A dorm room provides a unique living experience at the center of college life.
Dorm Room Options
- Most dorm rooms are designed to house two students. During times of overcrowding, three students may be asked to share one of these rooms, but the third student will be moved out as soon as possible.
- A few dorm floor plans house four students in a double-sized room, or a room combining two bedrooms and a living area.
- Single rooms are available to a small percentage of returning students.
- While most dorms force students to rely on cafeteria meal plans, a few offer kitchen facilities. Most of these dorms are only open to upper level students unless a freshman has special dietary needs that make the traditional cafeteria plan impractical.
- Some floors and dorms are created with specific themes or programs in mind. Floors may be reserved for members of the Honors College or students who are interested in immersing themselves in a foreign language. Other dorms set aside space for students pursuing a specific degree so the students can create a learning community.
- Dorms usually offer special room designations for those wishing to stay in a non-smoking or alcohol-free room. This may be by resident request or a requirement of living in a particular dorm.
Unless you grew up in a large family, this may be the first time you've ever shared a room. It can take some time to adjust to the change. Your roommate is the one person you'll spend the most time with during the school year. Some roommates become the best of friends and have a great time together. Other roommates don't quite click. However, for the sake of your sanity, you want to make every effort to at least get along with each other. Lay down ground rules, if necessary, like limits on overnight guests or phone usage. Keep the lines of communication open. If the conflict grows too great for you to resolve on your own, call on outside help, like your resident assistant.
If you're not rooming with a someone you know, you will receive the name and address of your roommate during the summer. This gives you a chance to contact him or her and to start getting to know each other. It also allows you to start talking about the supplies you need for the year. You really only need one television, microwave, futon, carpet, and so on in each room, so you can take stock of who already owns what and split the other purchases.
The Resident Assistant (RA) is a student who is in charge of a dorm floor. RAs serve as resources and mentors to the students on their floor in addition to keeping the peace by issuing citations for noise violations and other infractions. The RA will also call floor meetings and plan floor events to help the residents get to know each other better.
Space is always an issue in dorm rooms. No matter how large the room, you can count on it not being quite big enough for all of you and your roommate's possessions. Sometimes this means leaving a few things at home. Other times, it means getting creative with storage options. Under-the-bed storage containers, closet organizers, and lofts are just a few of the possibilities.
If dorm regulations allow it, a popular way to free up space in a dorm room is to install a loft. A loft is a wood structure that lifts bed frames off the floor, freeing up space. It's like having a bunk bed without the lower bunk. Lofts are big business in college towns, so you're sure to see flyers advertising the services of loft builders around your dorm. You can also ask other students who already have lofts for their recommendations. If you or your parents are handy with a hammer, you can make your own lofts. However, since they will need to pass inspection, you may be better off going with an experienced builder in the area. If you already live in the dorms and would like to use a loft next year, you may be able to purchase a used one from a student who is graduating or moving to an apartment.
Some dorms are set up in suites, which means two rooms share a bathroom. The bathroom may be placed so it connects the two rooms, or two bedrooms in a suite may share a sitting area and a bathroom. Other dorms offer community bathrooms. This means each floor has one large bathroom with enough sinks, showers, and toilets for several users at a time. Community bathrooms are typically locked with a key for safety and privacy. Needing a key every time you visit the bathroom can be inconvenient, but with multiple toilets and showers, you're more likely to find the bathroom free when you need to use it. The other advantage of a community bathroom over suites is the dorm is responsible for keeping it clean; some students would gladly give up the convenience of a suite bathroom if it meant never having to scrub a toilet.