10 Tips for a Seamless Transition from Living in a Dorm to Living Off-Campus (or in an On-Campus Apartment)

By: Laura Sienkiewicz

1. Find the best option for you!
Make sure that you choose your housing based off of what will be the most beneficial for you, whether it’s on-campus, off-campus, in a house, with roommates, or alone. Personally, I chose to live alone so that I could have the option of going to my own space at the end of the day, but if you are someone that enjoys living with roommates, go for it! If you choose to live off-campus, be sure to arrange housing well in advance (even at the beginning of the year prior to moving in!) If you run out of options, be sure to check the Marquette Ticket Exchange Page on Facebook — people tend to post sublease offers there all the time. You can also ask to be put on a waitlist for university housing (it has worked for me in the past when I wanted to switch apartments!)

2. Try to follow a schedule.

Trying to keep a specific schedule has helped me stay on task and has made it easier to organize my time a bit better. I would recommend setting a day each week to get groceries, to clean your space, to do laundry, etc. If you plan this all out beforehand, it’s a lot less stressful during the week when you have a bunch of papers due and tests to study for. Time management is key!

3. Have a few go-to recipes and make sure you have the essentials in your fridge for the week (or buy a meal plan!)

If you know how to cook, you will have a much easier time adjusting to making your own food than I did. Even if you have never cooked a meal in your life, you can still have success with it! I would recommend finding a few easy, go-to recipes to have them on hand for when you might not have too much time to experiment. My personal favorites include avocado toast with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes, some sort of pasta with veggies, and salads. I would also recommend investing in a crockpot or NutriBullet (or another blender to make some quick smoothies!)

4. Clean your space and keep it tidy.
I don’t know if everyone is this way, but I often find myself being more productive if the space around me isn’t messy or cluttered. I try to keep it tidy all week by doing my dishes as soon as I finish eating and by putting items away after I’ve used them instead of leaving everything out, but life happens and it isn’t always easy to keep your space organized 100% of the time.

5. Make your space your own!
Decorate! Try making your space feel like home! I am a big fan of putting pictures around my apartment, especially using those hanging photo displays that you can put on your wall. I know that a lot of people like having plants in their apartments as well, especially cute little succulents (that you can get at ModGen in the Third Ward!)

6. Only use your bed for sleep.
It may be tempting to do things like sit in your bed and do homework there… but try not to. If you use your bed strictly for sleep, you might find that it is a lot easier to fall asleep at night. Try to limit your screen time before bed as well since the light from your screens can interfere with being able to fall asleep (Haddad, 2016).

7. Make a list of all of the supplies and furniture that you will need to purchase before moving in.
Residence halls provided you with furniture in your dorm room and you did not usually need to buy any kitchen utensils when you had a meal plan. If the residence hall you lived in had community bathrooms, you probably did not have to buy any bathroom-specific cleaning supplies. When you transition out of living in the dorms, you will definitely have to keep all of this in mind. Try to find as many sales and deals as possible and try not to put all of the apartment shopping off until the last minute. If you do not want to buy any furniture, be sure to look at apartments that are furnished or even partially-furnished — they exist!

8. Make a budget!
You might have to pay for things like furniture, electricity, groceries, and Internet, things that you did not have to pay for when you lived in a dorm because they were all included in the price for housing. Try to set a budget so that you take all of this into account!

9. Buy a parking pass EARLY!

Before my senior year, I made the mistake of forgetting when parking passes went on sale. Even though I tried buying one two weeks after the first day that Marquette started selling them, there weren’t any spots left. If you’re looking to park in one of Marquette’s parking garages, be sure that you are aware of when they go on sale (and buy them as soon as possible!) If they are all sold out, ask to be put on the waiting list! I did that and ended up getting a spot behind the old PA school building. Even if you are not planning on bringing a car to campus, keep in mind that you do not have to be living in a dorm to use your bus pass!

10. Ask questions and do not be afraid to reach out!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you know someone that has been through the process of transitioning from dorm-life before! Marquette also has many resources to help you along the way such as the Counseling Center, the Career Services Center, and the Student Wellness Center, just to name a few!


Haddad, S. (2016). Here’s why your bed should only be used for sleeping. Retrieved from http://theriseandshine.com/heres-why-your-bed-should-only-be-for-sleeping/

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