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Living on Your Own

By Steve Thompson

Adjusting to college is fraught with new challenges that every student must face. Mom and Dad are no longer right by your side, and you'll have to make decisions when living on your own that your parents used to make for you. This can be both liberating and terrifying, so it helps to have a game plan.

Challenge #1: Roommates

Even if you shared a bedroom and bathroom with your siblings growing up, adjusting to living on your own with a roommate can be difficult. You don't know each other very well and you likely have different habits, so focus on respecting your roommate's space. Talk about issues before they get too big to handle, and spend time elsewhere on campus if you start to get irritated.

Challenge #2: Chores

From washing your own laundry to preparing your own meals, the various household chores that come with living on your own are extensive. Preparation is the key, however, so ask your parents to show you how to do these things before you leave home. Find someone you can call for help if you get confused, and develop a routine for your chores so you don't wind up with dozens of things to do on the weekends.

Challenge #3: Health

Depending on how far you live from home, living on your own might mean taking care of your health, from scheduling doctor's visits to filling prescriptions. Come up with a plan for adjusting to college life. Choose a physician covered by your health plan (or find out where the campus clinic is located). Find a pharmacy close to campus, and ask your parents about anything you need to know concerning your health.

Challenge #4: Maintenance

Whether it's your car or you computer that breaks down, part of living on your own involves taking care of regular maintenance for your belongings. If something breaks, try not to panic. Instead, call someone who can provide you with the name of a professional. And locate car mechanics nearby so you can take in your vehicle for oil changes, tire rotations, and other routine maintenance.

Challenge #5: Time Management

Many students have trouble adjusting to college because it simply provides too much freedom. No one will look over your shoulder to make sure you prepared for tomorrow's exam, got a job, or got enough sleep last night. Start working on time management skills as early as possible so living on your own does not provide as jarring a shock.

Challenge #6: Privacy

Dorm rooms are far from private, and it is this aspect of adjusting to college that can really get students down. You're living on your own, but you've got roommates and suitemates who seem to be around all the time. To cope with this change, start learning the routine immediately. Carve out a time for yourself so you can use the restroom, take showers, and study by yourself. This might mean working around other students who share your living space.

Challenge #7: Noise & Space

Dorm rooms are much smaller than single-family homes, even if you live in a suite with a common area. Therefore, you might feel cramped when adjusting to college life, and the noise level might be formidable. However, you'll slowly get used to living on your own and dealing with space and noise issues at the same time. Keeping a tidy dorm and scheduling activities so you have some time alone will help a great deal.


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