Making Your Residence Hall a Home
Starts with Building & Maintaining Relationships
Beginning college is a big step for high school grads and college classes are just a part of the adjustment.
For many college freshmen, the move to the new school dorm is the first time they have ever lived on their own. It might be a good idea to spend time keeping ties to high school friends and your home town from fading, but looking ahead to new friends and relationships will help make the transition to college a bit smoother.
An expert from Purdue says that it's a good idea to start making your college residence your new home as soon as you arrive. Meeting the other students in your dorm, setting up your dorm space, and getting to know you way around campus should be at the top of your college dorm checklist.
"Students should work to keep in contact with family and friends at home, but it is also important to develop new friendships and relationships," says Kris A. Schraeder, general manager of two Purdue residence halls, Young and Hillenbrand. "That process of developing new relationships begins as soon students move in and begin to
carve out a new niche."
Everyone adjusts to strange surroundings in their own personal way. Some students will have new friends by the end of the first hour. Others will still be feeling their way after a few weeks. Don't worry,
by the end of the first semester just about all of the new students will have found friends in the dorm and in classes and other activities that they share.
Purdue's Schraeder offers several suggestions for helping students make their new
residence hall environment feel like a home away from home.
Designate a night of the week to call family to hear how things are going
at home and to provide an update on new experiences. This allows you to focus on new people for the rest of the week.
Start new traditions with campus friends by getting involved with intramural sports, video-game competitions or regular small-group dinners. Friends are made by sharing experiences. The more you enter group activities, the better your chances of getting to know people who have the same interests.
Become involved in dorm life. Most university residence halls sponsor organizations where students can have an impact on activities in their hall and have more of a feeling of ownership of where they live. If you spend all of your time in your dorm room, you won't get a chance to interact with others who could turn out to be life long friends.
It helps to have a shared history, but don't be upset if you find that your high school buddies wind up spending more time with new friends. As you discover new interests in college, it makes sense that relationships with old friends will change. That doesn't mean friendships need to be lost. Get together regularly with high school friends who are also on campus to try to maintain those home town ties.
Make your room a comfortable place to visit with dorm room decorating that expresses your individuality and personality. Try your best to keep the disorder to a minimum. It might be hard to keep things neat with a full academic and social schedule, but messy dorm rooms can get you depressed and make it hard to concentrate on studies.
"Students' relationships with their roommates also play a large role in whether or not their rooms feel like home," Schraeder says. "Students should maintain open communication with their roommates in case issues come up between them. Talking at the beginning of the year about potential issues - the tidiness of the room, taking phone messages, sleeping needs and schedules, guests in the room and borrowing each other's belongings - can go a long way in making
a dorm room into a home."
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