I distinctly remember choosing my dorm room as I went into freshman year. I remember picking out curtains, deciding on the colors I'd use to accent the room and all the little details that would make my home away from home feel a little cozier. Now I'm living off-campus but after three years in a dorm, I think I'm ready to offer some advice.
First things first, pack smart. You'd be surprised how infrequently you'll want to do laundry and your amazing ability to make the most out of every shirt. Your instinct will be to pack up your entire room from home and bring it to school but trust me, don't do it. An hour of class time in college is insanely different, for some reason, than an hour of class in high school. You won't always feel like putting on jeans and a nice top, you'll get great use out of the same t-shirts and dress-down attire. You don't need all your jeans at school.
Plan to make the most of your space. You've seen pictures and you've been on tours, but nothing prepares you enough for the size of the space you'll be living in. Not to mention, you will most likely be sharing it with someone else. Plan to put your bed at its tallest setting to utilize all the space underneath. You'll want plastic bins for under your bed whether it's for clothes, class materials or all the extra stuff you can't find a place for. Command hooks will be your best friend!
Hangers are a must. You should have access to either a closet or wardrobe and you'll want to make the most of that space too. You'd be surprised how much weight one hanger can support. They're also great for more than just clothes. You'll find uses for them you didn't even know existed.
Bring extra sets of sheets. While you're washing your bedding, just jump right to the part where you put the other bedding on so you can put your clean stuff away as soon as it's out. The quicker you get it done, the quicker you'll feel refreshed and happy with a nice clean bed. Another great idea is to take your sheets straight from the dryer and put them right onto your bed and fix it up so you get to lay in a nice cozy bed with probably still warm sheets. It's an experience.
Be ready for noise. For a lot of people, this is the first time they're really away from home. Most schools will have quiet hours, but depending on when you try to go to bed, you'll still hear the sounds of slamming doors and music down the hall. Dorm walls are paper thin and unfortunately, you can hear everything.
Prepare yourself for the noise and know what's best for you to ensure a good night's sleep, especially in your first few weeks as you're getting adjusted.
You will most likely be sharing a bathroom, shower, closet, eating space and bedroom with another person or another group of people. Become comfortable in your skin and be sure to let your roommates know if there's anything you're uneasy about or anything that makes you uncomfortable. You're going to be living in a tight space and your privacy is pretty much gone.
BRING. SHOWER. SHOES. I don't even want to think about the people who don't wear shower shoes in communal showers. There are even flip-flops made specifically for showering with a bunch of holes in the bottom so water doesn't get trapped. Please wear them. You don't know where everyone else's feet have been. And don't forget a shower caddy so you're not struggling to keep your towel closed while carrying shampoo, conditioner, a razor and body wash.
Don't be afraid to befriend your RA. They are around to help you and they want your experience to be enjoyable. Max, they're only a few years older and can probably share some great wisdom. Plus, if you're too loud one night and should get written up, maybe they'll let it slide.
You're going to meet a lot of people while you're all under one roof. Think about where you draw the line in what you'll accept and what you won't. Don't feel the need to approach your RA with every tiny thing, but also do not be afraid to speak your mind if something is really bothering you. You will not match with every personality you meet.
I could offer you loads more advice but here's the most important thing: lock your doors. Please, I'm begging you, lock your doors. During the day, at night whether you're inside or not. There have been so many awful stories about people leaving their doors unlocked and random people, both residents and non-residents, coming in and leaving someone the victim of a sexual assault. Take absolutely every preventive measure and be alert. If you're sitting in your room and you know someone is dropping by, no, leaving the door unlocked for a few minutes while you're inside isn't the end of the world. But be smart about how often it's left unlocked.
Be alert. Be careful. Be smart. And enjoy every second, it'll fly by.