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Dorms . . . What's the Norm?

ChristineFChristineF Registered User Posts: 220 Junior Member
edited July 2012 in University of Alabama
Hello everyone! My daughter and I consider the 4 bed suites at Bama the "Taj Mahal" of dorms as we continue to check out colleges. The more colleges we visit, the more she keeps coming back to Bama! (Not just for the dorms, but we always talk about it!) What is the "norm" for a dorm across the country? Are the 4 bed suites becoming more popular? We have seen new dorms popping up at colleges and wonder if the 4 bed dorm/suite is what is coming for a lot of schools. Please let me know, more out of curiosity sake than anything. My daughter hopes to be living in a sorority house at some point in college, so sometimes those 2 person rooms with the community bath down the hall may be undesirable, but it is "only for one year." However, one could be quite comfortable in the "Taj Mahal" at Bama for 4 years!! Thanks in advance!
Post edited by ChristineF on

Replies to: Dorms . . . What's the Norm?

  • SEA_tideSEA_tide Registered User Posts: 3,877 Senior Member
    Many colleges I'm seeing are building more dorm's in the style of UA's 4 bed suites, but some are building more traditional suites (2 double rooms sharing a bathroom and possibly a common area that can later be converted to a 3rd double room) or traditional dorm rooms. A couple years ago, there was a article about how a Catholic college was moving back to traditional single-sex dorms for all on campus students, but that it is in the minority of schools that do this.

    More students these days are growing up with their own room and often a bathroom shared by only a couple people. 50 years ago, families were larger, more kids shared rooms, and homes had a single bathroom. If you ever read Pulitzer Prize winner and UA professor Rick Bragg's book "All Over But the Shoutin'," his family in rural Alabama did not have an indoor toilet until the 1970s.

    I've lived in a traditional dorm, shared room in an on campus apartment (the recently imploded Rose Towers), a converted hotel room that had its own bathroom but not a refrigerator or a roommate (this was in Nevada and I would have had a Rose Towers-type double except for construction, so I got a double room used as a single), and UA's Honors dorms. The extra cost of the 4 person "super suites" (UA Housing does not use this term) is often worth the extra money. For those on tight schedules, the ability to walk into ones room at any hour and go to sleep, study, whatever is very useful. While the roommate situation may not always be perfect, you do avoid many of the issues common to traditional dorms in return for a lesser amount of new issues, such as cleaning the bathroom and decorating the living room.

    All this said, some people like more "social" living situations, such as traditional dorm rooms and the sleeping porches found at some sorority houses.

    I remember m2ck or another popular poster on CC (it may have been ek4) mentioning that double occupancy dorm rooms only became common after WWII when colleges didn't have enough room to house returning GIs. Double occupancy dorm rooms are not as common in Canada or Europe even though more apartment buildings and places of lodging in the latter have shared bathrooms.

    There have been requests for UA to offer a less expensive type of honors housing, but to the best of my knowledge, UA is not seriously considering moving away from having honors housing only in the super suite "Taj Mahal" dorms as there are many students whom consider the very nice dorms to be a major selling point of UA. For the same price of traditional dorms at other schools, one can can live on campus at UA in what could be considered fancy apartment buildings.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,204 Forum Champion
    Many schools around the US are often already land-locked with no room to expand, build new dorms, etc, so they deal with what they have. And, of course, some schools' budgets are so tight that they can't build new dorms and are shoving 3 kids into doubles (my nephew at UCLA).

    These super suites style dorms take a LOT of room. Instead of 2 kids in a 10X16 (160 sq feet), you have 4 kids in a super suite of about 1000 sq feet of space. Many schools cannot afford to allot that much space.

    Yes, there are a number of schools that are building these super suites, but how many? Who knows. Probably the ones who are building up their honors colleges and enrollment....and who have the space and money.
  • beth's mombeth's mom Registered User Posts: 3,366 Senior Member
    The wonderful honors dorms were definitely one of the things that swayed my D to Bama.

