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College Campus Life Considerations: Dorm Life

Mon, Oct 15, 2012 @ 01:30 PM

College Campus Life Considerations: Dorm LifeFinding the Best-Fit Housing in Your Best-Fit School

For high school sophomores and juniors, fall marks the first steps in the college search process. Many schools have a mid-October fall break, and students and families often use this time to go on college visits. At IvyWise, our team of expert counselors always stress the importance of the college visit. Not only does it give you the opportunity to show demonstrated interest, a factor that admissions officers take into consideration when reading applications, but it also gives you the chance to get a feel for campus life first-hand.  

At most schools, freshmen are required to live on campus in university housing. One of the most important stops on your campus visit, and what to consider when thinking about what you want out of a school, are the freshmen dorms.  

What to Expect

Campus dorms are much like students in that rarely are two ever exactly the same. There might be several different freshman-housing options on one campus, and they might all be drastically different. Make sure to do your research on housing beforehand, and when scheduling a visit see if they offer tours of the building that you may consider selecting as your first and second choices for housing.  

There are several different dorm set-ups that are generally consistent across college campuses. Here is a break down of the different living options one might find on a typical college campus:  

  • Single-Sex: Single sex dorms are buildings that house either only girls or only boys. These dorms can have a variety of floor-plans, from suite-style dorm rooms to communal halls. These are great for students who may not feel comfortable living on the same hall or building with the opposite sex.

  • Co-Ed: Co-Ed dorms house both girl and boys; either by floors alternating all girls and all boys, or halls with both boys and girls, but never sharing the same room or bathroom. This set-up can also accommodate a variety of floor plans, with all-girl and all-boy suites on the same floor, or coed-communal floors with girls using one communal bathroom and boys using a separate one.

  • Suite-style: There are several different variations of a suite-style dorm. Typically, a suite-style dorm is composed of two or more double rooms (where two students share a room) with a shared bathroom or common area. This common area can include a small kitchenette, depending on the set-up of the space. Suite-style dorms can be a great experience for first-year students because they have the opportunity to live and interact with other freshmen across all majors and backgrounds. It can also give students the experience of dorm life with a little more privacy if they have a small, shared bathroom and common area, as opposed to communal common spaces.

  • Communal: Be sure to pack your shower-shoes! This is one of the more typical, “old-school” dorm set-ups, where there is a hall of double (sometimes triple or quadruple!) rooms with a communal bathroom that the whole floor shares. Halls in dorms like these are usually single-sex and, once again, afford first-year students the opportunity to bond and interact with other freshmen across all majors.

  • Single: Single rooms are usually the holy grails of dorms for students who don’t want to share their space. There are typically few single rooms in a building, usually only one or two per floor and reserved for Residence Hall Assistants, students who work and live in the dorms to assist first and second-year students in their college transition. Single rooms, while they sound awesome, are few and far between, and deprive some freshman of the opportunity to meet and interact with other residents in their hall.

Different Types of Living Communities

Many universities also offer “themed” or community-living options for freshmen and even second and third year students. These community housing options can be grouped by major, minor, or a special theme like Spanish-language living community or “wellness” community housing, where students interested in health and physical activity can live and learn together. These type of living communities are great for freshman who want to develop friendships with other students in the same major or with similar interests.

Stand-Out University Housing  

The people you live and interact with primarily set the tone and atmosphere of dorm life, but the building itself can also influence your experience. On Dr. Kat’s most recent appearance on the TODAY Show, and in a previous Dr. Kat’s List, she highlighted some stand-out university housing that offers uncommon amenities and luxuries that make campus living even more of a home away from home.  

Here are some examples of college campus dorms with some cozy, innovative, and luxury amenities:  

Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS): The school's 668-acre campus includes a lot of unique amenities, like a golf course, beach volleyball courts, dairy bar, and multiple gardens. 

George Washington University (Washington, DC): For students interested in green living, one dorm features motion-sensor lighting, EPA Energy-Star appliances, and Toto low-volume toilets. 

Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, PA): Likened to Harry Potter's Hogwarts, the school's residential system, comprised of 14 dormitories, houses, and apartments, has been repeatedly recognized on Princeton Review's list of schools with "dorms like palaces."  

Davidson College (Davidson, NC): This school offers full service laundry, free of charge for all students! They also offer alterations and dry cleaning for a minimal charge.  

Where you live and who you interact with can have a huge impact on your college experience, so it’s important to look into all the different campus-living options available to freshmen. Think about what’s most important to you and what living situation fits into your idea of a best-fit school!

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