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8 Sites for College Dorm Survival

January 18, 2011
by Liz Colville
Living in a dorm is something that the vast majority of college students have to endure for at least a year. Here are some tips and Web sites to help you survive key aspects of dorm life: roommates, relationships, noise, the bathroom and drab décor.

The Roommate(s)

The odds are you know someone whose college roommate went on to become their best friend, life partner, maid of honor, or all of the above. More often than not, that doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t hurt to try. A roommate can be your dining buddy, your confidant and your study partner, as long as you make an effort to be open and honest with each other.

In “25 Things You Need to Know about Living in the Dorms,” blogger Jamie of Surviving College Life recommends setting up “ground rules” as soon as you move in to your dorm. This includes keeping “communication lines open,” going over what you’re both okay with sharing, being mindful of the other person when you’re sick, and knowing how the other feels about overnight guests.

The Noise

For many, freedom from parents means playing music at a loud volume. Remember that the library is your friend. So are earplugs and headphones. Start your college career off right by getting comfortable working in a variety of locations so you can avoid the frustration of loud roommates and neighbors.

But if the privacy of your dorm room is too much to resist and you can’t afford noise-cancelling headphones, eHow has some suggestions in “How to Handle Loud Dorm Music.” These include making a note of your dorm’s quiet hours policy; keeping a record of the noise; talking to your RA; and, if nothing else works, going to the housing department with a petition.

The Romance

No matter how many times an elder, stranger or peer advises against “dormcest,” it doesn’t really smack of wisdom until you find yourself giving the advice.

An article in The Daily Californian makes this cautionary observation about dormcest: “From the get-go, there’s the fact that you’re essentially moving in together before you even start dating. Think about it.”

Getting a report from the ground, college review site Unigo asked two UC Santa Barbara students what they thought of same-dorm dating. Both agreed that close proximity makes getting “special attention” easy and convenient, but dormcest is bad news “if things don’t work out.” One added that it can get claustrophobic and suggested that the people involved maintain their own lives, friends and activities.

The Décor

Unless you’re attending Loyola College in Baltimore, where some dorms famously include walk-in closets, chances are you’ll be living in a space that begs to be spruced up.

First, you’ll need some essentials. WalletPop’s “Best dollar store buys for outfitting a dorm room” recommends taking a trip to the dollar store to buy items like towels, food storage containers and dishware.

Buy furniture and other items via DormSpot, which features products from Amazon, Target and others. You can also make lists of things to buy on the site, as well as find and purchase textbooks.
“Luxurious Living on a Budget” from the blog DormDelicious has simple tips and product recommendations for cheap and chic dorm room decoration. The site also invites dorm dwellers to upload a picture of their space to the site.

The Bathroom

To step into a dorm bathroom is to perform a hygienic activity in an unhygienic environment. Abandoned toothbrushes rot away on a shelf. Shampoo bottles disappear and reappear half empty. Hair is everywhere. Need I go on? (For a lighthearted look at co-ed dorm bathrooms, check out the timeless video “The Truth About Co-Ed Bathrooms” from CollegeHumor.)

In “Five College Dorm Bathroom Essentials,” Edu in Review advises investing in a few things to make your bathroom experience tolerable, if not necessarily pleasant: flip flops, towels, a shower caddy, a bathrobe, and holders for your toothbrush and soap.

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