<p>I hope this isn't too premature, as I know we still have some parents with kids on the fence about college choices. But, another deadline is looming.....housing. </p>

<p>My S completed his housing app yesterday. I think he had to select 6 or 7 choices....in order of importance to him. I was surprised to see that he requested single rooms where they were available or where he wasn't offered a suite/apartment style. </p>

<p>At first, I was concerned about him not having a roomie.....someone with whom he could really bond. But, I can understand wanting the option of "space" when one needs it. I also wonder if he has really hurt his chances of getting into his top choice college houses by asking for a single, as there are fewer available.</p>

<p>He has selected two "Residential Program" options - one on Health and Fitness and the other on African American Film. </p>

<p>Another interesting note is that he has changed his tune on the "African American" dorm. He put it on his list (twice) - once for a special residential program and again as a general option. A couple of months ago he was mortified to think that he might be placed into segregated housing. Fortunately, I've read that the DuBois House is being desegregated and is now populated with about 40% other races.....but the residential programs and themes remain focused on African American culture. While the DuBois House wasn't his top choice, he has ranked it midway down.....so he stands a good chance of winding up here since his top choices are popular with ALL students.</p>

<p>Is anyone else's child seeking a single room? How about special residential programs?</p>

<p>Mine chose regular shared room co-ed housing. This type of housing is frist come first served. His logic was that he is rooming with a friend from HS that we are certain is going to work out well. (2 very laid back guys) If they applied to theme houseing, which had a selection process with essays, & were not selected they would get whatever is leftover because the theme housing selection process isn't complete until after all the first come first served kids are already assigned. Plus, both students have to be independently selected for the same theme housing in order to room together in that area. To address the single room issue, my other 2 kids had random roommates that turned out to be terrible. I agree with your son that trying to get a single is a good idea. He can socialize outside of the room & have privacy when he wants it.</p>

<p>This is the new speculative topic at our house. The debate is among special residential program, regular frosh and "substance-free". It will be a few more weeks before the official mailings come so it is just talk right now. Single rooms are not an option, although I've be surprised how many of her friends going to other schools are trying for single rooms.</p>

<p>Thinking about his change of mind re: Af-Am dorm. Have either of you read "Privilege"? Lots of good and bad there, but anyway the description of the "enforced diversity" at Harvard shows one view. My bias is like his feeling months ago, why go to a school that is putting such a premium on diversity, then be segregated (whether it is self-segregation, or imposed segregation)? But the truth, as illustrated by the book, is a little more complicated. The student is being thrust into a very new situation, with many changes in his or her life - maybe some familiarity in the place where you sleep is a good idea. I guess it depends on the child and the atmosphere at school.</p>

<p>Singles: I don't know if he has hurt his chances of certain houses by applying for one but I have changed my mind about this issue totally from summer before freshman year to having upperclassmen. I am now strongly in favor of singles for any student who wishes one. There is enough stress that first year without having to also deal with a difficult roommate. And I think some students really require a bit of private space. Regarding the special residential programs, please call and talk to the adult in charge of the house if you or your son strongly feels a certain living environment is important. Sometimes certain theme houses at Penn don't get enough applicants and those who don't get into the more popular choices will end up there by default. Current students may be a good resource for the reality of various living situations, but you or your son may want to consider going to the website and picking out adult advisors to pertinent student groups and calling them to ask advice on the "best fit" house for a student who will be associated with that particular group. Good luck!</p>

<p>Cangel, I haven't read the book. Without derailing from the housing topic, I will add that his high comfort level with other African Americans is faily new (last two years) because he has always attended white schools and had white friends. Within the last year, I've seen a dramatic increase in the time he's spending with other AfAms as he has been able to locate and become friendly with a network of AfAm kids who are driven, successful, college-bound and have goals similar to his. He recently went away for several days with a group of 150 AfAm HS seniors from the East Coast......in celebration of their graduation and college acceptances (amongst other awards for which they had all been competing as part of a program he's in) . This was a real turning point for him, as he was able to bond with these very smart AfAm kids.....some of whom are headed to HY.....quite a few going to Penn....many going to Brown(not a Princeton in the lot - interestingly). I think that experience might have really made him feel "at home" in a way he didnt think possible because the situation is so unique - and it probably sparked the desire to give the DuBois House a try.</p>

<p>And I agree with you.......what's the point of seeking a diverse community if you're going to self-segregate once you arrive. The fact that DuBois is no longer all AfAm is comforting. Otherwise, we would have had to "talk" before I would have felt ok about him submitting that housing app.</p>

