Living with your new college roommate will be the first big test of your ability to adapt to challenges and exist in the adult world. You and your roommate are, after all, different individuals with separate histories, different likes and dislikes, and sometimes distinctly different ways of doing things.
Whether you choose to live with an existing friend or to take your chances with a new face, sharing space with another who is your equal, not just a little brother or sister, will be a whole new world. As a result, living in peace is a goal that can sometimes seem out of reach. Short of giving up and finding another roommate, and possibly going through the same ordeal all over again, there are ways to work together and make the situation livable.
For example, if your roommate will be someone you’ve never met before, it would be to your advantage to communicate with them prior to arriving at the dorm or apartment. See what details of life you can share with each other. Get to know their major likes and dislikes and something of their life experiences so there will be fewer surprises.
In addition, consider these helpful hints for making the most of the roommate situation:
• Set rules – There needn’t be a written contract, but you should make it a point to settle some ground rules before the sun sets on your first day together. Some of these may entail study time, lights–out time, when guests are permitted to come over, bathroom schedules, and so forth. Set out where you will each keep your belongings and do your best to stick to the agreement.
• Show respect – This means more than respecting someone else’s belongings and space. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is particularly important in a roommate situation. You may not always, or even often, agree. But you will go a long way to maintaining peace if you respect your roommate’s opinions and decisions as you would want yours to be respected.
• Be helpful – As part of your ground rules, you will have probably divided up chores. But be open to helping out when needed. If your roommate is overloaded with school work, for example, offer to take on some extra duties. Or quietly take your leave so they can study without interruptions. You can then expect the same consideration in return.
• Communicate – Above all, don’t let problems fester by trying to ignore them to avoid confrontation. The two of you should be able to nip problems in the bud if you discuss them calmly instead of letting them build until they become poisonous to your arrangement. If one of you is slacking off on cleaning or sharing living costs, for example, it’s better to shed light on the subject and reinforce your cohabitation agreement.
Taking on life with a college roommate can be a test of your patience and understanding. But using some insights you’ve probably learned from your parents can go a long way to making that life easier.
Given all the decisions and choices to make in beginning a college career, one you may prefer to leave up to the luck of the draw and your school’s housing office is the choice of a roommate. But, if you do have the opportunity to make the choice yourself, there are some things to consider before deciding between living with a friend or someone new.
The choice between a BFF or a stranger is deeply personal and, of course, depends on the individuals and the situation involved. Is this future roommate a true friend or just someone you know from school? How much can you find out about the newcomer before you settle in together?
Here are some positives and negatives to consider with both situations:
• Pro friend – Obviously, the first thing to recommend a friend as roommate is familiarity. You are friends because you share something: a history, a hobby, or other interest. The familiarity can also ease homesickness. And you have a built-in friend as you get to know new people and your new surroundings, so you can approach the college experience as a team.
• Con friend – Living together is different from sleeping over or meeting up. This is when you’ll find out if your friend’s habits could be enough to test your friendship and perhaps even mean the end of it. If you are a neat freak and your good friend is a slob, it could become a serious issue, although it obviously didn’t matter before. Talking these things out should be easier with a friend. And there can be enough time to make other living arrangements before a final break is inevitable. But, before making a final decision to room with your friend, ask seriously if it is worth the possibility of losing that friend.
• Pro stranger – Living with a stranger automatically takes away the danger of losing a good friendship should cohabitation prove difficult. At the same time, it could be the perfect chance to make a new, trusting friendship because you will get to know and hopefully work through any personal disagreements that living together exposes. And, setting ground rules ahead of time will be less likely to hurt anyone’s feelings.
• Con stranger – Not knowing the person you are to room with means you are left to the whims of fate as to whether you can get along. You could be complete opposites in personality and outlooks. Your roommate could be an extrovert with friends coming over all the time, while you prefer a night with a good book. Or they could stay up late, while you are an early riser.
There is no certain answer to the question of whether it would be better to room with a person you know or take your chances. Just be aware of what is at stake, both pro and con, in the realm of maintaining or creating friendships.Continue Reading The Best College Roommate: Friend or Stranger?
Not all the education offered at colleges and universities is confined to the ivy-covered halls and classrooms. Learning about life away from the nest and coping on your own are major lessons that come from the college experience.
