Whether you are moving into the dorm as a freshman, or a senior looking for a nice house close to campus, odds are you will be living with roommates. There are very few college students who live by themselves, mostly because it is too expensive. In college towns, rent for a single apartment can reach up to $ 750 a month. It might not seem like a lot, and maybe it isn't if your parents are paying for it, but for the majority of students $ 750 a month is not reasonable. The solution to lower rent is living with roommates. In this article I will talk about the pros and cons of living with roommates, how to find roommates, and I'll share some of my experiences along the way. This will be a two part post due to its length. Part I will discuss dorm life, while Part II will discuss life after the dorms.
Since I just graduated from college in April of 2005, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the college living life. Not much has changed in the few months I have been on my own. I am living by myself for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, it is quite different than being in college.
Most students start off their college experience living in the dorms. When I moved in, I elected to live in an old fashion dorm. Twenty some odd rooms on the floor with one large communal bathroom. The guys section was separated from the girls section by a lounge / kitchen with one stove, one oven, a few couches, and a TV. Not quite the same as living at home with your own bedroom and bathroom. Most dorms (at least the old fashion ones) do not have single rooms. Everyone has a roommate, and sometimes there are triples in one room. Most schools give you the option to choose your roommate or have one randomly assigned to you. My freshman year, I chose to live with a friend. Make sure you are good friends with this person or else you may end of wanting to kill each other. I have so many friends that wound up hating their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but in the room it was hell.
I was lucky for the first semester of college. I got along with my roommate for the most part. We led different lives, which was a good thing. I was on the meal plan and he was not. We took different classes at different times and hung out with different people too. In my opinion this is how it has to be if you choose to live with a friend. You can't be too close or else your friendship will crumble. (Please note that the dorms I am talking about are the ones that are about 12×12 with two twin beds and two desks and enough room to stand up. The new age dorms where people have their own rooms and bathrooms are totally different.) My friend who I roomed with ended up transferring to a new school after our first semester for various reasons. I thought I had it made in the shade. Would the school not know? Would I get the room to myself? The answer was no.
Enter Kraut (my new roommate from Germany). He was American, but grew up in Germany on a military base. This was one of the best and worst experiences of college. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. This is every incoming freshman's worst nightmare. Andrew (who I referred to as Kraut … please don't take offense to this. It was just a friendly joke between us) moved in with me because he was voted out of a triple dorm room by his previous roommates. Wow. After living with him for a semester, I know why they voted him out.
First off, he was in the ROTC. I have nothing against being a proud American and wanting to serve in the military, but when you have to wake up at 4:00 AM every morning to go run with that squadron, that's when I start to lose it. His alarm would go off at 3:45 AM everyday and he would snooze for about 30 minutes. He never went to class, so he was there to bug me on all my time off. He played Counter-Strike (which I'm sure all you guys know what it is. Counter-Strike is a terrorist / counter terrorist video game). He played it all through the night with the sound up. You would think me dorm room was a war zone. I tried to take him out with me, or eat lunch with him at the cafeteria, but I just couldn't take it. I learned a lot from Kraut and will never forget him. My most memorable moment is when I turned the volume all the way up on my PC and blasted the Salute Your Shorts theme song right in his ear while he was sleeping. I captured it all on video. He flicked me off and went to bed. I haven't seen Kraut since I moved out of the dorm.
Some Pros and Cons of living in the dorms (once again, I am talking about the old fashioned dorms, not the apartment style ones).
Pro – Right on campus. You can wake up 5 minutes before class and walk there in your boxer shorts.
Pro – Right on campus. Food is close by (especially if you are on a meal plan).
Pro – Social life. You meet a lot of new people living in the dorms. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini-parties and social events where everyone hangs out.
Pro – It's new. College is about experiencing new things. Dorm life is one of them.
Pro – It's cheap. Not nearly as expensive as renting an apartment.
Pro – It's very easy to find pick up games for sports.
Pro – There is an Ethernet computer network. High speed internet access and everyone is connected. Awesome for playing video games. (When I was a freshman things like Napster were brand new. People were downloading music left and right on the high speed network and sharing music like you've never seen. And as far as we knew, it was all legal).
Con – No privacy. People will just randomly walk in your room. Keep it locked.
Con – Old and dirty dorms are no fun. I got sick once a month living in there. I still have breathing problems.
Con – Dorms are very small. You won't be able to fit everything you have in your closet.
Con – Having annoying roommates that you can do nothing about.
Con – Internet firewalls. Some dorms are real strict now about what you can and can not do on the school's internet. Sorry guys, no downloading music here.
Con – Cooking food can be quite a problem. You have no fridge or oven in your room.
Con – Bugs and rats. Depending on how old your dorm is (mine was built in the 40s I think) you might find rodents running around. We had a rat problem one week. I saw one run right across the floor in my room and then he disappeared into the wall.
Well that is all I have for today. Come back tomorrow (or Monday) for Part II of College Roommates. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org