How to survive dorm living

Everyday battles most likely to sour experience


Whether you're a college-bound freshman or the parent of one, the subject of residence hall survival is worth a quick review before the commencement of the fall semester.


It's no secret that what goes on in residence halls can be distracting to new students. In fact, they can even be devastating. Aside from the more tragic problems that dorm-dwelling students may end up having to deal with (death, disease, addiction, pregnancy), everyday battles with roommates over things like cleanliness, personal space and privacy can seriously effect the outcome of students' college careers.




The best way for students to maintain a positive relationship with the residents of their hall -- including their roommates -- is to maintain a clean living space. This conveys a clean lifestyle and, above all else, a healthy lifestyle. Nobody wants to end up sharing a room with a slob, let alone his or her pile of garbage.


Little or no sacrifice is necessary when it comes to dorm room cleanliness. Cleaning products can last throughout the school year and won't break the bank. Otherwise, residence halls typically provide cleaning supplies and equipment, like vacuum cleaners, that can be checked out from their front desks.


Just as students must learn to dedicate their time and energy to studying, they must do the same for the upkeep of their dorm rooms. It will improve their quality of life and, more importantly, prevent them from earning a nasty reputation.


Personal Space


Similar to cleanliness, a respect for personal space is paramount to keeping residence hall life worry-free.


One of the best practices in regards to personal space is the reinforcement of the old cliché, "keeping your hands to yourself." This extends to the all-important "hands-off" policy that pertains to personal belongings.


Ask college freshmen where things began to go sour with their roommates, and the response you'll get will most likely involve a stolen item; everything from from leftover food to expensive electronics has spoiled that college camaraderie.


That doesn't mean it isn't partly the responsibility of students to keep their own belongings from being taken, however. Items such as keys, wallets and jewelry need to be kept in their proper places. The same goes for important documents, which can easily be mistaken for trash when they end up under the futon.




As probably the most important aspect of living in the dorms, where hundreds of students are packed into the tightest living quarters possible, privacy is what keeps students grounded. They need it to study, to talk on the phone (with confidentiality) and also to bathe comfortably. That's why there's nothing more destructive to students' minds -- their most important assets -- than never having any alone time.


The only way to acquire a comfortable level of privacy is to get out of the residence hall, because even when the door is locked, there's still a chance of the fire alarm being pulled by some mischievous dorm dweller. Many students advocate taking a quick trip home when it comes time to get away.


Yet there are many other ways for students to give themselves some space while staying on campus. They can walk to the library or some other quiet place. Some students choose to shift their schedules in order to avoid crowds –- a practice that is especially helpful when people are lined up for their morning showers.


Nevertheless, dormitory drama is unavoidable. It comes in many forms. It's the late-night shouting. It's the early morning subwoofer. It's the vomit in the drinking fountain. Yet it's as much a part of college life as lectures and second-hand books. And, in its own unique way, it's just as educational.