Possibly the first and most daunting lesson comes in learning to live with others, particularly if you are going to be living in a dormitory. This type of sharing is far different from life at home, even if you shared a room with a younger sibling. Here you will be in a community of equals, with only a resident assistant – another college student – to turn to in times of conflict.
In a dorm, you will not only be sharing where you sleep, change clothes, and study. You also will be waiting for your turn in the showers and to use the communal washer and dryer. Depending on the setup, you could be sharing an oven and refrigerator with several dozen people.
Imagine the students with whom you attend high school. Now imagine living with them – friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike – from morning to night and on weekends. That’s when you truly get to know the habits of others, particularly the annoying ones.
So, in order to survive dorm life, a resident must cultivate patience. After all, you probably have annoying habits, too.
There are other, more practical tips that can smooth the rough edges of life among equally uncertain residents. Consider these:
• Personal property – Unless you absolutely can’t live without it, it’s best to leave your most valuable or valued possessions at home with Mom and Dad. Concerning what you do bring: Label everything so there will be no question of ownership. This could mean sewing in labels, using a marker, or even using an etching pen on bicycles or other metal items. It’s not that your dorm mates are thieves. But things have a habit of finding their way from room to room, only to be left behind, forgotten.
• Cleanliness – Remember what your mother said and clean up after yourself, particularly in a shared bathroom. Consider the one using the room after you. Respect your roommate’s space and keep your clothes and accessories in your area. That also will lessen the risk of misplacing valuables.
• Rules – On the subject of roommates, it would be best to contact them before heading to college to find out about them and their likes and dislikes. You can also start laying out a list of ground rules concerning lights–out times, guests, study times, and the like. This might be easier to do by email than face-to-face.
• Openness – Leave your dorm room door open whenever you can. This indicates you’re friendly and available for chats or to help with homework or other problems. It can also open yourself up to making new, lasting friendships.
Dorm living can be not only survivable, but can be one of the more entertaining and educational of your college experiences. Just approach it with a few rules and a lot of patience.Continue Reading Dorm Life: Learning to Share
First time away from home? No parents anxiously awaiting your return after a night out or checking that you have finished your homework? Welcome to college.
The sense of freedom can be incredible – as is the terrifying thought that you may have bitten off more than you can chew.
Not in the mood for that early lecture. So, stay in bed.
Feel like having a bender on a Friday night? It’s okay.
Yes, in many ways this is college life – and a part of growing up – but it can be hard to strike a balance if you are away from home for the first time ever. Getting into destructive habits can take a toll on your education, affecting your health and mental well-being.
The exact reverse would be the students who take their work too seriously, missing out on the social opportunities inherent in campus life. Leaving college with a degree and none of the connections and memories so valuable to a well-rounded person is almost as though you haven’t fully explored your education.
Here are a few things to do to make sure you enjoy the most positive experience possible throughout college:
• Stay healthy – Eat properly, get enough sleep and remain fit. All of these will ensure you can perform physically and mentally – even when if you party hard over the weekends. Making sure your body is able to recover from the campus life challenges you throw at it will ensure you can keep up with all other aspects of college.
• Do what you need to do – Remember that the primary reason you are at college is to get a degree. Your entire future is based upon your education and, financially, you are probably already in debt up to your ears. Make sure you stay on top of your classes and assignments. Put in the hours and attend your lectures. If you know you are working and putting forth adequate effort, you won’t feel guilty taking the time out to play.
• Minimize risky behavior – Being placed in a position where you need to make adult decisions doesn’t necessarily mean you will make the right choices. It’s alright to make mistakes – that’s what college is all about, but try to ensure that any of these activities won’t affect you negatively in the long run. Stay safe and remember that you will need to live with your actions.
• Socialize – Make new friends, join clubs, play team sports. Your college experience is about so much more than a degree. A good education is also about the life lessons that you gain during your college years; lessons which will be with you for life. Choose close friends carefully, yet be friendly and open with others, so you can have a wide range of acquaintances.
Finding the balance between work and play is vital for a successful time at college and for building those special memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life.Continue Reading Finding the Balance: Study vs Play
College is meant to be fun – according to Van Wilder and countless other Hollywood versions of campus life. For many students, however, this is the first time away from home, and although Mom is just a phone call away, you don’t want to feel like a complete failure by falling back on them instead of the lasting friendships you could and should be making during this special time in your life.
