Tips For Your First Year

Housing, Roommates, Food...and more!

Special thanks to our Notre Dame interns, who created this content for you.

Asha LaBine 

Chicago, IL

Class of 2023

Economics, Global Affairs, Digital Marketing

Alena Coleman 

Evansville, IN 

Class of 2022

English, Spanish, Education

First Year Experience

The most important thing about your first year is making friends. It is probably the scariest part but just trying to get to know people in your dorm. Introducing yourself to people is always a significant first step to make you feel more at home. And while these people that you meet at first might not be your forever friends, it’s an excellent way to get yourself introduced to the campus and, you know, feel more comfortable there.

There will be many activity fairs and mixers kind of ways to mingle with other students. These events though they might seem silly, or you might not want to do them, you must go to them.  It’s okay to go by yourself; many people go by themselves, and they end up meeting great people.  Another way to feel more at home and feel more comfortable is to get involved in extracurriculars or maybe recreational sports. To be part of a team is always an excellent opportunity to make more friends and get involved in campus life.



The first things you’ll encounter at school will be housing, where are you going to live.  Each university is different, so we are just going to offer a broad overview of the different types of housing and accommodations that universities have. The primary ones are your residencies or your residences dormitories, aka your dorms.  There are all types of different setups for dorms, so the most common, especially for first-year students, is a double.

Each university offers different types of accommodation for students

  • Singles, doubles, quads, six-person 
  • Can be co-ed (more common) or single-sex 
  • Communal
  • “Theme”: language, major, common interest 
  • Smaller than a regular dorm
  • You sign your own lease with an apartment/ house that is not affiliated with the university 
  • Personal liability, meal plan optional, personal costs 
  • Flexibility with roommates, more space
  • Like a regular apartment, but on campus! 
  • Often with a roommate, different bedrooms

Special Interest Community at Columbia

Inside a double at St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame

Off-campus housing at Yale

Honors Residences at Purdue University

Housing: Choosing What’s Right for You

In general, with housing, it’s like any part of your discernment for what sorts of universities you want to apply to.  You need to do your research, and this is something a lot of people experience when they’re first researching their university. But again, you’re going to live there it’s. It’s something you need to consider, so look at the residential and housing pages for your desired university and do that kind of general internet search for YouTube, blogs other social media from current and former students that can help you see what it’s like.

Do your research!

Stay within your budget

Think about community


In the first year at college, you will most likely be assigned some random roommate.  That means a lot of different things. In some universities, you fill out a questionnaire where you say you like to wake up early or don’t like loud music, or like your space clean. Then universities try to match you based on that sort of compatibility. Another system of selection is blind, so you have no accurate control over the process. Other universities allow you to select a roommate. So, if you by chance know someone at the university you’re attending or who’s also attending with you, you may be able to set up that way. We encourage you, just like any anyone nowadays, to use Facebook group and WhatsApp to connect with potential roommates if you don’t want to be entirely random and your university allows you to declare or pick a roommate. We encourage you to go that route, and there are often other students looking for roommates.  

Random roommates



Dining Halls

Food Delivery Services


Lecture style class at University of Iowa

Seminar style class at Boston University


Very different from high school

Get organized!

Lectures vs Seminars vs Labs

Get in good with the professor

Find your perfect study spot

Mental Health

It’s hard.

Make time for yourself


Culture Shock

University Counseling Center at Florida State University

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