So you’ve sent your direct deposit to the Financial Aid Office, memorized every word of our guide to everything you should do before orientation, and spent countless hours on Pinterest for dorm ideas for when you’re living at Connecticut College. That’s all you need to worry about, right?
Well, not exactly. One of the scariest parts about going to college is the prospect of living on your own for the first time. We at Society19 have all been there, and totally get what you’re feeling right now, which is why we’re going to share the top 8 things we think you should know about living at Connecticut College.
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1. Read Over the Hump: The Connecticut College Survival Guide.
At some point later this summer you’ll receive a copy of the Camel Survival Guide, which will be your salvation. If you follow only one piece of advice, let it be this: Read this from cover to cover, multiple times. It includes excellent tips on nearly every aspect of college life, from restaurant recommendations to a glossary of Camel lingo to a quick primer on the biggest annual events like the Camelympics and Floralia, and even a packing list.
2. Know what you want out of residential life (and where to find it).
Choosing a dorm is the first big choice you’ll be making as a Camel, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. Since getting into the nitty-gritty pros and cons of each dorm would be egregiously dull, here’s the general rule of thumb:
- South Campus (Freeman and JA) is where all the parties happen.
- Central Campus (Blackstone, Plant, KB, etc.) is the most convenient dorm location, and fills up quickly.
- North Campus (the Plex) is where you’ll probably end up because it houses around a quarter of the student population. It is somewhat removed from the rest of campus, and very few upperclassmen actually want to live there.
In all seriousness though you can find more info on all of your housing options here – it’s always a good idea to know what you want come lottery time.
3. Be prepared for gender inclusive bathrooms.
Just a heads-up so you won’t be shocked: all dorm bathrooms are gender inclusive, so don’t be surprised if you hear someone of the opposite sex walk in just when you’re about to belt out the chorus of “Work From Home” while showering. Pay attention during your first couple weeks living on campus to get a feel for people’s shower schedules – that way, you can minimize the likelihood of a potentially embarrassing situation.
4. Learn how to navigate the nightlife.
From Sunday through Wednesday, the nightlife is nonexistent – weekends, however, are a different story. The party scene at Connecticut College isn’t as vast as some other schools, but it’s still very much a part of the student experience. School-sponsored parties are few and far between – your only option is Cro Dances, which happen frequently and tend to attract decent crowds – but there’s lots of fun group activities like late-night Bingo tournaments, trivia nights, and movie screenings. If you want to get off campus you’ll need to use the Camel Van, which transports students to popular hotspots in downtown New London and Waterford from Thursday through Sunday. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying up until 4:00 in the morning to play Super Smash Bros. 4 or to watch Netflix with friends.
5. Be smart when it comes to dorm shopping.
Pinterest has thousands of dorm packing lists to browse through, but let’s face it: you’re definitely not going to need everything on it. Your dorm is going to be a lot smaller than you think it is, so it’s always better to underpack rather than overpack – if you’re missing something critical, you can always head over to Target via the CamelVan.
Use an HDMI cord and computer instead of a TV…
A TV is great, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to purchase a computer monitor and an HDMI cable so you can siphon the video on your laptop to a bigger screen. If you need to watch DVDs and Blu-Rays you can buy an external drive that plays both for sixty bucks, or just reserve a viewing room in the library for a couple hours.
Rent a mini fridge instead of buying one…
Skip the expensive mini-fridges and microwaves and rent one through the College directly. You don’t need to lug it with you, you can split the rental cost with your roommates – it’s a win-win!
There’s no shame in purchasing non-name brand items just because they’re less expensive: most of the time, you won’t even notice the difference.
Invest in a fan!!
Most of the dorms don’t have A/C, and since you aren’t allowed to bring your own unit you’ll need to find another way to stay cool. Just because Connecticut College is located in New England doesn’t mean that it won’t get hot, and many experts are claiming that the upcoming summer will be one of the hottest ever.
Be careful of fire hazards…
The New London Fire Marshall happens to be a family friend, so I’m obligated to say the following: Don’t bother with tapestries, mandala wall scrolls, candles, incense, space heaters, halogen lamps, or other obvious fire hazards. They may look cool, but they’re a serious hazard that could jeopardize the safety of you and your roommates in the event of a fire.
Stock up on decorating materials!
The Camel Survival Guide mentions that you can purchase stuff at the Connecticut College Bookstore. What they don’t mention is that they sell stuff at ridiculously marked up prices. Stock up on poster tack, adhesive hooks, and the like when dorm shopping – your wallet will thank you.
6. Spend some time in the Common Room.
No matter where you end up living, one of the best places to hang during your first few weeks as a Camel is the Common Room, especially if you want to get to know your fellow first-years that take classes outside of your intended major. The best time to do this is during orientation – your Housefellow and Floor Governors will be the only upperclassmen around, so you’ll have the opportunity to really bond with them and the people on your floor.
7. Know where you can go when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), 25% of all college students will experience some kind of mental health crisis during their college career, while 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. And yet, over 40% do not seek any help, opting instead to suffer in silence. When things get tough, though, know that you are not alone and that there are many places you can go to get help. At Connecticut College, Student Counseling Services offers free therapy to any student who needs it, while PEEPs is a student organization which hosts frequent wellness events on campus.
For those who feel overwhelmed by academics, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides guidance, study strategies, and more for practically any schoolwork-related issue you can imagine. And if you had an IEP or 504 plan in high school, be sure to visit Accessibility Services to get the accommodations you’ll need to succeed. Your college experience will only be as good as your mental wellness – be proactive and don’t let things escalate to the point where you can no longer enjoy collegiate life!
8. Remember: upperclassmen aren’t as scary as you think!
Your fellow upperclassmen at Connecticut College remember what it’s like to be at the bottom of the collegiate hierarchy, and are generally more than willing to offer advice on pretty much every aspect of college life you can think of. Sure, it’s easy to be intimidated, but every time you take that leap of faith and reach out, it’s only going to get easier. Who knows? Asking a simple question and opening up to others can lead to an incredible friendship.
Obviously there’s plenty more advice for getting the most out of your experience at Connecticut College, and we’ll be covering many more tips and life hacks in future articles.