Post # 1
OK, so my daughter is in high school, thinking about colleges.
I am wondering what it is like to live in a college dorm today. As a parent, I am imagining the worst – a real party atmosphere and a lot of pressure to drink. I also hear about the acquaintance rape that happens on campuses.
I realize that each campus is different, so if you could maybe share YOUR experience. What are the pros and cons?
I went to college a long time ago, and never lived in a college dorm, so I don’t really know what it is like. Perhaps you younger bees could help me out.
Post # 2
College dorms are not as bad as the movies depict them. Yes there is partying, and yes she will probably drink. Overall however there is little pressure as people are more mature than they were in highschool. If she says no they won’t pester her too much. Look into getting her a single room if she’s open to it. That was my only desire so that if I needed piece and quiet I could always get it, plus the idea of not having any space that was exclusively mine drove me crazy. The worst thing about dorms in my opinion is the shared bathrooms lol. Dorms are great for making friends, and being close to everything you need on campus. I highly suggest them at least for a first year student. After your first year you generally know the people and the area better and are better off finding an apartment (usually with a group of people) close to cammpus.
Post # 3
Carolsays: Honestly, my freshman dorm was pretty wild. Lots of partying and drinking, but I never felt any real pressure to participate when I didn’t feel like it. Yes, my mom probably would have been in shock at some of the goings on that year, but it was seriously the most fun year of my life. I met all of my best friends (and my FI) that year, and though I’d never want to do it again, it was great.
That said, I knew it was going to be a pretty crazy atmosphere, and if I hadn’t wanted that, I would have chosen another dorm. At my college, the dorm I lived in was infamous for being a party dorm, and if that wasn’t what you wanted, you simply requested a different dorm.
I’m sure your daughter is a smart girl and will make the right choices in terms of college, drinking and partying. You can’t protect her forever, and as hard as it is, you need to let her decide what’s right for her.
I’m sure my post has only made you worry more!
Post # 4
- Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL
Living in a dorm was…. interesting. Lol, there’s no other word to describe it. My dorm was coed, so there were a few all male floors and a few all female floors. I went to a pretty prestigious and small college for my undergrad, so there definitely weren’t raging parties in the dorms or anything (we had Residence Assistants (RAs) who kept us in check). But, because our college was so competitive and challenging, they actually encouraged us to drink (yes, even underage). There were no punishments for getting caught on campus with booze or even being drunk in class. I pretty much worked all of that out of my system my freshman year, testing my limits with drinking and missing classes, etc. I think all freshmen go through this, at least a little – once they experience freedom for the first time.
The major parties happened at the frat houses on campus or off campus. Freshmen are always invited to the parties, and during “rush” when they recruit their new members you’ll expect a lot of partying and drinking.
The worst part about dorm life freshman year is the random roommate you’re assigned. I hated my roommate. Hell, I haven’t seen her in 5 years and I still hate her. She was very studious (triple majoring) and would wake up at 6 am everyday, including weekends, turning on all of our lights to work on assignments. She also had some weird quirks, like putting out a pair of dirty granny panties when she knew I was having people over. (Long story)
The best part about living in the dorms is that you’re within walking distance to your classes and get to live by all your friends. We would spend our evenings cooking in the community kitchen and studying together. We could walk to the dining halls whenever we wanted food. There were classrooms in our dorms with private tutors, and we could waltz down to get help with any assignment at any hour of the day/night. We also had maids, and they would change our sheets, make up our beds, take out our trash, and dust/clean everything including our bathrooms.
Partying is going to happen whether your daughter lives on campus or off. I lived on campus for half of my time and then got my own apartment junior year – then got a house with a roommate for senior year.
It’s an experience that I wouldn’t change for anything. IMO, it’s the “true college experience.” I think anyone going to college should get to experience dorm life, for better or for worse. It was worth it to me.
Post # 5
Seconding the poster above. I’m fresh out of college, so I completely agree with this. I also went to a small liberal arts college with a population of around 1,800 students, and the furthest anyone lived was 10 minutes away from campus. Everyone was pretty respectable towards each other regarding partying and drinking. Your daughter will find her people after getting a feel for her campus. Depending on the living situation, the school will will more than likely try to pair her with someone who has her interests or major through surveys if she wants a roommate. A single though, as I learned, is better depending on the type of person she is. I wished that having a single was an option for me because both roommates I had were kinda terrible, but having a single was more expensive. Otherwise, yes, college dorm life isn’t so bad as movies and media depict them to be. As long as your daughter has a good head on her shoulders, she should be fine.
