Getting that perfect dorm room in the right location in the correct housing can be a bit stressful. If your dorm selection date is on the horizon, you need to know how to play the game, how selecting one works well ahead of time, and why you should never wait until last minute. Here’s the rundown of what you need to know going forward to get the dorms in college you always dreamed of.
Schools Have Different Approaches to Dorm Room Selection
College and universities don’t follow a single formula when it comes to dorm room selection. It’s essential to find out what approach your school takes. Your friend going to a different school may have a vastly different experience with the process than you.
Some colleges will ask you to select a dorm in college as soon as you accept their offer to attend. Others will have you choose your room during your orientation. Some won’t ask you to select until just a few weeks before you’re due to move in. There are even a few that will select your dorm for you, which isn’t always ideal, but it takes the selection process out of your hands.
How your dorm in college selection process works should be outlined in the acceptance letter details you received, available online, or both. Be sure to read up and understand when dorm selection opens, how the process works, and when it closes. If you have any questions about the process, you’ll want to reach out as soon as possible to get clarification.
Don’t Wait Until Last Minute
Whatever process your school uses for their dorm rooms, you never want to wait until last minute. Waiting will often result in you getting a less than ideal room and any preferences you have will not be taken into account. Delaying in later years, when housing is not guaranteed for your school year, it could even mean you don’t get a dorm room at all on campus. This could force you to have to find an apartment in the town or city.
This advice goes with orientation, too. If your school uses orientation to help students select their dorm rooms, don’t select the latest orientation unless you have to! Delaying your orientation could mean you will have limited dorm room options. Getting the best dates for your “introduction to the school” could equal a great dorm room plus an excellent schedule with all the classes you wanted for your first semester.
Know Your Preferences When It Comes to Your Dorm Room in College
Do you want to room with a friend or someone you’re at least familiar with? Would you rather have a dorm room to yourself? Do you want to meet someone new? Or perhaps you want to live in a suite where you share a small common room (like a living room) with a few other people?
Just like schools have different approaches to their dorm room selection, they also offer different options in room types.
If you want to room with a friend and they offer that option, you need to write that down on your request form. If you’d prefer a room over a suite or vice versa, you should communicate this. And if you want to live alone, you need to complete your housing request as soon as possible as those private rooms fill up the fastest! (They also tend to be the most expensive)
Many schools will take your preferences into account and do the best they can to accommodate what you want. If you’d rather live in one particular dormitory, for example, they will try to place you there as long as it is open to your class year. However, you should note that not all preferences can be met and even though you have specific desires for your dorm. The school is not obligated to meet all or any of your requests.
Understand the Pros and Cons of the Housing Options
While housing options definitely vary from school to school, they could also vary from dormitory to dormitory on the same campus! Before selecting your dorm room in college, you should take the time to understand what options you have available.
Here are just a few examples of how dormitories can vary on a campus:
- Dorms in college have different traditions.
- They have friendly feuds with one another and it’s similar to selecting a “team” when you select a dorm room.
Dorm Halls offer different amenities which could include:
- A dining hall inside the housing
- Larger common kitchens
- Game rooms
- Larger laundry facilities
- RA and tutor assistance
- Air conditioning and heat
- One building may only contain suites, another has only private rooms, and a third has only two person rooms.
- Different types of rooms can have different costs.
- Some rooms accommodate three people rather than two.
- Dormitory buildings can be co-ed or single sex.
- There could be a private bathroom, shared suite bathroom, or common bathroom.
- Some may even allow pets!
You should also think about location. Do you want a dorm room that is closer to the food court? Or closer to your classes? Or somewhere in between?
You’ll definitely have a lot of options to review before you make your decision on a dorm room! But note – some housing options are only for upperclassmen and may not be available to first year students, and vice versa.
The most important thing when it comes to selecting your dorm room for college is being prepared. You should know exactly what you want before you even get started – and well before the “due date” for dorm selection. Waiting can be costly and may result in you getting a less than ideal room. If you’re ever confused about how dorm selection works at your college or need further information, make sure to reach out to your college ahead of time.
Do you want to learn more about what a school offers when it comes to their housing and campus? Every one of our school profiles has a section on Campus Life. Be sure to use our College Search tool to compare schools’ offerings!