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Quill

Anyone here against dorm living for philosophical reasons?

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I just returned from my college reunion and my college friends and I all discussed whether we would want our own kids in dorms.  We all lived in the dorms.  I actually commuted for the first semester and HATED IT.  The commute was long, I missed out on several evening lectures, I had a hard time finding friends, etc.  I felt lonely and isolated and it was not the experience I had hoped for.  My parents moved me into the dorm my second semester and while my roommates were NOT people I would have chosen on my own, I learned a lot from living with them.  One was from Hawaii and the other from New York City and had vastly different personalities.  Since I hadn't been to either place they were from, I learned a lot from them about their own state and culture and they learned from me.  We had to learn to share space (I had always had my own room), adapt to different personality traits and preferences, we had to do our own laundry, and we had to keep the bathrooms neat and relatively clean.  A maid came once every two weeks to give a really good scrubbing, but we were all taking so many hours, it was a relief to know that if we did get a little behind, there was someone to help us out a bit.  Dorms were separated by sex, guys weren't allowed in the girls dorms and vice versa and while one roommate certainly found ways around the rules, I never saw anything.  She just made it clear she wouldn't be home that night.  It was the kids off campus that were partying, drinking, and fooling around, at least my freshman and sophomore years.

 

By sophomore year I had found a great group of friends, boys and girls, that I might never have met otherwise.  We are still close, and there are quite a few of us.  We had a wonderful experience at our recent official school reunion and we fly to visit each other and see each other at other times, too (none of us live near each other).  I cherish our time now just as I cherished our time then.  While I was in college, I loved the close community on campus and the bonding experience with a great group of people that inspired me to strive for new heights and to expand my educational horizons. I took a lot more classes that I never would have considered as being of interest to me because of my on campus friends.  I learned a lot and found that I had interests in other areas.  Those interests pushed me into a new career path that I really enjoyed and was successful at.  I am the better person for my on campus experience and my parents would wholeheartedly agree.  I wouldn't trade those years for the world and i really believe having to live with such diverse people for extended periods of time helped me to better prepare for married life and dealing with my husband and I having to share space and be respectful of each other's differences, etc. as well as being accepting of our respective in-laws and their differences in perspective and beliefs, etc.

 

All that being said, when we went back for our college reunion, my friends and I were shocked to discover all the changes that have occurred.  First, the dorms are mixed sex now (no separation at all except no mixed sexes by room), so my old dorm room from freshman year has 5 guys in it and right across the hall is a dorm room of 5 girls.  No way to get away from the situation even if you wanted to.  Also, there are public signs everywhere asking students not to "sexile" their roommates too often (!), and lots and lots of posters on how to deal with conflict and keep their areas clean and not vandalize.  While the sexile comment was definitely adult content, the posters themselves seemed to be written to hoodlum 2nd graders having extreme trouble getting along and knowing how to clean up after themselves and lacking respect for other people's property.  I was appalled and so were my friends.  If they had to place that many signs around campus, obviously there are serious issues.  We were all responsible enough to work out our differences peaceably and to take care of the property that we were responsible for and we didn't "sexile" our roommates.  Before this, I had really wanted my kids to experience the great on-campus life I had had.  Now, I just don't know...

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  Now, I just don't know...

I second that.  It is different in ways I just never really thought of until talking with some current/recent college Freshmen.

 

One change:  A huge issue one of the girls I spoke with pointed out is that camera's are everywhere.  She took some gruff when she asked her roomate not to snapchat photos of her sleeping to her their friends.  She was fully dressed in conservative sleep attire, but it creeped her out to realize she was vulnerable.  The roommate didn't "mean" anything bad...but also couldn't understand why it bothered her.  She shared some other video and pic issues that others had dealt with and said it is hard to feel secure with any real privacy.

 

Another change:  Stimulants are rampant.  One of the young men we know had a real issue with having to be very careful about storing his ADHD meds.  He tried to avoid letting anyone know he had them because of the pressure to sell.

 

Fortunately we have a while more to think about it all.

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It really is a mistake to even speak of dorm living as all one thing. It varies so much from school to school and there are a lot of options available now. Options such as: quiet dorms, substance free and single sex dorms. Some colleges have really exciting developments around the concept of Living Learning Communities. In these dorms students who have a shared interest (green living, engineering, arts, international studies, etc.) live in the same dorm or hall. There is shared programming such as having speakers or events tied to the interest area. Some colleges also build community by having the members of the Living Learning dorm have some courses in common. So they will all be in the same freshman seminar on the environment or they may put them in the same English section. This makes it possible for students to easily form study groups. The design of the space is built with white boards and spaces for students to work together.

 

These communities reflect the research that shows that students are happier and do better in school when they have made connections with other students. If you went to a small school it may be hard to imagine, but at a big research or state university, it can feel very lonely and overwhelming as a freshman. Having these sorts of communities within a community can be really meaningful for students. One of my consulting clients from last year is living in technology living and learning community at a big university and it was almost instant in the first week that he found "his people" (geeks who study hard!) This same student may have been absolutely miserable if he was living in a party dorm at this university. It wasn't just about dorm or no dorm - but about what kind of dorm.

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It really is a mistake to even speak of dorm living as all one thing. It varies so much from school to school and there are a lot of options available now. Options such as: quiet dorms, substance free and single sex dorms. Some colleges have really exciting developments around the concept of Living Learning Communities. In these dorms students who have a shared interest (green living, engineering, arts, international studies, etc.) live in the same dorm or hall. There is shared programming such as having speakers or events tied to the interest area. Some colleges also build community by having the members of the Living Learning dorm have some courses in common. So they will all be in the same freshman seminar on the environment or they may put them in the same English section. This makes it possible for students to easily form study groups. The design of the space is built with white boards and spaces for students to work together.