Post # 6
Carolsays: Well, I will preface this by saying that my dorm experience was worse than most peoples, but here goes… I lived in a suite style co-ed dorm, but I was in a economy triple. We had a larger than normal room with three beds and our own bathroom (whereas the non-economy ones had two bedrooms, one single one double, a living room and a bathroom). My roommates were horrible people. They were disgusting pigs, the floor was covered in their dirty clothes and if you cleaned or pushed all their stuff into their area they would get all pissed off. One of them would dye her hair this horrible red color and not clean up afterward, so that bathroom would be covered in red dye and hair. They also had no respect for me. They were friends and they would bring their other friends into our room and cook some sort of drugs on a hotplate on my desk. They would also steal plates and stuff from the dining hall and hide it in my closet. They consistently stole my school supplies and even a couple text books (which I later found in their stuff). If I wasn’t there, they would let their friends sleep in my bed and they had sex on my comfy chair. After the first couple months I stopped staying in my room and basically stayed with the guy I was dating every night. I rarely even went back to my room. Then after move-out I got a bill for damages and had to fight them to not have to pay for the damages my roommates caused.
With that being said, in general, there will be drinking in dorms, but generally with RAs there aren’t going to be wild and crazy parties. Those will probably be off-campus. Most people survive college, it’s a change and you do things your parents wouldn’t necessarily approve of, but you generally turn out ok.
Post # 7
- Wedding: April 2017 - California
I loved my dorm. Sure, my dormmates partied and drank quite a bit, but they never pressured me to do the same and I didn’t end up having my first drink until after I turned 21 (yes, I’m quite the goody two shoes). What makes or breaks things is who her actual roommates will be. I didn’t have the best roommates, but looking back, it was a definite growing experience for me, so I’m glad I went through it. I learned a lesson to tough it up and be more tolerant.
Overall though, I just remember being surrounded by a really great group of people with such a diversity of experiences. I wouldn’t have gotten that if I lived alone off campus or with my parents — the classes I took were large and even in small seminars, there wasn’t really hte opportunity to get to KNOW my classmates. Living in a dorm with them and being able to bond over late-night studying, going to dorm events, and chowing down in the dining hall is when it happens. I learned so much from all my dormmates and many of them became great friends.
Post # 8
My dorm for both my Sophomore and Freshman years at my university was completely coed, so girls could live next door to boys and vice versa, though people only shared bathrooms with others of their own gender. My school isn’t really a party school, it’s extremely focused on academics and the atmosphere during the weekends is like a ghost town. However, there was a decent amount of drinking, people sleeping around, and drug use that I remember. Not necessarily in the dorms, though that did happen quite a bit. I think it’s something you’ll find at any university or college, but the RA’s here take their jobs pretty seriously and are good at telling out of control people to chill out.
I think the best part of living in a dorm was being able to meet so many new people and having all of my friends within walking distance (just down the hall or a couple flights of stairs). Now that I have an apartment, seeing them requires driving or really long walks. I remember my floor from Freshman year was extremely close and we all hung out together to get dinner or just study. I was blessed with an amazing roommate and suitemates (lived through the bathroom), and I still live with my Freshman year roommate to this day because we’ve become best friends.
Unfortunately, you can’t shield your child from the more “negative” aspects of the college experience, only encourage her to make smart choices and branch out beyond her usual comfort zone. I think college is a great time to discover oneself and figure out the person you want to be, but that can only happen if parents can learn to let go and allow their young adult to live their lives, make mistakes, and grow in their own way. I know a significant number of people I met Freshman and Sophomore year whose parents didn’t know how to do that and it really hindered them with the friend making and enjoyment of the on-campus experience.
