Beyond the Box – The New Faces of Dorm Living
When you hear the word “dorms,” you probably think of cramped, one-size-fits-all rooms that house two, three or even four students. Well, the dorm rooms of your parents’ and grandparents’ generations are still around – but the good news is that there are a few trends pioneering a new frontier in your upcoming college living experience. In the 21st century, opportunities are aplenty for a more comfortable (or at least more interesting) dorm experience, so check out these options when you’re deciding on colleges.
One trend that’s gaining ground is the green housing movement. At several colleges around the country, students are opting to live in cooperative housing and “student habitats” that encourage community living and environmental sustainability. For example, Michigan State University has a 12-property Student Housing Cooperative in which students share living, cooking, cleaning and repair skills with one another and with the surrounding community of East Lansing.
Likewise, at Oberlin College, four historic cooperative houses exist to help students learn democratic living. The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association’s goal is to “provide at-cost housing and dining services to hundreds of students at Oberlin College,” according to Oberlin’s website. Students cook and dine together, and while meat is anoption,the houses also serve vegans and vegetarians.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is luxury housing, which some campuses are offering as a way to draw students to their schools.At Wingate University in North Carolina, a new $12 million living facility boasts a pool, clubhouse, fitness center and other facilities not usually offered in typical dormitories. Similarly, UCLA has more luxurious amenities that include wall-sconce lighting, wood-stained doors and even its own restaurant! Dazzling new facilities tend to create a greater draw for students who may not be swayed by other factors, although they could likely be less affordable to students in the current economy.
If you think your roommate’s an animal, well, maybe he literally is! One more trend hitting the nation is the “pet-friendly” dorm. At schools such as Stephens College in Missouri, Washington & Jefferson College, and Case Western Reserve University, wings of selected dormitories are reserved for students who want to bring their pets with them to school. Some of these schools only allow certain types of pets (Case Western Reserve doesn’t allow dogs, for example), so make sure to check beforehand to see if your pet is eligible for dorm life. And remember that rules are usually adjusted as trends grow:At Eckerd College in Florida, a huge boa constrictor scared residents, so the following year, the college adopted a size limit rule for snakes!
Whatever your fancy, as you think more about college, make sure you keep an eye on the options that could be tailored to your living preferences. You might stumble across more choices than you thought.