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Why Dorms Are So Nice Now

1NJParent1NJParent 1371 replies35 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
From the Atlantic:
Many of today’s students are living in far better-appointed accommodations than now-graying alumni did.
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/08/college-dorms-fancy/597070/
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Replies to: Why Dorms Are So Nice Now

  • SweetSoulMusicSweetSoulMusic 16 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Our DS20 is different from most in that he likes very industrial feeling schools - think 1960s engineering centers. However, we live near High Point University and decided to check it out. This is a pure resort-style University (steakhouse you can eat at weekly on the meal plan, small tours on gold carts, lounge areas to look like 1st class plane seats so you are comfortable doing business there) - and it was hard not to be impressed. And yet still feel a little silly for being impressed.

    I did find it interesting that private bathrooms are less expensive to cut down on housekeeping costs.
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 175 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think it really depends on the school. Our son just started at Denison, and, for a school with a big endowment, the dorms are pretty minimal. Clean but small rooms and no air conditioning. But that's OK, it's part of the whole experience. On the other hand, there's also this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/us/college-dorms-mold-health.html
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 447 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    Full price at my son's school is something around $75k/yr. I imagine parents wouldn't be too thrilled to pay that for their child to live in a dump. Son's FY dorm is old, but still nice. No AC in rooms, ugly tile floor, communal bathroom. But there's laundry in the building, everything was very clean and in new or nearly new condition. And there's AC in the adjoining 24 hr study/rec lounge. I did have to Prime him a pkg of 12 foosballs. They were using ping pong balls, which apparently made playing extremely "interesting"!! LOL
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  • ChillDadChillDad 231 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It's all part of the academic "arms race" - beyond the classroom experience many schools are ready to offer a "wow factor" typically featured in the fitness center, dining hall, and dorms. A few institutions have even upped the ante with a resort feel, including a lazy river water feature.
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  • thumper1thumper1 74811 replies3279 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Back in the Stone Age, the best dorm I lived in was also the oldest. Rooms were HUGE. Built in closets and dressers, and very nice old woodwork. No cement blocks that were visible anyway.

    My next college built 16 suite style dorms that opened in 1970. When I transferred there, I didn’t get to live in these...I lived in adjacent older traditional style dorm rooms. Well...fast forward to 2015. The school was in the process of tearing down the “new suite style dorms” and were renovating my two old traditional dorms. They had built new apartment style housing for grad and upper class students.

    Honestly, I think it’s nice that these dorms are nice. It’s where the students live. And yes, I know the public places need to be nice too...but it’s nice to “go home” to decent lodging.
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  • chzbrgrchzbrgr 201 replies12 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I know I may be in the minority here, but... the "wow factor" for me would mean many, many more single rooms, available to underclassmen. Living in a triple stinks, even when there's a lazy river outside the window and a brand new climbing wall in the fitness center.

    Yes sharing rooms the way Americans do is unheard of in the UK. Combined with being legal to drink at 18, adequate public transportation (in most places) and less financial dependence on the parents, it means the students lead a far more independent lifestyle.

    I might have mentioned this before, but at my Oxford college in the early 90s there was always a few pounds to be made at the end of the academic year helping the porters move extra beds into all of the rooms. The visiting American summer study/tour abroad schemes would of course have their guests share.
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 834 replies14 threadsRegistered User Member
    My daughter just started at a school that is close to $75,000 full price and the dorms are fairly awful for most of the kids. Tiny coffin sized rooms with little natural light, old disgusting furniture and carpet, no ac, coin operated laundry in the dank basement, no elevators. People there are definitely not choosing it for the dorms. I think for the price the accommodations should be slightly better- the bathrooms shouldn’t be gross and the laundry should be free- but I guess the school is worth it so people don’t complain very much.
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  • natty1988natty1988 642 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    My D's dorm was ugly, but they do maintenance work on the dorms every summer and everything was clean when she moved in. She went to school in Arizona, so mold wasn't really an issue because the air is so dry!
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12812 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I was surprised how uncomfortable my niece's room at Princeton was -- stuffy and dark -- though "charm" galore.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 3925 replies81 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @ChaosParent23 , you're right about that! I was definitely not thrilled when I saw my daughter's gross first year res hall at Wellesley (wavy carpet, old bathrooms, windows that needed replacing, and my favorite, a steaming pit outside!), but she ended up loving it there and even picked it again her second year. Some schools get away with not updating their dorms because people feel that the education or other aspects are worth it. And one good thing about having shabby accommodations in college is that they are unlikely to be worse than their first apartment, especially if they live in an expensive city.
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 447 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    @Groundwork2022 AGREED!!! DS ended up in a double single. I had some reservations about it mostly due to him being very introverted. However, it's only been a week & he called last night w/ some roommate horror stories from others. He said "the cons of having a single are vastly overshadowed by the many, many pros!"
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22989 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Some schools could house students in barracks and students would still line up to go there while others need the bells and whistles and the lazy rivers to attract students.
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  • maya54maya54 2146 replies88 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 2
    “Some schools could house students in barracks and students would still line up to go there while others need the bells and whistles and the lazy rivers to attract students.”

