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College Residence Halls and Dorms

Updated on September 25, 2011

Your first semester of Freshman year can be very challenging. To complicate the matter, you may have to share a bedroom. If you aren't going to be rooming with a pre-selected friend, your school will generally match you with someone of the same gender. Generally, they base it on study habits, and often interests, but that depends on the school and sometimes on the individual residence hall. The biggest difficulty for most people is the fact that they have to share a room, often with a complete stranger.

In some cases, schools have various “special” dorms. For example, some students may choose to live in the honors dorm. This dorm may have quiet areas and even curfews. Rather than cost, choices are generally governed by seniority. Seniors and grad students generally have the best dorms. Freshman often get last pick.

If you get the option to choose a dorm, here are a few things to keep in mind. Generally there are 2 types of dorm bathroom setups, one is where 2 adjacent rooms share a bathroom. The other is where an entire hall shares a common bathroom. While at first the bathroom shared between two rooms sounds like a good idea, it can be a challenge if schedules conflict, or if someone takes forever getting ready. Generally too, the shared bathroom is cleaned by you and your roommates. Because of this, I generally prefer the public bathroom. It is cleaned daily by professional staff, and typically is large enough that waits should be minimal, if they ever occur at all.

Another thing to look at is the proximity of cooking and dining halls. In some universities, there may be only a single common cafeteria, while other schools may have a dining hall in each dorm. Even if you have a full meal plan, you want to make sure that there is an oven and stove in your building. There will be days when you may wish to eat your favorite comfort food.

Generally, Dorms consist of “halls”. Each hall will generally have its own bathroom (s), study and storage areas. Dorms are generally led by a Resident Assistant (generally referred to as an R.A.), who may hold several meetings to vote on rules. For example, your hall may agree on quiet hours, or to implement a recycling program. Sometimes halls also organize intramural sports teams or study groups.

Finally, you may also want to look at a building’s security. Many dorms require the use of electronic ID cards for entry. While this can be a pain at times, it can dramatically improve safety and reduce theft. Another way to reduce theft is to be sure to lock the door when you are not present, even if you will just be down the hall.


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