 

These communities reflect the research that shows that students are happier and do better in school when they have made connections with other students. If you went to a small school it may be hard to imagine, but at a big research or state university, it can feel very lonely and overwhelming as a freshman. Having these sorts of communities within a community can be really meaningful for students. One of my consulting clients from last year is living in technology living and learning community at a big university and it was almost instant in the first week that he found "his people" (geeks who study hard!) This same student may have been absolutely miserable if he was living in a party dorm at this university. It wasn't just about dorm or no dorm - but about what kind of dorm.

Well, that is something to think about.  I had such an amazing experience with dorm life and it really helped to define me as a person.  It also helped me to form lasting friendships with both boys and girls that I am grateful I met; people with ethics and morals and caring, supportive hearts, and those relationships survive to this day.   I would hope that there are still opportunities for kids to have something like that in college life.  

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Quite possibly, this is one of those "Quill-is-one-strange-and-quirky-chic" moments. I did not attend college until well into adulthood and never lived in a dorm. None of my siblings did, either. Or my parents. So maybe I just don't get it. But when I took DD16 on a visit to a college not long ago, I found the dorm arrangements to be very, very, very far from what I want for any of my kids, but particularly this kid.

 

My reasons are philosophical. The pervasive thought that arose in my mind as we toured was, "This is like summer camp." I couldn't quite get over the thought that almost all responsibility is removed from the young adults, while they also have more freedom to make decisions than they most likely ever have had before. They aren't responsible for obtaining food or cooking it or cleaning up from it or removing the debris it generates. They really can't even cook if they want to, unless you could call nuking something in the dorm room microwave "cooking." No need to clean their own bathroom; the maids do that. Even if they take their laundry to the school laundry room, they don't have to add their own soap and they receive a text message when the laundry cycle is over.

 

It seemed to me like this is how you raise dependent adults who expect some outside authority to think through all their needs. It seemed to me that this is how kids grow up removed from the exchange of actual money - just swipe the card for meal expense, swipe the card for laundry services, swipe the card for everything.

 

Do I have any company in my thoughts? Are my assessments wrong? Anyone avoiding or planning to avoid dorm life for similar reasons?

Yes. Times 10. I will never support dorm living for my son.

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I second that.  It is different in ways I just never really thought of until talking with some current/recent college Freshmen.

 

One change:  A huge issue one of the girls I spoke with pointed out is that camera's are everywhere.  She took some gruff when she asked her roomate not to snapchat photos of her sleeping to her their friends.  She was fully dressed in conservative sleep attire, but it creeped her out to realize she was vulnerable.  The roommate didn't "mean" anything bad...but also couldn't understand why it bothered her.  She shared some other video and pic issues that others had dealt with and said it is hard to feel secure with any real privacy.

 

Another change:  Stimulants are rampant.  One of the young men we know had a real issue with having to be very careful about storing his ADHD meds.  He tried to avoid letting anyone know he had them because of the pressure to sell.

 

Fortunately we have a while more to think about it all.

I had not thought about the photos being an issue.  Nor medications being sold...scary.  I hope that if my kids really want dorm room experiences, we find something along the lines of what Barbara H was talking about.  Although, now that I think about it, I would also hope they could diversify a bit.  One of my closest friends actually has almost nothing in common with me, and yet we have a wonderful, supportive friendship.  If we had been separated into common areas of interest in college, we might never have met....hmmm, not sure what the answer is there.

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I was once told by a development officer for a private university that students who live on campus, especially during their freshman year, are *much* more likely to donate as alumni.  The dorms themselves are extremely expensive to build and run -- from what I understand, schools do not make money operating them on a year-to-year basis -- but they pay off over the long term.  

 

We were not required to live on campus when I was a freshman, but that rule was implemented while I was still in college.  We were told the reason above was the primary reason they were changing the rules.  They really had a poor percentage of alumni donating money to the school.  In researching the problem, they found that other Universities that had implemented mandatory on-campus housing for freshman had much stronger support from alum after graduation.  Unfortunately, that meant that there was suddenly a shortage of on-campus housing for upper level college kids and we ended up having to stand in line for over 36 hours to get on-campus housing for the following year since the slots were first come first serve.  Those who had tents or sleeping bags brought them to sleep in so they wouldn't lose their place in line.  Huge fiasco that made the news.  The following year they changed how the dorms were assigned.

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Can someone explain to me the official reasoning behind the whole "Freshman/sophmores MUST live in a dorm".  WHY?  It is merely a money-making scheme (my cynical side asks)?  Or is there some legitimate and actually truthful reason why it is better to be holed up in Animal House for some reason (absent those of you who have these great dorm experiences mentioned above)?

 

It depends on the school. My undergrad required all students to live on campus, except those who lived locally, and only seniors were ever granted permission to live off-campus. It was about community there, but the university where I did my grad work was pretty open about the fact that the freshman dorm requirement was about filling the dorms. Of course, the other difference was my undergrad school was in a rural area and there wouldn't have been many decent options for students nearby, and the university is in a major metropolitan area where student-friendly apartments are easy to find, even if you choose something other than the purpose-built apartments within a mile or so from the campus.