Feeling daunted by the newness of everything may prevent you from getting out and exploring and the longer you avoid doing so, the harder things will be. Enclosing yourself in your dorm and heading out only to class could make you a recluse, before you have even realized what’s happened.
Going to college is about so much more than studying or partying. It’s about spreading your wings, becoming an adult, meeting new people, disagreeing with opinions and standing up for your beliefs. It’s about expressing yourself and being the person you know you were born to be.
So how do you meet college life head-on?
• Get out and meet people – No, I am not talking about adding friends on Facebook. I mean physically talking to real people. Directly. Standing in front of them. No gadgets and no smartphones. Join groups or go to forums and college meetings. Chat to the people sitting next to you in class. Go to college athletic games and cheer for your team.
• Play sport or exercise – Nothing helps one’s state of mind like a bit of sunlight and exercise. Hit the road, whether for a walk or a run, and get that heart rate up. Join a team sport or find a friend to chase a ball with. There’s always the college gym. Pull on your sneakers and go and check out the sights from a treadmill.
• Ask for help – Feeling like you aren’t coping? You’re not alone. Speak with one of the campus counselors and get the support you need. Often, just talking to another person can make sense of a confusing time in a way you wouldn’t have expected. The counselors are there to assist students wherever and whenever possible.
• Ugh, dirty laundry – Don’t put off those ghastly chores just because you don’t know how to get started. Mom is not around to clean up after you! Talk to your fellow students, and find out how to get to the local Laundromat. Make sure you stay on top of your domestic responsibilities. Getting swamped with dirty laundry, a dirty room or a lack of food won’t help you in other areas of college life.
Take the necessary steps and embrace college life – now is your time, so make it count!Continue Reading College Life: The Challenges of a New World
Been enjoying college life a little too much? This can happen to the best of us.
By now, however, you may have come to the conclusion that the top results for those inconvenient tests tend to come after an endless night of shoving as much as possible knoweldge into your short-term memory – to later be called upon following day.
If you shudder with the thought of drinking another 5-hour energy drink, to help you stay the course, then you know where I am going with this.
Yes, those all-nighters do have their place in college life, but by tweaking your strategies, you may be able to invoke the use of your long-term memory with less work – and less dark rings under your eyes.
How, you ask?
• Attend class regularly – By paying attention in class, and taking notes, the information gathered is moved into your short-term memory. From there, you can shift it over to long-term memory storage. By reviewing your notes after class and before your next lecture you activate your long-term memory, coaxing the information into permanent structures.
• Prepare for class – Perusing your notes prior to class, or reading the assigned material, your memory banks are able to interact effectively with the new knowledge acquired, enabling long-term storage. If you have an understanding of the subject matter prior to your lectures, you will be better able to assimilate and understand the new information.
• Practice makes perfect – As with all things, training gets you results. Feeding your memory a little at a time, on an ongoing basis, helps to strengthen the existing connections in your brain. By training your mind to process the information you need it to retain, and by allowing it to assimilate this with previously acquired long-term knowledge, you will absorb the material into your long-term memory for successful exam-time retrieval.
• Doing what’s necessary – Of course for “all-night” learners, the thought of preparing for class and planning in advance goes against the grain. Sometimes, due to extenuating circumstances or your personal style of learning, an all-nighter may be best.
Here is another thing to consider. By being a procrastinator, you have skillfully ensured that you don’t have the time to sit down and revise.
A possible solution here is to “trick” your brain into putting in the extra work – without it feeling as though you are actually working.
Leave note pages beside your bed at night. Before you pick up a book, you can glance through your notes. Take a few pages in your carrier bag and while waiting for friends at the local hangout, catch up on a point or two covered in the day’s lectures.
By taking advantage of a few spare moments, you can make significant positive changes. Don’t classify it as “studying” per se. Just let it be a bit of extra fuel for your long-term memory.
These small learning opportunities will add to your long-term memory and increase overall retention, thereby freeing you to get a good night’s rest before your exams.Continue Reading Study Tips For College Success
College is expensive. We all know it, and it’s getting more expensive with each passing year. And college is more important than ever with college graduates easily out-earning workers without a degree.
