Saturday, May. 28, 2022
Dorm life / roommates

Living in dormitories is a quintessential part of college life. Dorms typically equate the initial step to independence and freedom as an adult, since it is usually the first time one is living away from home. Though living in a dorm with roommates can be very fun, it can also get complicated and at times frustrating with so many people cohabitating in such a small space. Read on for surprising statistics, practical tips, and useful lists and guides on how to survive dorm life.

Dorm room statistics and info

It's key to include the costs of room and board in your college budgeting and planning. The costs for room and board have steadily been climbing over time along with tuition. You can see the average costs in past years here.

At a Glance: Cost of Room and Board

Sector 2012-2013 2011-2012 Difference
Public Two-Year In-State $7,419 $7,332 $87
Public Four-Year In-State $9,205 $8,880 $325
Public Four-Year Out-of-State $9,205 $8,880 $325
Private Nonprofit Four-Year $10,462 $10,088 $374
* source: The College Board

Seeing how many students live in university housing is always helpful when deciding where to live. Check out which colleges have the most students living in university housing on this U.S. News & World Report page. By clicking on an individual school's page, you can also see its specific statistics and information about on-campus housing, too.

At a Glance: Dorm Demographics
* based on 2010 Census

Total # Living in College/University Housing 2.46 million
% Male 46.1%
% Female 53.9%
* source: U.S. Census Bureau

Before signing up for a dorm room, you should know the different types of dorms and rooms usually available. The College Board put together a useful section of what life in the dorms is really like.

Know all the dorm terms and abbreviations with the "Resident Life Lingo."

Selecting a meal plan can be tricky, so make sure you understand all the options and costs before choosing one. has an article just for this titled, "How to Select the Best College Meal Plan."

Though it's normally encouraged to start freshman year in a residence hall, for some it may not be the best option. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of living in a dorm room here.

Believe it or not, Sparknotes has some great advice for freshmen. Read its guide for tips and information on what you can expect from dorms, communal bathrooms, the noise, common rules, security, laundry and more.

Dorm Room Ideas

Some websites provide really useful and realistic checklists for what to bring to college. College Packing List divides up the necessities into categories, and even allows you to print out or shore the document and check the boxes of items as you go.

Bed Bath & Beyond is the Mecca for cheap dorm room essentials. Thankfully, the site has a list of every possible thing you could need (and, of course, can buy there online). Check out their dorm bedding for some stylish ideas. And don't miss their Dorm Room Decorating Ideas.

For more decorating ideas, check out Dormify, which makes "bright, chic, modern design accents for dorm rooms across the country." Their trends section is especially useful. Dormco sells everything a new college student could need - from dorm bedding to dorm furniture to dorm room organizers. is a great guide to read the summer before you take off. It features lists like "Shopping for College," "What Not to Bring to College," "For Those Going Far from Home" and "Computers - Which One is Right for You?"


So you finally find out who your roommate is going to be. With social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's much easier (and less awkward) to first get in contact with your soon-to-be roommate, though a phone call is always a good way to feel out the person's personality and your connection. has a few helpful tips for this, including making sure to figure out who will bring the mini fridge, etcetera, yet this doesn't all have to be hashed out in the initial contact.

Establishing rules in the beginning can lead to a healthy and smooth cohabitation and roommate relationship. Read these quick tips for getting along.


Living in small quarters with a lot of people means you may be taking care of yourself and your personal items, but you will probably have to deal with someone who is less responsible when it comes to safety issues. Read over some of these categorized articles for a better understanding of how to not only keep yourself safe but those living around you as well.

Food safety tips for college students from the USDA

Outfitting your dorm room for safety: prevent dorm theft and campus crime

College and campus safety tips

Campus and dorm fire safety tips

--Jennifer Borders

View more questions, articles or lists.