 

Personally, I despised dorm living. I had dietary needs that couldn't be reasonably met by the dining hall and resulted in me being excused from the mandatory meal plan, but only one dorm on campus had kitchen facilities that were workable and we weren't even allowed to have microwaves in our rooms. I hated the party atmosphere, and this was at a decidedly non-party school. Weekends were just ridiculous. I worked nights as a dispatcher for the campus police, so the noise was just intolerable for me. If I had been a more traditional student I think my experience would have been much better, because there were good points about dorm living at this school. I wouldn't have a problem with my son living in a dorm there. I would definitely have a problem with it at a typical university, but I'm hoping that by the time that's an issue I will have raised him to do the right thing regardless of the behavior of those around him.

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I guess I'll be the odd one out. I enjoyed living in the dorm. I made close friends and got the opportunity to know a variety of different people that I might not have been friends with otherwise. Late night discussions, pizza, inside jokes, cranking up the music and dancing, etc. are happy memories that I'm glad to have. I was at a small private school though and the dorm environment is not the same at every school.

 

And here's the flip-side. Even with the previously mentioned problems I had with dorm living, I would have missed out on a lot of this stuff if I had fought for the right to live off-campus. If I had been in a more populated area and could have reasonably found something within walking distance of campus I probably would have, but that's only because the kitchen issue was a pretty big one for me. The noise issue got dealt with by me refusing to stop complaining about it until the campus housing director eventually forced the RA to deal with it. Apparently no one thought to take the needs of students who work at night into account until I forced the issue. Sad thing is I worked FOR the college - it's not like they had no idea some students worked overnight.

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I live within 15 minutes of 4 universities. I have never heard  a student talk about dorm life being conducive to studying. At best it's a slumber party, at worst the brothel.

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Mostly, I don't care for dorm life that much, and it bugs me when parents feel that it is a very important part of the college experience.

 

I think it's interesting that in Europe and other countries, that concept is pretty unusual.  Most colleges do not have dorms.  You live with relatives in the area, or rent a room, or get an apartment with other students.

 

We know of many students whose families live less than 30 minutes away from their school, but spend thousands of dollars living on campus.  I don't get that.

 

I know in some cases there is no choice, really, and for some, it's a good way to meet students that first year. 

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it bugs me when parents feel that it is a very important part of the college experience.

 

 

It's ok that we disagree... ;)

 

I'm one of those parents who feels it's a vitally important part of the college experience I want my guys to have.  The academic education is the other important part.  They really are equally important to me - with the correct fit for both also being important.

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My dorm living experience was wonderful. However, I think this may be due to the fact that I was housed in an honors dorm for serious students many of whom had the same insane work load that I had as a piano performance major. Most of us had 18-21 credits hours of coursework, internships, music students to meet with, tons of performing to prepare for, etc. oh, and the engineering students and physics students...another group of women with pretty much NO life. LOL, we studied hard and long, and supported one another. Our floor GPA was 3.75.

 

We had a kitchen, fully stocked, in the common room downstairs and cooked when we had time. That said, most of would not have eaten if it weren't for the flexibility of a meal plan that allowed us to eat either in the dining commons, or the snack/salad bar in the center of campus. We were a good 8 miles from a supermarket and most of us didn't have cars on campus. I lost weight my freshman year. We did our own laundry, took turns vacuuming the halls, dusting, etc. Maintenance came through and did the bathrooms once per week, but for us females, we preferred it to be wiped down more often. We kept cleaning supplies on a shelf in the bathroom and MANY of us took turns disinfecting. In terms of maturity, there wasn't anything about my dorm life that fostered immaturity in me, or made it difficult to transition to life outside of college. Seasons in life, and my season was getting that education and killing myself for the grades and performance possibilities. But, I didn't live in a party dorm.

 

MSU houses their pre-vet/pre-med/nursing/biology majors together in one dorm. Some of their classes are even held there. It's a kind of speciality housing for these students that functions as a large, support/study group. These are serious students, and there are some fairly strict dorm rules including noise, visitors, etc. It is not a place for the four year party bachelor/bachelorette to go hang out because it is easy to get kicked out of that dorm. Certainly, like any major flagship state school, MSU has a healthy number of party crazy students. But, these students do not get to live, or at least not long, in honors housing or dorms where students are grouped by major or have chosen single-sex only, alcohol free, curfew observed, conservative dorms...another offering they have on campus. I would imagine that things can get pretty wild at some of the sorority and fraternity houses. Yet, amongst those, there are a couple that are strong in academics as well as community activism including mentoring youngsters, and doing service projects. The service oriented greek houses tend to be fairly laid back, at least as reported to me by paid 4-H leadership on campus.

 

One has to consider the options at each college because it can vary so much.

 

Now, that being said, the costs can be horrible. Here's a link to an article with the top 10 worst room and board bills. I was stunned at how much some of these institutions charged! What a rip off - ahem, I mean money maker for the school!

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-colleges-charge-most-room-133520135.html

 

Faith

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Well, that is something to think about.  I had such an amazing experience with dorm life and it really helped to define me as a person.  It also helped me to form lasting friendships with both boys and girls that I am grateful I met; people with ethics and morals and caring, supportive hearts, and those relationships survive to this day.   I would hope that there are still opportunities for kids to have something like that in college life.  

 

Having worked with a lot of homeschoolers, I may be overly optimistic, but I know a lot of really nice teenagers. I've seen many transition very well into college, including many living in dorms.

 

I'd just like to encourage parents to do their research and make an individual decision knowing their child and the range of options available to them. Some students won't be happy in dorms. Some will find it to be a great experience. There are many individual considerations including the specific types of dorms and the student's personality.

