How to Get Settled into Your Student Housing

By Alyssa Laffitte on August 25, 2019

Move-in day is one of the most exciting days in a college student’s life. It marks the beginning of a new year and new opportunities. Moving into student housing is especially exciting since you have many students moving in alongside you! However, moving requires adjusting to life in a new space, which can be difficult. In this article, we’ll talk about how to settle into your college housing.

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Communicate with your roommate beforehand

Before school starts, you should get an email informing you of your housing assignment for the year. This email will likely also contain your future roommate’s name and contact information. Take advantage of this information and reach out to them! A simple text or Facebook message will suffice for the first time you contact them. As you get closer to move-in day, a Skype, FaceTime, or phone call would be beneficial.

This initial communication is important because you will know who to expect on move-in day. It will give you a chance to get to know your roommate before you live with them. You can ask them about their living habits since these are good to know before move-in day. For example, it is beneficial to know if your roommate is a night owl or an early bird, or if they plan on having friends hang out in the room. This discussion will help you envision life with this person.

Communicating with your roommate beforehand will also allow you to coordinate what items each of you will bring to the dorm/apartment. For example, you can bring the TV while she brings the microwave. This will prevent you from having double of something. In this case, you should write down who brought which items, so that you will know who can take which items home during move-out day. (You don’t want her to take the TV you brought, and she certainly does not want you to take the microwave she brought.) You can also discuss coordinating decoration, such as buying the same or similar bedspread, to give your room a cohesive look.

Clearly, it is a good idea to communicate with your roommate before you move into your college housing. Not only will it allow you to get to know the person you will be living with, but it will also allow you to coordinate move-in logistics with them.

Draft a roommate contract

Once you and your roommate have moved in, you two should draft a roommate contract. This contract will set some ground rules and expectations to help you live together peacefully. Drafting this contract will give you a chance to discuss important issues, such as noise level. You can include these things in your roommate contract:

  • Noise and light level in the early morning and late night- can the TV or music be playing? Can the main lights be on? Or are you required to wear headphones or only use the desk lamp after a certain time?
  • Guests in the room, especially overnight guests- should your roommate give you advance notice if someone is staying over? How many nights will you allow guests to stay? What about overnight guests of the opposite gender?
  • Sharing items- what things, if any, will you share? Are there any conditions to this sharing? (For example, you must ask before using your roommate’s item and you must return it in good condition).
  • Alone time in the room- will you guys schedule “alone time in the room” for each roommate? It’s always nice to have some time in the room for yourself to study or relax.
  • Cleaning schedules- who is required to clean what, and when?

Writing up a roommate contract is a good way to settle into your new life since it will provide the rules and expectations you will live by.

Make a list of things you will need

  • Do research beforehand to determine what amenities your dorm/apartment has. Some things might be included, other things might not even be allowed. For example, will you need to buy a microwave or mini-fridge, or are these things included? Are you even allowed to have these things in your room? This information can usually be found on your college’s “residential life” website.
  • Decide what you can take with you from home and what you will buy when you get to your new city. Big items might not be worth taking, especially if you need to fly to your destination.
  • Sometimes, it is better to buy things at your destination because you might not know what you need until you get there. 

Get help, but not too much!

Of course, it is a good idea to bring your parents over to help you get settled in. They can help you haul your items over to your new room, and help you decorate it. You will be glad you brought them!

On the other hand, you should not bring anyone besides your parents. Keep in mind that your dorm room will be small. There will not be space for so many people! Plus, you will be doing things like unpacking and organizing, which won’t be as fun for younger siblings who will want to run around. Instead, invite your siblings and friends from home later on in the year, once you are settled in and can focus on doing fun things (and not on hauling stuff from the car to the room).

Do some cleaning

It is likely your dorm or apartment has collected some dust throughout the summer, or the last person who lived there might not have done a good job cleaning it. For these reasons, you should clean your room before moving your things in. Even doing simple things, like vacuuming the floors, dusting, wiping down the surfaces and doorknobs/handles with disinfectant wipes, and spraying disinfectant spray over larger surfaces (like the bare mattress), will do wonders for the cleanliness of the room. If you brought family members to help you move in, they can help with this.

