Tips for New College Dormers!

- Don’t play your music loudly. You have people living on your sides, below you, and / or above you. You don’t know if they are napping, studying, or what. Even if they are just chilling, they don’t wanna hear your fucking music. Don’t be that asshole.

- Don’t stomp or make a lot of noise if there is a floor below you. My suitemates and I have complained to the RAs about this numerous times. Nobody likes when a suite or room is super loud and stomping around. Please respect the fact that there are other people living right below you.

You don’t have to dress super nice every single day. Dress nice your first week or so but then relax. I mean, don’t look like a slob, of course. But, trust me, upperclassmen dormers are the ones you see in sweatpants and little make up. Unless you have to give presentations or the like, you don’t have to dress up. Also going to the dining hall / cafe? Go in your pjs, nobody gives a shit. You live here after all.

- Don’t schedule your classes back to back if you have the free time! I don’t have work til the evening so I personally tend to space out my classes. Living on campus gives a great luxury of just relaxing between classes. Check your work for your next class, take a nap, watch some tv, whatever is good. Back to back classes could stress you out like crazy, don’t do that to yourself.

- If you can, put money on your ID card. Okay, idk if all colleges do this, but most tend to allow you to have money credit on your ID card. This can be used in the campus stores and, the best part, THE LAUNDRY ROOM. Really saves you the hassle of getting quarters each week plus, some schools have like 25 cent discounts when you use your card for laundry. Nice.

- Eating alone is okay. You won’t always have people to go eat with EVERY SINGLE DAY. So if you are hungry, go eat. Campus is home, you gotta eat.

- Stock your room. Buy snacks and easy microwave meals. Sometimes you don’t wanna get dressed and walk all the way to the dining hall. Especially weekends, so much work. Drinks, too. Usually dining halls close at like 6-8pm and don’t open til 7-8am. They also tend to close early on weekends. Buy cases of water cheap then stick em under your bed. Keep your fridge stocked. Take care of yourself.

- Go to dorm and campus events. Try to get out there and meet people. A lot of the events are really cool. Sometimes they have movie nights, or competitions, or carnivals, or whatever. It can be a bit nervous but don’t worry. For dorm events, the RAs are usually really perky and super into getting everyone involved. At school events, there are staff members (people apart of whoever is running the event) to make sure everything is safe.

- Get along with your roommate. You might not be best friends but try to be on good terms. Also, you usually get your roommate’s and suitemate’s emails before move in day so try reaching out and learning about them before hand. If you guys REALLY aren’t connecting well or even fighting, you can absolutely request a room change.

- Talk to the RAs. RAs, or Residential Advisors, are students who have applied and gone through training to manage resident students like you. They hold weekly events, break up fights, help you if you get locked out, and even talk if you are feeling depressed. They are really nice and awesome people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

- Those blue security lights can save you. When you first get on campus, you might see something that looks like this all over the place. Sometimes they are black or red, but they all do the same thing. They are apart of campus security. If you are being followed or attacked on campus, go to one of these, click the button and you will be directed to an emergency line. Usually they have cameras attached to them that are being viewed back at the Campus Police Station. Please use these if you are in danger.

- You might be able stay on campus during breaks if you absolutely need to. If you are like me with a really abusive parent OR if you are a homeless student, check around for resources on campus. It’s different on every campus so I can’t list a specific organization but basically go to your housing authority and ask them for assistance. They can direct you to where you need to go to get authorization to stay on campus during breaks when the school is telling you it is mandatory to leave campus (excluding summer break). If you know other students who need this help, let them know.

This is all coming from someone going into their third year of dorming lol my campus feels like my home. If you can think of anything else, please add on! Stay safe!



  • don’t sign up for morning classes. allow yourself time to wake up, go get breakfast, and not be in a rush.
  • don’t take classes that end later than 5 or 6 so you have enough down time and study time in the evening, without having to overlap with dinner.
  • go to seminars on interesting topics that don’t necessarily relate to your major.
  • don’t take back-to-back classes. allow yourself to grab a snack or rest. you might also have to cross campus and not give yourself enough time otherwise.
  • check out before enrolling in a class.
  • take every extra credit opportunity.


  • pour your own drink.
  • don’t mix liquors.
  • drink as much water as you do alcohol.
  • don’t hesitate to call 911.
  • if you’re hungover, drink water, and eat bananas and saltines
  • stay active.


  • nobody else has friends the first couple weeks either. you’re not alone.
  • leave your dorm door open when you’re in there and don’t mind distractions.
  • go to as many events as possible.
  • decorate your dorm with your roommate as an easy bonding experience.


  • make dorm rules with your roommate to set some basic boundaries in the first couple weeks of school.
  • empty your trash regularly.
  • keep a surplus of a quick snack, like cereal or granola bars, for when you’re running late or not hungry enough for the cafeteria.
  • bed bath & beyond, as well as daiso (or find a store), have good and relatively cheap dorm supplies. 
  • save receipts for everything you purchase. figure out how much you spend per week on the bare necessities, and set a weekly budget slightly above that.
  • plan on spending an extra $100 on things you forgot for your dorm.
  • here’s a list of what you should pack.


  • check your student email very regularly. your class might get cancelled, or a free event might be held.
  • take advantage of free services.
  • don’t take your paid services for granted, either. do your homework and don’t sleep in class.
  • explore your school’s website for interesting or useful information.

Patient dormitory at sundown at Buffalo State Hospital.  People have this dismal misconception that insane asylums were “snake pits” - places where patients were treated like animals, if even that well.  Perhaps they eventually became that, but the Kirkbride buildings of the 19th century were anything but.  Here, patients would enjoy sunlight from three of four directions, in a room whose 16’ ceilings were supported by ornate columns.  Certainly not the view of the asylum you’d get if you bought into “American Horror Story”!

‘Out of order, am I?’ shouted Seamus, who in contrast with Ron was going pale. ‘You believe all the rubbish he’s come out with about You-Know-Who, do you, you reckon he’s telling the truth?’
'Yeah, I do!’ said Ron angrily.
'Then you’re mad, too,’ said Seamus in disgust.
'Yeah? Well, unfortunately for you, pal, I’m also a prefect!’ said Ron, jabbing himself in the chest with a finger. 'So unless you want detention, watch your mouth!’
—  Harry Potter and the Order of the phoenix

Bizarrely enough, a few nights ago I had a dream about this patient dormitory at Norwich State Hospital, an early-20th-century cottage-plan asylum in Preston, CT.  Knowing I had a photograph of it lying about somewhere, I finally found it this morning with my morning coffee - but the search for it made me recognize the need to seriously organize and catalogue my work from hundreds of abandoned building trips.  In any case, this is a good example of what a dormitory might have looked like once overcrowding became a dominant problem in the asylum system - the the notable exception of the lack of patient beds in the middle of the room; there surely would have been another half-dozen.

Print available here.