 

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It's ok that we disagree... ;)

 

I'm one of those parents who feels it's a vitally important part of the college experience I want my guys to have.  The academic education is the other important part.  They really are equally important to me - with the correct fit for both also being important.

 

Sorry!  I never mean to put people down for what they believe.  But yes, it's okay to disagree.  :)

 

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Sorry!  I never mean to put people down for what they believe.  But yes, it's okay to disagree.  :)

 

Oh, I didn't feel offended at all.  I truly do believe it's ok to disagree,  ;)

 

If we had students who, for whatever reason, couldn't handle a dorm, then we'd have adjusted our ideal accordingly, but fortunately, that didn't happen.

 

Hubby and I both enjoyed our full college experience from the academics to the speakers to the clubs to the activities, to the friends to the study groups and even the cafeteria (not NEARLY as good as any now).  We have tons of fond shared memories with us and our peers.  We want our boys to have the same - at their own selected places.  It's not "just" a degree for us, though that has been helpful in life too...

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Now granted, it's been 18 years, but I lived in the dorms for four years. I loved it. The first two years I had roommates. My junior and senior years I had my own room. Some of my best friends today are the students I knew on campus. I hope that my girls get to have such a wonderful college experience. I'm sure the rule has changed now, but you had to live on campus until you were a junior or 21 years old. Our dorms were separated by gender and seniority. I'm pretty sure that has all changed now.

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Dorms and cafeterias are not money-making operations at most universities.  For example, within the University of Texas system, the revenues from these "auxiliary services" was a little over $441 million but the expenses were almost $492 million, meaning that these services are being subsidized by the universities.  

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Now, that being said, the costs can be horrible. Here's a link to an article with the top 10 worst room and board bills. I was stunned at how much some of these institutions charged! What a rip off - ahem, I mean money maker for the school!

 

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-colleges-charge-most-room-133520135.html

 

To be fair, those pricey dorm fees are in high COL areas!

 

My niece attended James Madison, the residential college of Michigan State University.  This is a rigorous program for serious students who are interested in political theory and international relations.  Students in the program are housed in the same dorm for the first year or two of college.

 

And what about WISE at NCSU, as in Women In Science and Engineering?  One of my husband's colleagues has a daughter in the program which includes housing in a common dorm.

 

Again, I return to the fact that College is not a One Size Fits All experience.  We have seen repeatedly that we cannot make assumptions about the quality of community colleges or attending a college while living at home.  (What a disaster the latter would have been for my son!  Two hours a day driving back and forth to a university that doesn't have his major?  What would be the point?) 

 

Much of the dorm experience can depend upon the roommate.  Most colleges have some sort of screening process for housing.  If your first year college student is moving into a new community to attend university, would you be happy with her or him finding a roommate on Craig's List?  By having mandatory first year housing, students make friends and find a hopefully appropriate roommate for their later years.  Seems reasonable to me.

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 Once you graduate ( and get married in my case) the time for having fun is over.  It is your last chance. 

 

:confused1:  What a sad thought.

 

I had a lot more fun after I graduated & had a job (making good money). There wasn't much time or $$ for fun during college for me. I was able to travel and have wonderfully fun experiences after I got married that I didn't feel comfortable doing before I was married. Now, having children put quite a bit of a kink in my free time - but that's different than your-life-is-over-once-you-graduate-and/or-get-married. I'm sure you didn't mean it to come across the way it did, but WOW.

 

I had a good time in the dorms, even my freshman year when I had an upper classman roommate who admitted later that she tried everything she could think of to make me move out. (She'd never made it to semester break with a roommate before & if the other person requests to move out, you don't have to get a new roommate or pay extra for a single room. She was pretty mad at me for sticking it out the whole year - and made me feel her pain.) I met my husband because of dorm life. I live on a "women's engineering" floor. But that didn't stop any of the drinking / pot smoking / hooking up / parties-starting-on-Wed-night stuff. I was very active in residence hall government & in floor activities (including flag football! Woo!). It is because I know what it was like THEN that I hesitate to send my kids into that environment later.

 

And my roommate for my 2nd & 3rd years (and next door neighbor my final semester) was my best friend. She transferred from another U where she lived in a very small "house" where they did all the chores / cleaning and helped in the kitchen on a rotating basis. It was a suite set-up (one bathroom between two rooms for four girls). It had its pros/cons, too.

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:confused1:  What a sad thought.

 

I had a lot more fun after I graduated & had a job (making good money). There wasn't much time or $$ for fun during college for me. I was able to travel and have wonderfully fun experiences after I got married that I didn't feel comfortable doing before I was married. Now, having children put quite a bit of a kink in my free time - but that's different than your-life-is-over-once-you-graduate-and/or-get-married. I'm sure you didn't mean it to come across the way it did, but WOW.

 

I

 

 

No, I meant it.  When I lived at home, I had to do it my parents' way.  I could leave my shoes in the middle of the floor if I wished.  I could chose to eat dessert first.  As long as I maintained good grades, I was free to do what I wished when I wished.  It was great.  I was happy and free.  ( My home life wasn't all that happy,  lots of screaming fights and a sarcastic father who nitpicked everything I did.)

 

Once I got married, it meant doing things the way husband wanted them or for the good of the kids. Then I had to figure out how to care for the kids. Then I had to worry about how to pay the bills.   Now yes, it has been fun but I've never been as carefree and "selfish" as I was for those 4 years.  It was all about me and MY dreams and it was never that way before or since.  Instead it has been helping my husband achieve his and my children achieve theirs. 

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Some colleges have really exciting developments around the concept of Living Learning Communities.

