When you head off to college, life is definitely different and there are adjustments to make. A big part of adjusting is living in a dorm room with a roommate — sharing space. Generally speaking, living on campus is a great experience, a big part of the learning experience that is college life.
Some schools in Mississippi require freshmen to live on campus; others do not. For instance, Mississippi University for Women does not, but the director of community living says the Columbus school is actually seeing more students live on campus this year than ever before.
At the University of Mississippi, only freshmen are required to live on campus. Director of student housing and residence life Lorinda Krhut feels that’s a good thing.
“The whole social aspect is very important in the education process of every student to interact with students from all over the world,” she said. “We have staff on call 24 hours to help, and there are active programs in all the residence halls.”
Among those programs are free classes in such subjects as study skills, career success, stress management and how to manage a check book that are taught throughout the year. There are free tutoring classes, too, that are especially helpful for freshmen.
“We feel strongly that the traditional residence hall environment is best for freshmen,” Krhut said. “Students living in apartments become isolated. In the residence halls, there are common areas where they can mix and mingle.”
Alex McAdams is a 20-year-old junior at Ole Miss where she is majoring in English and journalism. She recalls the adjustment of freshman life.
“To be honest, it was such a shock,” she says. “I had no idea how to take care of myself. Living in the dorm with a roommate was a good lesson in life.”
She has some advice for getting along with a roommate. “The best thing is to remember it’s not all about you. Even though you just got through senior year when everything was about you,” she said. “It’s all about give and take; that’s so important. Another thing, you can’t take everything you want from home. And, never forget your student ID when you go out or you won’t be able to get back in the building.”
The University of Southern Mississippi even has a person dedicated to helping new students adjust to college life. Wynde Fitts serves as director of first-year experience.
“Our mission is to ease the transition for new students and to help them be successful, whether they are freshmen just starting out or transfer students,” she said.
Freshmen are not required to live on campus, but Fitts believes those wanting the true college experience will do so. “It’s part of having to make decisions every day,” she points out. “You have to decide: do I do the laundry? Do I stay in and study or go out?”
As for advice, she stresses that it’s never too early for high school students to get into the game of finding the right school. “Start the application process early. Do the research and find the best school for you,” she says. “Use the resources of the campus and familiarize yourself with everything there before you go.”
Once you arrive on campus, there are other ways to ease the transition and feel successful. “Set boundaries and goals. They don’t have to be lofty but can be small and realistic,” Fitts suggests. “Such as: I want to make one new friend; I want to make an ‘A;’ or, I want to learn one new thing.”
Although dorm rooms may be small, they do have ample space for two students to live. Most also have computer hookups and cable service at no charge.
Krhut says her office runs a residence life cinema showing movies, educational features and campus announcements for activities and emergencies.
“I feel strongly that students need skills that will help them succeed in the future and living with others in residence halls is part of developing those skills,” she said.