A college dorm experience is something that people talk about for years. High schoolers are excited about it, and adults reminisce about it. So what is it that makes a college dorm experience so notable? What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a dorm during your time at college?
In this article, we’ll be talking about the reality of living in a college dorm room. We’ll be talking about some of the most common pros and cons of this style of living. To finish, we’ll be guiding you towards answering the question of if a college dorm is right for you.
What Is It Really Like to Live in a College Dorm?
Living in a college dorm is more than likely the first time you will be living away from your parent’s home. This means that it will be a huge adjustment for most students. It can give you a sense of independence that you might not have felt while living under your parent’s roof.
That being said, you are constantly around people when you are living in a dorm. Most dorms are doubles, which means that you will have a roommate. You will also live in a hall with lots of new people, all of whom are also adjusting to living away from home. This constant activity can be overwhelming for some students.
What are the Pros of Living in College Dorms?
There are so many pros of living in a college dorm, but these are some of our favorites:
Distance to class
Dorm buildings on most college campuses are the closest housing to the buildings in which you will take classes. This means that you will be living at the hub of all campus activities. You will be close to classes, the dining hall, common spaces, and the library. This central location is great for getting a lay of the land and starting to get used to being on the campus.
Another benefit of being so close to class is that you can come back to your dorm throughout the day. This can be super helpful as you learn exactly what you need to carry to class with you each day. You will also have a place right on campus that you can go to if you need some time away from the chaos of college life.
Friends are never far away.
With so many people living in a single dorm building, there are tons of potential new friends living just feet from your dorm. You will be hard-pressed to find a living situation later on in life where your friends are all that close together. Dorms are great for freshmen in college because of this reason!
Even if the friends you end up making don’t live in your hall or even in your dorm building, they aren’t likely to live very far away. It can be super fun to have so many friends who all live just a short walk away from your home. Meeting up in someone’s room or even at the dining hall for meals will never be easier than when you are living in a dorm.
Helps students get involved
Many dorms host activities or have some sort of board of school activities. This means that it has built-in ways for you to get involved elsewhere on campus, not just in your hall. Dorms also have an RA or a residential assistant who is your resident expert on the campus. They are an upper-class student who is there to help you make the transition to college as smooth as possible.
This benefit also relates to the first benefit since the distance to each activity on campus will likely not be that far from your dorm. This can give you the freedom to put yourself out there and try every activity you want to try. This can also be a great way to find some friends and start to build a sense of community.
What are the Cons of Living in College Dorms?
Although dorms can be great, there is a lot to adjust to. There are so many complaints that someone could have, but in this article, we’ll only be focusing on general complaints that tend to be true across all dorms. Each school will likely have its own set of cons that come with living in their dorms, but these are some of the complaints that are more common about dorms:
With so many college freshmen living in the same space, you can imagine how loud a dorm hallway can get. This isn’t to say that every dorm is loud, but college dorms are known for being loud. From people coming home late at night to random midnight fire alarms because someone burned popcorn, something is always happening in a dorm building.
Lack of privacy
Adjusting to the lack of privacy that comes from having so many people around can be really challenging for a lot of students. Even if you shared a room at home, you probably didn’t live in a hall with so many other people. This lack of privacy is a big reason why some students choose not to live in dorms if they have the choice.
This might seem silly, but colleges, in general, are not known for having exceptional laundry facilities. Not only do you have to remember to do your laundry, but you have to haul it to the laundry room and hope that there is a free washer available. Later, you have to remember to move it to the dryer and then bring it back up. Many articles of clothing will end up lost forever in the college laundry room.
How to Survive Dorm Life in College: 3 Tips
There are tons of tips and tricks that you can find all over the internet on how to survive your time living in a college dorm, but we’ve put together a few of our favorites for you.
1. Know your limits and expectations
While this might seem more related to living with a roommate, it is important to know what your limits are in terms of noise and cleanliness both in your room and around your hall. Understanding what level of mess and noise you are ok with can help you better in communicating calmly when something is bothering you.
2. Learn your resources and who you can go to and talk
Your hall leader, usually called an RA, is a great resource and one that you should not be afraid to use. They are there to help you make the transition to college and aid in living in a dorm. They have been through all of this themselves, so they can offer advice. They are also in charge, so if you are uncomfortable confronting someone about an issue, your RA should be able to help you out.
3. Don’t be part of the problem.
If you are a morning person, try to be respectful of the people still asleep when you get up and leave in the morning. Make sure that just because you want to stay up late, you aren’t keeping everyone else up late too. Taking small steps to help maintain a calm environment and respecting quiet hours can go a long way towards making your college dorm experience better.
Should You Live in a Dorm for College?
When determining if you should live in a dorm at your college, you should think about the style of college that you are going to. If you are going to a smaller, liberal-arts school, you will most likely be required to live in the dorms for at least your first year, but there may be fewer requirements if you go to a big state school.
Generally, students who live in dorms for their first year of college learn a lot about how to live with others, have an easier time making friends, and, overall, adjust to college life. While not everyone will thrive in a dorm environment, it is a great place to learn and, since it is so close to campus, it is a great place to live while you find your place on campus.
Some schools in more urban areas won’t even have enough dorms to provide housing for their whole freshmen class, so you will have to decide what is best for you. A dorm is a more controlled setting, while an apartment leaves a lot more up to you and your roommates to figure out. A dorm has a built-in support system, while an apartment is much more independent.
Take some time to think about your housing needs and if they align more with a dorm or an apartment. Perhaps you have always been super independent and are going to school with a bunch of people you know. In that case, an apartment might work for you. If you tend to have a hard time finding friends, perhaps a dorm would be best for you. It all depends on what you are able to do and what you want to do.
Another thing you should make sure that you look at is the price your school charges for a dorm room and compare it to the average price of an apartment near your school. There are often a lot of extra costs with apartments, such as parking, wifi, and utilities to take into account, which can add up fast.
Overall, picking where you want to live in college is a personal choice that you should make based on your experiences and your school. Each school is different, and each person is different, so even if your best friend thinks that living in an apartment is right for them, a dorm might still be right for you.
Wrapping Things Up: Pros and Cons of Living in College Dorms
A college dorm can be a great place or a horrible place. It all depends on what you make of it. If you go into a dorm expecting it to be just like living at home, you might not be too happy. If you go into a dorm open to new experiences and friends, then your time living in a college dorm might become a fond memory of yours.
Check out our ultimate college dorm essentials checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need when you move into your new living space.