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"Beauty in Ugly Dorms" (Freshman housing choices - suite-style or traditional dorms?)

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Replies to: "Beauty in Ugly Dorms" (Freshman housing choices - suite-style or traditional dorms?)

  • AidaAida 254 replies17 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Had there been the option, I would have loved a tiny single rather than the two person room I shared back in the 80's, but I would have kept the traditional common area, common bath, and long corridors the same. Suite style doesn't really appeal to me unless there is the option to have a single. Then it would be tempting, but I would still choose in favor of the common bath with housecleaning service versus the 3 or 4 person sharing a bath that they are responsible to keep clean. That right there seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 3923 replies81 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    My daughter ended up in the crappiest dorm at Wellesley. It's the oldest building on campus, a storage building converted into a res hall in the 1970s. It looks like a barracks. She shared a small room with another girl. In between their room and another double was a study crammed with four desks. It was broiling in the winter and hot in the fall and spring. It was also the farthest res hall from just about every class and the gym. She absolutely loved it.

    When it came time to choose where to live for sophomore year, she picked the same dorm.
    edited June 2014
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  • SweetbeetSweetbeet 565 replies30 threadsRegistered User Member
    My S has not gotten his assignment yet for next (freshman) year, but when completing the application, he chose the suite-style (with small kitchen) hall that is actually at the other end of campus from where most of his classes will be (it's not a huge campus). His rationale was that he'd get exercise traveling back and forth, and/or swimming (his dorm, if he gets his first choice, is near the pool and he used to be a competitive swimmer, so it's his fitness activity of choice), and also, because he might not be able to come home for all breaks (long trip, multiple flights, $$$), he would be able to stay in the dorm (which stays open over all breaks, unlike the others) and also cook things for himself. He likes to cook (not gourmet, just normal stuff like eggs, ramen, brownies from mix, etc.) and I think that will be a good arrangement for him. It's two doubles with a shared kitchen, tiny LR and bath. I think three other "suite-mates" will be plenty, and the hall also has common rooms. I love the idea of making brownies or cookies and sharing as a way to meet people!

    Toughest question on the housing application for him was, are you messy or neat? He felt if he put "messy" he'd get stuck with a slob, but if he put "neat" there might be too much pressure to be neater than he is comfortable with. He is sort of "in between" - he does clean his bathroom - perhaps not up to 'neatnick' standards, or as often as I would do it, keeps his room clean but also doesn't mind a bit of clutter, doesn't always fold his clothes right away, etc. I can't even remember which he said he'd picked, neat I think. So that will be interesting!

    Another tough (and I thought, weird) question was, whether you believed in sharing possessions with a roommate. Is that common? I wouldn't think anyone would want their roommate messing with their stuff (obvious how *I* would answer the question!). My S said he actually has no problem with sharing stuff, but he didn't want to answer yes, because what if the roommate took advantage? Like, is that a license to just take stuff without asking?

    It will be interesting to see how his "other end of campus" choice turns out.
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  • ConsolationConsolation 22875 replies184 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Massmom, I'm glad she liked it, but most of the dorms at Wellesley are pretty nice. I lived in Cazenove the first two years, and Claflin--window seats!-- the last two. When I took my niece there for the tour, the guide showed our group the single ugliest room I'd ever seen at W, in the basement of Severance. I think I know the building your D lived in. It hadn't been converted yet when I was a student.
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  • mathmommathmom 32373 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the sharing question is interesting, and perhaps useful. One problem with the questionaires is that kids don't realize they may keep different hours that they did in high school or that their parents helped them be neater than they are naturally. @Sweetbeet, my older son did not get his first choice dorm at CMU (the only one with A/C) but ended up with an enormous converted one bedroom apartment, a good 10 minute walk from the main campus. He liked it well enough that he lived there two years. One of the big plusses for our kid who does no sports was that 10 minute walk insured he got a little bit of exercise!
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  • dodgersmomdodgersmom 6467 replies846 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Two observations . . .

