Dorm socialization necessary aspect of college experience

Last semester, readers were bombarded with my complaints about being a commuter, only to find that the hidden message of the two-part expos‚ was to appreciate the small and simple joys in life. This semester, we’ve moved out of the house and things have gotten a little crazier.The two hours a day spent driving are better spent socializing with real people, rather than mumbling to the truck driver in the next lane. And eight-hour days with nowhere to rest were quickly getting old, so I moved on campus.

Just as parents always worry, the temptations to pre-party, party and then party some more are present every weekend, which of course starts on Thursday nights. And somebody is always awake for a late-night chat or ready for a field trip to IHOP. When the study room is filled with friends, it is often anything but productive.

How does someone who was used to the seclusion and peace of a suburban home, with television and getting called to dinner her only distractions, merge into the bustling life of a college dorm?

It’s all about self-control.

Every parent’s worst fears about the temptations his or her children will face do exist and are often more prevalent away from home, but not every child gives in. It’s unfair for parents to say their children aren’t ready for the responsibility of living on their own. Except in extreme cases, neither the parents nor the children will ever truly find out if they don’t try.

With the 24-hour visitation rule for the new dorms – and the one already established in the Tom Brown/Pete Wright apartments – some parents have voiced concerns about whether students can handle the responsibility of all-night visitors. Sometimes the best way to learn is to make your own mistakes – you’ll never believe that your friends shouldn’t have stayed over that late until you can barely wake up the next morning.

I was fortunate enough to have parents who understand that, though it may seem like a small part of my education, my social life is important – and it was lacking when I went home every night. The only skill I learned while studying in my bedroom was that I could find a way to finish my homework with “Everybody Loves Raymond” in the background.

On campus, I’m getting real-world practice with time-management skills: balancing goof-off time with work-out time with studying for classes and a part-time job. And I have definitely learned to appreciate household and daily chores now that I have to do my own laundry and wash whatever dishes I use in my room. Both these small tasks too often get put off.

Many students at TCU live close enough to commute – some do the driving and some move to campus. A lot of it has to do with financial need, which was the case for me, and sometimes it has to do with protective parents or unsure students. For those on the borderline of which to choose, or for those dreading another year on campus with the new rule for freshmen and sophomores, you should realize living on campus is a chance like no other.

You have time after you graduate to move back in with your parents for a few months. You have graduate school and the jumpstart of your professional career to get an apartment or fix up a house.

It’s easier to retract your decision to move out during college because you can always move back home. But, if you pass up on-campus housing, you’ll never get another opportunity to live with the perfect balance of independence and shelter because dorm living doesn’t come around twice.

Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears Tuesdays.