Choosing a Dorm

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Choosing the right dorm can have a huge impact on your life at college. Living in a comfortable environment can have a positive influence on everything from your grades to your relationships with people at school. On the other hand, if you don't like your dorm, things could be rough, and trying to switch dorms can be a hassle. It's best to get into the right dorm in the first place.

Freshmen Vs. All-Class Dorms

As a new freshman, you may have a choice between the freshmen dorms or dorms that include members of every class. The freshmen dorms will be filled with people who are in the same position as you: figuring out college life. In many cases, freshmen indulge their newfound freedom to stay up late and make a lot of noise. That might sound like exactly what you're looking for.

On the other hand, you may be more inclined toward all-class dorms. Generally a little bit quieter, all-class dorms are a good option for especially focused students. Additionally, having upperclassmen around can be advantageous. Many schools don't allow freshmen or any underclassmen to have cars on campus. It might be nice to have upperclassmen around to hitch a ride from. Additionally, upperclassmen may be able to help you adjust to college life, as they have already done it themselves.

Dorms, Suites, and Apartments

Depending on your school, you may or may not be able to choose your accommodations. For example, in some schools, freshmen have to live in standard dorms, while other schools may let you choose an apartment or suite.

Generally, standard dorms are single, double, or triple rooms that open onto a hallway filled with similar rooms. You will probably have some kind of common area but will be sharing it with as many as 30 or 40 other people, depending on the size of the dorm. This can be great for socializing, as you can often stop in at rooms with open doors.

Suites offer another level of privacy. With suites, you usually have 3 or 4 double or single rooms attached to a single common area that often includes a kitchen. You will also share a bathroom with only your suitemates instead of with an entire floor full of people.

Finally, many schools have student apartments for two to four people to share. These will likely have all the standard amenities you'd expect to find in any other apartment: your own kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Note: these are usually available only for upperclassmen.

Other Considerations

Here are a few other things to think about when picking a dorm:
  • Single-Sex Housing – Most colleges have coed dorms nowadays, but some still have single-sex dorms as well. There are three options that you may come across: full coed floors with single-sex rooms, single-sex floors in coed dorms, or full single-sex dorms.

  • Special Interest Dorms - These dorms group like-minded or like-majored students together. You could choose to live with all math majors, foreign language students, etc.

  • Location – If all of your classes are going to be in the same part of campus, you may want to choose the dorm that's the closest. On the other hand, you might want to live close to the cafeteria or student center.
Whether your school has a housing lottery or is first-come first-serve, these considerations should give you an idea of what to look for in a dorm. If you choose wisely, you should be happy and comfortable in your new college home.

Sean McClain  Posted by Sean McClain on June 29, 2010

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