Going away to college is a chance for new grads to savor independence and broaden their experiences, but it's also a time that requires some adjustment.
"There's a whole education that goes on for the student outside of the classroom," said Pat Danylyshyn-Adams, resident dean of John Muir College at UCSD.
Much of that education comes through living away from home. No longer are living quarters called dorms; now they're residence halls or just plain apartments.
In the past, university officials paired up based on interests.
Now, Danylyshyn-Adams said many colleges have gone to a computerized system, while others allow students to choose their own roommates.
Most residence halls open to incoming students a few days before classes begin.
"We want you here as early as you can get here," Danylyshyn-Adams said, adding that it's usually best if parents help their child move in, take them out for a nice lunch and then hit the road.
"Students are concerned about making friends, belonging. If you have a parent hanging around, that's really hard for them to do."
Most rooms provide the basics: bed, closet, desk and chair, chest of drawers and bookshelves. More and more universities are also including hook-ups for cable and Internet.
A pre-move-in visit to the residence hall, if it can be worked out, will give students an idea of how much space is available and if extra supplies - a reading lamp, storage bins, etc.- are needed.
To provide all the comforts of home, many students bring TVs, mini-refrigerators and microwaves.
Communicating beforehand with a new roommate can help to plan who is bringing what and can save some money.
Comfort a good thing
Choosing a few personal items to help students feel comfortable in their new surroundings often helps. Photos, one item from a treasured collection or a handmade quilt will transform the dorm room into their room.
"We want them to be comfortable; we want them to be successful," Danylyshyn-Adams said.
Overpacking is a common mistake, said professional organizer Kathi Burns of add Space To Your Life!
"(Students) don't really understand how small a space they have," she said. "I think a good rule of thumb is to take what you need up to winter break."
Both Burns and Danylyshyn-Adams recommended that students bring a footlocker or storage bin that can be secured to stow valuables such as computers, jewelry and personal papers.
While a roommate may be trustworthy, his study partners or new friends may not be, Danylyshyn-Adams said.
Staying organized is one of the biggest challenges for many young adults living away from home for the first time, noted Burns.
Providing a daily planner, file folders, a bulletin or message board, and address book with important phone numbers will help students stay on top of their busy schedules.
Frequently overlooked supplies
- surge protector
- office supplies
- iron or steamer
- alarm clock
- first aid kit
- removable hooks
- sewing kit
- clothes hamper or laundry basket