8 Where You Live: Integrating Residential Life Into Your Academic Success

Skyla Dore, DeVante Owens, Ryan Keegan

Take notes, cause this is prime

When transitioning from home life to college life, students must adapt to their new environment. To adapt effectively students must take a few things into consideration, for one, dorm rooms are much different than your house. Relating to this is the differences in food, healthy eating and eating in general can take on a whole new form at college, one that you must control yourself. Finally, another thing that is essential is adapting to college recreation, no parents here, keep it classy. These transitions, for some students, can be very difficult but, with the right tips and tricks, these transitions are cake.

Approximately 85% of all first year students chose to live on their university’s campus rather than commuting or taking online classes. Those students that chose to live on campus are likely to demonstrate more of an intelligence in the psychological development aspect of college. Tending to have a more positive attitude when it comes to the social environment (Soria). When coming to college, it’s definitely a very hard transition from going to high school everyday and living at home to staying in a dorm while going to your classes that are right next to you. That first day you are moved into to your dorm with your new roommate(s) and your mom and dad are saying goodbye to you, it hits you as to how this won’t be as easy as you thought it would be.

CC by Nataly A

The first few days you’re there it’s a struggle as you’re learning how to adjust to the new change. Now universities have come up with a way for first year students to come into a more comfortable environment and help more with the adjustment. Universities are focusing more on the students engagement and retention by coming up with programs that have to do with living and learning at the same time. Instead of  just focusing with the engagement from teacher to student but the attention more on the engagement through the residence halls. The residential program’s goal is to provide greater opportunities for the students through social involvement and integration.

The community advisors known as the nickname CA when you enter college, have the job to help the students be able to learn the names of the people in their hall and to make friends with their neighbors next door. The CA’s want to encourage the students to have a discussion with them whether it’s about how they’re feeling at the moment or discussing their academic life, trying to be a friend rather than just a person who monitors the hallways. It’s also a duty of theirs to encourage the students to engage in conversation with their roommates especially if conflicts arise throughout the year. “ A noticeable void with regard to understanding whether strengths practices in college and university housing can be leveraged as a catalyst to stimulate students’ success,” (Soria). But these universities wonder if this can actually work on the students. As there are other factors when it comes to a student feeling comfortable when leaving home away from home for the first time.

“Loneliness is experienced when a large difference exists between the personal relationships one wishes to have and the personal relationships that actually exist in one’s social network,” (Henninger). Students tend to feel lonely because they leave the comfort of their social support they once had at home and high school. The  people they lived with for the last eighteen years of their life or the clique they had for the last four years in school. The two biggest predictors of loneliness is through personality traits like poor social interactions and environmental effects when you’re in an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people. “Loneliness is one of the most prominent concerns reported by college students,” which is why some students drop out of college but if programs are created to help socially and academically it could restrict students from feeling lonely and dropping out (Henninger).

When being a first year student, you usually have a roommate or two that you have to share your living quarters with, which is different for some as they’ve always had a bedroom to themselves. When sharing a room you develop different experiences with your roommate(s) like close contact and attachment or where one roommate has a more physical and emotional closeness than the other. Universities have come up with a way to strive to match students to their roommates through similarities and preferences like extracurricular activities or how clean they want their room to be through a housing questionnaire. But there interests and wants aren’t what can predict roommate satisfaction but how well the roommates are able to communicate and cooperate with one another. As many conflicts will arise  when sharing a room together and be able to help expand one another’s social networks. “Because these early interactions are important in helping students create a social network at college, roommates should be paired with care.”

“College age men report higher levels of loneliness than do their female counterparts,” as young men are taught not to reach out to a same-sex peers when needing social support(Henninger). But even though men tend to feel more loneliness in college they are more satisfied when being paired with their roommate as they are less bothered by the social interaction, interests, or hygiene. Evidence has shown over the years that men are able to handle and cooperate with another person for a longer period of time than a women can (Henninger). No matter if it’s a women or men, it’s about the level of social support that comes from the family and friends before college that will decide whether the student will develop loneliness. Every student who enters college has to make a transition and it’s definitely not easy for anyone. When living somewhere new you have to adjust, and when living at college the food is not the same as home cooking you may be used to.

