Transition to dorm life with confidence: Housing professionals offer tips for success


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Cassie Wade

For many students, starting college means moving away from home for the first time, which can result in mixed emotions. The prospect of becoming more independent is exciting but also presents new, nerve wracking challenges, like learning time management skills and how to live with new people.

Fortunately, students can ease some of their fears about move-in day by utilizing the following tips and tricks from seasoned university housing professionals and veterans.

According to University Village Residence Hall Director Ani Solomon, one of the biggest challenges students and their families face before move-in day is deciding what to pack.

“You need way less stuff than you think you do,” Solomon said. “Pinterest can run you astray. Often times students’ rooms are so packed you can’t open the door because they thought they needed to bring all this decorative stuff and furniture when they really don’t.”

Solomon recommends students take a week or two after moving in to figure out what they need for their dorm before “going wild” with decorations, electronics and kitchen appliances, especially since they will be sharing the common spaces with their roommates.

Senior medical chemistry major Savona Bateman, who has two years of residential assistant experience, recommends students communicate with their roommates before shopping for “major items like a toaster or shower curtain” to avoid ending up with duplicates.

According to UNO’s housing website, students typically receive their room placements and roommate
information early to mid July, which gives them about a month to plan out who will bring what. Students are also notified of their move-in dates during this time.

Move-in day can be stressful and hectic for students and their families, which is why Solomon advises students come “with a little bit of patience, a good attitude and an open mind.”

“There are going to be lines,” Solomon said. “Students should expect things to be a little busy, but there will be folks there to help you find your building, carry your things and help you with questions.”

One of the first things students will need to do once they arrive is fill out paperwork, including an emergency contact card with their name and NUID number before receiving their room key and information about upcoming housing events.

After lugging all of their belongings to their rooms, many students are ready to get their parents off campus as soon as possible. Sophomore social work major Mirae Deimel recommends students postpone their newfound independence for a few minutes and let parents help them unpack.

“You should let your parents help you settle in because it’s like the last send off,” Deimel said. “It’s the last thing you do together before you’re technically on your own.”

Packing can seem overwhelming at first, which is why Deimel, who is an Illinois native, recommends students put up pictures of their loved ones first when unpacking to help make their room “feel homey,” while Bateman recommends students unpack the most important items first.

“It’s easiest for me if I take it one box at a time,” Bateman said. “Once your clothes are in the closet and you have a bed to sleep on, it’s easy to set up posters and rearrange your room.”

As for tricks for settling into dorm life and combating homesickness, Solomon recommends students and their families limit contact for the first month so students can smoothly transition into a more independent lifestyle.

“The more a new student incorporates living on campus into their life, the better,” Solomon said. “It’s hard for students who go home on day one to ever feel comfortable or confident here… actually taking that leap and having some separation from your family can be really helpful.”

Besides helping students to become more independent, on-campus housing has been proven to help students have a more successful college career.

“Students who live on campus connect better with their universities and students who connect better with their universities stay until they graduate,” Solomon said. “You meet more people and form more personal connections, which will help you feel like campus is your home and the place to be.”