Keep the excitement of move-in day at an all-time high this week by spending some time beforehand figuring out your next moves. Planning out the important things you need to take care of during this busy time period can be extremely helpful.
The start of school will be a flurry of moving in, buying school supplies and struggling to remember names. However, don’t let the chaos get you down. Your first week on campus is the best time to lay the groundwork for what can turn out to be incredibly essential relationships during, or even after, your freshman year. Check out these tips for dominating your first week on campus and jumpstarting your incredible college experience!
Establish rooming rules
Whether you’ve known your roommate for years or you met her when you opened your dorm room door, it’s essential that you two sit down to set some ground rules for living together. Even if you have been best friends your whole lives, hanging out together 24/7 and actually sharing a small space for a year are two very different things.
To ensure you have the best possible experience, make sure to talk about all the aspects of living together. A few that you should probably touch on are cleaning the room, having friends over, hook-ups and/or significant others, study and sleeping habits, and using the other person’s stuff.
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A smart way to deal with any potential conflict is for you both to fill out a roommate contract. Many schools will have your R.A. provide you with one that you’re required to respond to and sign, but if not, you and your roommate can write one on your own. A contract will allow you both to express what you expect out of the other person and to negotiate any sticky points before they cause trouble. That way, if there’s a problem later in the year, you can refer back to the contract to see what you agreed on in the beginning.
Make the most of pre-planned events
There are going to be a ridiculous amount of welcome events during the first week of school and going to these can help you feel more at home right away.
“The first week on campus is overwhelming to say the least,” says Kelci Lynn Lucier, the guide to college life from About.com. “The biggest advice I have is to do as much as you can. That means going to all the orientation events and just getting out. It’s really important to meet people and it’s a great time to get a lot of information.”
If your school offers a club fair or sign-up day, make sure to go! Put down your name and email address for everything and anything that sounds interesting so you can stay in the loop throughout the year. Most clubs and organizationswill hold some sort of get-together to try to get you involved. Even if you’re not that interested, most of them will also include free food, which you should definitely take advantage of. Who knows, you may even end up finding some you want to join!
Also, many local restaurants and stores will have discounted prices for college students during this time. You’ll be able to get some great deals and to figure out your favorite food and shopping spots near your school.
Create a rapport with your R.A.
If you’re living in a dorm, which the majority of freshmen do, your residential advisor (R.A.) is going to be one of your most important resources.
Most R.A.’s will make an effort to come and get to know you in the first few days after you move in. Be friendly when this happens so your relationship will start off on the right foot.
During the first week, most R.A.’s will host events to help everyone living on the hall or in the dorm get to know each other. These events are great opportunities for you to get acquainted with the people you’re living with and to make some new friends. R.A.’s can really help to make everyone feel comfortable and break the ice between people.
To have the best chance at befriending your R.A., attend the information sessions and hall programs whenever you can. R.A.’s are much more likely to ignore the slightly louder than usual noise coming from your room if you’re one of the hall residents who has attended every pizza party and movie night the R.A. has thrown. But at the same time, respect the rules of the dorm so he or she doesn’t have to get you in trouble. You may even want to put your R.A. on limited profile on Facebook to avoid any potentially awkward situations where he or she is required to report you. (How awkward would it be if your R.A. saw photos on Facebook of a party thrown in your room?)
Besides being a friendly face and a facilitator of new relationships, R.A.’s can also be incredibly supportive during any trouble that you experience later in the year. If you feel comfortable with him or her, you can go to your R.A. to discuss pretty much anything, whether it’s an issue with your roommate, academic troubles or a personal matter.
“If you do run into problems, you want to have a rapport already with your R.A. so you can talk about stuff,” explains Lucier. “You never know what big deal things are going to happen. You have no idea in August what could be a problem in November.”
Although you may think of your R.A. as an intimidating authority figure, remember that he or she is just a student like you. This doesn’t mean that you should break any rules, but you may find out that you have more in common with him or her than you think.