What I wish I'd known about college dorm life

College Dorms

By Ari Finkelstein And Ben Shestakofsky

What if I can't stand my roommate? How will we deal with dormroom hookups? What's it like to shower in co-ed bathrooms? These are some of the many questions you'll be faced with as you move out from under your parents' roof and into a hall packed with dozens of other freshmen with little to no experience living away from home. How can you make sure you get along with your new neighbors? Students who know the ropes of dorm life weigh in.

See you later

“Your roommate isn’t going anywhere. Don’t feel like you have to blow off other people to hang out with your roommate and ensure that you have an extremely close relationship. At the end of the day, you’ll be retiring to the same tiny space, so you may welcome any chance of escape. Similarly, don’t be offended if your roommate has other friends; just because you live together doesn’t mean you have to act like a married couple.” – Brian, UNC

Friends from home and your new home

“It seems like such fun to live with your best friend after getting accepted to the same college, but it isn’t always a good idea. Put down the same dorms as your top choices, but don’t live together. It’s an experience to meet new people in your dorm and on your floor—if you live with your friend, you might tend to stick with them and not get out and meet new people; this happened to a couple girls who lived in my dorm. Not to mention, you will be together constantly and that could cause arguments and problems. Plus, if you meet new people on your floor and your best friend meets new people on their floor, that’s twice the new people!” – Justyn, FSU

Don’t fear the co-ed bathrooms

“One of the things I was most anxious about college life was the seemingly inevitable co-ed bathrooms. I think a lot of people were under the wrong impression that college students suddenly transformed into nudists in their bathrooms upon arriving on campus, and this is definitely not true. Though it may seem strange and awkward to share bathrooms with many other adolescent youths of the opposite sex, the unease and embarrassment definitely does not last long.” – Lisa, Williams College

The horse’s mouth

“At Ohio University, the RAs (Resident Assistants) on your floor are students too. They have received extensive training to assist you with adjusting to college life, serve as a source of information, and provide opportunities to make the most out of your residence hall experience. If you have a question, ask them; if you have a problem, tell them; if you have a suggestion, give it. Too many residents do not fully utilize the staff within their residence hall and feel awkward asking for help or stating a concern.” – David, Ohio University

Think outside the boxes

“One thing that I wish I knew before I came to college that I know now is how many boxes and storage containers I would need. Freshman dorms in general are tiny and students need to do what they can in order to maximize the small amount of space that they have. This means bringing boxes to store things under the bed and things like that. Parents think that this is a great idea but they are actually right!” – Simrit, Gettysburg College

Friend feuds

“Living with friends puts more tension and distance between you and sometimes can even end badly. When you live, sleep, and breathe with someone they’re bound to get on your nerves for one thing or another. Choose your friends wisely, and your roommates even more wisely.” – Iva, Virginia Commonwealth University

Give dorms a chance

“The dorm experience is a must-have. If you have considered skipping out on dorm life, DO NOT DO IT. This is an essential part of your growth as a student. It’s also the best way to meet new people. You might have a psycho for a roommate, but you might also meet your lifelong best friend. I only did one semester in the dorms and I really regret that. I’m not saying spend all four years there, but give it a shot for a year.” – Jen, USF

Closer than you ever thought you'd be

“I went to summer camp where I shared a room with 22 girls. I’ve shared rooms with one person for serious amounts of time. Roommates at college provide a unique relationship that permits unique parameters. In no other situation would I share a room with a couple spooning each other five feet from my head. Prior to college you think having a roommate will be a challenge—and it surely is. However, the type of challenge you have to face isn’t, “Oh, my roommate brings boys back,” because frankly, so do you. The issues are more: what day do I get the room? At what time do I need to call you by if I’m bringing a boy back? So what do you think if I do things while you sleep…? Truth is, I’ve had four roommates and almost all of them have posed all these questions to me. Now I try to synchronize my schedule with that of my roommate and her boyfriend, while she does the same with me and mine.”  – Lauren, Lehigh