Post # 9
Carolsays: I’m finishing up my last year of college, so hopefully I can help you out a bit. For freshman dorms, you really don’t need to be worried at most schools. We had RAs on our floors, and they were pretty strict. I’m sure that’s not how it is at all schools, but raging parties didn’t happen in our actual dorms. At fraternities and sororities, yes, the raging parties will happen every week, but that is a completely separate discussion you should have with your daughter about participating in Greek life or not (I did not join, but many of my friends have had good experiences and made lifelong friends). I think it is beneficial to live on campus for at least one year to get an idea of where everything is on campus, but if you are looking to consider off-campus options after that, I think you should be open to it. If you’re trying to decide between letting her live on campus and commuting from home, I HIGHLY recommend letting her live on campus. I’ve actually found it to be a very safe environment, it gives her the opportunity to make friends to get her through all the difficult times at college, there are lots of people who will look out for each other, and it gives her the chance to be independent and responsible for her daily choices (even if it’s as simple as learning how to budget and manage time). There are often a wide variety of dorms to choose from on college campuses, and I chose to live in a dorm that is pretty far from the fraternity and sorority houses. This meant I wasn’t around the party environment in the evenings/weekends, and it was quiet for studying and homework. I have never been pressured to drink or do drugs, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable on my college campus. This all can vary based on the college she chooses, but I think it’s just a good opportunity to talk to your daughter about being safe when she’s on her own. If she goes to parties, always go with other girlfriends and have a buddy system to make sure everyone leaves together as well. Assure her that if she gets into trouble with drinking too much that you would rather her call you for assistance than risk getting in a car accident, getting lost on campus, or doing something else unsafe. Make sure your home is always open to her if she wants to come home for the weekend for food, laundry, rest, studying, or just good company. In general, encourage open communication so that she’ll tell you if something is bothering her about life on campus. I hope some of this helps…..I think living on campus can be a very good experience, and it really completes the college experience.
Post # 10
I wouldn’t trade my dorm experience for anything, and it wasn’t even that great! But it was so necessary to have that since my school was ~30K students. I wasn’t super active in the dorm life, but it felt good to know that I had a home base and a community if I needed it. There wasn’t really any partying in the dorm- that was across campus in the Greek system. I never felt pressured to drink or go crazy. It was not at all like it is in the movies! I had a really hard time my first year of college and I could not have handled living in an apartment or anything on my own.
Post # 11
I went to school in Ontario, so I’m not sure if there is a big difference with American schools or not. But we call it ‘rez’ here, short for residence. I lived in a single room which shared a bathroom with one other girl, it interconnected between our rooms (with locks on the room side of course). Honestly, my roommate was awesome and had she been a nightmare it might have been a different experience. But we ended up living together with a few other people in a house off campus for the years after freshman/first year.
The dorms are a great way to make friends and be social. I can’t tell you the value of being able to walk into someone’s open room down the hall and sit down and chat and really get to know the people who live on your floor. You have a Rez Advisor on the floor, at my school they were strict with alcohol violations, drinking underage, etc. You got 3 strikes and you were kicked out of the dorms.
My rez/dorm was coed. My floor was the only floor that was coed though. The boys were in double rooms (two to a room and a shared communal big bathroom for them) and the girls were on the end of the floor separated by double doors and in single rooms with the connecting bathroom. Each section had a common room which had a big fridge, stove, microwave, toaster, sink, tv and couches, etc. We also shared a study room with everyone in that residence which was cubicles and desks and chairs for ‘quiet study’. The dining hall was close by as were other options you could pay for on your meal card, a Mr. Sub, Pita Place, Pizza Pizza, etc as well as the on campus pub where you could pay for food only (no booze) with your meal card.
But to break it down for you, yes your daughter is going to consume alcohol. Yes she will go to parties. She might also skip a few classes. But she will soon realize how her classes work, how she learns best, and make some incredible connections and new friends. It was the very best thing for me at the time I went.
Post # 12
Carolsays: I’m in my 20s so I was in dorms not too too long ago. It really depends on the school. I went to a school in the middle of a city so there wasn’t really a “campus”. I think “Campus” schools have bigger house parties and stuff- I also think schools with a bigger sports and fraternity scene generally have higher incidents of rape and alochol posioning type stuff.