<p>Also trying not to derail the housing topic, it sounds as if he will be successful in having a wide range of friends whatever his living situation ends up being. </p>

<p>Pam - thanks for the hint about going to the bottom of the pile if not chosen for the selective housing - this is something for daughter to consider. Her choices are regular freshman housing which is very social and probably alcohol soaked, not something she is excited about, essay driven selective housing which is quiet, very low substance, but allows her to meet only a smaller group of frosh (nicer rooms, though), and substance free housing. Some of the substance free housing is mixed class, which means meeting even more limited numbers of freshmen. What she is trying to determine is if any of the all freshman buildings will also be substance free.</p>

<p>bbl, thansk for the advice. Everyone's support of the single room really does make me feel better. Personally, I know I wouldn't want a roommate either. I just didn't want him to miss out on any "growing experience" that might come with being forced to live with someone else......who might be very different.</p>

<p>It'll be interesting to see what comes and where he winds up. Of couse, the Quad is his # 1 (Res fitness program), 2 and 3 choice.....Hill is 4......DuBois is 5 and 6 (Res film program)....not sure what else..</p>

<p>Cangel and Pam, </p>

<p>Re: the substance free housing.....I find that interesting. I guess this is sort of what my son applied for (the blurb on the program said it was "smoke free"). Besides cigarettes, what other substances would be sanctioned anyway? Or, is it more than the students in these programs are agreeing to abstain from drugs and alcohol, even though they are illegal for them anyway? I guess I just find it odd that you would have to write an essay to the school to ask to be placed in a dorm without illegal substances. Would the RA in non-program dorms allow drugs and alcohol?</p>

<p>my daughter had a single in subfree housing for three years-
it was prospective option for students who were allergic to smoke- students who perhaps were in recovery or who had other issues re:drugs/alcohol
or students like my daughter who didn't like smell of smoke/had asthma
was concerned about being in a freshman dorm where sometimes students first reaction is "hey- my parents aren't here!"
and she also felt that while her choice was between subfree & quiet
that subfree might actually be quieter.
I don't know about other schools but at her college RAs & HAs are there as advisors, as mediators, not as police.
Students didn't have to write an essay- they just made it a choice.
College students are virtually always adults even if they are not legal drinking age, plenty old enough to be making their own decisions,even if they are not wise ones.
However the honor principle is peer pressure to adhere to the rules of the group and it has worked well in the past although I have observed that as the college becomes even more competitive and selective the frat boy type behavior has increased- especially over this past year.
Freshman year- her dorm was small - twenty students maybe
sophmore and junior year she lived in a larger dorm that was mixed classes.
Senior year she will be living in a co-ed two bedroom townhouse- her first time with a roommate- ( outside of camp)
I am excited- i hope to take her on a big IKEA trip although she wants to just hit up yard sales.</p>

<p>My answer may be a little confusing, because we are still waiting to hear. The essay is not for substance free housing, it is for a selective housing community where there are some special events (speakers, workshops and trips). I have the idea that it is not officially substance free, but attracts a generally quiet student population - I may be wrong it offically be substance free. There is an official substance free building that a few freshman are assigned to, but DD isn't interested in that, because she wants to meet as many people as possible. She is still trying to understand if some of the all freshman buildings are substance free - we are waiting to hear.
Yeah, "substance free" seems like some kind of a misnomer, when one is talking of all underage housing - wouldn't all substances, even tobacco in my state, be illegal for people under 19/21? I think the idea is the kids living there are pledging to not drink/smoke in the building - does that imply uncontrolled drinking is going on in the other freshman buildings? That's what happens when a crusading non-drinker inexplicably decides to go to a college often defamed on this board for its alcohol soaked reputation.</p>

<p>Momsdream: when my S chose housing last year, one of the two major freshman dorms was doubles arranged in suites, and the other was almost all singles. The first one has the reputation of being somewhat of a party dorm. S decided he wanted a single in the other dorm (not seeing himself as the party type.) This was fine with me, though I worried about the lack of roommate bonding, and I kept badgering him about not staying in his room playing video games. I have had first-hand experience of dreadful roommate issues, so I certainly wasn't going to advise not to get the single. </p>

<p>Well the upshot was that he ended up on a floor which bonded during the first week. They go out together all the time, and spend lots of time in the dorm together. His roommate from next year is on the floor, as are all his good friends. It's the best of all possible worlds, as when he wants to, he can retreat to his room to get stuff done. </p>

<p>I think your S will be fine if he is in a single; he sounds like a social guy who will have no problems at all making friends.</p>

