Everyone’s college experience is different, including what they worry about as first-time students at university. While one student might be concerned about picking the right classes, another might be focusing on making a good first impression with what they wear.

However, if there is one thing that many first-time college students often have in common, it’s learning how to settle into dorm life. For many, moving into a dorm in college can be a huge change and even culture shock from what they are used to.

As such, it’s important to make sure you are not only choosing the right dorm housing to move into but also establishing a new routine that allows you to feel more comfortable living a new college life. Below, we’ll dive into a few tips to help you prepare for college and settle more easily into your new dorm life.

1. Choose the Right Housing

First, many colleges offer various dorm housing options for new students, and it’s important to research all the dorms to make sure you are picking the right one for you. Not all dorms offer the same experience, after all, and many accommodate based on your age, school level, and experiences.

This is mainly because your housing can play a significant part in your college experience. Your first dorm can even set a precedent for how you live for the rest of your college career and even your young adult life.

Some dorms might even cater to certain interests, like a dorm that primarily houses a lot of students that play sports or a dorm that houses mostly art students or music majors. Gender-inclusive housing has also become increasingly popular as more students seek a more safe and more supportive space that welcomes their gender identity. There are even now many campuses that are offering gender-inclusive dorms for those that want to live in a more safe and supportive space no matter their gender identity.

Whatever housing option you choose, make sure you feel safe and comfortable, which is crucial to your ability to thrive as a new college student.

2. Create a Budget

Many college students move into a dorm and suddenly become overwhelmed with their own living expenses and other financial worries. Budgeting is not always talked about as these students prepare for college, but it should be. It can help you have a much better experience in your first year in the dorms, especially if you have limited funds to spend on student meals and social activities.

If you don’t want to end up stuck in your dorm all the time because you’ve blown through your money and can’t go out and enjoy yourself, budgeting is a good idea. Budgeting can also help you better allocate your funds for buying things that you need for your dorm to make it more comfortable and livable.

3. Develop a Routine

College is an exciting life achievement and time period for many students. In college, you get to expand your learning horizons and build connections with your peers you’ll build for years to come. With all of these experiences to be had, it’s no wonder that the stereotypical college student is often accompanied by energy drinks or a full pot of hot coffee. However, new college students need to be mindful of still getting enough sleep.

Creating healthier sleep habits in college, like creating a bedtime routine that helps you wind down, not only ensures you are getting enough sleep so you are rested and alert in your classes but also can help you settle more comfortably into your new dorm.

Many students find it hard to sleep in a new dorm as it’s a drastic change from where they used to live and sleep. However, creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help you better acclimate to your new sleeping arrangement and your new schedule.

4. Make it Your Own

Although dorm life has changed over the years, there is no one right way to live in a dorm. Dorm life is often what you make it, and students who often take control of their lives and make their dorm life their own by fitting it to their own needs often have better college experiences.

Of course, there might still be certain housing rules that you have to follow, like quiet hours that you can come and go and what you are allowed to have in your dorm. Other than that, though, you can customize your dorm experience to your liking. For many, this means decorating your space based on your unique style, personality, and needs. Doing so can allow you to have a more enjoyable experience at college and enable you to feel more comfortable and settled in your new life.

6. Get Involved and Socialize

To settle in properly and get the most out of your college experience, you should socialize and get involved with your college campus community. It might seem contradictory at first, but if you hole yourself in your dorm all the time, you might end up feeling lonely. If you do it often enough, you may develop negative feelings about your new life living in a dorm. If you put yourself out there and socialize with your peers in your dorm, however, it can help you create more positive associations with living in student housing.

Don’t be afraid to leave your dorm door open so you can more easily meet people. Walk around the halls yourself and see what others are up to. You may even want to look into any campus events your dorm may be hosting — many college dorms have social spaces to hang out, socialize, and network with others.

Final Thoughts: Know Where to Go For Help if You Need It

Moving away from home can be stressful, overwhelming, and even a bit scary for some new college students. But the listed tips above can help you have a more positive experience and feel more settled.

If you find you are struggling as a new college student, don’t be afraid to seek out help if these tips don’t work for you. Many college campuses offer services to help students settle into their new life. This includes admission coaching, academic and financial aid help, or just general counseling for support and guidance.

Remember, your new life as a college student and your life in the dorms is what you make of it. So if you are struggling, there are likely services on campus that can offer you the help you need to have a more enjoyable experience.

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