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The College Dorm Survival Guide / More Than Just A Book Review

Updated on August 28, 2011

I found this book, “The College Dorm Survival Guide” by Julia DeVillers, tucked high on a gift shop shelf while on vacation. I had my daughter Tracey in mind who is leaving for college at the end of summer. I normally would have passed it by, for these teenage years, I don’t seem to pick out anything right. Thumbing through the pages and finding down-to-earth practical information and expert advice, I decided to buy the book for myself. Of course, Tracey could read it too! (She did and has given it her “approval of perfection”.) I thought if she didn’t like it, so be it, the book was mine!

I figured “The College Dorm Survival Guide” would be helpful for me to know the challenges or questions that Tracey might run into her first year away from home. Between the pages packed with humor, I learned all about dorm life from people (residence hall professionals and students) who have been there and done that.


It’s Not Always Easy To Live In a Dorm

It’s not always easy to live in a dorm in times of our changing world. Most students are thrown into dorm living with little information about how to succeed or even what to expect. Who will tell your child what they need to know about surviving and thriving in the dorms? “The College Dorm Survival Guide” will do just that.

Living in a dorm is a completely unique experience. It’s often the first time your child will live away from home and suddenly they’re rooming with hundreds or even thousands of people their age with different personalities and from different walks-of-life. It can be fun for them, or not!

Basically, most students go in hoping and expecting the best of their dorm experience. (Yeah! College! FREEDOM, I don’t care what my dorm is like – I’m FREEEE!) That’s great they feel this way! “The College Survival Guide” quickly points out though, that going in expecting perfection, may leave your child feeling disappointed. Living at home wasn’t perfect and dorm life won’t be either. Just go in realizing some will catch on quickly and some will need time for adjusting. And that’s okay too!

Your Dorm Location

“The College Dorm Survival Guide” is helpful in explaining how the dorm location can have a surprisingly big impact on your child’s daily routine. It compares notes with students on other parts of campus who can help them realize that if their dorm is:

- near their classes, they can leave later or run back and get a book they forgot

- near the bars, they might be easily tempted to go out spontaneously and have people crash at their place

- near the library, they might use it to study more

- in another part of town or far away from the buildings they have classes in, they’ll have to factor in commuting time

- near a parking lot, they’ll have quicker access to their car, and if it’s far away, they might go off campus less

- near a sports arena, they might be on the site of some tailgating

- near a shopping area, they might have to reallllly watch their budget

- near a fraternity row, they’ll have a shorter walk if their pledging

- near a gym, it might make it more likely that they’ll work out

Top Five Things You Don’t Want In Your Dorm Room

  1. little sisters
  2. computer viruses
  3. dirty boys
  4. annoying roommates
  5. molding food

- Harmony, student at Temple University (PA)

People In a Strong Dorm Community

When you suddenly move into a community filled with hundreds of other students, it’s inevitable that your usual way of doing things will have to change. It’s just different from home, where you pretty much ruled.

Here are some tips from “The College Dorm Survival Guide” to help respect those around you:

- listen to what others have to say

- explore their values

- care and collaborate

- look out for one another

- speak up when something doesn’t seem right

- accept new ideas, people, and experiences

- be honest and respectful

- take responsibility

- have some common goals

- respect one another’s differences

- take pride

- work toward the common good

Having Fun On The Cheap

“The College Dorm Survival Guide” knows that funds aren’t usually there when you’re a college student. Here are some ways you can have some fun with your dormmates without spending very much.

- Read those flyers on the wall, and attend the events. Go to free movies, concerts, and events on campus. There’s likely something free happening all the time. Try out something new – can’t hurt when you’re not paying for it!

- Enter stupid contest with your friends like nominating a dormmate as “The New Face of Teen People Magazine” or having a celebrity look-alike contest. Just flip through some magazines and you’ll find a bunch of options.

- Check into free or deeply discounted tickets to amusement parks, movies, and more through your Student Activities office.

- Use your student ID card wherever you go. You can get discounts on everything from movies to music to restaurant meals. Local establishments want your business. Tap into those discounts for some great deals.

- Volunteer at campus and community events. If you usher for a concert, you’ll get to see it for free. If you sell refreshments at a festival, your entry fee will be paid for. Give a bit of your time and you’ll likely be rewarded with some cool opportunities.

Get your floormates to enter David Letterman’s Late Night Top-10 contests. Try your hand at simple comedy-writing by logging on to

David Letterman's Lateshow Top Ten Contest Is A Great Idea!

to see what the topic of the week is. Then, gather a group to brainstorm some possible entries. If yours is chosen, you’ll win a Late Night prize, website recognition, and inclusion in that week’s Top 10.

- Have a hall mascot, such as a big Yogi Bear doll or a blow-up doll, and have it show up in weird locations throughout the semester. Take pictures of its travels.

- Celebrate someone’s birthday at Burger King, complete with paper crowns for everyone!

More Useful Content Inside “The College Dorm Survival Guide”

- What to bring for your room and what not to bring!

- Dealing with annoying roommates!

- Decorating your room!

- Romance!

- Homesickness!

- Sharing bathrooms with strangers!

- Choosing your Reputation!

- How to say NO!

- Laundry lessons!

- Trash lessons! (It’s Easy Being Green)

- Getting-to-know the people and fitting in!

- Life in the dining hall!

- Staying connected with family back home!

- Living on your own as a grown-up!

- Financial survival!

- Health issues!

- Campus safety!

- Technology!

- Preparing to leave!

