College dorms once offered students little more than a roof over their head. You’ll find that dorm life is quite different today. To compete for students, many schools provide resort-like amenities, as reported in The Fiscal Times in 2012. For example, the freshman dorm at Kennesaw University in Georgia boasts an art gallery, restaurant and coffee shop. If you decide to live in a dorm, you’ll be invited to programs that help students meet people, socialize and adjust to college. While all that sounds great, there are disadvantages. You may prefer living at home or in an off-campus apartment if you’re concerned that limited space, lack of privacy and social distractions of a dorm are huge drawbacks.
Advantage: Friends and Fun
Information is disseminated throughout the year about upcoming programs and events in the dorm, such as dances, movie nights, root beer kegs, pizza parties and barbecues. It’s easy to make friends when you’re living in close proximity to other new students who are hoping to expand their social circle. You’ll likely have one or more resident advisers on your floor who are students charged with creating a sense of community where everyone feels respected and included. RAs often lead floor meetings where residents can suggest floor or hall activities, such as volleyball tournaments.
Advantage: Learning Opportunities
Many colleges offer educational programs in the dorms that teach students important skills, such as time management and note taking strategies. Professors and staff advisers may visit students in the dorms offering academic advice, mentoring and fireside lectures. Several schools promote living learning communities where students take classes together and live in the same dorm organized around a common interest theme. For example, students at Miami University in Ohio can select from an array of themed living learning communities, such as honors, environmental awareness, leadership and international business.
Disadvantage: Space Restrictions
If you have lots of stuff, living on campus could prove challenging. The average dorm room can't accommodate a 42-inch television and entertainment center, for example. You’ll also need to conform to dorm rules that may require you to leave certain prized possessions at home, such as your pet boa constrictor, drum set, water bed or deer hunting rifle. Students living on campus must also adhere to rules about alcohol and drug use. Some schools prohibit students from possessing alcohol in their room even if they’re 21 years old. Commuting from home or living in a spacious off-campus apartment may be a better fit if space is a major concern.
Disadvantage: Limited Privacy
Dorms are generally not soundproof. This means you can hear students yelling in the hallway, roommates arguing across the hall and countless loud stereos with throbbing bass. In addition to overhearing other students’ conversations, your voice may carry when talking on a cell phone or hosting guests in your room. If you have roommates, you may be subjected to their friends stopping by at all hours. You may have to share a community bathroom and stand in line to take a shower. Having your roommate around all the time can feel invasive, especially if you never shared a room with a sibling.
- The Fiscal Times: 10 Public Colleges with Insanely Luxurious Dorms
- College of Southern Idaho: Student Housing
- Miami University: Residential Life
- Saint Louis University: College Dorm Room FAQ
- Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able?; P. Carol Jones and Patricia Wilkins-Wells
- Photo Credit Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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