College Visits and the Myth of the Model Dorm Room

The model dorm room is a myth – you know this, right?

not a model dorm roomA campus tour is not complete without a peek at a model dorm room.  In the few seconds you’ll have to stick your head in the room and glance around, you’ll likely notice two things: the room is small and nicely decorated.

While the size of the room won’t vary much when your teen comes to college, you can bet that the chosen decor won’t look like the model room for very long, if ever.

In fact, you may discover when you visit your teens in college that they’ve discovered creative ways to enhance their dorm room using every day objects. (See photo on left.)


Dr. Nancy Berk, parent, pyschologist, humorist, and frequent contributor to Smart College Visit, tackled this topic in Bed, Bath and Beyond Embarrassing:  Dorm Decorating Tips From My Son.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Last week USA Today College posted advice for dorm decorating that would make students “feel at home”. Inexpensive tips from paint color to flameless candles, and lace trim to glass vessels for nail polish, transformed drab dorms into shabby chic cool. While I was ready to move in, it was apparent these beautiful solutions wouldn’t make my college-bound kid feel at home. Have you seen his room? Let’s just say, he won’t be using accent pillows until there’s a relationship and a commitment pushing him into it.”

To move beyond the myth of the model dorm room, ask the campus tour guide to walk you through the whole floor of a dorm, or ask a real college student if you can see their dorm room but don’t be surprised if styrofoam turns out to be the focal point of the room.