My school was a small private art school in the middle of a city. It had a huge LGBT population, and it was about 70% women. Dorms were great, they were “dry” but of course there was some drinking on the down low. Since we were basically in a high rise dorm, most of our wild parties were off campus. Most people at my school only lived on campus for a year or two and then got their own places.
In terms of a parent’s worst nightmares- I saw a fair amount of cocaine use. I saw binge drinking, but just normal college style drinking. Nearly everyone smoked weed. Many people smoked cigarettes. Promiscuity was pretty through the roof but as far as I can tell it was almost 99% conscensual. I never heard of assaults at my school. We had lots of “slutty” themed parties- like once we had an “underwear and boots” party or a “strip poker party”, that kind of thing. Since our school had so many women, and also so many LGBTQ kids, it definitely felt safe enough to do this. I’m petite (about 105 lbs.) and conventionally attractive (large bust, thin, conventional face, etc.) and I never had a problem with anyone from my school.
The scariest parties I went to were at the big more traditional colleges- frat guys and athletes seem to engage in a lot more hazing, binge drinking, date raping, wild reckless behavior, etc.
ETA: I would add that even at my super liberal school- I knew two people who were conservatives and didn’t even drink. They still came to our parties and we were all friends- no one cared that they didn’t drink.
Post # 13
Let me give you the perspective of a college sEliot who doesn’t live in the dorms. I think it’s helpful to know the alternative if she doesn’t go away to school.
When I graduated from HS I went to community college to save money. I transferred to a state school my sophomore year, and I feel like I was behind everyone who knew how hard the classes were and already had a year of friendship with people under their belts.
My parents live about 45 mins from my school, but I had to leave an hour and a half early to get there, find parking and walk to class. I also had to enroll in 8 AM courses or else I wouldn’t be able to find parking. I’m paying for school myself, so I found it necessary to work as much as possible. Since I was commuting I also wanted to pack all of my classes as close together as possible so I wasn’t waiting around. It’s hard when you don’t have a bed to go back and lay down in.
I think my grades did suffer a bit because I spent up to three hours per day commuting plus I worked a lot. I didn’t join any clubs, and after three years there I only have a handful of friends. I’m not saying this is everyone’s commuting experience, but I think my college experience would have been so much better had I lived in a dorm, and I will make sure my children are able to do so if they choose. Not everyone will want to drink automatically. I know I wouldn’t have, but being on campus would have made life so much easier.
Post # 14
I went to a smallish (about 2400 students) very selective liberal arts school. It is probably one of the most liberal schools around and proud of it. The dorms were coed, as were the bathrooms. Everyone is shocked by this but it never bothered me. If you didn’t want coed bathrooms you had to live in the one all female dorm which was generally considered to be a lame place to live.
We had no RAs, just sophomore “advisors” who were there to talk things through with you if you had a problem, not enforce rules (again, super liberal school although this was 10 years ago so it might have changed). There was a lot of drinking but I know people who didn’t drink and that was fine. There was a fair amount of pot smoking but I personally never encountered other drugs. Well, except for mushrooms which my friends did once but I didn’t. There was a fair amount of promiscuity as well but I had a boyfriend most of the time in college and never felt pressured or unsafe. There were no fraternities and sports were not a part of college life (no football team). The “cool” kids were the improv group, lol. There were definitely “slutty” themed parties like someone else mentioned and on Halloween our college filled the local emergency room with drunk kids.
There was also a lot of studying though and pressure to get good grades. Everyone I know graduated within four years. Everyone was very smart and driven and certainly not everyone partied.
Post # 15
I have been out college by 10 years, so I’m sure things have changed… but I had a great time living in the dorms. Yes, you have access to know about parties and such. But honestly, when I wasn’t in class or working, I hung out in my room with my roomie, hung out in other friends’ dorm rooms – and we chilled most of the time.
Yes, we went out… but it wasn’t crazy going out. And, that may be due to how I grew up and wasn’t into hard core partying, but was also the “mom” in most circles, looking out for everyone else. I know some people who were like me, but then went crazy in college – for whatever reason they felt like they had to be. I didn’t feel that way, and just kept being me.
I enjoyed it, and still have a few friends from my college days. It allowed you to meet more people living in the dorms than if you lived outside of them. I loved in the dorms my freshman and sophomore year, although sophomore I lived with friends so it was even more fun.