Thacher Hacks: Dorm Life

Photo Credit: Annie Everett ’17

Boarding school – a school where students reside during the semester   -Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Contrary to Webster’s simple definition for the path we have all chosen, students at Thacher do not reside—we survive. Though riding a half-ton animal at blazing speeds can be seen like a challenge, one of the biggest adjustments can be living in a dorm. Living on campus can drive you mad; you have to share a bathroom with thirty other teenagers, your kitchen serves at least three hundred other people and the only thing separating you and your neighbors is a paper-thin wall that blocks everything but sound. However, as daunting as it may seem, if you follow these clever tips, your future as an inexperienced freshman may improve significantly.

  1. Personalize your room. Decorate it. Add some posters, lights, or other stuff to spruce up the place. You will be living in this room for nine months, so you may as well make it feel like home.
  2. Make friends with your neighbors. Introduce yourself and get to know them. You have to be on good terms; living with a thin wall and a salty grudge between you and your neighbor can turn your experience at Thacher sour.
  3. Set ground rules for people entering your room. You don’t have to be obsessive about people taking their shoes off or leaving food outside, but finding your bed is lathered in strawberry-mango smoothie is not fun.
  4. Do NOT let your laundry pile up. Make a schedule or set a laundry day because when you run out of underwear, I guarantee that the washing machines with be filled and all the dryers with be broken. (side note: Be polite when doing laundry. Don’t take people’s stuff out if it is not done washing or if it still feels wet after being dried. On the other hand, if you are going to do laundry, commit! Don’t throw your stuff in and leave it for six hours. That is inconsiderate.)
  5. Be social (or at least try). No one wants to be the awkward, pasty-white introvert that stays in their room all the time because they have social anxiety. And if this is you, at least get some sunlight so you can be an awkward, tan introvert with social anxiety. It will do you good to get some fresh air than to breathe stale dorm room air all the time.
  6. Do not borrow money unless it is totally necessary. It gets complicated and being in debt to another teenager can be dangerous business.
  7. Stock up on snacks and non-perishable foods. Whether you find the dining hall food not so agreeable one night or you are just stressed out, a stash of snacks is essential. As a frosh, you are not allowed to have a refrigerator but you can always ask your prefect to store your food to prevent it from being eaten.
  8. If anything is ever broken or not working in your room, contact maintenance. It is better to have a properly functioning light than to have a seizure from the strobe light you left on during study hall. You can submit a Maintenance Work Request under the resources tab on myThacher.
  9. Keep your room clean. Not only is it necessary for inspections, it will also help you approach the day more efficiently. Even with the “busy” freshman schedule you have, it is possible. Waiting to vacuum minutes before formal inspection causes unnecessary stress and getting a 9:30-10:00 because you left your lights on or didn’t make your bed is a lousy way to end your day.
  10. Keep your dorm room at a reasonable temperature. Believe it or not, it is possible to block out the blazing Ojai heat in the fall and keep your room toasty during the winter. During the hot parts of the fall and spring,  close your curtain during the day to block out sunlight and open all your windows at night to ventilate the room with cool air. In winter, wear warm clothing in your room and keep your door closed.
  11. Be prepared. Bring (or buy) what you need. This includes toiletries, band-aids, a stapler, hole puncher, tape, a screwdriver, and a knife. It is much more efficient to have them at hand than to borrow them.

To be sure, these tips are just a starting point to Thacher dorm life but they will make sharing a house with thirty other people easier, and hopefully, happier.

For tips on surviving the horse program, please visit Jordan Perry’s article “How to Survive the Barns” at this link:

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