What to Consider with Housing – GradPlan

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What to Consider with Housing

Where will you live as a student?

Find Your Happy Place

You might have already started envisioning your dorm room. But, when you begin shopping, you realize you’re not entirely sure what you need. Or what dorm you’re in. Choosing your housing is an important decision that can impact the quality of your experience on campus.

There’s a lot to consider, so we broke it down into 3 main categories

  1. What are Your Options
  2. How to Decide
  3. How to Sign-up for Housing

What are Your Options? 

Many 4-year colleges require first-year students to live on campus but exceptions can be made if you live with your parents or other family members nearby. Dorms and on-campus apartments are the most common housing options.

Dorms (AKA Residence Halls)

These are usually large buildings on campus with several floors of rooms. Dorm rooms are usually shared spaces with at least one roommate, but can also be single rooms with no roommate. Bathrooms may be private or communally shared on a single floor. Dorm rooms usually do not have a kitchen, and likely have restrictions around what cooking appliances you can keep in your room.

On-Campus Apartments

On-Campus apartments vary widely from school to school. These may be 2-bedrooms, accommodating 4 students per apartment (meaning you’ll likely share a bedroom with one roommate,) or 4-bedroom 2-bathroom, meaning you’ll have your own room, but share a bathroom with one other student. Some apartments have a kitchen, some do not.

Special Accommodations

Special accommodations can be made if you need them; don’t be afraid to ask! For example, if you require a service animal or more accessibility, reach out to the Disability/Accessibility Office on your campus. They’ll be happy to help you find the answers you are looking for, make recommendations, and create solutions.

How to Decide

Find out as much information as you can before you decide.

  • If possible, go on a campus housing tour – or search on YouTube for a virtual tour of the dorms for that specific college.
  • Carefully read the dorm descriptions to get an idea of what it is like to live there. Look at photos.
  • Check for social media pages dedicated to housing to hear from students about their experiences living on campus.

Your dorm will be your home for at least a year. You want to like it!

How Do I Sign Up for On-Campus Housing?

Because of the multiple options available, colleges do not automatically assign you housing when you accept your admissions offer. Here are the steps to set up your Housing:

  1. Complete a Housing Application for your college.
  2. Pay the Housing Deposit (usually $100-400)
  3. Select your dorm or apartment – there will be different pricing for each option: single room versus double; women-only floor; apartment, etc.
  4. Complete the roommate matching form (or request a roommate if you have a friend going to the same school)
  5. Submit your Housing Application and deposit right away. Most colleges provide housing on a first-come, first-served basis – and they can fill up!

Once you know where you’re staying and a general idea of what it looks like, check out a Packing for College checklist. If you’re going to have a roommate,  hold off on purchasing big ticket items. You might be able to split the cost on minifridges, coffee machines, etc.

Additional Details

Most 2-year colleges including the do not have housing for students, but some do. If you need a place to live while attending a community college, visit the Student Services office on your campus and ask for help. Be sure to investigate all costs, read reviews, and weigh the pros and cons before making any housing decisions.

Finally, don’t forget about food! Check-out our Guide to Selecting Your Meal Plan»

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Transitioning to College

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist