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Dorm Life: The Good, The Bad, The Horribly Ugly

Updated on July 2, 2011

Dorming in College: Do You Want To?

Living in a dorm is like living in an apartment. Well, it's like living in an apartment where almost every tenant is a loud, reckless, dirty teenager. While living in a dorm, you'll be disgusted, you'll lose sleep, and you'll definitely wish you had never even went to college. However, there's something magical about sticking such a diverse group of kids together, and the whole experience is almost kind of fun - if you know what to expect from the very beginning. Whether you'll be living in a dorm by choice or not, you're going to regret it if you don't make the most of it!

Items you may not think to bring...

Bring these things!

You can find basic check-off lists for what to bring with you almost anywhere, but there are some obscure things you might want to bring along also. These are some things that I found myself going out and buying after I had moved in and wish I would have thought about before the move.

-> A bug-killer spray, such as Raid. Some dorms have a nasty problem with ants, spiders, or roaches, and you definitely are going to want to have something on hand to attack the little buggers with.

-> A seat-cushion. Most dorms come with a desk and a chair, but the chairs aren't always that comfortable. If you're going to be sitting at the desk to study and do work, you're definitely going to want something to cushion your bottom.

-> Vitamin C. With so many people living so close to each other, it's really easy to get sick. If you take a vitamin everyday, your chances of getting sick are reduced. Trust me, you'll have a lot on your plate with papers and study groups and a social life, you definitely don't want any time taken away from that because you're sick! (Plus, not being in the comfort of your own home with your mom there to comfort you is kind of a nasty shock. Avoid!)

-> A game that a lot of people can play at once. Games are a great way to get to know your classmates and neighbors - rainy days will mean a lot more people meandering about the dorm lounge and halls, looking for something to do. I suggest something quick and easy like MadGab or Uno.

Your New Neighbors

You might love them, or you might want to crush their skulls every time you see them.

On that fateful move-in day when you're saying goodbye to your parents and getting everything unpacked and put away, it's a good idea to leave your door open so you can see and talk to all your new neighbors who will be passing by your door. You never know; one of your new neighbors might be your new best friend for the rest of your life, and/or one might possibly become the person you hate more than anything else. Either way, you're stuck with 'em for about the next nine months, so you need to know how to deal with any situation that you could find yourself in.

In order to establish a good relationship with your neighbors, it is AMAZINGLY important to remain courteous and respectful of those around you. That means don't blare your music after "quiet hours" are in effect, don't yell in the stairwell, or anything else that is pretty much common sense when it comes to common courtesy. I had a dorm neighbor who actually went out for the night and left music blaring in her room, and therefore had ruined any chance of friendship with the people who lived around her because they had to listen to Usher's U Got It Bad on repeat for five hours blaring from the inside of the empty room right in the middle of the hall. True story. If you show respect to your neighbors, they're going to be more likely to show respect to you.

If you come into a situation where there is tension between you and a new neighbor, you're really going to benefit from being as non-combative as possible. Start by trying to talk to them in a reasonable tone and resolve things peacefully. Sometimes this doesn't always work or isn't possible - that's fine, it's college, not everyone is going to get along. You don't have to like everybody and not everybody has to like you. Let it roll off your shoulders and continue focusing on class and having a supportive friend group. Getting caught up in drama - especially drama at the place you sleep at night - is only going to add unnecessary stress to your life. If somebody or something is making you uncomfortable, go to your R.A. and talk to them about what you're dealing with; they are trained to handle these situations.

Common Dorming Mistakes

Dorming can be fun but there IS a lot that can go wrong. Read ahead for ways to avoid nasty mistakes that can make dorm life miserable.

  • Wasting your money: Whether you work for your money, or get an allowance from your parents, cherish your cash flow like it's a non-renewable resource. Sure, it's tempting to blow it all on dance club admission and midnight-runs to Taco Bell, but resist the urge! Save your pennies and only allow yourself to spend a small sum every week. Take advantage of the cafeteria and free events around campus. Buy your textbooks online to save tons of cash. You will really thank yourself later if you think smart today!
  • Spending too much time inside: Sure, your dorm hall may be really awesome and you may never really see the need leave (excluding for classtime, of course) but don't spend too much time in your dorm. Even if your class load requires a lot of study time and intense focus, find a secluded spot on campus to study every once in a while. If you look at the same walls - no matter how awesome you decorated them - for too long, you'll be going crazy by the end of the semester.
  • Disregarding the rules: Even though you're away from your parents, there ARE still rules you must follow. Don't disobey any rules or guidelines that your R.A. lies down; they're there for a reason and you don't want to face any consequences (like being kicked out!) because you failed to adhere to one rule.

