Where else can you make lasting friendships, have too many all-nighters and eat lots of ramen all under one roof? Dorms add a lot to the college experience, giving you the opportunity to live with students who are going through the same things you are. Know what to expect once you move in and get the most out of your dorm experience.
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Get informed about your housing office's policies to make sure your dorm life starts out great. "Read your student handbook, or at least gloss over it. Many of your questions are probably answered in it," says Danielle Knabjian Molina, Associate Director of Residential Life at Vassar College. If you have further questions, ask your residential advisor or another representative of the housing office.
- Find out what electronic appliances are allowed in your residence hall. "Due to fire safety regulations and electricity constraints, some colleges restrict the types of appliances you may have in your room," Molina says. Regulated or banned items include microwaves, hotpots, halogen lamps and coffee makers. Though some personal items are not allowed, many colleges contract with refrigerator companies to provide refrigerator/microwave units which meet special electrical restrictions.
- Decorating your room is allowed, but prepare to follow a few guidelines. Ask whether or not you can use tape on the walls, because some colleges only allow less damaging sticky tabs or tacks. Also, for fire safety, there are colleges that won't allow you to display large tapestries on walls, hang fabric from the ceiling, light candles or burn incense in the room.
- Every college has a different policy on pets. Some only allow fish, while others allow slightly larger pets as long as they're in a terrarium or a confined space. Dogs and cats are generally not allowed. If you do have a pet, you will have to arrange for feeding and care during long breaks.
- Ask what the residence hall's rules are on smoking. "State regulations and college policies play a determining role in how residence hall rooms are regulated," Molina says. Whether you are or aren't a smoker, find out which residence halls are right for your lifestyle.