Many people take out student loans to help them pay for college. With tuition and fees getting ever more costly, few people can afford the price of higher education without borrowing at some point in their college career. Maybe you already have a few loans of your own.
But what do you really know about student loans?
Two Basic Types of Student Loans
There are basically two types of student loans, federal and private.
• Federal Student Loans – Federal student loans are funded directly by the US Government, by way of the Department of Education. Generally, the interest rates on these loans is “fixed”, and is usually lower than that of private loans. Federal loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized, the difference being that the US Government pays the interest on a subsidized loan for the length of time you are in school. Finally, you can usually defer the interest accrual until the time you graduate or leave school – in other words, the amount owed as interest will not accrue while you’re busy worrying about other things than money!
• Private Student Loans – Private loans come directly from private lenders, like banks or credit unions. Interest usually cannot be deferred on a private loan; it begins to accrue from the moment you accept the money. And the interest rate is not normally fixed but, rather, may vary from loan to loan. Depending on your credit score, or that of your co-signer, the interest rate on a private loan can be significantly higher than that of federal loans.
But, unlike federal loans, private student loans can be more flexible when it comes to timing and need. Federal loans are often deadline-driven, whereas private loans can be applied for at any time of the year. And private loans often help fill the gap between the amount a student needs and the amount the government is actually willing to lend. For students whose tuition is greater than the amount they’re able to borrow from the federal government, private student loans can play a very critical role in educational success.
Which is Better?
The answer depends on your preferences and needs. My personal preference is for federal loans. Interest deferment and a low fixed rate mean I can concentrate on my studies without worrying too much about the price of my education. In some cases, though, a private loan might be preferable. Your situation and preferences ultimately decide which is best for you.
Whatever you choose, be careful with your borrowing! Some students see loans as “free money” and borrow too much. But, unlike most other forms of debt, student loans cannot be written off in a bankruptcy. You can never “discharge” your student loan debt. So, be careful and prudent. There’s no such thing as “free money!”Continue Reading About Those Student Loans
Experts say we’re either one or the other. Are you an introvert, or an extrovert? Do you know the difference between the two?
Me, I’m an introvert. I’m quiet and reserved. My big sister likes to say I’m “deep”.
My old friend Steve, on the other hand, was a classic extrovert. No room full of people could hold enough people for Steve! Charming, persuasive, and amazing with kids, for Steve “more” was always merrier!”
Why is this important?
I’m getting to that.
We live in an extroverted culture. Openness, friendliness, the willingness to engage are all highly valued character traits. Their introverted opposites, like reserve and reticence, are often seen as social hindrances or just simple shyness. Because our culture values extroversion so highly, introverts, whether workers or college students, have to work harder to get along and succeed in this world.
Introverts and Extroverts
First let’s get one thing straight. Introversion has nothing to do with shyness. Often the two qualities are grouped together, but that’s more coincidence than necessity. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Some are, like me. Others, like my best friend Martie, aren’t shy at all!
By the simplest definition, introverts are people who expend energy in social situations. We may enjoy parties and events, just like the next person, but we’re often very tired by the end of the night. Extroverts, on the other hand, don’t want the event to end. Ever! They gain energy in social situations. The next party can’t come fast enough!
Because extroversion is stressed so highly in our culture, introverts get a bad rap sometimes. There’s a certain stigma to being an introvert – the captain of the football team is *always* more popular than the president of the chess club. And, though no one likes to admit it, popularity has a lot to do with success.
OK, I’m an introvert. Now what?
First of all, face facts. You’re a minority in an extrovert-majority world. What can you do?
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
It may be uncomfortable, but do as the extroverts do. Let people see your light! Join a club and speak up. Volunteer whenever, and however, you can. Keep your Facebook and other social media accounts up to date and active. Don’t be afraid to join a conversation. Make an effort to be social, even if you’re never going to be the loudest member of the group.
But then, after all this social activity has exhausted you as it will, remember to do this one simple thing: rest.
Stay around the dorm for a day or two, catch up on a good book, watch television, or just take a long walk alone. As an introvert, you need this quiet time to recharge your batteries. You can’t do without it.
Sometimes we have to fit ourselves to the world we live in. In this world, if you’re an introvert, like me, you’re like a fish at a dog park. Adapt! Learn how to play by their rules. Wag your tail and learn how to bark!