    So agree. And at my kids college n what I believe was a stroke of marketing genius, they made the most repulsive dorm in a decent location a freshmen only dorms. Many kids are THRILLED to get this assignment and many actually upset to get the “nice” dorm ( which has many upper classmen)
    edited September 2
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2153 replies101 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    Well, my experience has been different from the article.

    Freshman year there was a decent-sized single, in a dorm with a nice common room area for socialization; but the dorm itself showed signs of aging and was in need of an interior paint job, and wi-fi was spotty. This year, our kid is in a huge double with private bath in a dorm that is a charming small house. He is really excited and happy about his room and dorm. But the paint is peeling, there are cracks in the walls, a leak needed repair, the outsides of the windows are so dirty that they are hard to see out of, and half the furniture was broken and unusable when we arrived for move-in.

    Peeling paint can be lived with. Some of the other items could not. I give the maintenance staff credit for being caring and responsive and quickly addressing any issues brought to their attention.

    But it appears that the college puts most of its time and money into top quality education, small classes, exciting opportunities for the students, financial aid, etc. When they do invest in facilities, they are good at splashy new projects like building a new environmentally friendly dorm, a gorgeous library, and a state-of-the-art science building. But day-to-day maintenance of existing dorms and furniture/equipment, not so much. At $70,000 a year, this annoys us as parents.

    But, in the final analysis, there are a lot more important aspects to the college experience... and in those, the experience has been phenomenal so far.
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  • TheodenTheoden 200 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It all depends. Some schools still traditionally give more spartan dorms to underclassmen and then, as they participate in lotteries by class, the dorms get progressively better. Some SUNY (public) schools, which are very affordable, put more money into dorms and dining with nice new facilities and seem rather fancy, but have student to faculty ratios of 19-1 and offer less personal attention. It all depends.
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  • midcenturymidcentury 7 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My daughter attends George Washington University and was in the worst dorm of all at the school but is where majority of freshman stay. She was in a 6 person room, had mold in her room 4 times and they finally gave her a dehumidfier and gave her a small credit for her trouble. The walls in her closet were wet almost constantly. She contracted MRSA as well along with getting sick just about every month. One of her roommates had extreme body odor and another dyed her hair in the bathroom and got red dye literally everywhere. This year, she has a studio apartment with one other girl in the newest dorm but is paying 4 k more. It is insane but I her dorm and room are at least clean and no more mold. GWU requires that all students stay on campus through Junior year.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7274 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D went from one of the newest dorms freshman year to the oldest. She likes the older dorm better. Said it feels less like a hotel and more like a real dorm experience. Thankfully they all have been clean and well maintained. The GW mold thing sounds awful!
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  • chzbrgrchzbrgr 201 replies12 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    midcentury wrote: »
    My daughter attends George Washington University and was in the worst dorm of all at the school but is where majority of freshman stay. She was in a 6 person room, had mold in her room 4 times and they finally gave her a dehumidfier and gave her a small credit for her trouble. The walls in her closet were wet almost constantly. She contracted MRSA as well along with getting sick just about every month. One of her roommates had extreme body odor and another dyed her hair in the bathroom and got red dye literally everywhere. This year, she has a studio apartment with one other girl in the newest dorm but is paying 4 k more. It is insane but I her dorm and room are at least clean and no more mold. GWU requires that all students stay on campus through Junior year.

    That sounds like it should be illegal!
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5065 replies93 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 23
    Bowdoin’s dorms are beautiful. Most of them old on the outside but pretty new inside and so much space. All of them include a bedroom with two beds and then a common room. So, if you’re in a double, you have a living room and then a bedroom with a door with the two beds. Big and clean. Quads have an even bigger living room and then two bedrooms, one on either side. Tons of light with big windows. S19 is loving it. He or his roommate can go to bed and close the door and the other can do homework or just hang out in their living room. It’s a huge boost to their daily living experience.

    Now that I’ve seen that room, I think we will be caring a little more about dorms for D21. I know she’s going to care. We were at Wisconsin and she saw a dorm room and almost cried. She said no way could she live in there and I agree. If you would have asked me before S19 moved into his room if I cared about the dorm, I would have said no. But his quality of life is so much better than his high school friends at other schools in small old dorm rooms. No lazy river there (haha) and the field house and work out areas seem dated but I’ll take the good-sized and newer dorm room over those things. And we are not sacrificing a stellar education.
    edited September 23
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