Last Updated: March 06, 2022
Living in a Dormitory
A dormitory is by definition accommodation that is provided to students by the university they are studying in. Most of the best universities in the US provide dormitories to students though students will mostly be provided accommodation based on the availability of rooms. At the same time, it is not often that students opt for in campus accommodation due to the restrictions they might have and the limited amenities such accommodations might have.
Dormitories will often require students to share their space with 1 or 2 other students and while most dorms have private bathrooms, it is not uncommon for students to have to use shared bathrooms. Such accommodations can either be co-ed or with a single-gender based on the institution. While dormitories may not have fancy amenities one will look for in an apartment, they will have handicap accessibility. Students will have to cross-check with the university as to what amenities are available in the dormitories they provide.
Different Dormitory Options for Students
There are different kinds of dorms that are provided by universities. While dormitories may seem to be similar in a lot of aspects, the housing styles provided can vary based on the location and facilities the university is offering to the candidate. A few of the housing options that most universities in the US provide are as follows-
- Private rooms in a suite or corridor hall.
- Suite with rooms that are connected by a common hall.
- Corridor-hall with rooms shared between roommates.
- Apartment housings with shared facilities including rooms, kitchen, common space, and bathroom.
- Private room with no roommates.
General Features of a Dormitory
While dormitories can vary from institution to institution, the general rules and restrictions along with the amenities made available for students are similar. Students will be provided with a bed, chair, table, and garbage can irrespective of which dorm they are in. But students will be able to customize their rooms according to their interests. The most important things that students purchase include storage bins, mini-fridge, laundry hampers, linens, cushions, etc. Other features and restrictions that students will get to know are-
- Dorm Meetings- Students who stay in dorms will have monthly meetings with their residential supervisor. Dorm meetings are places where they will be updated about the rules and restrictions that they have to follow along with information regarding dorm events.
- Visitor Rules- Visitors will mostly be allowed at select time periods in the day. There can also be gender restrictions in the kind of visitors one can have unless the dorm is co-ed.
- Time Restrictions- Curfew time is common in dormitories with students not being allowed to step out after the set time. If they have to step out due to an emergency, they will have to procure permission from the person in charge.
- Allowing Pets- Pet-friendly dorms are not common in the US since a large number of people will be staying in such a closed setting. It is highly unlikely that students will be allowed to keep pets.
- Smoking is Prohibited- Smoking and other substances are prohibited in dorms and there will be random inspections of rooms to check whether students are sticking to the rules.
- Avoiding Fire Hazard- College dorms often do not allow students to keep items that can cause a fire hazard. This can include string lights, cooking appliances, space heaters, candles, etc.
- Staying in the Dorm- Students are not required to stay inside the dorm at all times. They can choose to stay out if need be unless the campus is on a lockdown during which they will be required to stay within the dorm.
Best Dorms in the US
A few of the best dorms in the US are-
- Johnson University
- Grand Canyon University
- California University of Pennsylvania
- Regent University
- High Point University
- Loyola University Maryland
- Elon University
- Rice University
- Emory University
- Texas Christian University
Cost of Living in a Dormitory
The cost of living in a dorm varies from place to place and institution to institution. If one is to wonder whether a dorm will be cheaper than an apartment, this will be entirely dependent on the housing prices in the area their institution is situated in. But for the most part, living in a dorm can be way more expensive than living off-campus. This is mainly because the student will then have control over their expenses including utility and food. If they are to take accommodations away from the campus, they will be able to find cheaper spaces to live in thereby considerably reducing the rent they have to pay.
While it may come as a surprise that dorms are relatively more expensive, it is true in most places in the US owing to the factor that living on campus and the benefits associated with it are highly valued in today’s society. But at the same time, some universities will have the financial aid they provide cover part of the dorm expenses the candidate incurs. In such instances, living in a dorm will be highly beneficial for the candidate.
The average cost of living in a dorm at public institutions and universities can range anywhere between $8,500 and $11,000 whereas the average cost in private institutions can range anywhere between $10,000 to $13,000. These are only average figures and can be higher in the most prestigious and Ivy League universities in the country.
