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The Real Education: Living In A Dorm

Though the biggest deciding factor for most college applicants is a college's academic reputation and course offerings, followed closely by the financial aid package that they are willing to offer to the applicant, once you arrive at your college, dorm life is what will have the biggest impact on your college experience. 

Before you set on foot, set yourself up for a happy dorm life by taking the time to carefully fill out the paperwork on your personality, study habits, and whether you are closer to early to rise, early to bed, or a night owl. Hopefully your future freshman roommate will do the same, so you will be living with someone compatible with you. If you have a friend or acquaintance attending the same college as you, and think that you can live with them, cheat the " dorm life roulette" of applications, by requesting that you are assigned to the same dorm room. The housing office at your college will be happy to accommodate your request, since it lowers the odds that you will be requesting a transfer by Winter Break. 

One of the hard truths about dorm life is that, with few exceptions, freshman dorm rooms are amongst the smallest on any college campus. This means that you and your new roommate will have to be creative to maximize the small amount of space given. Split the rental fee on your dorm room's combination microwave-refrigerator to save money and space. Another way to save space is to bunk your beds. For college students who did not have bunk beds as children, this may be their favorite part of dorm life . 

The educational part of dorm life , that often exceeds the impact that classroom instruction has, is when you go out of your dorm room and start to meet your neighbors living on the same floor or in the same building. Keep the door to your room propped open with a large container of candy and enjoy the meet-and-greet social aspect of dorm life . Most freshman dorms will host events to introduce their residents to each other. They range from game tournaments to mock-tail nights, but whatever your dorm is hosting, you should attend. 

A perk of dorm life is that you are on campus after class, which means that you can join the different sports teams and clubs that your college hosts. Take advantage of this perk by trying out a few different activities, and meet people with similar interests. Rather than spending your entire dorm life in your dorm, go to the library to study, visit the dining hall for dinner, and enjoy the unique small town atmosphere that college campuses are known for. 

Dorm life has many ups and downs. You will likely meet your best friend, and maybe even your spouse, during the wee hours of the night as you chat with other dorm residents... and have to wear shower shoes to take a shower in the morning. Don't worry, the upsides of dorm life far outweigh the inconveniences.

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