College is all about gaining new life experiences, and for many students, that means living with people of the opposite sex for the first time. For some, the thought of a co-ed dorm brings immense excitement, but others find it downright terrifying. Most co-ed dorms separate genders by floor, but some use alternating rooms or wings. Either way, you’re bound to run into people of the opposite sex in your daily life that can be anxiety-inducing. To help you overcome your nerves, we’ll go over some of the most common co-ed concerns and give you practical tips to cope with them.
Sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex can be awkward. Even when a dorm is 100-percent co-ed, most students can request to be paired with someone of the same gender. In fact, most schools tend to pair same-sex roommates by default, even if the dorms are shared by both men and women. If you’re worried about roommates hooking up all the time, you’re not alone. It’s likely that this happens, but it isn’t like everyone is constantly looking to seduce everyone they pass walking down the hall. Talk to your roommate about their own habits, and make sure you set some clear boundaries about what you are and are comfortable with from the get-go. If you ever feel pressured or bothered by someone’s advances, report them to your RA right away.
Studying and Schoolwork
With so much focus being placed on socializing, dating and living together, you may forget that school is really what you’re on campus for in the first place. Everyone is busy in college, but those with writing-intensive majors can find themselves struggling to get some peace and quiet in a co-ed dorm. Some building has designated quiet floors and study rooms; there’s also the library and, of course, your own room. But you can also look for simple ways to make homework easier. Transcription services allow you to dictate your thoughts and papers into text. Using your phone or laptop, you can convert video to text easily. This works for presentations, personal recordings as well as lectures. Just make sure you ask the professor if you are allowed to record their class first.
Sharing the Same Bathroom
Bathrooms are usually most students’ concern. Some schools have gender-specific bathrooms, but others are unisex. This means you’re likely to find yourself fully unclothed around guys and girls when you take a shower. However, most schools’ separate showers and toilets with stalls, so you aren’t going to be standing around completely nude in front of anyone. It seems like a much bigger deal than it is. At the end of the day, everyone is going into the bathroom for their own reasons, and they are probably just as nervous as you are in the beginning. After visiting a few times, you’re likely to realize that it’s not a big deal.
If you still feel too nervous to go alone, ask a friend or your roommate to come with you whenever you go. If you’re worried about an increased risk of assault, it can be helpful to talk with a counselor about your concerns. Gender-inclusive bathrooms may not carry a higher risk of assault or violence than same-sex bathrooms, but it’s still a valid and understandable concern. You can also consider scheduling your showers at a specific time of day, like early in the morning before most people are up. The school administration may also be able to make arrangements for you to use a same-sex bathroom if you’re not able to comfortably use the co-ed one in your dorm.