    She visited only 4 other schools, so not a huge sample, but none of them had anything even approaching the "super suites" dorms. One had "approved private housing" that had a similar setup, but it was much more expensive and difficult to get. Most had suite options (two bedrooms with 2 students apiece sharing a bath), but they were for upperclassmen, not freshmen. The freshmen dorms we saw were pretty much doubles or triples with the community bath down the hall. Two of the schools she visited had just built new dorms - neither was 4 bedroom suite style like Bama has.
  • kjcphmomkjcphmom Registered User Posts: 1,103 Senior Member
    S will be a freshman at UA and the 4 room suite definitely was a selling point for him. The only drawback is the price of over $8000 per school year...my oldest at another university paid $4300 last school year for a traditional 2 person dorm with a bathroom down the hall. If you have a roommate whom you get a long with (which he was lucky enough to have) this works out. For my son attending UA, the suite style dorm (with his own room) is the right way to go for him.
  • MikeWozowskiMikeWozowski Registered User Posts: 3,235 Senior Member
    i think it is becoming popular to have the super suite style dorm. of the 3 schools my second child applied to, all either have or are building new suite style dorms.

    a school may have to make room to do it, but they are doing it. maybe not to the extent that alabama has, though.
  • MereMomMereMom Registered User Posts: 678 Member
    It may be a strategy for keeping more upper classmen on campus, too. DD1's school just built phase 1 of suite style dorms off the quad to replace a dorm on the quad that will be raized and replaced with admin/classroom building. It is only open to upper classmen and filled up in 3 days.

    D and friends are renting a house just off campus. The landlord told us that many area landlords are unhappy about the new suites because they are now competing with the school for the upperclassmen that would automatically have moved off campus before.

    The upside is that private landlords are busy, busy, busy fixing up existing rental stock and/or building new apartment buildings in an effort to stay competitive.
  • MikeWozowskiMikeWozowski Registered User Posts: 3,235 Senior Member
    i would think that most kids would want to move off for the cost savings alone!! heck, pool the money for four people for four years (8-9K per kid = 136K over 4 years) and you could BUY a house with that money! not in every area, but in many!

    my kid, of course, wants to stay on campus forever!!
  • vlinesvlines Registered User Posts: 3,579 Senior Member
    University of MD built new dorms last year. They are two rooms conneceted by a bath. Two people to each room. So 4 kids share a bath, 2 to a room. The rooms are a good size and the bath seems to be a pretty good size too.

    Really nice common areas on the various floors. I am not sure of the laundry or kitchen type areas, though.

    I have seen a few places where that type of set up is being used.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,204 Forum Champion
    I don't think many schools have the NUMBER of super suites that Bama has. It's almost bait and switch for some schools who showcase their super suites for visitors, but then only have a small number of them, so the likelihood of getting one is very small....and the chance of getting one for soph year, is impossible.

    I know that my neighbor's child chose to attend another school and wanted a super suite that she was shown during the campus tour. The school neglected to tell them that many/most of them were being used by sororities, and the remaining ones were given to frosh NMFs.
  • bamagirlsbamagirls Registered User Posts: 2,062 Senior Member
    ^^I know exactly which school that would be....lol. We heard the same pitch and many of our friends did also and all ended up without it. The sad thing is, it happened again this year with many we know and since they provide assignments late, there really isn't much you can do about it.
  • SEA_tideSEA_tide Registered User Posts: 3,877 Senior Member
    Many universities bill their older traditional-style dorms as being perfect for the academically-focused student, the "think of how many intelligent people have lived in this building and you can be one of them" marketing strategy.

    UVA is the poster child for the above marketing philosophy with its Lawn rooms. Many seniors apply each year for the 54 rooms located in one of the original buildings. While the bathroom is down the hall and their are no lounges or other study areas, students get their own rooms with a large desk and fireplace. UA can't offer such housing as most buildings were torched 5 days before the end of the "War Between the States." That said, I'd be willing to live in the Gorgas House, preferably with the million dollars' worth of silver. Now that would be an interesting room checkout process. :)
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