The college we were touring did have this. I agree that I would prefer this over pot-luck dorm, but still...

 

 

Well, that is something to think about.  I had such an amazing experience with dorm life and it really helped to define me as a person.  It also helped me to form lasting friendships with both boys and girls that I am grateful I met; people with ethics and morals and caring, supportive hearts, and those relationships survive to this day.   I would hope that there are still opportunities for kids to have something like that in college life.  

 

Even so, one can still have opportunities like this, no matter where they live - or if they even go - to college. I felt that way about the work environment I had right out of high school, since I didn't go to college at that time. It was in the city. There were many challenges that were terrifying, but exhilarating, too. I met a lot of very different people and formed many of my beliefs about life in those years. I'm saying that a "larger experience" is what is needed for young adults/late teens. There are many avenues to obtaining it. 

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No, I meant it.  When I lived at home, I had to do it my parents' way.  I could leave my shoes in the middle of the floor if I wished.  I could chose to eat dessert first.  As long as I maintained good grades, I was free to do what I wished when I wished.  It was great.  I was happy and free.  ( My home life wasn't all that happy,  lots of screaming fights and a sarcastic father who nitpicked everything I did.)

 

Once I got married, it meant doing things the way husband wanted them or for the good of the kids. Then I had to figure out how to care for the kids. Then I had to worry about how to pay the bills.   Now yes, it has been fun but I've never been as carefree and "selfish" as I was for those 4 years.  It was all about me and MY dreams and it was never that way before or since.  Instead it has been helping my husband achieve his and my children achieve theirs. 

 

I think that's a sad view, too. But I recall some of the posts you've had in the past, so it doesn't surprise me that this is your feeling on the matter. Does make me sad for you, though. 

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The college we were touring did have this. I agree that I would prefer this over pot-luck dorm, but still...

 

 

 

Even so, one can still have opportunities like this, no matter where they live - or if they even go - to college. I felt that way about the work environment I had right out of high school, since I didn't go to college at that time. It was in the city. There were many challenges that were terrifying, but exhilarating, too. I met a lot of very different people and formed many of my beliefs about life in those years. I'm saying that a "larger experience" is what is needed for young adults/late teens. There are many avenues to obtaining it. 

 

The daughter of a friend of mine moved from a small Midwestern town to Boston for grad school, finding her roommates via Craig's List. One of our buddies from undergrad (let's call him Uncle Mike) checked out the place and the roommates first--this for a girl who had already attended college and had been in an Americorps placement for two years in a large urban area.  I am a pretty open minded parent but I would have had trouble sending my eighteen year old to live in a new city without an "Uncle Mike".  Understand that my twenty year old spent time in London on his own before attending a field school in England. I had no issues with that since college helped him grow.  Granted, some 18 year olds move to Manhattan or LA--something is driving the desire.  But not everyone has the wherewithal at that age to figure it all out. 

 

I don't know your age, Quill, but back in my day my college had a Transportation board for students who wanted to share rides over school breaks.  Strangers would ride together to who knows where.  Are parents today comfortable having their kid travel a thousand miles with some unknown party?  Maybe the problem is me and that I was sheltering my kid (the same guy who has since adopted London as his second home).  Personally I think the college experience (dorm and all) have helped him grow to become a world citizen.  I like stepping stones.  Maybe you like to jump?

 

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The college we were touring did have this. I agree that I would prefer this over pot-luck dorm, but still...

 

 

 

Even so, one can still have opportunities like this, no matter where they live - or if they even go - to college. I felt that way about the work environment I had right out of high school, since I didn't go to college at that time. It was in the city. There were many challenges that were terrifying, but exhilarating, too. I met a lot of very different people and formed many of my beliefs about life in those years. I'm saying that a "larger experience" is what is needed for young adults/late teens. There are many avenues to obtaining it. 

 

 

I completely agree with you.  Some find this in college and some find it in work.  I think it varies and it isn't a one size fits all thing.  I just thought you made it sound like you thought college was silly for ANYONE in your original post.  I think experiences and types of college can vary widely and the maturity of the person makes a difference as well.  You don't have to have college to experience it.  But college and living on campus is a good experience for some.

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I don't know your age, Quill, but back in my day my college had a Transportation board for students who wanted to share rides over school breaks.  Strangers would ride together to who knows where.  Are parents today comfortable having their kid travel a thousand miles with some unknown party?  Maybe the problem is me and that I was sheltering my kid (the same guy who has since adopted London as his second home).  Personally I think the college experience (dorm and all) have helped him grow to become a world citizen.  I like stepping stones.  Maybe you like to jump?

 

 

HaHa! I don't think so! I am cautious as the day is long; a total chicken!  :laugh:  I am 42. The "terrifying" things were working in downtown Baltimore City. I had to figure out the transportation, walk a dozen blocks through "that" part of town, tell homeless people it was time to go elsewhere and let myself in to the building. Also, park in the sketchiest garage you ever saw, because it was all I could afford ($6/day). I left in the dark and walked down Baltimore Street alone. Thinking back on it, that was NUTS!!!  :laugh: I think I would freak out if I knew my beautiful daughter was parking in that garage and walking down that horrid street in the dark! 

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I don't know your age, Quill, but back in my day my college had a Transportation board for students who wanted to share rides over school breaks.  Strangers would ride together to who knows where.  Are parents today comfortable having their kid travel a thousand miles with some unknown party? 

I am pretty sure the student now arrange that via social media - but the principle is still the same.