- Cherishing your dorm memories!

- And so much much more!

Students, Let This Be a Warning! – A Message from an Anonymous, Hunter College (NY) Grad

Creditors love having college students as customers. They will often be at various campus events soliciting. They see you as bigger shoppers than older adults, with clear financial histories. By getting you as a customer early on, they hope to get and keep you as lifelong account holders. I was personally very impressed by how much they solicited me on campus, by phone, through the mail … I now wish I’d been more careful. I should’ve known some of what I was being told was too good to be true. One solicitor told me not to worry that I had no job. “Use your financial aid as income,” he had said. Today, at 25, I’m still paying off balances from my first couple of years of college when I was 18 and 19.

Dorm Sweet Dorm

Welcome To Your New Home, Tracey!

You read a lot of books,

You took a lot of tests.

It wasn’t always easy,

But you always did your best.

The papers have been graded,

Your teachers all agree,

You truly earned the right to say…

Hooway! I’m Finally Fwee!

The day you enter your college dorm, your life changes. It is no ordinary experience. You’ll meet strangers who will become your friends. You’ll share late night talks and early morning classes. You’ll have a space to share, decorate, and turn into home for nine months out of the year. You’ll learn something new every single day because of the people and experiences you can only find in the dorms. But, most of all Tracey, Remember this, you’ll surely be missed at home! (We’re missing you already and you haven’t even gone!)

(Love Mom, Dad, and Sean)

Just For Fun! Dorm Habits That Will Follow You Home

You know you’ve been living in a dorm when …

- you try to use your dorm key to unlock your bedroom door

- you present your ID card for your mom to scan before meals

- you have one of your friends sleep over the whole time because you can’t sleep in a room by yourself

- you move another bed, dresser, and desk into your room because there is too much extra space

- you take all your shower items to and from your room

- you always look for socks on the doorknob

- you start scooping the kitchen for hotties while you’re eating

(From a list going around the internet)

In Conclusion

“The College Dorm Survival Guide” is a must-have for every college bound student – and for every parent who wants to help prepare their child for dorm life and help them cope in their new environment. It is chocked full of useful information that will answer all your questions, and even some you haven’t thought about yet. I highly recommend you pick up a copy!


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    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 6 years ago from MA, USA

      Thank you Brupie for the advice. I removed the videos.

    • Brupie profile image

      Brupie 6 years ago

      Thanks for the review. I watched a little bit of the YouTube videos and thought the hub would be better w/o them.

    • Jaeyda profile image

      Jaeyda 7 years ago

      This looks like a great book for anyone who's going to live in a dorm. Living in a dorm is such a different experience from living at home, but it definitely helps prepare you for being out on your own.

    • Sammy16 profile image

      Sammy16 7 years ago from NY

      These are some helpful tips, I have written an article also about how to become a successful college student. Great Job!

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks greekforme for stopping by. I appreciate your comment.

    • greekforme profile image

      greekforme 8 years ago from Delaware

      What a great number of tips - especially the ideas for 'having fun on the cheap'

      Great Post!


    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks Jerry

    • Jerry Joseph profile image

      Jerry Joseph 8 years ago from Elizabeth.New Jersey

      great hub

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      Hi TrL91, I think your sister would love this book. I know my daughter found it very helpful when circumstances arose that she wasn't sure how to handle. Thanks for your interest in this hub and for your comment too.

    • TrL91 profile image

      TrL91 8 years ago

      Thanks for the great hub. I am thinking about getting the book for my sister.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks! :)

    • profile image

      Twin XL 8 years ago

      Awwww, what a sweet hub. Plenty of great information too, thanks!

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks Shirl, I'll need that shouldar to cry on. Your a friend indeed.

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wow! Congratulations!! You must be very proud of your little girl, Dottie.

      You can cry on my shoulder the day she starts school, if you want.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      ya think Shirley? With 24,000 other students I won't have to worry about her being lonely, thats the good news! The other good news is she got the John and Abigail Adams scholarship which pays her four year tuition FREE!!! Y E S!!!!!

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Dottie, why do I have the feeling that Tracey will have an easier time than you when she leaves for school? :)

      Great hub, Dottie!

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      My daughter's crazy dorm life begins in just two weeks. Her college stuff has taken over my house and I can't wait to have breathing space again. Thanks 02SmithA for stopping by and appreciating this hub.

    • 02SmithA profile image

      02SmithA 9 years ago from Ohio

      Nice work on this hub Dottie! Dorm life can be crazy but its also very healthy.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Maylinda. Good luck with scholarship searching. Don't give up, there are lots of them out there.

    • Maylinda Arons profile image

      Maylinda Arons 9 years ago

      If, and only if, I get my much-needed scholarship, I may have to buy myself this book. Thanks for putting up this hub, now I know what to look for!

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks for stopping by cgull8m. This book really has answered alot of my daughters questions that she was unsure of.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub, I wish I had this when I went to college :)

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Thankyou dayzeebee for stopping by and commenting with such kindness.

    • dayzeebee profile image

      dayzeebee 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      hi dottie. this is one hub done with much love and concern. your children are fortunate to have a mom like you. good job on this hub. thumbs up.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      I agree glassvisage, a bit of preparation and the right resources can make a world of difference to your college experience. After reading the book my daughter feels very confident to start college. She said the book was exactly what she needed. Thanks for stopping by.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California

      I always think it's so sad when people don't get the chance to live in a dorm... It's such a great experience, or it can be if you have the right support and resources, perhaps like the book? Great hub.