You and Your Dorm Room
Well congratulations: you've worked hard all your high school career, filled out countless forms, dealt with bothersome recruiters, and done well enough on your SATs that you can now pay $18,000 to really get down to business. In addition, you get the privilege of moving out from under the scrutinizing eyes of your parents, and into a small cramped dorm room with a smelly roommate and a bunch of suspicious-looking people down your hall. Being the most popular place to sleep -- outside of history class -- your dorm room can be an important part of "your college life," depending on how you equip it.
Selecting what goes in your dorm room will determine how you spend your time outside of class and whether or not you will be able to structurally damage your dorm with the volume of your music. Your stereo might as well be your most important piece of equipment, because if you don't have one, you will be listening to your next-door neighbor's stereo at midnight when he plays "The Best of Bagpipes."
Another important thing to have in your dorm room is "a loft." This nifty contraption was designed by the same architects who developed the dormitories, so that they wouldn't have to make the rooms any bigger than a Volkswagen. For a loft, you disassemble the normal, boring "bunk beds" furnished with your room, and elevate both of the bunks six feet in the air supported by lumber that you buy and nail together. This way, both you and your roommate sleep in the "top bunk" and use the space under your bed to put your stereos. My loft was so immaculately built by myself and my roommate -- whose previous carpentry experience consisted of the fisher-price toy drill -- that getting on to it produces a hideous creaking usually reserved for the Addam's Famliy's front door.
Moving into your dorm is also an excellent chance to beg furniture off of your parents. No doubt your parents have some 15-year-old chair or lamp they could donate to your room, and with a minimum of effort, you can give your dorm room the same homey feel of a garage sale. I strongly recommend a "Love Seat," a smallish couch just large enough to sleep on, but not without cramps in all major skeletal muscle groups. Another thing you should try to acquire is a lamp, because there is only one light in your room, and if you want to read somewhere besides the center of your floor, you're going to need an alternate source of light.
I strongly recommend having a computer as well, because although our campus is equipped with hundreds of computers with state-of-the-art technology and word processors designed by the greatest minds of our day, one of two things will happen when you have a paper due the next morning:
Which is why you should get a computer, even one that is ancient and crippled and needs a hearing aid. All you really need is something so you can type out your reports whenever you want. You can typically buy a used computer for roughly 1/10 of the price four years ago (I am not kidding), and most will give you everything you will need to write out your term paper. Besides, then you can play computer games -- providing you with hours of entertainment and keeping you away from college "activities" designed to entertain you in a pure, clean wholesome way.
There are many things that really have no place in a dorm room, or will give you more of a headache than they are worth. One thing that you should NEVER NEVER NEVER put in your dorm room is a TV/VCR combo. If you buy one, I guarantee, by the second week your roommate and his friends will start watching the Star Wars Trilogy at 2:00 A.M. EVERY NIGHT! Also, people whom you have never seen before, with blockbuster cassette in hand, will want to watch it in your room. You will also have to deal with the temptation to watch "Rambo III" again instead of doing your homework. Having a TV/VCR will definitely cause havoc to come down upon your otherwise peaceful lifestyle.
Another thing to avoid having is a "Sega" or a "Nintendo." These little game machines that plug into your TV will become a constant source of irritation for you because your roommate will always want to finish one more level of "Kicking Bloody Death Ninjas" before going to bed. These games also make beeping and booping noises designed to be so piercing and annoying that everyone in your dorm will be painfully aware of exactly what you are playing.
A final item to avoid having in your room is your R.A or "Residence Assistant". Hired by the college, R.A.s primarily insure that there still will be a dorm left after 80 19-year-old boys spend a year living there. My R.A. would mostly stay in his room and play "Sega," and only come out once in a while and mutter something about his aquarium needing cleaning. For a friend of mine in the floor below, however, the R.A. viewed himself as a guardian angel - protecting his constituents from possible dorm code infractions. He would hang around the room for hours, helping himself to "Cheez Kurls" and "Mountain Dew" and offering sage advice like "You should really ask your girlfriend to leave fifteen minutes before the end of parietals." Or "You should wear soft soled shoes- your dorm is right above the resident director." After awhile, of course, my friend had no choice but to give the R.A.'s name to an Amway distributor. Of course, you don't need to take such drastic measures to keep your R.A. from becoming a fixture to your room; My roommate used the tactic of talking to imaginary friends whenever the R.A. was nearby.
All in all, if you spend some time planning what to put in your room, it can be a place you can relax and enjoy your time in. You may even want to invite your parents over to see your abode -- that is, of course, if your roommate's stereo is small enough to leave room to sit.