Decorating Drab Dorm Walls

Quick and cheap ways to personalize blank, brick walls!

There's a lot of ways to make the walls in your dorm colorful without ever having to spend a dime. For instance, you can do a name collage. It's easy to do, and it looks great. Just trace the letters of your name block-style on plain white paper, and cut them out. You might want to use big letter stencils in order to make the letters perfect and uniform. They can be as big as you'd like, but remember that the bigger you cut the letters out, the more work it's going to be. After you have all the letters cut individually, cut phrases and small pictures out of magazines and paste them on the letters, collage-style. The end result looks fantastic.

Another thing you can do is use the Rasterbator to make your own poster using any image of your choice. The cool thing about the Rasterbator is that the images can be made as big or as little as you want them to be. The sky's the limit!

Go look in a pile of old magazines and pull out ads that look cool or pictures of your favorite celebrities. Use these to make a "wallpaper" above your bed or on your door. The variety will look really cool.

Christmas lights are another way to not only decorate your walls, but add a really good source of light. The fluorescent lights in dorm rooms are way too bright and harsh. You can arrange the lights in shapes.

Always decorate your dorm with accessories that define YOU as a person.

This will make for a glamorous, amazing room that everyone will envy! Don't get sidetracked with decorating with what you think other people will like - if you stay true to yourself, it'll all look awesome in the end.

The Dirty Stuff

Toilets and showers and trash, oh my!

If you're living in the dorm, interaction with the communal bathrooms and showers is pretty much inevitable. A little bit of effort from everyone, however, will keep all of these areas from getting out of hand and totally disgusting.

For instance, when you throw away paper towels after you wash your hands (which you always should, by the way), make sure they go into the trash - not the floor or the sink. Toilets should always be flushed after you use them (you'd be really surprised how many people make it into college without knowing how to flush.) After you shower, you should take a paper towel and grab the hair that accumulated on the drain and throw it away.

Make it a point to take out the trash pretty often, especially if there's food in there. You don't want to have food sitting around in your room all day - that's a definite way to attract bugs.

Don't let laundry accumulate too much. When you do it, make sure you sit in the laundry room until everything's finished. That way you can get your clothes out of the machines when they're done, and the flow goes a lot smoother for everyone else. I would suggest getting a little mesh bag that you can put all of your socks in while they wash so that none of them get separated or lost or stolen by the ever-so-popular Sock Monster.

As for showers, they're not as bad as on might think... I would advise against bars of soap, because if you drop it on the shower floor, you're definitely NOT going to want to rub it on your body. Liquid body wash works much, much better.

So should I dorm?

Ultimately, living in a dorm is totally worth all of the annoying, disgusting moments that you will inevitably encounter. You'll meet new people and more than likely, you'll look back on those times as being good ones. If you have the option: do it.

What do you think about dorming?!

If you dormed, would you recommend the experience to a friend?

Things For Your Dorm


If you got the opportunity to dorm, did you enjoy it?

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    • profile image

      Coopstar 5 years ago

      Great Lens. I had some really amazing times in my dorm, and I wish I could go back!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enjoyed it!

    • papawu profile image

      papawu 8 years ago

      Man, I remember those days. I lasted in the dorms for a whole semester before moving off campus. Not enough privacy and too many rules for my taste. I did learn how to get away with smoking pot in the dorm and that was about it.

    • x3xsolxdierx3x lm profile image

      x3xsolxdierx3x lm 8 years ago

      This lens is very well written :).....great job! :)

    • profile image

      memyselfnotu 8 years ago

      Well done!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      Hi! Just to let you know: You are one of Graduates from September 2008 Class! :)

    • profile image

      CubicleJoe 9 years ago

      I saw your lens on the Fresh Squid group. Anyway, I always thought living in a frat house is far worst than a dorm. I have seen some dorms that looked like hotels. But yes, there are some that are like roach hotels.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      This lens entered Fresh Squid Contest for October as one of the lenses that has been featured on Fresh Squid group during September!