    The first is that the kid who really, really wants his privacy may be the kid who would benefit the most from the communal living of a traditional dorm.

    The second is that relationships with roommates don’t always turn out the way one would expect. My son had a roommate his first year away at school, and all i heard were complaints about the kid - my son couldn’t wait to get away from him. Two years later, he was staying with a friend from school over spring break, but told me that he’d be traveling for a few days with another friend, Joe, and his family. “Joe,” I asked, “who’s Joe?” His response? "You know who he is, Mom - it’s Joe, my old roommate!” So you just never know how these things will turn out . . . ;)
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  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo 1970 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Op,
    D totally wanted suite housing over dorm housing as a frosh. Afterwards, d said that it would be much better for frosh to live in dorms and she will always recommend to frosh to live in dorms. Her suite situation was that there are stairs and 2 suites came off to the left and right. So you didn't meet people as you went just up and down stairs. Maybe it would be different if they could cruise down hallways.

    In suites you get more if your own space and privacy, but dorms are better because it basically forces you to meet a ton of people. Most kids in dorms and suites keep their bedroom door open. In dorms, you often just pop your head in to someone's room. In suites, you could pop your head in the common room, but that presumes that the suite mates are hanging there rather than in their bedrooms.
    edited June 2014
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  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl 931 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    S1 lived in a brand-new dorm freshman year with private bathrooms. He said he made most of his friends stepping out to smoke or through his major, not on his dorm floor. His roommate moved out second semester and they didn't move anyone else in, so he had a single. He liked it and had a single sophomore year - in the oldest dorm on campus and the only one with no a/c.
    S2 will be attending the same school this fall and applied late for housing, so he will be in a traditional-style building and I'm kind of glad. It's also the only dorm with its own dining hall so he has that advantage to look forward to.
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  • warriordaughterwarriordaughter 363 replies37 threadsRegistered User Member
    At the school I'm going to, freshman women have two housing options. The first is much older and has tiny double rooms with traditional, communal bathrooms on each hall. The second is fairly new and has much larger double rooms with suite bathrooms shared between every two rooms (all rooms still open onto a shared hallway). Plus the second has AC and the first doesn't! All students agree that the first option is far better for creating strong community, even though it's less private and convenient.

    Not to mention there are weekly Jane Austen movie nights in the first :) The culture of the dorm seems to make a big difference.
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3899 replies164 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2014
    OP checking in with an update:

    Just wanted to post a quick follow-up since I found the discussion here really helpful. My son, who'll be studying engineering (but is a theater geek at heart), was eventually offered the option to live with other honors students in a dormitory that primarily houses a very cool liberal arts living learning community (LLC) at his university. He's really getting the best of both worlds in that he'll be in a more traditional set-up but be housed with other honors students (all of whom are also STEM students). And it's coed to boot, has its own private bathroom that will be shared with three other guys, and is only about 15 years old, so mold and other allergens should not be an issue.

    Hoping it turns out to be the perfect match!
    edited July 2014
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  • amarylandmomamarylandmom 623 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    @massmom‌ and @consolation, I think I lived in the same dorm as Massmom's daughter as a freshman in the eighties. Not completely sure but the description is right on the money. Honestly, I was totally happy there too!!
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  • wis75wis75 14059 replies62 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good news, OP. There are always tradeoffs and often many good options. It'll work fine as long as he is happy with his academics, enjoyable classes would make any living situation more tolerable.
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  • movemetoomovemetoo 724 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    In the dorms at the college my daughter is moving into, the hallway doors are to be closed and locked at all times for safety of others in the room and their belongings. A far cry from when I went to school and everyone on the floor had their hall door open all day. I'm hoping she still meets people in the common areas.
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  • icuinNmicuinNm 135 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My D will be in a suite as a freshman. She had the option of living in the honor's wing of a traditional older dorm, but she liked the suite better. For those that have kids who lived in a suite with a Jack and Jill bathroom, how did the bathroom cleaning and toilet paper situation work? Did everyone take turns cleaning and buying the TP or is that just wishful thinking?
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For those that have kids who lived in a suite with a Jack and Jill bathroom, how did the bathroom cleaning and toilet paper situation work? Did everyone take turns cleaning and buying the TP or is that just wishful thinking?
    My hall had housecleaning bi weekly...or weekly...it varied, but our lovely cleaning staff cleaned the shower and toilet and refilled the toilet paper when necessary. There were the occasional lock outs, but nothing a good old bang on the neighboring wall couldn't fix.