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HaHa! I don't think so! I am cautious as the day is long; a total chicken!  :laugh:  I am 42. The "terrifying" things were working in downtown Baltimore City. I had to figure out the transportation, walk a dozen blocks through "that" part of town, tell homeless people it was time to go elsewhere and let myself in to the building. Also, park in the sketchiest garage you ever saw, because it was all I could afford ($6/day). I left in the dark and walked down Baltimore Street alone. Thinking back on it, that was NUTS!!!  :laugh: I think I would freak out if I knew my beautiful daughter was parking in that garage and walking down that horrid street in the dark! 

Been there, done that, and decided to encourage my son to consider stepping stones.

 

I am pretty sure the student now arrange that via social media - but the principle is still the same.

Good point--the bulletin board concept gives away my age!

 

The only stinking roommate I had as an undergrad was the woman who found our open room listing on the college bulletin board even though she was not a student at our college.  What a mistake!  I do wonder though how kids filter their social media connections when doing the kinds of things we have been discussing, i.e. finding roommates or travel partners.  Maybe my discomfort is misplaced since once upon a time I certainly relied on the college bulletin board which functioned as our community's Craig's List.

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I think it's interesting that in Europe and other countries, that concept is pretty unusual.  Most colleges do not have dorms.  You live with relatives in the area, or rent a room, or get an apartment with other students.

 

 

This varies by country.  In England, most universities expect students to live in university accommodation in the first year, and I think some insist upon it.  In Scotland (where students traditionally went to university at 17) it was more common to go to your local university and live at home.

 

University accommodation can vary enormously.  My university had purpose-built halls of residence, but it had also bought up whole streets of individual houses, which they filled with small groups of differently-aged students.  

L

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Good point--the bulletin board concept gives away my age!

 

 

 

 

Grin... yep...  and my freshman year they built their first computer lab.  I typed my papers there and it was SO cool.  Unlike a typewriter that I used in high school, I could cut and paste and make changes without retyping the whole paper.  It was beyond cool.  And I had a phone in my room that if I was there and if my parents called, I could talk to them.  I didn't have any long distance money and cell phones didn't exist.  I'm not sure if the internet existed or not.  I didn't know about it if it did.  The only thing I used a computer for was to type papers and projects.

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This varies by country.  In England, most universities expect students to live in university accommodation in the first year, and I think some insist upon it.  In Scotland (where students traditionally went to university at 17) it was more common to go to your local university and live at home.

 

University accommodation can vary enormously.  My university had purpose-built halls of residence, but it had also bought up whole streets of individual houses, which they filled with small groups of differently-aged students.  

L

 

Interesting!  I followed the link, and then ended up looking at the university site.  It looks like a lovely campus!  You're right, I'm sure it varies.  Maybe the UK is more similar to how it is in the U.S.?  I guess I was basing my dorm knowledge on countries I've had connections with -- France, Germany, Sweden... and also in Central America.  There, though they may have dorms sporadically, they do not seem to be the norm. 

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Interesting!  I followed the link, and then ended up looking at the university site.  It looks like a lovely campus!  You're right, I'm sure it varies.  Maybe the UK is more similar to how it is in the U.S.?  I guess I was basing my dorm knowledge on countries I've had connections with -- France, Germany, Sweden... and also in Central America.  There, though they may have dorms sporadically, they do not seem to be the norm. 

 

It's a pretty nice campus but the weather is.... difficult.  Very windy and damp.  I did French and drama, and the theatre was very well equipped.

 

L

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OH...the bulletin board days...you know for those of us that went to college in the dark ages before the internet! :lol:

 

MTU actually has a scheduler so that those with cars can enter the dates they'll be leaving for and returning from break, what route they are taking, how many passengers the driver is willing to host, and how much he/she will charge per ride, etc. It's a pretty neat system that makes it easy for those needing a ride to find someone along the route. For us, if the boys land there, it will be pretty simple because there are a HUGE number of students from the lower peninsula so as long as someone can get them across the bridge, we'll be good to go from there since we are essentially Mid-Michiganish.

 

But, alas, all I had in my time was the infamous bulletin board....walk by, check it multiple times per day, ....hope. It always worked out; it was not, however, efficient!

 

I would just like to say that colleges should have gender specific meal plans. When the rocket team is here, five teen males, one teen female...the boys are not much different from half-starved, ravenous wolves!  Girls should get a discount.  :D

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Really? I went back in 1996 and we had to clean (we had a rotation) and laundry was totally our responsibility. No cooking, just a microwave, but I didn't know how to cook anyway. Cleaning was tough, as I wasn't used to that either. I didn't learn to cook until I was 22.

 

I can't say I dislike dorms, though, as I met my dh there - across the hall :)

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College dorms were old hat to me since I had already lived in dorms for 5 years prior to going to college.  I already knew how to live with people with many different dispositions.   ;)   Other than being actually on campus, I don't know that I benefited too much from the college dorms.  I already knew how to do my own laundry.  I used the campus food service and did not cook in the dorm kitchen.  But then I didn't have the time to cook either.  I lived at the library - both for work and for study.  I do  have a couple of friends that I met in the dorms but we actually formed life-long bonds from moving out into a campus apartment and then later on, sharing a house together after college.  The campus apartment was a five minute walk from campus and did not keep me from being involved in activities.  I met most of my friends in my classes.  I tutored all my classes while I took them and so I got to be very close those students who I worked with.  I also became very involved in a couple of campus ministries and got to know the other people involved.  None of those people were from my dorm.  I actually asked the college to waive my dorm requirement after a year which they were willing to do once I pointed out that I had lived a dorm experience since I was 11 years old.  I have mixed feelings about dorms and my own kids.  I value being involved at college much more than the dorms themselves but realize that you do need to live very close by in order to be involved.  