Food in a college student’s life is very important. It is how they survive on the daily. Dorming takes away the amazing home cooked meals that we thrive on. The dining hall is like a supplement to home cook meals and it doesn’t even compare to them. The first few times you go to the dining hall it’s all peaches and cream, but after a while you get sick of eating the same thing every single day. Nothing ever changes. It is a endless cycle of the same food every day. When someone is hungry they are going to want to eat in their comfort zone.. At home you could eat whatever you want there are endless options. You could go from steak, mashed potatoes, and biscuits and take a nap, you can’t really take a nap at the dining hall. The taste also is a factor. At home the food is fresher and more likely to be up to date. When you are eating a home cooked meal you can relax and don’t  have to worry about exams or anything big that makes you stressed, it talks more about this in the article “10 Reasons Why Home Cooking Beats the Dining Hall”. When you eat at home you limit yourself, unlike when you go to the dining hall it’s like an endless buffet where you eat a lot more than you are used to. Eating whatever you want is a big difference from high school, it gives you more opportunity to eat unhealthy and as much of it as you want. It is recommended that a student should eat more during breakfast because it will help with the cravings throughout the day to eat. Meal plans are required for the most part when students dorm. Most of the time it could be expensive for some people to purchase and could be easier for them to buy food at a grocery story. Students should pick something they are actually going to use instead of wasting even more money on college more than they have to. If you could cook, take the opportunity because more often than not it will be much better than the cafeteria food.

Meal Plans are very important in a college student’s life. It’s how they get by if they don’t work or have a steady amount of cash coming in when they need it. Two to three meals a day is perfect for any college student because it is always a struggle to get food when you’re broke. Meal plans are a waste of money in all reality. Colleges know that students aren’t going to go to the dining hall for every breakfast, lunch, dinner which is right. Having a meal plan and dorming in college are perfect for full time college students who plan on being there for majority of the time. Most students are not used to eating on a schedule. If they get hungry they are gonna just grab something quick. They also don’t usually have time for breakfast either because of terrible 8 am classes. They might be a person who wants a snack late at night. You can’t just go to the dining hall and grab something it’s going to be closed. Get something that you know that is going to work out with your schedule and also work with your eating patterns. Food at a dining hall has a 50/50 chance of being a hit or miss. It could be the person cooking, how it tastes, how it is presented that could change your taste buds.  The benefits of having a meal plan is that students don’t have to worry about going out a buying food which could cost more in the long run. Students also do not have to worry about a certain time to eat. They can go anytime to the dining hall to get grub. It is a drastic change from being in highschool where breakfast and lunch are served at certain times and are only served for a certain of time. Unlike in college where you can go anytime to get something that suits your desires. Dining halls are also not as cramped as high school cafeterias. They are more spread out and you could even be on you own in certain parts of the dining hall if someone wanted to.

The dining hall is a great place to socialize and make friends also. It is a place where everyone goes to get food, so why not join up with your friends? Trying to keep up with healthy ever go to the dining hall hunger. Try going to the dining hall less hunger. You will eat less and eat healthier without even knowing. Going to the dining hall hungry is a very big mistake. You could end up eating three times as much as you would usually would because all the food that you desire is right in front of you to feast on. Exploring and becoming creative is very important as a college student when going to the cafeteria. Eating the same food over and over could make a student crazy. Switching up between fruits one day and vegetables the next is a great idea when you want to start to try to change up your eating habits.  Being able to eat what you want can be great until the freshman 15 is a real thing.

CC by beautifulcataya https://www.flickr.com/photos/beautifulcataya/

College life, inherently, is much different than home life. Of these differences, one that holds a lot of meaning in a college student’s mind, is recreation. Recreation in college, for what it’s worth, means different things to different people. Everyone is different and, because of this, the expectations held for college recreation differ greatly. At school, you have a lot of free time. Not only at night but, especially during the day. When faced with this influx of time many students choose to do nothing. It is very important thats we have a release. When you think of a release at school, be honest, what comes to mind? Partyyyyyyyyyy, college kids wanna party. Yes, some people go harder than others, but the urge is there for everybody. This drive to party is an important part to the mind of a college kid, but there’s more to college then drinking too much milk and punching a cop.

