The dormitory – it’s not just a place to rest your head; it’s a vital part of your college journey. Your residence hall becomes your home away from home, offering shelter, study space, and a chance to create lasting memories and friendships. Here are some essential tips to navigate dormitory life successfully while fostering a respectful and safe community.

Tip 1: Ask First

One crucial aspect of dormitory life is sharing your living space with roommates. The first tip in college roommate etiquette is, don’t borrow anything without asking.  It might be tempting to borrow your roommate’s clothes, for example.  Maybe you’re the same size and you really like their style.  Wouldn’t those pants look great on you?  Probably.  But ask first.  It’s not fun to come home and see someone else dancing around the dorm in your pants without warning.  This guideline goes for shared supplies as well.  If you split costs with your roommate(s), be sure everyone knows what is communal and what is personal.  This way, you’ll know that your favorite cookies will still be waiting for you after class. 

Tip 2: Smells

All noses are different.  Strong smells can be very offensive to some people.  Maybe you’re cooking your award-winning garlic pasta with extra garlic. Or maybe you just bought a new room spray.  Perhaps it’s your turn to clean and you really like a particular scent.  Not only can these odors be too strong for people, but some are actually allergic.  Be sure to ask your roommates about their sensitivities before you dive into some pungent activity.  The noses will thank you.

Tip 3: Your Laundry

There are always fewer laundry machines than we want.  This is a fact of life wherever you go.  So in order to be courteous and ensure that everyone can wash their clothes and walk around smelling fresh, be sure to take your laundry out when it’s finished.  Timer’s are very helpful for this. You can even get in some study time or social time while you’re waiting!

Tip 4: Quiet Time

Respecting quiet hours is essential for a productive dormitory life. Everyone needs time to study, sleep, and relax.  It’s pretty hard to concentrate or sleep with loud music blaring, a late night party going on above you, or someone hammering down the hall.  If you need music, consider headphones.  Keep volume levels low on devices and have that lively conversation at another time or in another location.

Tip 5: Sleep is not for the Weak

No matter what they say, everyone needs sleep.  In fact, sleep is crucial for academic success and well-being. Some people need more sleep than others.  Be sure you and your roommate(s) know what the sleep expectations are.  If your routines are very different, have a discussion about how you can accommodate each other and stick to it.  You will have a friend for life if you do!

Tip 6: Clean Up

If you have a private room, go nuts.  But if you live with other people, clean up after yourself in communal areas, so everyone can enjoy a tidy and welcoming space. Nobody likes to wipe other people’s crumbs off the stove.  Nobody wants to push their roommate’s pile of books off the sofa so they can sit down.  Try to keep your items in your designated areas so that everyone can feel comfortable.

Tip 7: Knock Knock

Privacy and respect are essential for a harmonious living environment. Even if you’re very close to your friend or roommate, just knock before you walk in.  I’m sure all sorts of embarrassing images are running through your mind right now.  Let’s avoid making them a reality!  Don’t forget to knock.  You’ll be glad you did and so will they.

Tip 8: Guests

Speaking of embarrassing . . . be sure to notify everyone before before you bring a guest over.  Guests can be anyone, of course – significant others, friends, study partners, an entire social club, a sports team, parents, etc.  Trust me, not everyone wants to see/hear everything. A little notice can give everyone a chance to make plans and feel much more comfortable so notify everyone before you bring a guest.

Tip 9: Security

Life on campus is meant to be fun and engaging but safety should never be overlooked.  Keep your door locked.  Keep outside doors locked.  Don’t give your keys to anyone and if you lose your keys, notify your roommate(s) and your RA immediately.  Don’t be afraid to report suspicious activity to the campus police and be sure to display all campus safety numbers prominently for everyone’s convenience.

Tip 10: Variety is the Spice of Life

Dorms are a delightful mix of individuals, cultures, and personalities.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn, grow, and discover new ways of thinking and being.  We may not always agree but we can always be respectful.  For example, you might not want to participate in your roommate’s habit of walking on their hands for an hour after dinner every night . . . but then again, you might!  You won’t know what interesting things you’ll learn until they’re in front of you.  Stay open and curious.  You never know what interesting experiences and insights may come your way during this exciting chapter of your college life!

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