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Like everything else, the dorm experience is going to depend on the school.  I have two who have finished college and two still there, and they have all lived in dorms and had a great experience.  If you're at a school where the kids are serious about studying, it's not going to be "Animal House." Sure, there will be kids who party and hook up, but they are the minority.  My kids have grad students who live in the dorms as "tutors." They'll sponsor study sessions, etc.  There is a dean who lives in the house next door with his/her family, dog, etc.  who will light a fire in the huge fireplace in the common room and host a study break.  My dd20 lives in a gorgeous suite with two good friends.  They have a huge common room and two bedrooms and there are always friends there studying.  The only "illegal" activity going on is baking cookies in their contraband toaster oven.  Ds18 is in a suite of 8 guys in a "substance-free" dorm.  Sure, they should all be substance free, but it's nice that being with other people who requested that is a possibility.  He has to get up at 5:30 every day for ROTC, and he has no trouble getting to sleep at a decent hour.  

 

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No, I meant it. When I lived at home, I had to do it my parents' way. I could leave my shoes in the middle of the floor if I wished. I could chose to eat dessert first. As long as I maintained good grades, I was free to do what I wished when I wished. It was great. I was happy and free. ( My home life wasn't all that happy, lots of screaming fights and a sarcastic father who nitpicked everything I did.)

 

Once I got married, it meant doing things the way husband wanted them or for the good of the kids. Then I had to figure out how to care for the kids. Then I had to worry about how to pay the bills. Now yes, it has been fun but I've never been as carefree and "selfish" as I was for those 4 years. It was all about me and MY dreams and it was never that way before or since. Instead it has been helping my husband achieve his and my children achieve theirs.

You are projecting your own discontent on your ds. Maybe he won't view life post college the way you do. It is a common theme for you how tied down you feel to your children and husband. That makes me feel sad for them and you.

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I don't have a problem with all the frills, except for the theory that they increase the cost of tuition overall.   They'll make a lot of friends, and a strong tie to campus and a lot of friends (social acceptance) is strongly correlated with graduating.   My one bit of strong advice would be that even if your kid is extremely outgoing and plans to be at every party, and is naturally a bit disorganized  (but not dirty), to make sure to fill out the room mate match form that they are quiet, introverted, prefer to study a lot, go to bed early, sleep a lot, and are clean.  It's a million times better for them to live with the nerds!

 

The reason you tell them: Because they can always visit the party floor, but it really sucks when you can't ever sleep or study in your dorm because of nonstop parties, when a third of your floor fails out by the end of the year, when they can get arrested for their room mate's drug habit, when people are in and out of their room so often that their stuff gets stolen repeatedly.

 

The reason it works better for you too:  They'll have positive peer pressure to study and do well, they'll have true friends with similar goals (IME the nerdy crowd has more genuine friendships), their friends will be less likely to drop out.

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I don't have a problem with all the frills, except for the theory that they increase the cost of tuition overall.   They'll make a lot of friends, and a strong tie to campus and a lot of friends (social acceptance) is strongly correlated with graduating.   My one bit of strong advice would be that even if your kid is extremely outgoing and plans to be at every party, and is naturally a bit disorganized  (but not dirty), to make sure to fill out the room mate match form that they are quiet, introverted, prefer to study a lot, go to bed early, sleep a lot, and are clean.  It's a million times better for them to live with the nerds!

 

The reason you tell them: Because they can always visit the party floor, but it really sucks when you can't ever sleep or study in your dorm because of nonstop parties, when a third of your floor fails out by the end of the year, when they can get arrested for their room mate's drug habit, when people are in and out of their room so often that their stuff gets stolen repeatedly.

 

The reason it works better for you too:  They'll have positive peer pressure to study and do well, they'll have true friends with similar goals (IME the nerdy crowd has more genuine friendships), their friends will be less likely to drop out.

 

In reply to the bolded, even this may not work. My daughter did this because it is her. Her new roommates were such a problem, the university refunded our money after only 10 days and we scrambled to find an off campus apartment where she could study and not be harassed.  That is why I say never again for the youngers, even though I spent 4 years in a dorm and, for the most part, enjoyed it.

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I think it sounds quite rude to lie on a form so you get your loud child paired with someone who prefers quiet.

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I think it sounds quite rude to lie on a form so you get your loud child paired with someone who prefers quiet.

 

  Ds's school made a point of asking kids to be totally honest with dorm preferences, similar to your point above. His dorm is small--about 100 kids; a third is freshman honors, a third freshman internationals, and the rest whoever wanted it. Several in the last group were quite surprised to see the plain-ness of the dorm--they thought the honors group would be housed in the best one.

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I don't have a problem with all the frills, except for the theory that they increase the cost of tuition overall.   They'll make a lot of friends, and a strong tie to campus and a lot of friends (social acceptance) is strongly correlated with graduating.   My one bit of strong advice would be that even if your kid is extremely outgoing and plans to be at every party, and is naturally a bit disorganized  (but not dirty), to make sure to fill out the room mate match form that they are quiet, introverted, prefer to study a lot, go to bed early, sleep a lot, and are clean.  It's a million times better for them to live with the nerds!

 

The reason you tell them: Because they can always visit the party floor, but it really sucks when you can't ever sleep or study in your dorm because of nonstop parties, when a third of your floor fails out by the end of the year, when they can get arrested for their room mate's drug habit, when people are in and out of their room so often that their stuff gets stolen repeatedly.