To succeed in college, you need a balance. Spending all your time locked in your room, that’s bad, Mmkay. On the flip side partying all day everyday, that can be detrimental too. In an article by NIRSA, the author says that campus recreation centers, basically, places students can go to express their hobbies, are of great benefit when they are taken advantage of. These recreational activities include things such as, sports, fitness and training centers as well as a wide variety of outdoor adventure activities. Instead of chillen in your room all day, or making like a wall and getting plastered, change things up. Research says, 67% of students said that campus recreation centers influenced their decision to return to that institution. Remember, that’s just because of the activities provided by the school.

As an independent person, it is very important that you branch out on your own. The umbrella of the activities provided by the school can only get you so far. For many, to truly enjoy their college experience, you must pave your own way. Based on my geographical location, I plan on doing this is in a very specific manner. Students that engage in activities they enjoy are going to be happier than those that don’t. It’s important to remember. that college is much different than home. You have to look after yourself, the only activities you will do are those you plan. When I say plan I don’t mean write out word for word what you are going to do but, rather, initiate and act on your thoughts. Too many times people sit and don’t act. Be bold, make a move, you won’t regret it.

A large part of on campus recreation is sports. Intramurals being the top of that list for a few reasons. The laid back nature of these activities combined with the competitiveness are very attractive to many students. By participating in these activities you are expressing yourself in a positive way. For the most part. This positive expression of energy is a great way to decrease stress and anxiety associated with college.

CC by Huskies Football https://www.flickr.com/photos/skhuskies/
CC by Huskies Football https://www.flickr.com/photos/skhuskies/

“When a student’s stress and anxiety are reduced, the likelihood of them to stay enrolled increases” (chan). People don’t want to live in a toxic environment. As you express yourself you can make that environment much less toxic. Colleges have been begun to back the recreational activities provided by the school more and more. This is because it keeps US enrolled.

There are also many other activities that are not sport related. Hosting these activities includes a wide variety of clubs, organizations and groups. For many, these clubs and organizations give them a purpose. Something to strive for that’s not academic.

The number one priority of all students should be to find something that they enjoy at school that’s NOT academic. School work does matter but so does your mental well being. Find something you enjoy and pursue it. Do this with as many things as you need until you find you niche. When students find their niche, they stay enrolled and, they like their college experience a whole lot more. Experimentation is a good thing, try a whole lot of things out. Many times you won’t enjoy something. Don’t give up on yourself, you’ll find something. For some a club might not even be necessary. Having a solid group of friends that you hang out with can be enough. With those friends, you can do anything. It’s always better to have a pack to call your own.

For a college student, transitioning into their first year of higher education is a very difficult time whether it’s adapting to your new residency, different cooking, or finding extracurricular activities to join or create. To help readjust to everything new that hits you all at once, a freshman should take it step by step when adjusting. Whether that’s trying to make small conversations with your roommate, trying out dissimilar foods, and joining an intramural sports team or club. Universities all over the country are trying to keep student retention high by helping students feel more comfortable at their own university and this is where it starts.


Works Cited

Carpenter, Katherine. “The Pros and Cons of Choosing a Meal Plan in College.” OCM Blog. N.p., 09 June 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

“How a College Meal Plan Wastes Money.” Consumerism Commentary. N.p., 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

Http://connectusfund.org/author/connectusfundadmin. “9 Primary Pros and Cons of Open Campus Lunch.” ConnectUS. N.p., 23 July 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Nick.demott.3. “10 Reasons Why Home Cooking Beats the Dining Hall.” College Magazine. N.p., 08 June 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

HENNINGER IV, WILLIAM R., et al. “Perceived Social Support And Roommate Status As Predictors Of College Student Loneliness.” Journal Of College & University Student Housing 42.2 (2016): 46-59. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

SORIA, KRISTA M., and LEONARD TAYLOR JR. “Strengths-Based Approaches In College And University Student Housing: Implications For First- Year Students’ Retention And Engagement.” Journal Of College & University Student Housing 42.2 (2016): 60-75. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Woodruff, Cathryn. 7 Tips for Navigating The Dining Hall. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Chan, Y. (2016). Investigating the relationship among extracurricular activities, learning approach and academic outcomes: A case study. Active Learning In Higher Education, 17(3), 223-233. doi:10.1177/1469787416654795


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OpenSem: A Student-Generated Handbook for the First Year of College by Skyla Dore, DeVante Owens, Ryan Keegan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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