Adjusting to Life in a College Dorm

 

Clark University

Change can be hard, and as seniors transition from working on college applications to waiting for admissions decisions, minds begin shift to wondering —Will I be OK in the transition to living on my own?  The senior class has 382 students in it, a big portion of them will be going off to live in a college dorm.  These seniors will go from being comfortable in their hometown to living in a dorm, in a new town,  with people they’ve likely never have met before.

Every high school upperclassman who is interested in going to college wants to know what it’s like living in a college dorm. Sometimes students get their hopes up because they think every aspect of living somewhere far away from home is going to turn out just fine. Or, there are students who get nervous worrying about everything that could go wrong. One thing is for sure, college isn’t like high school anymore, where you go to class and come home. It’s going to class and going back to your dorm which could be two minutes away from where your class is.

There are millions of tips online about how to make the  transition from home to a college dorm more easily. For example many of them suggest: don’t room with your best friend, communication with your roommate and set ground rules, and listen to the Resident Advisor. These tips are all good, but what seniors most want the real details of what it’s like. Did their friends who have already made the transition have be problems with the roommates, trouble adjusting with no parents around to help, difficulty finding a new social group?

Carpe Diem set out to find the answers from alumni who know first hand what it is like. Jack Kenney ‘12, went to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts after TA. He went to college not knowing anyone, not even any acquaintances. He was sharing his room with a boy he has never met in his life before who came from Afghanistan.

Jack said, “We were different people and we didn’t have the same interests. We didn’t get along as well as other people I was friends with. We had different cultures. I wasn’t used to some of his cultural norms. It was living hard living with someone whose culture I wasn’t familiar with.”

The first week of college, Kenney was sleeping and awoke to the sound of his roommate chanting Islamic prayers in the dark on the floor by his bed. Kenney was startled because he hadn’t shared a room since he was a little kid and now was living with a complete stranger with totally different habits.

Kenney’s roommate most likely wasn’t used to his ways either. Kenney said he would play video games all the time while his roommate never did. That is something that his roommate could have been annoyed about or didn’t understand. They both were in the same position, not used to each other and how they lived.

One of the hardest parts about living in a college dorm is having to adjust to your roommates way of living. Even if it’s the small things, some people are early risers and others sleep in till noon, so two of those different types of people living in one room together could get a bit closed in. It’s the small things about living with someone else, says Jack, it’s easy to get annoyed or frustrated. After living in your own room for 18 years (or sharing it with siblings, etc.) and then moving into a small area with a person you could have potentially met before, it’s a big life change. Sometimes, people immediately click with their roommates and become best friends. For others, it doesn’t quite go like that.

In Kenney’s case….he didn’t click with his roommate, so he after a couple of weeks he switched his roommates. it all worked out because he had made friends on his baseball team and one of them was looking for an extra roommate. Participating in activities like sports or clubs in college is a really easy way to make friends. 

Another former student, Lindsay Mcfarren ‘12 who is now graduated from Quinnipiac University remembers , “ I got along well with one roommate and the other two I didn’t get along with were selfish so it drove a wedge between us.”  McFarren started off living with three roommates. Living with multiple roommates can be hard, especially if they have different interests than you. For example, college is a place where the students drink alcohol and party. So, if someone lives with people who are into that type of stuff and that person isn’t,  it makes  living life at your dorm difficult. Living with three other people was hard to get homework done, said Lindsay, the library is a go-to place if you really want to get work done.

“Living at college was definitely different than I expected. I went to two different colleges and it was different living at both of them. One college had a way cleaner dorm than the other,” said Jack’s younger brother Ryder Kenney ‘15. Different colleges have different dorms, not every dorm or way if living is the same at every college. Does it make a difference to have an older sibling go through first?

“Everything you do is on your own, no help, laundry, wake yourself up in the morning, set a schedule on your own because nobody is gonna tell you what to do,” Jack said who admits his mom did all of the laundry and cooking while he was at home. College requires to be more responsible. To wake up on time for class, making sure to eat healthy and not the unhealthy cafe food all the time, time management with homework and much more.

Other tips from college students would be to be acquaintances with roommates. Because if two people are living together it would be easier to be living on good terms instead of having problems. Another tip would be to try out work study. Its a job on campus that you get paid for that can go towards college tuition. A lot of times students do it because they need to in order to afford going to college, but even if a student doesn’t need to do it, its still a way to make money and something to do. Even sometimes, work studies allow you to do homework at the same time (while you have the free time).

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