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Freshman advice: Ten tips for your first dorm room

Everyone always says this, but college will probably be the coolest time of your life. You will go to class maybe three hours a day (or skip those three hours and still pass). You will sleep in until noon and will be told you're up "early." Most important, you can allegedly learn things and "find" yourself. • But in order to succeed, your casa de awesome — commonly referred to as a "freshman's dorm room" — needs to be stocked with a few items that will make your first year great. As a recent graduate, I offer these pointers about things to bring — or not bring — to your new pad. Andy Boyle, Times staff writer

Bring air freshener.

This is a must, especially when you've got two boys hanging out in a room for an extended period of time. Trust me: Your room will smell like boy, and that smell is not a good one for girl.

Leave the stuff you steal* in the closet.


An RA can see that and you might end up paying a nice hefty fine, or having to walk through a complex conversation (read: lie) about how your dad owns a construction business and that's why you have a "Slippery When Wet" sign next to your bed. Better yet, don't steal stuff.

Bring your own toilet paper. Most public universities are cheapskates in this area, as are most private schools. Your dorm toilet paper will be unpleasant, so bring your own if that's important to you.

Bring plastic containers for food. You will have a meal plan and you won't be able to afford many midnight runs to Enter Burrito Place Name Here, so it's probably best to take extra helpings from the cafeteria. Look, you paid for it and they're just going to throw those extra ham sandwiches away, so you might as well take one or two (or nine) to eat later while "studying" (read: playing video games all night).

Leave behind the posters of funny, ironic sayings, women in ridiculous poses who might be almost naked, drug or alcohol use (even in a funny way) and that not-so-good band you like (because yes, trust me, someone thinks they are horrible). No one likes those, and they're an instant way to tell that you are, indeed, lame.

Bring a little fan. These are nice for early fall/late spring — and keep you from having to crank up your AC and bother your 110-pound roommate who has on a sweater because it's 88 degrees outside.

Bring Christmas lights. Lots of students do this, and for good reason. The thousand-watt bulb they stick in your dorm room ceiling gets a bit annoying, and Christmas lights are much more relaxing. Also, it sets the mood for when you have a special guy/lady friend over to "study biology."

Bring a futon. Your standard dorm setup involves two loft beds, with a futon underneath one and a TV and fridge facing that futon. This is how dorm rooms have been set up for decades, if not centuries. Do not mess with this plan and put the fridge and/or TV next to the window. The futon will allow you to have company over to watch Die Hard 2 at all hours of the night, and it will be a place for your older sister to crash when she comes to "re-experience college."

Leave your book collection. My first semester I brought about 45 books with me, books I had already read. Why? Because I was a dumb freshman who didn't read the "What to bring to college" column in the local paper. You will not read more than five books in a semester, so only bring 10. No one will care that you read Ayn Rand in high school, trust me.

Just remember THAT you don't have much space. It's a shared space, too, and your roommate is going to break all the rules. So at least make sure that your side follows some of this advice, and I guarantee you'll graduate in at least six years.

Andy Boyle, a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Times intern, can be reached at or (727) 893-8087.

Freshman advice: Ten tips for your first dorm room 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 1:26pm]
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