Room and Board Made Easy: Which Style of Housing is Right for You?
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“Room and board”: perhaps no two other words strike the same fear into the hearts of rising college freshmen and their parents alike. The process of applying for housing, selecting (or being placed into) a dorm, and getting acquainted with your roommate(s) is as arduous as any standardized test you might have taken on your path to college. You already put in all the hard work just getting to this point: why should you have to grapple with making sure you don’t end up with a dorm you hate or a roommate you have nothing in common with? Having been in your shoes once, we at CollegeVine have set out to compile a comprehensive guide to make your room and board angst a thing of the past.
Highly prized and thought only to exist in myth, a single room is the object of many freshmen’s desires. The prospect of living with a roommate, while exciting to some, can be nerve-wracking for introverted students who feel more comfortable living alone. Singles allow students full discretion over decorations, level of cleanliness, visitors, and more, and this freedom sets singles apart from other types of housing. Not only do you have total control over your room in a single, but also you are exempt from many of the minor and major annoyances that accompany having a roommate. For example, you don’t get woken up by your roommate’s alarm at 7 AM or by the sound of them coming back into the room at 2 AM. The privacy and comfort of a single room helps many students easily transition from having their own room at home to having their own room in college.
Despite the myriad advantages, single rooms have their drawbacks. Perhaps the most obvious is that single rooms are almost always significantly smaller in size. If you dislike cramped spaces, you may be more comfortable in a more spacious room, even if you have to share that space with one or more roommates. Having a roommate may seem daunting initially, but many students find that their roommates are among the closest friends they make their first year of college. Most, if not all students struggle with feelings of displacement and loneliness when first moving to college, and not having a roommate means having to face these issues largely alone, at least for the first couple weeks. In addition, having a single means the all the responsibility for buying food, cleaning, and decorating lies on your shoulders alone; negotiating housekeeping responsibilities with a roommate can result in a system that’s more convenient for you. Finally, singles are rarely offered to freshmen and are usually difficult to obtain.
Having a double or triple room is perhaps the most quintessential freshman year experience. The main bonus of having roommates is that it’s basically like having a built-in friend; especially in the first few weeks, no one really knows anyone else yet, and living with someone else ensures you’ll have someone to hang out with if you’re still getting to know other students in your classes or in your extracurricular activities. For late nights spent doing homework, ordering takeout, or watching TV, having a roommate can mitigate the loneliness that accompanies moving away from family and friends and offer a support system, something that can be extremely valuable when the stress of classes and extracurriculars becomes overwhelming. Roommates can also share the tasks associated with keeping their dorm clean, stocked with snacks and other supplies, and decorated, which takes away some responsibility from each individual and makes room upkeep a team effort. In addition, if a friend or two is attending the same college as you, you have the option of sharing a double or triple, meaning you’ll always have a friend close by.
However, there are some reasons having a double or triple room can be a less-than-ideal situation. Sharing a usually relatively small room with one or two people can be a loss of privacy and personal space that many students find difficult to adjust to. Issues with roommates can have a serious negative impact on your entire year, and mediating disputes can be stressful and unpleasant; many students prefer to forgo any potential drama by living alone. Roommate issues can also arise from differing lifestyles. If your roommate is messy and you’re clean, or if your roommate rises early and you prefer to sleep in, etc., all these situations and more can lead to tension between you and your roommates that adds unnecessary stress to your likely already stressful life. Many people are just more comfortable having ample time and space to themselves; if you feel this applies to you, you may want to seek single or suite/apartment style housing.
Suite or Apartment
A suite or apartment can be an ideal compromise between single and double or triple style living. Suites and apartments allow you to share a living space with several other students without necessarily having to sacrifice the same amount of personal space that you might when living in a double. These rooms typically feature several bedrooms and a bathroom, sometimes with a kitchen as well. The private bathroom is a huge draw for many students who would prefer to avoid the shared hall bathrooms that are characteristic of many college dorms. If your suite or apartment has a kitchen, you can also buy and cook your own food, which can be much more convenient and less costly than expensive meal plans. The layout of most suite and apartment style suites also usually provides for both a bedroom and a living room; this can be convenient for students who don’t want to go to the library or a cafe to study but still like to keep their work and sleeping spaces separate.
One drawback of suite- or apartment-style housing is that it can have a significant effect on the social life of residents. One of the major pros of typical dorm life is that it’s very conducive to meeting new people; a large number of students all living on one floor allows you to easily meet floormates when walking to and from class or doing homework in the lounge. If you live in suite- or apartment-style housing, your social interactions, at least those outside of class and any extracurricular activities, are largely confined to your roommates. Additionally, the same issues that can arise with one or two roommates are just as likely to arise with three or more. The key to a comfortable, stress free suite life is open, honest, and regular communication between roommates to avoid tension and arguments.
Moving to a new place with new people is just one of the major transitions that starting college brings. Armed with our guide, tackling housing will be a breeze, and you can focus on the excitement and adventure that await you in the next year!