This is an excerpt from the Daily’s 2014 Orientation Issue. To read the rest of the issue, click here.
For many freshmen, college is the first time where they have to live without daily help from Mommy and Daddy. This newfound freedom can be exhilarating — finally, no more asking for permission to go to parties. However, anyone who’s lived in a college dorm knows that with this freedom comes a lot of new responsibilities. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of advice given by Michigan students who already have a year in the dorms under their belts.
DO bring a fan. Unless you snagged a spot in Mosher-Jordan, Stockwell, North Quad, Couzens, Alice Lloyd or East Quad, your building will not have air conditioning. During the hottest months, a fan can prevent getting cooked alive in one’s own room. Expect to not need blankets while falling asleep throughout September and the first half of October.
DON’T let trash and laundry pile up. Hopefully, this seems obvious, but the speed at which a sterile dorm room turns into cesspit of stank will amaze. Try taking care of things like a pile of dirty clothes or a full bag of garbage as soon as you notice it instead of saving it for later. It doesn’t take much to fill a cramped dorm room with an unbearable stench, and you don’t want to have that room people can smell from down the hall.
DO leave your door open sometimes. It’s a good way to meet new people, especially during welcome week. Throughout the year in fact, I recommend spending as little time in your dorm room as possible. Try hanging out in the common room or studying at the library. You won’t meet anyone new cooped up in your room.
DON’T forget to keep your room key with you at all times, especially if you’re going to take a shower.
DO get to know your roommate. In most cases, your relationship with your roommate will act as the deciding factor for whether you have either a great or terrible year in the dorms. Making sure you’re not leaving your dirty underwear on the floor or swiping their extra peanut butter helps with this. However, I recommend trying to learn a lot about one another. Sure, talk about the normal stuff like classes, the upcoming football game and that hot girl/guy down the hall, but also take some time to discuss the things that you and your roommate find truly important, like beliefs, values and goals. If you keep an open mind, this will help you avoid conflicts down the road.
DON’T bring half the things you think you’re going to need. Bring too much stuff and it’ll just be a pain moving it all in, a pain cramping up the room and a pain moving it all out again. Also, make sure to coordinate with your roommate so you don’t end up with two TVs, two mini-fridges, and two identical posters of John Belushi from “Animal House.”
DO visit housing.umich.edu to find out more about your dorm building and what food plan you might want. They are all unlimited, but they vary in Dining Dollars and other options. (see our Food Guide on pg. 26)
And finally, DON’T actually think of it as “surviving” your first dorm experience. It’s a college dorm, not a tent in the middle of the desert. You’re going to be living in building full of intelligent and talented individuals all your age. It could be one of the best experiences of your life.