So, You Got to the Dorm Room First
It’s Move-In Day, or whatever your university has name branded the day to be to make the experience of bringing plastic organizers and all the other dorm essentials into a small room FUN! And while this symbolic leap from your teen years to young adulthood is filled with excitement, there can also be stress and anxiety involved as well. As your “Online Resident Adviser” (a self-proclaimed title) of this website, it’s my duty to advise you through these tougher emotions. Literally. I’m not here to watch over you, not here to share my drugs or alcohol with you, no. I’m just here to give you advice from my perspective. Which may be a little skewed, but we all know at this age you’re going to make your own decisions anyways!
The first piece of advice for Move-In Day is to take the “check-in time” as a suggestion, not a rule. Unless you go to the one university that says it will put you on probation for arriving before your check in time, you should strive to be early.
Why? Because beating your future roommates to the dorm is your opportunity to freely unpack before your roommate’s family gets there and tries to make small talk about the Satanic poster or other dorm decoration you love.
But the more important reason to be first is so that you can pick your side of the dorm. Your room will always be assigned, but the side of space you choose to inhabit is all up to you. Sometimes one side has a better closet access, outlets, lighting, or ventilation. Or maybe it’s just easier to think how you’ll add space yourself.
Now if you’re thinking up some rebuttals, let me put them to rest now.
“But Online Resident Adviser, what if there are signs on our door with our names on them and one is on the left and one is on the right, and and and doesn’t that mean I have to stick to the side I was given?????” Don’t let this be your first conflict in the dorm.
Your university did not etch your name into the door. You’re there first. Take that cheap stuff your RA taped on and switch it. If your roommate comes second and sees that you now live on the corresponding side you can say you were just following the posted suggestion.
“But ORA, my university is a very popular state school that now houses more students than it did in the 70’s, so we have to triple up in the room. I don’t get a side!”
Well that sucks. Still means you can pick whether you’re the bed to the right, bottom left bunk, or the disastrous “built in loft.” Which, let’s be honest, is a mattress put on a large shelf that they built this summer. You don’t want to recreate the bed-collapsing scene from Step Brothers your first drunken stumble home.
“Okaaay ORA, you’re right. So what side do I pick?”
Since I don’t know your exact room’s layout, here are some quick guidelines to navigate you, while your poor dad is forced to carry your make-up train that “can’t touch the ground”:
1. Don’t pick the side with the microwave / fridge combo (if that’s a thing in your dorm).
Especially if you like your personal space. Which let’s be honest, you’re a millennial in America. In your world, personal space is a right that you deserve. If you live on the side where the “room kitchen” is your roommate will always be coming over to make their 2 PM Mac N Cheese or 2 AM Pizza Bagels and you will have to be ok with it. Maybe you just want to end up getting your own mini fridge anyways.
2. Pay attention to lighting.
I’m sure some article out there has said better lighting has benefits of more productivity and less strain on your eyes. Sure, this is true, but look at it through the perspective of an actual college student. First, note where East and West is and how the sun will travel through the room. Then choose the side that has the sunlight hit at noon til dusk, rather than dawn til whenever your hangover wears off. Sometimes, you need more light as well – is there a good spot for a desk lamp?
3. Is your bed touching a wall?
Not to sound old but, “back in my day…” we had two beds against two walls of the room. If you have severe OCD, this might have already been at the top of your list. But if you don’t, take a second to think about if you have any sort of disposition to a wall being on your left or right while you sleep.
4. Closet space.
The obvious answer is to pick the bigger one. But hey, if you got there first and have already scoped out the benefits of the room, it might be nice to give this to your roommate. You don’t want to come off too greedy and let the passive aggressive tendencies kick in right away. Wait for that to naturally happen at week five, when it’s supposed to. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up sharing your closet anyways.
If you’re reading this as the second roommate who showed up to Move-In Day on time, you can hope for better luck next year or just pull a huge “prank” of swapping all of your belongings during the middle of the night to the side you covet.