HOW TO SURVIVE: Your Dorm Room

I spent the last two years in a cramped dorm room, and I’m currently on my way to making it three years. While this year’s dorm is a slight step up in the world, it’s still, in essence, a dorm. It’s a widely accepted fact that living in a dorm blows. Sure, sometimes you luck out and get a freakishly nice dorm room. But most of the time they’re going to be old, cramped, and gross. You live, you learn, you adapt. Survival of the fittest people. You don’t go to college to get more knowledge. You go to college to learn how to survive, how to adapt, and how to deal with shitty people and shitty situations.


1.    Be a dick.

Come move in day, kick your parents in the rump and get there as early as possible. I know this is difficult; my parents (God bless them) are the slowest moving people on earth. But trust me, it’s worth it. This will give you an advantage over your roommate and let you pick the most desirable side of the room. Hog that window wall all you can. If you can’t get there early enough and your roommate hogs it, come up with some made up medical excuse as to why you need to be next to the window. Panic attacks or emphysema or something. If all else fails, wait a few weeks, pretend to get really depressed, and say you have S.A.D.

I know it sounds crazy, but being by the window seriously makes all the difference. Natural light will make you happier and healthier, and being able to have control over when the window is open can make a cramped, smelly room so much larger.

Exception: If the window side is really cramped and has no space and the non window side gives your more room to function. Pick your space wisely though.

2.    Christmas lights.


Yeah, it’s totally cliché. But it’s cliché for a reason. Hanging up Christmas lights in your room is just a good idea. It makes the room cozier and lends it a touch of personality. It also works as a great alternative to disgusting fluorescent lighting. It’s not as harsh, so that way when your asshole roommate stays up until 4, you don’t have to try to get to sleep with the overhead light on. (Or vice versa, if you’re that asshole roommate). Some schools can be super strict about lights, but most will allow them, as long as you can easily turn them off when you leave the room.

Exception: The Budweiser lights are never a good idea guys.

3.    Don’t be the smelly kid.

My freshman year, my roommate was a disgusting pig (if you’re reading this, love you girl!). She never cleaned the room once, and I saw her desk once the entire year (orientation week). I had to clean a trail through her side just to get to the door. It was infuriating and disgusting to be around.


So I can’t stress this enough: keep the room clean. All those obnoxious studies show that people sleep more restfully when they’re in a clean room. A cluttered and messy room makes the space seem that much smaller than it already is. It’s hard to concentrate in a huge mess too. You’re in college, so you’re going to need as much restful sleep as possible.

Also, don’t bring a ton of dishes- the more dishes there are, the more likely they are to pile up. (Here’s looking at you, sophomore year roommate. Love you girl!)

Actively cleaning will give you a good study break that will also help you feel like you’re still being productive. Make sure to get a big kid trashcan though- none of those wimpy ass little ones. Little ones fill up fast, and then the trash just sits there.  Also, it’s okay to be cluttered though. I also know a girl who is so freakishly sterile that her room looks like a mental institution. Clutter adds character; garbage and dirty laundry add gnats.

4.    Buy a mattress pad…or three.

Unless you’re one of those people who likes to sleep on a firmer mattress. If you are, then ignore this post and skip to the next one. If you’re a normal person though, then trust me. Get a mattress pad. Or like three foam toppers. They’re pretty cheap, and they’re so unbelievably worth it. Your bed will be unbelievably comfortable. The only downside is that you’ll come back from class and find random friends asleep in your bed. That gets really obnoxious.

5.    Spend Your Money Wisely

Dorm shit is expensive: so choose wisely. Get cheap school supplies- it’s not grade school, you don’t need specialized folders, and quite frankly, you won’t have time to care. (Make sure to get good pens though. That shit’s important.) (Some people will disagree with me on this one. But places like 5 below and Target will have cheap supplies that still have some personality).

Splurge on nice sheets and comforter. Don’t just get the cheap Walmart pack because it’s cute. That shit is itchy and it gets super hot in the summer but inexplicably is freezing in winter. Get nice cotton sheets and something comfy. Your time in your bed will be your favorite part of the day: make it worth it. Get a rug, but don’t spend too much- it’ll get disgusting really fast, and chances are you won’t have a vacuum, so you’ll end up lint rolling it a lot of the time. Don’t splurge on wall decorations. Your school will usually have poster sales, or you can find pictures you like online and get them printed at a place like CVS or Don’t underestimate the awesomeness of magazines.

6.    Suck up to the RA.

Don’t be the obnoxious kid who bakes them cookies and constantly shows up at their door to talk, but being friendly and getting in their good graces is going make life so much easier for you. Also, establishing yourself as a kid who’s not gonna cause trouble is going to make it so much easier for you when you DO cause trouble. Also, if you have too many posters up or you have an illegal tapestry, they’re more likely to let it go.

See Also
woman in yellow jacket holding books

exception:  some RA’s are just assholes. It’s just a thing.

7.    Don’t be afraid to leave your room.

I don’t mean this in the whole “get out there and make friends thing!” I mean it more like, “your roommate is going to drive you crazy and you’re going to want to kill them, so make sure to leave your room so you don’t get kicked out because of homicide.” You live in such a close space with a person for so long, that even your favorite person on earth is going to annoy you. Make it a habit to spend a certain amount of time each day out of the dorm. It’ll give you a good break from your roommate, which will make you less likely to kill them. Also, your roommate is probably going to need a break from you as well, so it’s a win-win for both of you. Even if you just go to a study room and watch Netflix, it’s worth it to get out every now and then.

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to read this list, and then not remember any of it or follow any of my advice. Maybe that’s going to work really well for you. But most likely you will wake up one day and have to fish a huge wad of hair and shampoo and unidentifiable large objects from your shower. And on that day, you’re going to remember this article and think “that bitch was right. Cleaning is important.”


[divider] [/divider]

Learned anything useful from your dorm time? Comment and let us know, and maybe we’ll add it in!

*All photos are of my dorm room. Thank you to my roommate for letting me post that embarassing photo of you. Dear readers, the last picture was taken after a vicious battle between two girls and one silverfish. Many (one) lives were lost that night.


View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top