While academic challenges are part of the college experience, living on-campus is yet another hurdle new students face. Living away from home is exciting and can also be cause for apprehension.
Schools are keenly aware of these changes and have professionally trained staff living in the residence halls. They are there to help with the transition from home to college. They plan programs and community-building events to teach you skills about college and introduce you to other students. Residence Life staff want you to succeed and are there for you.
Experts at William Peace University in Raleigh regularly answer incoming freshmen’s most pressing questions about living on campus. Bobbie Denise Cole, director of residence life and housing; Kela Farmer, area coordinator; and Jess Hamrick, area coordinator, offer their advice:
What are the best ways to adapt to college life? Get involved. Attend clubs and organization fairs, campus welcome events and any residence hall programs on your floor or in your community. Joining clubs and organizations that match your interests can be great ways to become integrated in the campus community. Connect with instructors and advisors during their office hours or special lectures and events.
How do I meet new people at college? The best way to meet new people is to venture outside of your room. Don’t be afraid to start up a new conversation with classmates – almost everyone is as nervous as you are. Talk with hall-mates and your resident adviser/assistant. RAs are upperclassmen student leaders on your hall and are there to welcome you into the community. They are especially trained to build community on their floor. Support them by attending their events or helping them set up for one.
What do I do when I’m homesick? Most freshmen will feel homesick at one time or another – it’s normal and temporary. Rather than go home, try to stay and connect with your roommate and hall-mates. Stay active by reading, going for a walk, studying, working out and grabbing a meal with new friends. Call, text or Facetime with your family and tell them about your new life – they’ll appreciate hearing from you, and it will help you feel connected to home.
Are there ways to make sure I get along with my roommate? Once you move-in, the residence life staff will ask you and your roommate to complete a roommate agreement. This document provides an opportunity to talk about habits, expectations, likes and dislikes. You can talk about appropriate times to have guests in the room, bedtime routines, room cleanliness and any other concerns. Come to the conversation with an open mind and ready to communicate openly.
What if I try everything and my roommate and I just can’t get along? What do I do? It would be great if every roommate pairing was a match made in heaven, but residence life staff understand this is not always the case. If you run into a disagreement with your roommate and don’t see a way to work it through, you can refer to the roommate agreement. It might be a reminder to what was agreed upon, or the document might need adjustments. Your RA is also available to walk you through how to talk with your roommate or can serve as a moderator for the discussion.
What’s it like in a residence hall with a shared bathroom and living space? There’s an adjustment period because it’s new, but with respect and open communication, you’ll do just fine. It’s an opportunity to build close relationships with new people – some who will become lifelong friends. This gives you the chance to learn about new cultures and religions. It allows you to build skills such as conflict resolution, team building and networking.
Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. In her former life, she worked in Student Life at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @morethanVMI.