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A home away from home

College students urged to be practical when moving into dorms

College students urged to be practical when moving into dorms

July 14, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A college dormitory room is supposed to be a home away from home but shouldn't be stocked with a house full of appliances, clothes and knickknacks, college officials said.

Philip Stamper, resident manager for Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said watching freshmen move into dormitories can be entertaining.

A major moving-in faux pas: Having dad drive a U-Haul full of bedroom furniture tailed by his college-bound child driving a jam-packed sport utility vehicle, he said.

"Space is an issue," said Helena Cole, director of residence life for Hood College in Frederick, Md.

She said the first mistake freshmen make is thinking their bedroom at home will fit into a small dorm room. Their second mistake is thinking their home bedroom and their roommate's home bedroom will somehow fit into a small dorm room.

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"They end up taking half the stuff back at fall break," Stamper said.

Cole said the college urges incoming students to get in contact with their roommates before arriving on campus. That will reduce the likelihood that a room will power two television sets and the chances that it will be decorated with clashing bedspreads.

She has seen roommates who have kept two television sets in their rooms, which doesn't leave much room for anything else, but she said students can get pretty creative with their space.

Using storage units that slide under beds, hanging shoe racks, building lofts to create more floor space or hanging curtains to create separate "rooms" are space-saving designs Cole has encountered.

Cole recommends to college-bound students that, in addition to the basic single-living supplies, they bring "anything you can bring to lift stuff off the floor."

Vanessa Balderston, assistant director of residence life at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., suggests that students first bring clothes to school for the fall season, especially if their home is nearby. That way, she said, semester breaks can be used to rotate their wardrobe and lighten the load when students enter and leave school.

She said she's seen rooms that look like Martha Stewart decorated them, with closets organized in a way that keeps untidy clothes bundles from overflowing into the room itself.

Cole said Hood students are allowed to decorate their walls, but are limited on the types of adhesives they use to mount posters and pictures because some are damaging to the paint.

Balderston said that although students are becoming more organized, the trend is toward comfort rather than function.

"They're definitely trying to make their residence halls look more like home," she said.

Balderston agrees with Cole that students should not pack their entire home bedroom, but said it still is important that students, especially freshmen, bring ties to home with them to school.

She said the first few weeks of a freshman year are comparable to time spent at a summer camp, when the initial excitement of living in a new place wanes, homesickness sets in and many students find themselves needing simple comforts.

At Mount St. Mary's, as at most colleges, rooms come equipped with a bed, desk and chair, a closet and a dresser or drawers, Balderston said.

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