Making College Housing Decisions

College housing decisions don't have to be complicated, as long as you know what you want and need.

Madison Sheldrake

February 23, 2016

Making College Housing Decisions

You’ve done it. You applied, you waited, and you got in. College is just around the corner, and it’s time to ask yourself: “Now what?”

Signing up and registering for housing is a huge part of adjusting from high school to college, as it determines what your freshman year experience will be like.

Personally, housing has been the most daunting and confusing aspect of the college process.

Picking roommates, choosing a style of dorm or apartment, determining whether I want to be on or off campus – the list of things to consider is seemingly endless! However, as I have delved into the nuts and bolts of college housing, I’ve found it’s not as complicated as first meets the eye.

Here are some tips for handling your housing applications and options:

• Start your search early.
The initial exploration into the different complexes can be very overwhelming, so my advice is to start early and just take it a little bit at a time.

• Do your research.
Even if you start slowly, it can still be tricky to take a basic outline of a building or dorm and try to imagine what the different housing options are like. However, there are lots of resources outside of the official college websites to help you gain a better perspective.

Alumni and current students of lots of different schools post videos and blogs about their experiences in different dorms and programs. The insight you can gain from their experiences take that 2-D diagram and create the full 3-D experience. It’s much easier to imagine yourself around the dorms and around campus after watching a video or two.

• Keep a list of deadlines and application openings.
Until you are 100 percent sure that you have chosen a particular school, make sure to look into the housing options of all of your prospective colleges.

A good friend of mine waited to start the housing application for her second choice school after it became available. When she had time to start it, she was notified that she could not submit the application because the housing was already full. While she does have other options to get a spot, it’s going to be a longer process for her.

Try not to leave anything to chance when getting these applications going. If you have a question, there are counselors and advisors waiting to help you any way they can. I’ve found that they are actually very friendly and understanding, and talking to them was very helpful.

• Start thinking about roommates.
I think the most nerve-racking thing about living away from home is the idea of roommates. We’ve all heard our family member’s horror stories of roommates who stole their clothes and ate their food, but not everyone’s experience will be like that. The whole ‘should you room with friends’ debate is one that everyone needs to examine for themselves. Living with some of your best friends could be a great thing, or it could end up in disaster. It’s just something that needs to be decided on an individual basis. Talk to each other, and be honest. It’s best to be open about wanting to look into other housing options now, rather than just winging it later.

One of the more awkward aspects of meeting new roommates can be eloquently summed up in a statement made by Dr. John Watson on BBC’s Sherlock: “We just met, and now we’re going to live in a flat.”

No one wants to show up for the first day of school and have no idea who will be on the other side of that dorm room door. One way to avoid that is to join social media groups created specifically for your college class. Group messages on apps like Facebook or Group Me can connect you to some really cool people who share your interests. You could even find your perfect roommate.

If you happen to live close to each other, try to meet and do something fun together before the moving stress sets in. Having something to bond over besides unpacking is a really good ice breaker, and it’s comforting to know that you’ll have at least one person in your dorm who you’ve met.

When going through the roommate screening process, you’ll be asked to share facts about yourself and how you live. What your basic interests are doesn’t cut it for this application.

Potential roommates will be looking to see how late you stay awake at night and when you get up in the morning, if you listen to music a lot or play an instrument. If you tend to go out and do things or stay in. All of these factors and more go in to consideration.

Don’t just say you go to bed at ten because you think it’s what someone wants to hear, if you really don’t go to bed until twelve.

Be honest, and you should be able to find someone who will work really well.

• Start new habits.
Making goals is one of the biggest steps to gaining the independence every student needs when making the transition from high school to college.

Starting new habits like organization or physical activity is a great way to discover new things about yourself and make some great friends while doing it.

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