Most freshmen can’t wait to get out of their dorm rooms by the time May rolls around. The prospect of living in an off-campus apartment for the first time is almost too enticing to believe. Still, there are always a rare few who find themselves on campus for another year — some stay on as RAs, while others are bound to a two-year housing contract. And some, like I was, are simply presented with the option to live in a dorm as a sophomore, and they take it.
If you’re one of those few, don’t fret. Living on campus as a sophomore is a mixed bag, and I wasn’t always thrilled with my choice, but I did learn a few survival tips. I ended up mostly reaping the benefits of one more year of dorm life — you can, too.
Tip No. 1: Choose your dorm wisely
I made the mistake of only loosely researching which dorms housed both freshmen and upperclassmen, and I randomly decided to request East Eggleston. I hated it. The rooms were tiny, the student population was almost entirely freshmen and I felt completely out of place. Instead, aim for those dorms that house upperclassmen and feature more luxurious amenities: East and West Ambler Johnston, for example, or New Hall West. They’re a bit more expensive, but they’ll make your freshman-to-sophomore dorm transition much smoother.
Tip No. 2: Enjoy the proximity to your classes and dining halls while you can
Alright, so your parents might not view this as the most mature advice, but let’s face it — college is exhausting, and most mornings getting up for class is a drag. If you end up in a dorm for a second year, take advantage of your greatest blessing: You can wake up 10 minutes before your class begins and still make it to class on time. The benefits of living within walking distance to all on-campus buildings and the downtown area go beyond your classes, too; making it to extracurricular meetings, grabbing a bite to eat from VT Dining, or even meeting up with friends downtown is much less stressful when it only takes you a few minutes to get to any of those places.
Tip No. 3: Take advantage of the bus system
Another benefit of living on campus is that you’re close to every bus line in Blacksburg since they all stop on campus at some point. You’ll likely end up taking the bus more than you did as a freshman, now that most of your friends live off campus, but fortunately, there’s a bus for every neighborhood: for example, you can hop on Main Street North or South from Squires, take Progress Street from McBryde or catch Hethwood A from Burruss. If you really need to go to Christiansburg, there’s even the Two Town Trolley that runs every hour. Not only is the whole town of Blacksburg at your fingertips, but taking the bus will keep your carbon footprint in check.
Tip No. 4: Make friends with car owners
Chances are, some days, the bus still won’t cut it, but chances also are that most of your friends who moved off campus brought cars with them. Hopefully, your friends are kind enough to understand your dorm-life plight when you need a ride, but it never hurts to grant them a thank-you gift in return. Learn how to barter your on-campus status in exchange for free rides — give your friends the occasional meal-plan swipes, for example, or offer up your room as a naptime oasis when they’re between classes. Your tiny dorm room might become more of a commodity than you ever anticipated.
Tip No. 5: Make other friends on campus
Sometimes, living on campus as a sophomore is lonely. One way to remedy that is to end up in a dorm with a greater population of upperclassmen, but if that doesn’t pan out, keep in mind that you still aren’t alone — you can plan movie nights with your friends who became RAs, visit friends who stayed in East or West AJ for another year or even get to know the other freshmen on your hall — they won’t bite. Making friends all over again sounds like a daunting task, but hopefully if freshmen year taught you anything it’s that making new friends isn’t impossible.
Living in a dorm for another year might not sound thrilling. There are a surprising number of benefits, however, and a few tips and tricks are all it takes to keep them in mind. Above all, if you find yourself gearing up for Move-In Day 2.0, remember that you survived your first year in a dorm — you can survive this one, too.