Five Dorm Life Tips From a Resident Assistant

Dorm Flood

College student or a parent of one? Here are five things you may want to think about before heading out to the dorms. My qualifications? I was a Resident Assistant in college, spending three years taking care of a co-ed floor with 70+ residents. It was hard work, but I learned a lot in the time I spent taking care of all those first time and returning residents. Here’s a few things you may want to consider.

College Dorm Checklist:

    1. Accidents Happen: You’re not alone, and if you’re living in the dorms, someone else’s accident may become your problem as well. During my junior year of college I was living on the second floor of my residence hall, and a room above mine on the sixth floor flooded. A student decided to put a hanger on a sprinkler head and when she took it off, the sprinkler head came with it, along with 30 minutes of gushing water. I had nothing to do with that accident, but I was in its path of destruction. While I was running around helping evacuate the building, my room got soaked, and my electronics and clothes along with it.

Dorm Room Flood

  1. Make Sure You Have Insurance: Rental insurance typically covers dorms and homeowner’s insurance sometimes covers dependents if they are away at college. I was fortunate that even though my clothes, electronics, and school books were soaked, my parent’s homeowner’s insurance replaced a lot of the damaged items. While my paper notes were ruined, I was at least able to replace my computers. Find out what your insurance covers before an accident and add to it if it doesn’t cover your dorm room possessions.
  2. Essays Don’t Write Themselves: Nor do they re-write themselves. Piggybacking off of numbers one and two, when my computers were drenched and no longer functioning, I lost almost of all of my data. Luckily I wasn’t working on too many long-form essays at the time, but a lot of residents that were a victim of this flooding were. This was a few years before cloud-storage and online backups were prevalent, so most of the copies were local. Nowadays, it’s easy to create an offsite backup and work from the cloud. Utilize the 3-2-1 backup strategy and try to use cloud storage as much as possible so that if something does happen, it doesn’t take your school projects with it.
  3. Lock Your Doors: Sometimes folks have sticky fingers! Just because you’re in a place of higher learning doesn’t mean that everything is always very secure. Make sure you lock your doors and secure your laptops and external drives. Having an online backup solution that can locate a lost computer also helps. Just ask Mark Bao who had his computer stolen from his dorm and was able to get all of his data back, along with getting some bonus entertainment.
  4. Dorm Roommates Are Great: Until they aren’t. Having dealt a lot with roommate issues and mediating between them, probably one of the biggest recommendations I can make is to talk things out. Don’t let issues fester and bring things up quickly—and more importantly—nicely, when something is bothering you. That way you can talk through issues before they lead to a computer being thrown out of your window. Yes, this happens. I’ve seen the aftermath. Twice.

Don’t forget, these are supposed to be the best years of your life! Work diligently, make a backup to protect that work, meet new people, make lasting relationships, and have fun. Because after it’s over all you have to look forward to is grad school. ;)


About Yev

Yev Pusin is the senior director of Marketing and sometimes Marketing chief of staff at Backblaze, which he joined in 2011. Yev has a degree in business and communications from the University of Iowa, where he developed an alliteration affinity. Yev enjoys writing in an amusing way about the "why" of things and how decisions are made, so that readers can learn and be entertained all at once. Follow Yev on: Twitter: @YevP | LinkedIn: Yev Pusin