But don’t forget to swim now and then.Continue Reading How to Be a Successful Introvert on a Campus Full of Extroverts
No matter what the situation, moving to a new town or city can be hard. Whether you’re just going 50 miles or 5,000, moving is considered to be one of the three most stressful life events alongside taking a new job and the passing of a loved one. Friends and loved ones, support systems too, all of these have been left behind. It’s easy to get homesick.
You owe it to yourself to make a home of your new town or city. Settling-in, finding things you can connect with, and things you love, is often a key to success in your new home. Ironically, embracing your new city is often just the thing to soften the pain of leaving home.
How can you find your place in a new place?
Think about your interests. Do you like to meet new people? Do you like to travel? Are you adventurous? Do you love the sports, or the arts? Your interests are they key to building a new life!
For example, I love the arts. From literature to photography, I’m a dilettante of the highest degree. When I moved from California to South Korea, I was often very lonely and bored. I knew no one, and I had few friends.
Then, two things happened.
First, one cold December night, unable to sit still in my tiny apartment, I went out to the movies. Carefully I walked across the ice and snow to the nearest bus stop, then I took the Number 530 downtown. Getting off at Lotte Cinema, next to a very out-of-place McDonald’s, I walked inside and fell in love! I was right at home, even if I couldn’t read or understand anything except the concessions menu. I had found a place to call my own, 8,000 miles from home, a place that sold pizza in an ice cream cone!
Not long after, I discovered the Jinju Book Club, a book club for English-speakers in our little city of Jinju. Though I can be very shy, I took a chance and went to a meeting on an icy Sunday night. I knew I was in the right place when I met Todd. In that moment, I went from being all-alone, all-the-time, to having a best friend with whom I could share the joys and terrors of expat living!
These two things made all the difference for me. I settled-in. Little Jinju became my home-away-from-home.
Remember: your interests are the keys to finding new friends, to discovering new places. Whether you’re 50 miles from home or 5,000, be sure to bring a positive attitude and a willingness to explore. Settle-in, and let your home-away-from-home find you!Continue Reading Settling In to a New Town or City
Once, I had a college roommate I instantly disliked. To be fair, she disliked me instantly, too! For several weeks, we struggled to be nice, to co-exist, but we were just two very different people and we just couldn’t live in the same room. Eventually, seeing the futility of keeping-on, I requested a room reassignment. I was happy, she was happy, and all was forgotten.
It’s a fact that we can’t always be surrounded just by the people we love and get along with. Often the people we come in contact with, at school, work, or in a college dormitory, are people that are just very different from us. It’s a big world, and there are as many kinds of people as there are flowers in the gardens of Versailles.
If your new roommate is somehow a challenge, if you’re finding it difficult to get along, maybe these suggestions will be helpful.
Be Open to Solutions
Does your new roommate stay up too late studying? Does the light from her desk lamp keep you awake? Be open to a solution, and be creative! Is it possible a blindfold might help? Can you arrange for her to study in the common area after 10pm? Be creative, and be flexible!
Your willingness to find a solution is often the first step in overcoming an obstacle.
College dormitories are mixing-pots. Students come from all over, from far and wide. While this is a good thing in many ways, there’s always bound to be some cultural friction between people of different places and traditions. Even students from different regions of the same state might find themselves stuck in the mud of these cultural misunderstandings.
So accommodate your new roommate. Show some interest in her life and in her home. Does she cook or eat exotic foods or meals? Try them – you might like them! Is English not her mother tongue? Are you up for learning some new words in a new language? This is a great way to build a friendship and defuse tension. Take it from a former expatriate, nothing is more flattering than having someone be so interested in talking to you that they’ve gone to the trouble of speaking your mother tongue. It’s a great way to make a new friend.
When All Else Fails
When all else fails, move. Sometimes, there’s just nothing else to do. If you just can’t get along, if there’s just no way to make it work, perhaps the best thing to do is to move.
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t just pick up and go. Moving out should be your very last resort. If you must go, you should start with a visit to the campus housing office.
We can’t always control the people who come into our lives, and we won’t always get along with everyone. College roommates are no exception. You may find yourself with a mismatch, and if you do? Be creative! Be open to solutions! With an open heart and mind, you might just turn that mismatched roommate into a friend for life.Continue Reading How to Cope With Your Challenging New College Roommate