10 Survival Tips for Living on Campus
Living on campus allows students to fully embrace the college experience. Staying in a residence hall can provide plenty of opportunities to meet new people and join school activities. But campus living can also come with potential pitfalls. Learn how to avoid trouble spots while taking full advantage of the benefits of campus living.
By Douglas Fehlen
1. Explore your options.
Campus housing options can vary significantly between colleges. Learn about the various residence halls at your school, noting how their features could impact your campus experience. Some halls may officially cater to select interests. Others might have an unofficial reputation you should know about. Keep in mind that schools may have residency restrictions for students - particularly freshmen.
2. Be thoughtful about what you move.
If you're moving into a 10' x 15' room that you'll share with another person, don't bring everything you own to your campus home. Even if your living space is larger, bring only what you really need. If you own a car, consider whether you need it or if expenses (like parking) make it too costly. Coordinate with any roommates on what to bring so that you don't have two or three of everything in your dwelling.
3. Get to know your new surroundings.
If it's possible to visit the place you'll be living before school begins, try to do that. An early visit can help you decide what you'll need and plan for new routines. If that isn't possible, be sure to take advantage of any residence hall orientation events. Campus kickoff celebrations also represent good opportunities to make your way around school grounds and get your bearings.
4. Know the rules.
Regardless of whether you live in a residency hall, a university-managed apartment or another type of campus housing, it's very likely there are certain rules in place meant to protect students. Many schools, for instance, ban drinking in residences that house underage students. Individuals who violate student housing rules risk eviction from a residence, academic suspension or worse.
5. Be a good roommate.
Most college students who live on campus have at least one roommate sometime during their academic career. If you're set to live with another person (or multiple people), things are likely to go a lot more smoothly if you make an effort to be respectful and helpful. Keep things neat. Pitch in on shared chores. Respect others' privacy. In short, do things you appreciate others doing for you.
6. Pack your patience.
No matter how hard you work to be a good roommate, it's possible that someone you live with will make things hard - for both of you. During difficult times, keep a level head. Talk calmly about what's bothering you and seek compromise on tough issues. If things get too difficult, it's possible you'll have to seek another arrangement through the university.
7. Join campus activities.
Need to get away from your roomie for a while? Get involved in plenty of campus activities. With wide-ranging student clubs and events, there's no need to stay in. Even if you get along really well with the people you live with - or if you live alone - university activities can introduce you to different types of people you may have never met before.
8. Make your way off campus.
Student clubs and activities can help make living on campus a special time, but it's a good idea to also spend time off school grounds. Campus can begin to seem like a bubble otherwise; you might begin to feel claustrophobic. That's not to mention how much you're likely to enjoy cultural and entertainment events in the city or region that houses your school.
9. Stay connected with others.
You're at college to learn, have a good time and develop into the person you want to be. That doesn't mean, however, leaving everyone from the past behind. In fact, tapping into the support system you had in place before moving to campus can be a vital source of support if any difficulties do come up at school. Family members and friends can provide advice and perspective on hard issues.
10. Stay safe.
This is the last tip here, but it's obviously the most important. Employ basic tactics that can help keep you safe: Always lock your door. Don't let anyone you don't know into your residence. Never loan your key to anyone. Don't prop open community doors that should be locked. Travel with a friend during nighttime hours. Check with residence hall or campus security staff for additional suggestions.
Should universities be forced to disclose information about crimes that happen on campus? Learn about colleges' reporting practices on campus safety issues.