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The Dos & Don’ts of Choosing College Housing

It seems like there are a million things to do before you start college. Getting accepted is great, but it comes with a plethora of tough decisions! Take housing, for example. Which dorm is the best? What if I don’t like my roommate? We’ve been there. So if you’re hiding under overwhelming packets of residence hall information, toss them aside. Follow these insider tips and prepare for pre-collegiette bliss.

DO take the roommate survey seriously.

“The residence hall staff members totally go through your answers to figure out the best matches!” says Fiona Williams, a junior at the University of Texas.

Surveys play an important role in determining who you’ll end up rooming with. Some of the questions may seem tedious, but try your hardest to pick the answers that most closely align with your opinions to up your chances for a roommate you’ll live well with.

DON’T room with a friend from high school.

“I thought I had the perfect set-up when my best friend and I decided to bunk together. But we ended up driving each other crazy! Now, we don’t even talk anymore,” says Kim, a junior at the University of Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, living together can sever even the closest friends. Simply put, sharing a tight space with someone is completely different from just hanging out. Although you always have a great time with your bestie, you may come to find that rooming with her is too close for comfort. It’s not worth ending such a great friendship over little things, like getting annoyed when she sexiles you or never does her fair share of the cleaning!

DO choose the social dorm.

“Definitely go for the dorm with the best reputation for social life and people. Having great friends to hang out with in a [bad] dorm is better than no friends to hang out with in a nice dorm,” says Julia, a sophomore at the University of Portland.

College life can be overwhelming, so it’s nice to blow off steam during your downtime. Living in a social setting will help you meet people and connect with new friends. Some girls hesitate because of the potential noise level from late-night parties. So if you get distracted, just gather your books and hit the library!

DON’T rush to move off-campus.

“Everyone should have a least that one freshman year hall-style dorm experience. Suites are nice, but you have your sophomore, junior, and senior year to do that (or live off campus, if you prefer). Hall-style dorms are great because you get to meet a lot of different people on your hall. My freshman year, people would leave their doors open and would sometimes just stop by to say ‘Hi.’ That’s how I met a few of my best friends that I live with now!” says Laura Baugh, a junior at Virginia Tech.

Laura’s right. Moving off campus has its perks, but living on campus is a great way to get acclimated to a new setting. Dorms usually have helpful resources for their residents, including heightened security at night. Another plus? You’ll be closer to your morning classes, so you can sleep in later!

DO room near the dining hall.

“After an all-nighter, traveling for food is not appealing. Your stomach will thank you,” says Cassandra, a junior at Moore College.

Living near the caf has countless benefits. Instead of having to run across campus every time your stomach starts rumbling, you’ll be close to yummy treats as well as healthier options.

DON’T automatically pick the highest floor.

“The view might be nice, but the heat in the summer months and the long elevator rides are not always worth it!” says Cassandra.

Regardless of the beautiful views, living on the top can be a drag. You’ll have to make a longer trip every time you leave the dorm, especially if the elevator breaks down!

DO choose a roommate with similar interests.

“My freshman year I roomed with a girl who was an interior design major. That was one of the majors I was interested in – we had a class together and realized we had a lot more in common than just interior design. Choosing someone who has that common interest can give you a foundation for a friendship,” says Junene Taylor, a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Differences are good, but having things in common with someone can help ease tension. Rooming with someone you can relate to will make you feel more comfortable as you start at a new school with unfamiliar faces. You might even make a lasting friend, just like Junene did!

DON’T be too picky.

“The pickier you are, the more you narrow your options, and the more you take away from getting the real college experience. The more random, the better! If you’re picky about where (and who) you live with and aren’t happy with the results, you’ll be even unhappier since you had gotten your hopes up to create the ‘perfect’ environment,” says Erin Nemeth, a senior at Quinnipiac University.

Plain and simple, pickiness is a turn-off. It’s better to go with the flow – you’ll be happier that way! Go ahead and list your preferences, but don’t go overboard. It’s important to be willing to compromise and adapt to a new living situation.

DO keep an open mind.

“If you end up with your last choice, don’t freak out. I thought I was stuck with the worst possible housing situation…ever. But I was wrong – I ended up loving the dorm so much that I applied to be a RA for it the next year!” says Mary Stenz, a junior at CSU Long Beach.

If things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s not the end of the world! Take a breath and think about the positives. You have a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and branch out of your normal routine. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so take advantage of it! 

DON’T stay banished in your dorm room.

“One of my biggest mistakes from freshman year was not getting out of my residence hall. I got close with people on my floor, so we always hung out together in the lounges and cafeteria. But looking back, I should have socialized with people from other dorms and ventured outside of my comfort zone!” says Shelly, a senior at UCLA.

The most important thing is to be open to whatever living situation your college throws at you, and make the most of it!

Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. After her short story was published in a recent book, she decided to explore a new facet of writing and became involved with student newspapers and magazines. Between interning, taking classes, and exploring San Francisco, Dani is embracing the new opportunities that city life brings. Her true loves include traveling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food related!