 

The reason it works better for you too:  They'll have positive peer pressure to study and do well, they'll have true friends with similar goals (IME the nerdy crowd has more genuine friendships), their friends will be less likely to drop out.

 

I strongly disagree with this.  It is unfair to the studious, quiet roommate to have someone who is not a good fit. The outgoing roommate is going to have people stopping by and will likely be unaware that their behaviors are bothersome.  I know it would have bothered my son immensely to have an outgoing roommate because he really needs his room to be his introvert cave.  My son's roommate is even more introverted than he is and my son sometimes finds it a challenge to be considerate while meeting his own needs (like staying up until midnight to finish a paper when his roommate wants lights out at 11 sharp.)  I don't know how his roommate would have handled an outgoing person. 

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This is an interesting discussion. I don't know if this qualifies as a philosophical reason, but what does a dorm student do if he wants to eat only organic food? Is that an option at many colleges?

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This is an interesting discussion. I don't know if this qualifies as a philosophical reason, but what does a dorm student do if he wants to eat only organic food? Is that an option at many colleges?

 

Food options at most colleges have improved.  My son's Midwestern college has a commitment to local food--their milk and apples are all local, for example.  But only organic may be tough.  I suspect your son's best bet would be to find a living community that focuses on organic foods or whole foods. Colleges in "crunchy" towns may have them.  (On that note, I just glanced at the dining info for UNC-Asheville.  Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options in the dining hall. Milk is rBGH-free.  But no organic options listed.  Maybe because it is so hard to be 100% organic??)

 

On a different thread, someone mentioned that her daughter's university was modified the required food plan because of the girl's food sensitivities/allergies.  More colleges may see the need for food accommodations down the road.

 

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I LOVED the dorms.  Stayed there all 4 years by choice.  Yes - less responsibilities but it meant I had more time to study and do research.  It also meant there were lounges where I could study day or night if my roommate was asleep or whatever.  It meant study groups to work through HW problems in the lobby.  It meant less time getting to and from class, and at least a greater sense that my behavior was being monitored.  It meant greater safety late at night trying to get to and from.  There are NO rules in an apt complex. 

 

I stayed in an apt in grad school but we all shared a big office.  We practically lived there 1st year and did all of our work together so it was similar to my dorm situation in that sense.  But I also owned a car by then which made it feasible that I wasn't extremely restricted on apt choice. 

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Another thing that I didn't mention that was an unexpected positive when I was at college and staying in a dorm was the additional opportunities to hang out with the professors and brain storm.  I was at a fairly small school and the bulk of the professors lived nearby.  Frequently we were invited to their house or they would come over and hang out at the library or in the lounges and we got to just talk with them, share stories, brainstorm ideas.  These sessions almost always happened in the evening or early morning. If I had been off campus I almost certainly would have missed most of those sessions.  I do have concerns about my own kids in a dorm situation, even with the great memories and experiences I had, but I also agree that just chunking the idea out the window without delving further is not what I want to do, either.  I will help them to research options and I guess we will make the most informed decision we can...

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Another thing that I didn't mention that was an unexpected positive when I was at college and staying in a dorm was the additional opportunities to hang out with the professors and brain storm.  I was at a fairly small school and the bulk of the professors lived nearby.  Frequently we were invited to their house or they would come over and hang out at the library or in the lounges and we got to just talk with them, share stories, brainstorm ideas.  These sessions almost always happened in the evening or early morning. If I had been off campus I almost certainly would have missed most of those sessions.  I do have concerns about my own kids in a dorm situation, even with the great memories and experiences I had, but I also agree that just chunking the idea out the window without delving further is not what I want to do, either.  I will help them to research options and I guess we will make the most informed decision we can...

This is something available at my sons' university as well - and it is a large state university.  The Honors Dorm had "dorm parents" who were a professor and his wife.  They often had events at their home or hosted events on campus (starting in the honors dorm).  They frequently bought a block of tickets to an event on campus (play, ballet, guest lecture, etc.) and offered them on a first come first served basis to the students in the honors program or set up a dinner at a local restaurant.

 

I think this helped make the dorm feel more "homey".  As much as my boys disliked living in the dorms they have both told me how important they think it is for their brothers to live there.  Maybe it's the fact that they are coming from a small town with a small circle of friends - none of whom went to college with them that makes them feel it is an important tool in integrating into the student population at the university.  Perhaps those who have friends attending the same college or who have had more "social" experience have less need for the advantages the dorms offer.  In my sons' eyes, the dorm living pros outweigh the cons.  I have never experienced dorm life, so I'm listening to them :)

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Thanks for the info, Jane. What's a "crunchy" town, btw?

 

 

Crunchy is used to describe people sympathetic to environmental causes.  Think granola--i.e. "crunchy". 

 

My list of crunchy cities would include places like Santa Cruz, Asheville, Amherst, Madison.  All of them have high quality post-secondary institutions.

 

Jane

 

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 On the other hand, the environment I experienced is not an environment that I want my 18 year old child to live in. The amount of drinking, drugs, p*rn, hooking up, bullying, eating disorders, and just general stupidity was overwhelming. In addition, it is *expensive* to live on campus. At the private university I attended, it's now $12,000/year for room & board, at the state university, it's "only" $9-10,000/year.

 

This is why I wouldn't want my DD living on campus.  I would be paying extra money for something that I see as a negative environment.  This would especially apply during the first 2 years.  Possibly after a couple of years she might be more prepared to handle the environment, but then why would she want to?

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