Thousands of college students across the country are preparing to head to campus, many living in on-campus residential halls. Living away from home and with a roommate for the first time can be exciting but also challenging. Michael Scales, associate vice president for housing at Temple University, says there are steps students can take to make it a positive experience.

Because room space in residence halls is small and limited, Scales says the most important thing teens should do is communicate with their roommate to coordinate which items each will bring to the residence hall so there is not a lot of duplication.

“Students should be cognizant of the fact that there is a fixed amount of space in the room,” he says. “I wouldn’t recommend that they bring any additional furniture. “It’s important to understand that the rooms and suites are furnished thoughtfully and additional furniture is not needed.

Five Must-Bring Items for College Students

Scales says the five most important items students should bring with them to campus are:

  1. A computer—either a laptop or desktop and “make sure that it meets the specifications of the college’s network.”
  2. Appropriate length cables and cords for hooking up computers, printers, and the like.
  3. Anything that is going to make them comfortable. “Most students will choose to bring a TV and/or a radio/stereo/CD player/iPod.”
  4. Whatever communication device they are going to use to stay in touch with their family and friends. “For most students that’s a mobile phone, or smartphone.”
  5. Appropriate power cords such as UPC-approved power strips. “Students tend to bring more electrical devices than there are outlets."

During his career in student housing, Scales says he has seen students bring some unusual—as well as often ill-advised—things to their new living space, including console TVs, “concert-worthy” music speakers, full-size refrigerators, futons, poker tables, and a wide variety of pets.

But he has also seen students, particularly female students, get very creative with their new rooms and decorate them to the point where they were worthy of being featured in a design magazine.

He says students should also make sure that any issues regarding their tuition bill, registration, or class schedule have been tended to before arriving on campus, so they can “hit the ground running” when they arrive on campus and not waste time and stress running around campus dealing with matters that could be handled prior to arrival.

And finally, what is the best advice Scales can give students, as well as their parents, who are moving onto campus for the first time?

  • For students, it is “to get involved immediately. The research shows that the more involved or engaged a student becomes right away, the more likely they are to succeed and graduate.”
  • And for a parent, “they should understand that when a student calls home upset about something that happened in a classroom or residence hall, they are in most cases just venting.”

“Parents should just relax and trust that their students will overcome the challenges associated with leaving the nest,” he says.

What's on your teen's packing list for essential dorm-room items? Comment below!

Source: Newswise, August 2011