Creating a home away from home

by Sonja J. Keith

Creativity and collaboration are keys for new college students making a residence hall room their new home.

According to Cassidy Nelson, assistant director for training and development for housing and residence life at the University of Central Arkansas, the living space is no longer considered a dorm room, which conjures up images of cinder block military barracks. The spaces are now referred to as residence hall rooms, which communicate more of a community feeling and great vibe.

To give prospective students and parents an idea of what residence hall life will look and feel like, the UCA staff has created nine showrooms in residence halls on campus. “I really feel like it helps students connect with their personal space,” Nelson said, adding that parents get to see what will be home for their student for the next few years.

While there are some basic safety guidelines to follow, Nelson encourages students to tap into their creativity to make their room their own. “I love to say it’s like your blank canvas to decorate in your own style,” she said.

Nelson encourages students not to bring too much furniture, as the school provides the basics. Candles are also not permitted. The school rents micro-fridges, so a microwave is also not allowed.

Nelson also suggests that students visit with their roommate to work out who will bring what items, like curtains. She said coordinating on bedding will also make the space feel more like home. “Get creative and collaborate with your roommate.”

Most colleges and universities make available a list of suggested items to bring and those that are not allowed. For UCA’s list, visit UCA also provides important information on move-in day, including the best routes to residence halls and scheduled times for different residence halls.

Nelson strongly encourages parents and new students to move in at the designated time for their residence hall to take advantage of the volunteers who will be on hand to help carry items. “You never have to move an item into the hall,” she said.

Campus volunteers, including the Student Orientation Staff, as well as volunteers from the Conway community pitch in. She said the help is appreciated, especially during the hot summer days in August. “Everyone is really invested in the UCA move-in day.”

Suggested items to bring

Clothing and hangers
Toiletries and shower basket
Flip flops for the shower
Bath towels and washcloths
Standard twin sheets
Pillow, pillow case and blanket
Desk organizer, tape, ruler, desk lamp and stapler
School supplies and bag
Computer (optional)
Broom and mop
Cleaning supplies and air freshener
Trash can and bags
Laundry basket and soap
Rain coat and umbrella
Can opener, plates and utensils
First aid kit and sewing kit
Alarm clock and camera
Pictures, posters and decorative items