How do dorms work in the US?

Usually movies and TV shows aren't the most accurate way to see how stuff works in real life so I thought I'd ask here.

And more specific parts; can you choose your roommate, like if you have a friend going to the same University?

Are there different types of dorms, which you can get with more money or something? (Like two seperate rooms, kitchen attached etc)

And is it normal to go visit your parents should they live close by?

(This is very usual where I'm from.)

6 Answers

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  • 2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    1. Many Universities will allow to students to request each other as roommates. The vast majority of U.S. university students do no pick their own roommates.

    2. For the most part, dorms are either shared bedrooms along a hallway with a large shared bathroom for the hall as well as some kind of shared sitting room area for that hall OR a suite with 2 or 3 shared bedrooms, a shared sitting room, and bathroom just shared those in the suite.

    3. Apartment-style dorms are usually reserved for upper division students or married students and are not that common.  Most public U.S. universities only guarantee dorm housing for freshman year and then student rent apartments off campus or live in fraternity or sorority houses.

    4. Most u universities do have a few single room -- often reserved for student who have a valid reason for not sharing.  This do cost more but the only difference is that it isn't shared.  Students can't pay more for a better dorm room.  After they move off campus, they can choose to pay as much as they want for a better rental apartment or house -- that isn't part of the university.

    5. University housing is pretty much standard costs for all dorms at the particular university.

    6. It isn't recommended that student return home to visit parents regularly.  Of course, it depends on the school and individual students. Most first year students are not allowed to have cars on campus, so they can only return home via public transportation (if available), getting a ride, or having someone come get them.  Many students in the U.S. live hundreds of miles from home, so the time to travel and or the cost to fly is prohibitive. 

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  • drip
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Yes, you can choose your own roommate. When you fill out your housing form you request them and they must request you to be paired up.

    There are many types of dorms. Even on the same campus you could find different dorm styles. 

    In California where my niece went to university it is common to have two bedrooms (2 people each) separated by a small room for a sofa and Tv and a small kitchen and a bath shared by all four.  More of a small apartment. This is more the norm there.  This was a medium sized state university. 

    My son was in an old dorm. A long hallway with rooms on either side. Rooms are for two.  The first floor had a common room with a pool table and TV with chairs and sofa.  No kitchen in the dorm building  You went to another building for the one and only dining hall. Small fridges were allowed in the room.  One large bathroom the floor all shared. This was a small private university in Kentucky.

    My daughter was in a brand new dorm.  Still a hallway with rooms for two.  Showers were shared by three rooms or six students. Each floor had a full sized kitchen and seating area plus a flat screen TV and sofa and Chairs. They had study areas on each floor. They had a small snack store on the first floor. They had a quiet study rooms and computer rooms on the first floor.  Her dorm building was probably 4 times bigger than my son’s dorm building.  She was in Honors  College. She had to have over a 3.7 to be admitted into the Honors College. Her dorm was only for Honor Students, they had to maintain a 3.6 to stay in Honors College and in the dorm. They had a few classrooms on the first floor. They held , small (<15 students)  colloquium Honor student classes in them. It was one of the nicer dorm buildings on campus.  Dorm costs can vary on the same campus.  They had one big dining hall and a couple smaller cafes on campus to eat at.  This was a smaller public state university. She did have a private single room her senior year. There are few single rooms and usually upper level students have first dibs on them.

    Dorms are furnished. Bed, desk, chair, dresser, closet. Washer and dryer area per building. 

    Students who live in a dorm have to buy a meal plan. These vary in cost. 

    The USA is huge and most students don’t live near home. One university near us is Northern Illinois University.   It has a large commuter student population. ( “suitcase school”) But at most schools student stay on campus.  It is not encouraged to go home every weekend, but to stay on campus. To get use to student life and being on your own. Getting work done. Many students have campus jobs.   US campuses offer a great deal to to do. Recreation centers with pools, running tracks, basketball courts and more. Sport games to attend. Movies.  My daughter’s campus had a four theaters. One large one that the town used as well. Many professional touring groups performed there and students got heavily discounted tickets.  Both my kids went to school in another state.  My daughter was a almost a five hour drives away and my son was a 10-11 hour drive. My sister’s 4 kids all went a university about an hour from home. They lived on campus and rarely went home for the weekend. They had their own things to do, friends to see, projects to finish and would stay on campus. Even students who go to university in their own state can be five+ hour drive from home.  From Chicago to Southern Illinois University is a 6 hour drive or more with traffic. It is not uncommon for students to be very far from home.

    After a student finishes freshman year many get off campus housing. Or by junior year they off campus.  Sharing an apartment or house with other students.  

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  • 2 months ago

    you have to ask the specific university about their specific accommodations and policies.

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  • DON W
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The typical old-style US university dorm is arranged with hallways with rooms on either side with a restroom in the middle, housing two students each.  Beginning about the 1960s the hallway style was replaced by "suites", with three or four two-person rooms surrounding a common sitting/study area, and a restroom for each suite.  Beginning about the 1990s, dorms began to look more like apartment buildings, with each room having its own restroom plus a variety of common areas, such as a workout area and lounges.

    First year students usually have little or no say in what type of dorm they are assigned, and typically are assigned to the older dorm, although there may be an "honors" dorm for students who are in an "honors" program.  Also, oftentimes international students have their own dorm which stays open throughout the academic year, unlike the other dorms that close during holiday breaks.

    Dorm rates usually do not vary much based on the type of accommodation, although single-person rooms, where available, usually do cost more than shared rooms.

    First year students typically have to live in a dorm, unless they live very close by with their parents, in which case they can, upon request, be permitted to live at home.

    Most colleges suggest that first year students minimize their trips home, at least until the November (Thanksgiving) break, in order to ease their transition into campus life.  But, they can go home whenever they wish.

    Most colleges permit you to request a specific roommate throughout your college career.

    At most colleges, after your first year, you can live off campus if you wish, in housing usually not controlled by the college.

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    There is no single answer.   Dorms are different in every college, ranging from 2 person cement block cells, to upscale 4 bedroom, 2 bath apartments with shared kitchen and common space, for example. Yes, dorms can vary in price and quality at the same college. Most dorm services allow some sort of preference or choice of roommate/s, especially after the Freshman year.

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  • John
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    At my college, incoming freshmen were assigned roommates.  For ones second year, one could make requests.  Since those were prearranged between friends, the requests were almost always granted.  Many schools have a variety of dorms.  They can differ in cost based on the amenities provided.  Nowadays most colleges also allow a choice of male, female, or coed dorms (or dorm sections). 

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