When your room is clean, it will be much easier to move your things in and to settle into your new place. A clean room will feel much more like home.

Decorate to give your new place a personal touch

Of course, one of the best ways to get settled into your new home is to decorate it with your own style. When your place is decorated the way you like it, you will feel much more comfortable. You can add your own touch to your room with simple things, like posters of your favorite bands or pictures of your friends and family from back home. If you are allowed to, you can also hang up string lights or turn on a fake candle (real ones usually are not allowed in college housing). Of course, if you want to do some major decoration, you should make sure it is allowed by your school and make sure your roommate is fine with it. You and your roommate could even decorate together to make a cohesive decorating style throughout the room. At the end of the day, you will feel much more settled in when your room is decorated the way you like it.

Get to know the people in charge, and those around you

Friends are what make the college experience fun. Thankfully, college housing is an environment conducive to making lots of friends, since there will be many students concentrated in a small living space. Especially during the first few weeks of the semester, many students will leave their doors open to allow others to come into the room and say hi. This is a great way to meet people! You can walk around your hall, see who has their door open, and say hi to them. Similarly, if you are in your room, you can leave the door open to see if anyone will come to you. Chances are good that they are also looking for friends and will be happy to chat with you if your door is open.

In the same way, you will become more comfortable in your new home if you get to know the people in charge of your student housing. For example, you can get to know your RA. Most student housing has a resident advisor (RA), an older student who is there to make sure the residents are safe and happy. They plan fun events and can help you if you get locked out of your room. Make an effort to attend the events your RA hosts, especially at the beginning of the semester, so you can get to know them and your dorm-mates better. Plus, it’s likely there will be food at these events. You should get to know your RA before you run into a problem and need their help. (It’s a smart move to have their phone number in your phone!) If there are any faculty members in charge of your student housing, you should also get to know them, too. They could also be a good resource to help you. When you know the people in charge, you will be much more comfortable in your new home.

Another way you can meet people at the beginning of the semester is to attend orientation events. These events will not only give you lots of information about your new school and new housing situation, but they will also be a good place to meet people. In other words, attending these events is a great way to become comfortable in your new home, because it will allow you to make new friends.

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Learn how things work at your new place

Another reason you should attend orientation events is to learn how things work at your new home. When you know how things work, you will feel much more settled in and your life will be much easier. It is important to learn things such as:

  • Laundry- does your building have laundry? Is there a communal laundry room in the basement? Does it cost money? If so, does it accept credit cards? Or do you need to go somewhere else to do laundry? If so, where do people recommend?
  • Package and mail pick up- where do you pick up your packages? What address should your mail be sent to? Can you pick up your packages only during business hours?
  • Meals- where is the dining hall? Can you eat there even if you don’t have a dining plan? What are the dining hall hours? Where do people eat after hours? What are the other good places to eat on campus?

These are basic things that everyone needs to know. You will feel much more at home in your college housing when you know where these things are and how they work.

Get to know your new city

The best way to get settled into your college life is to get to know your new city and campus. You can take a campus tour or simply wander around the campus by yourself. You never know what you will find! You should definitely be on the lookout for restaurants (especially if they are near your class buildings) and other places you might want to visit in the future. For example, you might want to visit the financial aid office if you have questions about your scholarships, so it’s a good idea to know where the financial aid office is. Similarly, you might want to sign up for extracurricular activities, so be on the lookout for the student activities building. You should also keep your eyes open for the building that relates to your major (for instance, if you are an art major, look for the art building!). You will likely need to visit these places in the future, and it will be nice to have a rough idea of their location.

Similarly, you can venture off campus, too, and see what the city has to offer. You can visit local museums, parks, and restaurants. This will get you excited about living in a new place!

When you get to know your new city and your new campus, you will feel much more settled into your college life.

Good luck moving into your student housing!

23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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