College life as a freshman means new friends, fun parties and probably a few questionable decisions along the way. It also means packing up your life and downsizing to everything that will fit in a dorm room. But have no fear, smaller rooms do not equal less fun. Freshman year can be the best year of college, and that’s partially thanks to living in close quarters.
Here’s 10 reasons why living in the dorms as a freshman isn’t as bad as it is made out to be.
1. You can live across the hall from your best friend
The first day moving into your dorm room means moving into the room and the hallway you will call home for next nine months of your life. Although everyone starts as strangers, once everyone gets settled in and acquainted with each other, you’ll have to learn to live with each other. You’ve heard it before: Keep your door open. Pick up a door stop from Walmart and leave your door open for the first few weeks to invite conversations with your new neighbors. The guy from down the hall that always plays video games or the girls that haven’t ventured far out of their room yet will probably stop in and introduce themselves. Some of these introductions even turn into lifelong friends that will be part of your wedding someday. And these people all live 10 feet away from you. Netflix binges? Late night talks? A dining hall buddy? All just a few steps away.
2. Food is right downstairs
Living in a dorm building means you will probably buy a meal plan. Lucky students have a dining hall right downstairs. If not, the walk for food to your nearest dining hall is never far. Plus, not spending money out of pocket at every meal gives you more money to spend on miscellaneous things on the weekends. Not only is the food just downstairs, but you don’t have to worry about cooking it yourself. It might not be as good as mom’s home cooked meals, but you still don’t have to worry about learning how to cook like mom quite yet. Leave the meal prep to the chefs.
3. You find a community
Over the course of the year, the floor of your dorm building will go from a bunch of strangers to a family of people with completely different backgrounds. “I like the community and the fact that I get to meet so many people that will probably be lifelong friends,” said University of Iowa sophomore Jaylon Cotton. They become the people that you can always say “hey” to on the street, or tell you about a guy that they think you could get along with well, or find someone that tells you about a great job opportunity they think would suit you perfectly. A dorm building becomes its own small community. Communities take care of their members so you will never be alone.
4. You live Close to…Everything
A central dorm location makes all the difference in getting places, especially when mother nature decides to throw some temperature extremes into the mix. Your 8 a.m. class that you already dread will only be a five to 10 minute walk away, unlike those who live off campus in apartments. “I like how it is convenient and close to everything on campus,” said University of Iowa freshman Megan Connor. You are also close to any on-campus jobs that are available; living in the dorms can actually help making money easier and more convenient—a win-win situation.
5. No driving means no gas money
Make sure to buy some new tennis shoes before moving in because you’ll do more walking than you ever expected. But on a positive note, walking doesn’t cost money. No more worrying about having money for gas, because you will walk just about everywhere on campus instead of driving. “Back home I had to fill my car up every week but now I don’t have to worry about having money for gas,” said University of Iowa freshman Gabi Davis. You’ll spend less money out of pocket and have some toned legs by the end of the year.
6. You don’t have utility bills
University housing charges all get applied at the beginning of each semester so you don’t have to worry about them each month throughout the course of the year. The flat rate for housing includes everything in the dorms, like water, internet and electricity. In apartments and houses, you have to worry about paying these kinds of utility bills every month. Since you pay for everything in advance, you don’t need to stress about always turning lights off to save electricity for the electric bill—and anything that takes away stress in college is helpful.
7. You’ll spend less time cleaning
Although a smaller space means cramming all your clothes and 20 extra pairs of shoes into a closet half the size of yours from home, you also don’t have much space to clean. You only have to worry about your half of your tiny room—no kitchen, living room or dining room to worry about. You also don’t have to try and learn how to clean a bathroom because university staff cleans dorm room bathrooms on the daily. Communal bathrooms may not be the most glamorous, but the glamor comes from not having to clean them yourself.
8. You get a second closet
Anyone with siblings understands the upside to having a whole other person with a wardrobe full of clothes that just seem to be cuter than your own. In dorm buildings, all the girls or guys on your floor turn into your temporary siblings. When you don’t have the perfect shirt for a special occasion, the girl next door usually has one that you can snag for the night. “Me and a girl a few doors down from me always swap clothes on the weekend. On Saturday I wore one of her shirts and she wore one of mine actually,” said Connor.
9. You live like the movies
You truly cannot live the epitome of the college experience without taking on dorm living for at least a year. Watch any movie that has a college or university in it and you will see scenes in the dorms. While some of these scenes aren’t exactly realistic, the fun is 100 percent accurate. As a high school senior, you also always hear stories from the recent graduates about their roommate situations in the dorms and about making friends with your neighbors. You won’t relate to these stories by living in apartments or houses as a freshman, and you don’t want to miss out on all the fun.
10. You ease very gently into independence
As much as just about every high school student can’t wait to move away from mom and dad and begin their own life, independence sometimes comes with more stress than excitement. Independence means true #adulting and responsibilities. Dorm living lets you transition with a safety net. You can live away from the hovering parents, but with the supervision of RAs and other university staff. You have cooked meals ready for you and people looking out for you, but nobody tells you what to do all day everyday. Don’t want to go to class? Nobody is going to make you. Want to go workout? Nobody is going to stop you. You are able to do what you want, but still have a little bit of help from the university.