Choosing A Dorm: What to Look For

Choosing a dorm is a decision that can impact your entire year.

Choosing dorm room tips -- Important as you prepare to leave the nestEach year, college students everywhere make a big decision: on campus or off.  Although the idea of an off-campus apartment is tempting, living in the dorms has perks, too.

Convenience, price, and community all factor
in. Once you’ve made the decision to live on campus, your next step is choosing a dorm.

Even though the dorms are all on the same college campus, it’s possible they can be very different from each other. Schools often add on new buildings and remodel in spurts, causing some dorms to be radically different in size and amenities. When you’re choosing the dorm you want to live in this
year or next, take into account the most important features.

Room Size

You’re going to spend the next semester in this room doing everything from eating to studying to sleeping. Size matters in this decision. The dimensions and floor plans are listed on all of the brochures, but you should also go see it in person. It may feel different when you’re standing there. And don’t forget to factor in the number of roommates expected to share the space. Usually the larger the dorm room, the more students will be living there.


After you’ve checked out the size, it’s time to consider the next most important feature: the bathrooms. You may not think the bathroom situation is very important but remember you’ll be using it multiple times a day. Whether it’s attached to your dorm room or down the hall makes a difference. You should also consider how many people you’ll be sharing it with. As a rule, the less convenient the bathroom, the further down that dorm should be on your list of possibilities.


Living in the dorms means that your mother won’t be doing your laundry anymore. You need to find a convenient place to get your clothes clean.

Do any of the dorms you’re considering have laundry facilities in them? Where are they located? You need to know if you will need to drag your bags down six flights of stairs to get to the basement. Are the washers and dryers pay-for-use? Is there a change machine nearby if quarters are required? How many machines are there and how many students are expected to share them? You need to know in advance if you’re going to be scheduling laundry at 3am on Tuesday mornings to avoid the rush.


They say the real estate is all about the location. Choosing a dorm is no different. Every student has several places they need convenient access to, such as the cafeteria and the buildings where their classes are. How close is your chosen dorm to the places you need to get to? If you have a car, you should also consider parking. If you have to walk a mile to get to the parking lot, you might as well just walk to class.

Special Group Dorms

Some schools designate dorms or portions of dorms for special groups. Examples include students who don’t smoke, athletes, or students seeking a certain degree. The idea behind these special dorms is that like minded students can create a better living space for each other. If you’re allergic to cigarette smoke, living in the dorm designated for nonsmokers can really improve your quality of living. Another perk is that you get to room with like minded students. An athletic dorm is full of students that have to meet curfew, go to daily practices, and keep a certain grade point average to compete. Of course, the flip side of living in specialized dorms is that you limit your ability to meet people who aren’t into the same things you are.

Author Bio: Laura Wilson is blogger and Brand Manager for OCM, leading online supplier of dorm essentials.

Related: From ordinary to organized: Make the most of your dorm room


Updated July 2019