5 Things No One Tells You About Dorm Life

{From Bailey, Precariosities’ Director of Content}


Before I started college, I couldn’t stop thinking about how excited I was to move out. Every time I visited someone who was actually in college, it all just seemed like bliss. I craved “Dorm Life.” It would be like a permanent vacation, right?

Not exactly.

If you’re preparing to move out of the house for college, please don’t psych yourself up for a permanent vacation. It is not.

The problem about the anticipation of dorm life is this: Everyone gives you the same advice. People talk about dorm life as if it is a rite of passage for all young college students. Maybe it is. But I, personally, don’t think we should summarize it with a bunch of blanket statements.

“You’ll miss home cooking.” (Truth)
“Everyone on your hall will feel like family.” (Exaggeration)
“It’s never boring.” (False)

With this in mind, I have made a small list. (I like lists. Please anticipate lots from me. I should put that in my bio.) (Kelly and I are clearly on the same wavelength because we both love to abuse parentheses.)

In said list, I compiled five pieces of advice I wish someone had given me before I moved into college. Hopefully they find their way into someone’s brain and end up being useful…

1) There will not be enough room for that chair you bought.


I know it’s hard. Dorm décor is just so necessary, right? You need a comfy chair to read on (or play video games or sleep on). There’s one small problem, though. I’m sorry, honey, but it’s not gonna fit. I don’t know where you thought you were going to be able to put the chair you bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but it just is not going to work out. I hope you kept the receipt. Pick that chair up. Turn around. Walk out the door. Put it back in your mom’s car. It’s going to hurt, but you have to do it quick, okay? Like a Band-Aid. You have exactly four square feet in your room to fit ALL OF YOUR LIFE’S POSSESSIONS. It is unfair and cruel and honestly probably not even legal. But darling, that’s dorm life. Good luck.

2) You will smell your neighbor’s burnt popcorn.


At 1:00 a.m. When you are trying to go to sleep because you have a class at 8:00. Why in the name of Orville Redenbacher is someone MAKING POPCORN AT THIS HOUR? The world will never know, but good gosh you will smell that stuff from six doors down. And it isn’t just a quick whiff either. Burnt popcorn lingers. It makes your nostrils tingle.

On a slightly more positive note, you will also smell perfectly good popcorn at any given hour of the day, and one of the perks of dorm life is the whole “yours, mine, and ours” policy. (Which means you can go in without knocking and request a portion of whatever it is you want.)

Which leads me to…

3) Someone will come ask for your toilet paper.


Yours, mine, and ours, right? I’m speaking mostly to girls here because we go through toilet paper like it’s water. It’s just so thin at college. They don’t buy Cottonelle or Charmin. No ma’am. So you’re going to run out right quick. And so will all your neighbors.

Which means if there is even ONE EXTRA ROLL IN ALL THE DORM, someone is going to find it. It’s probably in your cabinet because you’re trying to be proactive. But let’s be honest. No one wants to walk all the way to the desk where they provide free TP. So instead people go from door to door asking for that extra roll.

And you know what? You’re going to give it away, because next week that door-knocker is probably going to be you—and someone will return your favor.

Dorm life. What goes around comes around, ya feel me? In the best way.

We’re on the topic of bathrooms, so let’s stick with it:

4) You will lose all bathroom-related inhibitions.


“I will never ever be able to pee in front of anyone ever.”

I lied. I really lied. Last year, I shared a bathroom with three girls. This year, I share one with four. When I wake up before my morning class, I really have to pee, okay? So if there’s someone in the bathroom putting on their make-up right next to the toilet… well, they’re not paying any attention to me anyway.

And this is a common occurrence. So if you’re thinking you’re going to get the bathroom to yourself for an hour in the morning so you can do your little thing… Well, I hate to be the one who bursts your bubble, but it just probably isn’t going to happen. My sincerest apologies. If you’re not up for losing all your dignity in the bathroom, don’t participate in dorm life.

The good news is this whole ordeal will also help you be significantly more comfortable going to the bathroom in public places. (I can count on two hands the times I went pee during the day in grade school—and one of those times was in my pants because I tried too hard to hold it until I got home. That is not the case anymore, thankfully.)

Now, finally—last but not least:

5) There will be at least one experience involving ELEPHANTS WHO LIVE ABOVE YOU.


Okay. I’m cool. Sorry I flipped, Rick.


This is probably one of the parts of dorm life I have found the least resolution in. It’s not every night, but the ceilings are thinner than the toilet paper, so it is really hard to go to sleep when it sounds like a herd of elephants are playing jump rope.

The weirdest part is whenever I actually asked the aforementioned elephants if they were jumping, they insisted they were not. So the mystery remains as to who the heck is tromping around above my head.

But it’s okay. Because it’s just dorm life.

It might not be a blissful vacation, but for these years of my life it is home.

If it’s about to be your home (or if it already is), I hope you love it. These years don’t have to be the best of your life, but for now—this is the normal.

Best of luck as you navigate the love-hate relationship that is dorm life.

Before you go:

What do you know about dorm life now that you wish you’d known before you moved in? What do you not know about dorm life that you want to know?



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