    • ChrisLloyd profile image

      ChrisLloyd 9 years ago

      I have created a group called Everything Apartments. I would like to invite you to join.

      Everything Apartments

      There is an entire section devoted to helping people who want to improve life in an apartment (or a dorm). It would be great if you wanted to be a part of it. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great Lens! The collegiate and dorm experience is just such a unique experience, but boy I won't miss the bathrooms!

    • Angelina Howard profile image

      Angelina Howard 9 years ago

      Fun Lens! Great job on the content. Can say I have never read anything like it. Good luck to you! 5*****

    • stoetzels lm profile image

      stoetzels lm 9 years ago

      Dorm Life...has a lot to offer...preparing you to live independently away from the mom and dad routine.

    • MatCauthon profile image

      MatCauthon 9 years ago

      Whoa! I spent 3 years in dorm. The memories are priceless...

      eBay at its Finest!

    • profile image

      marketmasteryblog 9 years ago

      Makes me almost wish I had stayed in a dorm... lol!

    • profile image

      ParentCoachGTD 9 years ago

      I loved dorm life. Great lens for getting people ready. Well done. Like the ideas for the games too to break the ice and get some good conversations going.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Wow, great start for your squidoo career :)

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      Excellent lens! Glad that you joined Fresh Squid group! Got yourself one month featuring on group's page!

    • profile image

      rsoluri 9 years ago

      Yeahhhh dorms suckk!1!!

      Great lens, girl!

    • profile image

      rsoluri 9 years ago

      Yeahhhh dorms suckk!1!!

      Great lens, girl!

    • profile image

      rsoluri 9 years ago

      Yeahhhh dorms suckk!1!!

      Great lens, girl!

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 9 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      allposters would do well on this lens

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 9 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      Ughh, I remember the dorms, they are no place for studying, that's for sure. A dorm room is one step up in size and design from a prison cell. I was so happy to move into a house after a year in the dorms. Fun lens though =) 5*

    • profile image

      chloecavanaugh 9 years ago

      This rocks girl*****to you!


    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Oh, this is awesome!! Thanks for the info. I start college next year. This is something I could sink my teeth into. All the magazine articles I find on this are fluffy goop.

    • profile image

      sbucciarel 9 years ago

      Great lense. The Firestorm Forum is great for promoting your lenses and blogs. There's a very active Squidoo community there. Hope you check it out. I also have a lense about it at

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      A great first lens. You have made one of the best starts I have seen here and I would love to see you make more lenses.

      You have been Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • profile image

      Roy-Scribner 9 years ago

      This was a great idea for a lens; well done!

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 9 years ago

      What a great lens on dorm life. You need to make more lenses kristensup and give yourself some extra spending money! You do great lenses!

      Blessed, 5-starred, and favorited by a Squid Angel today! :)

      Colleen ~

    • triathlontraini1 profile image

      triathlontraini1 9 years ago

      Very nice lens! I lensrolled to my Cool Posters for college students lens. :)


    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      Ah, a terrific lens -- I know that dorm life has changed dramatically since I first went to college. I had an interesting roommate who used to knock on the ground floor window in the early am so that I would let her climb over my bed to get into the room. Hmmm, I wonder where she is today? 5*****

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      Barracks life in the military is much the same! Been there done that :) Rescued my nutty mate many a time from drowning in the tub...she'd come 'home' clatter around, disappear 'for hours', and I'd wake up with a start to find her slipping away to sleep in the tub across the hall...uhgg! Guess some of us know respect, others just, well, don't! Loved your take and thanks for letting me share.

      PS: Rock_the_Ice from a twitter post brought me here, just so you know.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      Barracks life in the military is much the same! Been there done that :) Rescued my nutty mate many a time from drowning in the tub...she'd come 'home' clatter around, disappear 'for hours', and I'd wake up with a start to find her slipping away to sleep in the tub across the hall...uhgg! Guess some of us know respect, others just, well, don't! Loved your take and thanks for letting me share.

      PS: Rock_the_Ice from a twitter post brought me here, just so you know.