Parents of soon-to-be college students: make them live in the dorms for at least the first year.
I met some of my lifetime best friends in the dorms freshman year of college at the University of Florida. Three of us in the photo above all met while living in Trusler Hall and the other two- also strangers to each other- lived together in some Thomas Hall (across from what was formerly The Purple Porpoise) didn’t even have air conditioning.
At first, I begged my parents not to make me live in the dorms. When I got the dorm assignment, my heart sank because it was so far from everything else on campus and I didn’t have a car or a desire to figure out the bus schedule. The one perk of my dorm was a Blimpie sub shop downstairs where the girls and I would go in the middle of the night to buy essentials like chips, ice cream, and gum.
Despite my initial lack of enthusiasm about the living situation, God was like “move over and let me show you what’s up!”
I made a lot of friends in college who I still keep in touch with today, but nobody quite understands you like the dorm friends.
They were there when you broke up with your high school boyfriend. They were there when you aced or failed your first exam. They were there to help you pick an outfit for a fraternity or sorority social. They saw how you reacted when your roommate hogged the phone, which was a landline because that’s all we had back then. They were there to tell you if your clothes were wrinkled. They were there to encourage you to study for an exam instead of hitting up a big party (or the opposite). They were there at 2 a.m. to share your order of cheesy bread and ranch dipping sauce (e.g. Pokey Sticks).
Dorm life isn’t supposed to be the Ritz. Things like shower shoes, sharing a room with a stranger, walking far to get to class, being under the thumb of an R.A., shoving as much food as you can into a tiny rectangular fridge are all part of the experience. It’s what makes college fun!
My friends from the dorms and I live in five different cities. Once a year, we trek to a different location for a reunion. It takes effort- something that’s hard with careers and families- but the effort is worth it.
Cheers to the dorm friends.