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College Advice

The Ultimate Guide to Dorm Life for Freshman Students in College

DormEssentials July 3, 2022

With summer coming to an end, first-year college students are preparing to move into dorms all around the world. Living in the dorms can be an equally exciting and overwhelming change. The more prepared you are, the better your experience will be. You can read all our college advice blogs to get a sense of living in the dorms and college. In this guide to dorm life, we will explore everything that you need to know about dorm life during your first year.

What to Expect on Move-In Day

Move-in day can be fairly chaotic and busy–but it is the first step to dorm living. No matter what, by the end of the day, you will be tired and ready to take good rest in your new dorm room. So, what can you really expect from this day, and how can you make it a successful one?

For a successful move-in day, you must stick to your school’s schedule. This is not a day that you will want to sleep in late. Instead, make sure you are there exactly on time so you can get sorted as soon as possible. Double check that you packed all your essentials, or make sure to order them for local pickup at a store near the school, or delivery to the dorm (check with the residence hall to see if they support pre deliveries).

A lot of students find that move-in day is both exciting and intimidating. For a smooth transition, get to know your roommate so you have someone to hang out with. Roommates can make your dorm life a lot better. It can take a lot of stress out of your day. Be sure to make move-in day even easier by avoiding bringing the wrong things.

Remember, it is okay if this day is a little emotional for you, and also your parents. It’s hard for everyone, but it is also the start of your next big adventure!

Getting Used to Living in the Dorms with Strangers

Living with strangers can be difficult, interesting, and even a little confusing. Dorm living means sharing space with other people that you are in school with—and you won’t know all of them.

Try These Tips for Success:

Making Peace with Communal Showers

Communal showers are a big pill to swallow for some new students. Not everyone loves the idea of showering with dozens of other people in one shared space. There are certain steps that you can take to make it a more pleasant experience.

Try These Tips for Added Comfort:

  • Be respectful of the bathrooms and don’t leave messes
  • Invest in a robe for easier dressing and comfort
  • Make a bathroom kit with all of your bathroom essentials that is easy to carry
  • Consider going during less popular times for added comfort

Navigating Friends and Relationships in the Dorms

College is the perfect opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Many people find that their time in the dorms is where they make lifelong friends and lasting memories. With the right approach, you can build your new college social circle in no time.

Try These Tips for Navigating Social Situations:

Decorating Your Own Dorm Room

Your dorm room is your first real chance to make a space that is all your own as an adult. This is a wonderful opportunity that can be a lot of fun. One of the best parts of dorm life is decorating, after all. Make sure to let your personality shine through, and don’t be afraid to explore your tastes! Check out all our dorm top tens to see a full list of essentials.

Tips for an Amazing Dorm Room:

For more decoration advice, check out our recommended Dorm Essentials for Girls and Dorm Essentials for Guys.

Social Activities in Dorms

Dorms allow you an opportunity to connect with other people in your age group and even major. One of the best ways to make friends in dorms is to participate in your dorm’s social activities. These activities can be official and unofficial, but at the end of the day, they are always fun!

Common Social Activities Include:

  • Hangouts in different dorm rooms
  • Dance/exercise nights
  • Movie nights
  • Build-your-own-meal bars (if allowed in your dorm)
  • Board game nights
  • Painting/craft parties
  • Scavenger hunts
  • So much more!

Setting Yourself Up for Success While Living on Your Own

Living on your own for the first time’s a huge step into adulthood. However, it does mean that you will be fully responsible for yourself. The days of your parents washing your socks are officially over. To navigate this transition, there are a few things to keep in mind. During your freshman year, you will be #adulting officially. With these tips, you can’t go wrong.

Tips for Successful Adult Living:


Every college experience is unique, and becoming a freshman is such an exciting time in your life. If you still have questions, make sure to check out our FAQ about dorm living. As you take these next big steps forward, remember to keep an open mind and look for opportunities. If there are any changes that you want to make, now is the time for them. You will be meeting new people, exploring new interests, and learning so much more about yourself while you do it. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have a wonderful experience!

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