Advantages of Living in a Dormitory
The advantages of living in a dorm comprise mostly of the advantages students will have while living on campus in the university they are studying in. Students who live in dorms will be able to have instant social access to people on the campus be it their department staff or their classmates. They will also be able to interact closely with students from other departments since the people they share the floor with or room with can be any other person from the university. Other advantages that students will have while living in a dorm include-
- Students will not have to bother about the commute time since they will be living within the campus. Even if the dorm is a distance away from the classroom, students will be able to bike their way or walk the distance.
- Students will not have the hassle of paying utility bills nor will they have to find the means of repairing things that break.
- The social life that students will be acclimatized to during their stay in the dorm will help them create networks that can last a lifetime and contribute heavily to their career life.
- Students will be able to participate in campus activities without worrying about traveling back to their accommodation irrespective of the time they have to spend for the same.
Disadvantages of Living in a Dormitory
The disadvantages of living in a dormitory are mostly based on the restrictions that are placed on students within the campus. While dorms are the easiest option for international students, this will mostly be restricted to the first nine months when they do their program. Most universities offer sure accommodation only for the first year of their education. After this, they are required to shift off-campus to provide space for the next batch of students. A few other disadvantages of staying in a dorm include-
- Dormitories can be packed with students from all educational and cultural backgrounds which can be make co-existing a tiring experience if one is not open to it.
- The amount of personal space one can get in a dorm is comparatively way lesser than they will while taking a shared apartment elsewhere. Personal space will also be invaded by the restrictions and rules they will have to adhere to at all times irrespective of the situation they are in.
- Due to the number of people in the dorm, it might be hard for students to find a quiet environment to study in. While they can always opt for study areas and libraries, students who wish to study in their rooms might find the process difficult.
- Students will mostly have to use shared bathrooms and common areas which will often mean guarding one’s belongings while using the common spaces.
- Living in a dorm needn’t always be a less expensive setup since students will have to pay for the amenities whether or not they have used things a lot. The common expenses will be part of the fee they annually pay which can range between $11,000 to $13,000 per year based on the institution the candidate is attending.
Dorms vs Private Housing- Key Differences
The key differences between staying in a dorm and private housing will be about the lifestyle the candidate is living and the institution they are attending. While the restrictions that students face can be off-putting, this isn’t the case at every university housing. There are campuses where rules and restrictions are comparatively less. It is the same regarding dorm expenses. While in some places students will be able to find studio apartments at a lower cost than a dorm, other places might have dorms that are relatively less expensive than taking an apartment.
The differences will include-
- Dorms will not always guarantee students a space of their own. Bedrooms are often shared in dorms which will provide students with less personal space. This is unlike an apartment where students will have to share their spaces with only their roommates.
- Apartments will provide students with the freedom of living at their own pace. Dorms will have curfews, frequent inspections, and some of them even have gender restrictions based on the institution the student is part of. This is in contrast with restrictions on parking and noise that apartments might have.
- Students who live in dorms will not have to bother about utility and other expenses since most of the time even food will be provided for the dorm fee they pay. While living in an apartment, students will have to pay their utility bills and cook their meals or eat out depending on what works for their budget.
Safety Concerns While Living in a Dorm
The safety concerns that one must focus on while living in a dorm are mostly about the caution one must keep while living with a large number of people all of whom are strangers. Since students will be staying with one or more roommates and sharing living and bathroom spaces, it is ideal for them to keep track of their belongings at all times. Other things they can make a note of include-
- One should lock up their expensive belongings including electronic items when they are not in the dorm. This will include laptops and other valuables the student might have.
- It is ideal to leave the dorm room locked during the night and when one is not in the room. This is true even when they are moving away to use the common areas including the bathroom.
- Important documents including bank details and academic transcripts must be kept safely. Leaving sensitive information around can cause unnecessary trouble especially if it goes missing. Students can keep a list of things they are leaving in the dorm to keep track of what they have and avoid misplacing them.
- Fires are common in dorms especially considering how a large number of young people stay in one place. It is ideal for students to know the fire escape route.