    I've lived in a traditional hall and a new suite hall. I've spent a good amount of time in the "older" halls, and they all have their perks. I'm more comfortable in four person or less suites. I feel they are the best option in terms of bathrooms versus bathroom where eight people have to a bathroom or communal bathrooms.
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  • icuinNmicuinNm 135 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    So your shared bathroom with 3 other people was cleaned by the cleaning staff? That's not how it works with the dorm D will be living in. The 4 girls will have to clean their own bathroom and provide their own toilet paper. There is a sink area with 4 sinks (I think), and separate rooms with a door on each for the bathtub/shower and the toilet. So at least someone can use the bathroom while someone else is showering.

    I was wondering how it worked with roommates buying the toilet paper and cleaning supplies when it was their turn and if a cleaning schedule was successful. I'm having a sick feeling that the toilet won't ever get a good cleaning.
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Welp, that's how suites are handled on my campus! Everything was taken care of. The only thing the requested is we take out our products from the bathroom and sink area on cleaning day.

    I've had friends who have a "No Sharing" type of policy. They buy their own toilet paper. I have other friends where all of their roommates bought a 12 pack roll or something and then when the paper was running low they drew out of a hat and established like a rotation.

    Don't have any advice about cleaning supplies as all of the bathrooms are cleaned by housekeeping.
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  • KnoxpatchKnoxpatch 343 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    My about-to-be freshman D will be in the old '70's dorm along with all the other freshmen women at her small LAC. The idea of going down the hall to the bathroom was at first appalling. However, when she heard she didn't have to clean a bathroom, EVER, the appalling quickly morphed to sunshine and butterflies. I like the Jane Austin movie nights! Will have to suggest that to D!
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  • wis75wis75 14059 replies62 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "An old '70's dorm" My alma mater has kept up maintenance and renovations- more than half of the dorms date to before the late 1960's, with the oldest over one hundred years old! A dorm built around that time next to it was torn down after around fifty years and a tower replaced it- it was a women's dorm named after some school bigwig from the 1800's who did not want women on campus! The only other old dorm recently replaced was always a bad design built in the 1960's, the other towers of that era were of a better design and still used today. Many different locations and architecture styles- including rooms.
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3899 replies164 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Update II:

    I should have written this a year ago, but I forgot all about it until I posted in another thread about my old (and apparently notorious!) college dorm getting a major renovation. (See here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1798498-dorms-you-ll-never-see-on-the-campus-tour.html) But since this is a not-uncommon issue this time of year, I want to follow up on post #50 to share that my son had a great freshman year in that liberal arts LLC. It had a wonderful mix of both STEM and liberal arts students, and while he didn't actually join the LLC (some engineers do), he still regularly attends their functions with his friends who are members.

    It really turned out to be the best of both worlds for him, and the friends he made there remain his closest friends at school today. They mostly moved off campus and scattered all around sophomore year, but they still get together regularly to socialize. One of his friends posted a group photo on FB yesterday from a spring get-together and tagged my son in it. (I never would have even known about it otherwise!) I recognized most of the kids from freshman year, and it looked like their circle had widened to include several new friends.

    That's not to say he didn't experience a fair share of travails that year. His shared bathroom was flooded when the guys in the room directly above plugged up their toilet. (Ewww!) And it was frequently freezing because the AC was blasting much of the school year, but between the money saved from getting closed out of the suites, and the wonderful friends he made, it was a net win for sure.

    In retrospect, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. :)

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