(By James Woodson)
Before we even get to college, we hear horror stories about dorm life and prepare to move into an apartment ASAP following freshman year. In reality, dorms are more like all-inclusive resorts than houses of horror. Dorms allow students to delay the responsibilities of adulthood for a few more years and fully experience college. What 20-year-old wouldn’t want that?
Here are 10 good reasons to live in a dorm for all four years.
1. Cleaning service included
One of the greatest perks of living in a dorm is the cleaning service. Not only does the cleaning service do your dirty work, but it also saves you time. The facility staff takes out the trash, refills the soap and toilet paper, disinfects the bathrooms and vacuums the common areas — all before you even get out of bed for class! You have the rest of your life to do your own cleaning so let someone else do it for you for a year … or four.
This is an obvious but highly underrated advantage. Your dorm is within walking distance to class, readily prepared food in the cafeteria, the perfect study environment in the library, on-campus parties, sporting events and your best friend’s room. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving to campus or getting parking tickets.
3. Great place to meet new people
Often housing over 100 students, dorms allow you to casually meet people outside of your usual social scene. Whether you are gathering people to play an impromptu game of volleyball or rallying people to make a late-night fast-food run, you have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people that you may not normally run into.
Unless you are living in a highly secure apartment complex (which is usually pretty expensive), most apartments are only protected by the door lock and maybe an entrance gate.
Dorms, however, usually require special key-card access in addition to a door key and are monitored at night by the RA. College campuses often have blue-light security phones around campus and have surveillance by a campus security patrol and/or video cameras. Many schools also provide night shuttles to dorms and escorts for students upon request.
5. Free stuff from your RA
Do you remember freshman year when the RA would shower you with candy for every holiday, throw tie-dye parties and assemble finals week stress-reliever packages? That doesn’t have to stop after freshman year.
All RAs are usually required to provide monthly activities for their residents that normally involve giving away free stuff, especially food. These freebies may sound like inconsequential perks, but you can really fill your stomach and accumulate a lot of free stuff over the years.
6. No bills
You may not fully appreciate this luxury until you live in an apartment. Unlike apartments, dorms do not have leases or monthly bills so there is no worrying about legal contracts or late payments. You pay one big price at the beginning of the semester that usually includes all utilities, Wi-Fi and cable. Also, you don’t have to deal with resetting that pesky Wi-Fi router or running out of hot water.
7. No furniture moving
With everything you want to bring and everything your mom snuck into your bag when you weren’t looking, you already have enough stuff to bring to college. Why add heavy furniture to that list? Plus, an unfurnished apartment will probably require shelves, a dining table, couch and television. All of that is in addition to your bed, dresser and desk. I’m getting stressed out and tired from just thinking about searching, buying, moving and then selling and disposing of all of that furniture at the end of the year.
8. Ultimate entertainment centers
Most dorms will have a game room or at least one form of entertainment. At my university, each dorm had a ping-pong or pool table, a large television in the common rooms and shared access to outdoor basketball and volleyball courts. Sometimes, friends who lived off campus would come to the dorms just to play volleyball or ping-pong. If your dorm does not have any form of entertainment, your hall can put in a request to the RA. My freshman hall requested a new ping-pong table and actually received one within reasonable time.
9. Customize your dorms
Just because you live in a dorm doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live on a hall, share a bathroom with 12 other people or even have a roommate. Many schools offer different types of dorms for upperclassmen. If you don’t want to share a hall bathroom, look into your school’s option for a suite-style dorm. If you don’t want a roommate, then live in a single-occupancy room. If you enjoy cooking, look into the dorm with the best kitchen or look if your school offers an apartment-style dorm. You can still reap all the benefits of living in a dorm without compromising what you really want.
10. Once-in-a-lifetime experience
Dorm life is an integral part to having the complete college experience. People who are ready to turn in their shower shoes after one or two years of dorm life may forget that the dorm experience is a unique opportunity. That not-so-pleasant roommate or that awkward bathroom encounter becomes an amusing story to tell. You will never be this age again and have the convenience — and fun — that a dorm provides. Remember, living in a dorm is only available for four years out of your entire life.
Kasha Patel recently graduated with a chemistry major and journalism minor from Wake Forest University and is attending Boston University for a Master’s in science journalism this fall. She hopes to contribute to the science field through journalism. In addition to writing, Kasha enjoys traveling, ultimate Frisbee, tennis and absolutely loves Scrabble.
Boston University, campus life, college living, dorms, Kasha Patel, on-campus, RA, residences, Wake Forest University, CAMPUS LIFE, VOICES FROM CAMPUS
On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing
Some considerations in comparing on-campus and off-campus housing:
Finding a good place to live takes time, but remember there are a lot of choices. If you're wondering whether you should live on-campus or on-campus, here are some things to consider:
Space in the UW residence halls (dormitories) is limited. If you want to live on campus, you should apply to a residence hall as soon as you can. Generally, the best, least expensive, and most convenient places to live near the university are often filled 2-3 months before a new quarter begins.
If you live in residence hall, you will only need to walk a short distance to classes. Off-campus apartments can be either near or far to campus, but you can usually walk, bike, or bus to the university from many apartments in the University District. There are several other neighborhoods with good buses to the University, including Green Lake, Wallingford, and Ravenna.
Residence hall rooms come with furniture (beds, desks, chairs, closets, etc.) They also have free cable tv and internet access. Off-campus housing may be furnished or unfurnished, and you may need to set up your own telephone, internet, and utilities.
Some residence halls have only limited access to kitchens, and others have in-unit kitchens if you want to cook for yourself. Most residence hall rooms come with a required "dining plan," with a range of levels you can choose from depending on your needs. Choices range from salad bars and sandwiches, to pizza and international food. If you live off-campus, you can cook for yourself - this can be cheaper, healthier, and more flexible than on-campus dining. Please remember that eating at restaurants can become expensive if you do it a lot!
Residence halls are clean and well-maintained; some are brand new or have been open only one or two years. Cheaper off-campus apartments can vary in quality; however, most can be made comfortable. Before signing a contract (lease) for an apartment, make sure to walk around with the landlord and write down any repairs needed for their information and for yours. Make sure the place you want to rent is clean and has everything working well.
Residence halls house hundreds of students, so sometimes it can become noisy. Most residence hall rooms are shared with at least one other person, so you will need to make adjustments and be flexible. However, living in the halls does provide a social atmosphere and the chance to meet friends. If you live off-campus in a room in a shared house, you will also have several people living in the house with you. Living in an off-campus apartment may be quieter, more private, and you can also have more choices about how you live.
7) Legal Obligations:
Contracts for both residence halls and apartments are legally binding documents. Residence hall contracts are for the academic year, but you can leave early by paying an extra fee. Apartment contracts (leases) are more difficult to break; however, you choose the length of a lease before you sign it. Talk about this with your landlord or with Student Legal Services before you sign a lease.
Residence hall costs for room and meals are usually similar to apartment costs off campus. Depending on the neighborhood, you may be able to rent inexpensive off-campus housing with other students and share food, rent, and other costs.
9) Living with a Roommate:
Sharing room or apartment with people can be an interesting experience. To have a good living situation, you should be open and communicate honestly with your roommates. It is a good idea to talk about issues such as privacy, using the phone, schedules, study and social habits, food, chores, cleaning, and finances before problems arise.
Click here for more information on on-campus housing options.