, do not do it in the dorms. Policies regarding drinking on campus and in dorm rooms vary by school, but it's still best to just avoid it altogether. RAs are watching more carefully than you’d think, and the last thing that you need is a letter home to your parents with a warning and/or a fine to pay (and if your parents are helping you out in terms of college fees, getting caught drinking on campus is a great way for them to stop funding you—they’ll lose faith in your ability to act as a responsible adult). So when it comes to consuming alcohol, your best bet is to avoid it entirely if you’re underage. And if you are of age, do it off campus, be safe, and never drive under the influence.