Your first college experience is exciting, but it can be challenging, as well. Along with the pressure to make the grades comes the responsibility to make comfortable living arrangements. Do freshmen have to live on campus? Usually not. Students who attend college close to home have the option of commuting. But for most, living on campus or near campus is required.
Living on Campus Vs Off Campus
When you live on campus, this means you reside in dormitories or residence halls, usually with a roommate. Living on campus is more expensive than living at home but may be cheaper than trying to find an apartment near your university. When you live off campus, this usually means you are renting a room or an apartment nearby. Or, it may mean you are still living at home with your parents while you attend school.
If you do opt to live in the residence halls, it can be a challenging transition. Try these 10 tips for smoothing the way.
Tips for Living on Campus
Establish a Roommate Early
Do you have a friend who is starting college, too? If so, you may be able to request them as a roomie. Otherwise, your roommate assignment will depend on your answers to a questionnaire. Many universities use these forms to match up college students who seem as though they may be good fits as roommates. Questions you may encounter on the roommate survey include:
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- Do you smoke, vape, or drink?
- Do you plan to have people in for overnighters?
- Do you enjoy socializing? Or are you happier staying in?
- Would you describe yourself as neat or messy?
The more realistic you are when answering, the better your chances for finding a roommate you are compatible with. And a word to the wise — fill out your questionnaire and submit it right away so you have as many options as possible before all the interesting college students get scooped up.
Attend On-Campus Events and Activities
Joining in is just good politics. It is also a way to make friends, network, and learn more about your campus, classes, and instructors. When you find an event that sounds interesting, put in an appearance. People will get to know you, and the more they know you the more they will like you. Friends make every transition easier, even the big ones like adjusting to campus living.
Utilize Your Resident Assistant
Your RA is there to help make your transition to college more enjoyable. Not only are they responsible for keeping the dorm friendly and inclusive, but they are a great resource for freshmen who have questions. Make time to meet your RA and to introduce yourself. If you need help, ask. If you have questions, this is probably the person who can answer them. Keep the lines of communication open with this student VIP, and college life will be easier as a result.
Stay Alert While on Campus
Overall, living on campus should feel safe. But this does not mean you should trust everyone you meet. Exercise reasonable caution when on campus, and do everything you would normally do to protect yourself, such as:
- Using the buddy system when walking across campus at night
- Denying strangers access to your dorm room
- Not loaning out your room key
- Always letting someone know where you are going and when you will be back
- Speaking up when you see suspicious activity
Following simple rules like these help to keep you and your friends safer on campus. They are also good practice for life after graduation.
Socialize with Fellow Students
Making friends is harder for some students than it is for others. But if you are able to find one or two people to connect with, it will make your college days much more fun and relaxed. If you find it hard to talk to people in group settings, such as parties or school events, try chatting with them online instead. Following up an in-person introduction may be easier through chat or email, and you may feel more confident meeting for lunch or to study.
Join a Club
Joining up is another great way to make yourself feel more at home on campus. What do you love to do? Odds are good, there is a club that supports it. From playing chess to discussing politics, there is a group out there that includes others who have the same interests as yourself.
Is there a fitness room or a gym nearby? How about a track where you can walk every day with friends? Staying fit is a huge part of feeling good. And if you establish your fitness regimen early in life, such as during your college years, you may enjoy a lifetime of good health.
Do Not Lock Yourself Out of Your Dorm Room
It is important to have a fail-safe in place in the event you lock yourself out of your dorm room. But it is better to put preventive measures in place to avoid this scenario. This might include hanging a hook by the door where it is easy to store your key and where you have to look at it as you go out the door every time. A large, colorful keychain is another good way to ensure you do not lose your keys. You might even buy a Bluetooth-enabled tracking device that hangs on your keychain and allows you to see where you left your keys in the event you misplace them.
Master Basic Recipes
Did you cook much at home? If not, now is the time to learn. You cannot eat every meal out, and even the school cafeteria turns pricey after a few weeks of three meals a day. If your dorm features a communal kitchen, make the best use of it by learning simple recipes that let you prepare food you enjoy.
Probably the most important tip for living on campus is to simply let others see who you really are. Be yourself and do not put on airs or try to be like someone else. When you are able to relax and let your inner personality shine, people will be drawn to you. Authenticity is attractive, so strive to be genuine. And do not get caught up in trying to fit in. Instead, focus on your studies and meeting a few people with whom you have things in common. The rest will come in time.
Post University, in Waterbury, CT, offers both online and on-campus learning opportunities. Visit us today to find out how you can begin your college career at Post.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!