<p>I have heard many different things re the actuality of sub-free dorms, and of course have no first hand experience. This is how the tour guide explained it to us at Tulane. </p>

<p>First, those over 21 are allowed alcohol, eg, in non-sub free dorm if all in room are over 21. So anyone that age choosing sub-free is making a choice to abstain from something legal.</p>

<p>Second, for the younger students, the explanation was that substances are illegal in any dorm, but those choosing the sub-free option were pledging to be subtance free whether in dorm, on-campus or not - a lifestyle choice. He, laughing, stated that sub-free dorm minimized chances of tripping over intoxicated dorm-mates in halls, bathrooms, etc.</p>


Now this is the substance that my S needs to be free of :D!</p>

<p>Our housing plans were thrown for a loop when D went to visit her college over spring break. The school offers housing to freshman only, older dorms and an off-campus apartment located about 1 mile away. All first come first served. D met a few upperclassmen who already had their own off-campus apartment and were looking for 2 new roommates for next year. After visiting and realizing that the apartment was actually closer to the classrooms than some of the dorms and the college owned apartments she was hooked. A private bedroom, a kitchen and sharing a bath with one other frosh girl was alot more appealing than dorm life! And since she is a hyper-social type I don't worry at all about that aspect of her life. The plus side is that it's cheaper than the dorms/mandatory meal plan would be.</p>

Would the RA in non-program dorms allow drugs and alcohol?


<p>Generally speaking... Yes. Of course. Probably even drinking games such as beer pong.</p>

<p>You would expect to find lots of alcohol in every college dorm. Drugs, too....but the survey data shows that alcohol is by far more prevalent these days.</p>

<p>"Substance-free" does not necessarily mean that there won't be be alcohol or trashed students, but it probably does reduce the occurance. It's attractive for the students of those dorms because it forces the disruption associated with heavy drinking into other people's dorms.</p>

<p>I also want to point out that in the subfree dorm the students took it very seriously.
Subfree even included parents who were well over 21 and were going to use wine in a recipe- we had to move to one of the other houses for dinner.
However- my daughter is looking forward to living in a townhouse- she still is on the smallest meal plan- about 1 meal a day- she plans on cereal for breakfast- a sandwich for lunch and then eat in commons for dinner- I guess that is a better option than cereal/ramen/cereal!</p>

<p>Jmmom, ain't that the truth?</p>

<p>actually, I think his video game playing took a dive during school. Too much else going one (the poker playing, on the other hand....)</p>

<p>Ah.....Ok......my son's selection isn't "Substance Free".....it's a "Health and Fitness" Residence Program (fitness trainers, fitness programs, speakers, trips) which has essay driven selection (sounds the same as what Cangel referenced). </p>

<p>The substance free dorms where you can't use wine in a recipe sound like good options for people in recovery and it's nice to know they are available to kids in college.</p>


<p>As a bit of practical advice. Like many schools with a major Greek presence, Penn appears to have fairly significant rates of "binge drinking". The only stat I saw was 49%, which would put it at the dividing line between Wechsler's "moderate binge" and "heavy binge" school ranges -- about like Dartmouth.</p>

<p>If my son or daughter expressed an interest in sub-free housing at a school with those "stats", I would be very supportive -- let me rephrase that...very encouraging -- of that option, especially for freshman year.</p>

<p>I feel hopelessly unqualified to offer any advice to an Af-Am parent on the issue of de facto racial segregation in campus housing (the Af-Am Film program is thinly veiled theme house option). However, I would point out the statistics show Af-Am students nationally binge drink at a rate about half that of white students. So, my natural "white folk" inclination agaist segregated housing may be tempered by pragmatic considerations if I were faced with giving advice as a parent.</p>

<p>One a tangentially related topic: As a parent, I would be very reluctant to endorse fraternity or sorority membership. Fortunately, I don't have to cross that bridge. However, I suspect that I would ultimately be unwilling to pay for college if son or daughter insisted on "going Greek". I feel pretty strongly about that issue.</p>

<p>IDad- points well taken. Thanks for the info on binge drinking. Of course, the binge drinking that might take place in the freshman dorms is of concern to me, as it would be to any parent. </p>

<p>Re: Frats. I assume your problem with frats and sororities is especially related to drinking (?). Or, is it more related to the idea of being "selected" for something exclusive. Either way, I understand the concern. I don't know what my S plans to do around frats. We have a longstanding tradition in my family of males pledging a particular black frat. Son has been pretty inconsistent in his leanings about frats. However, from what I have seen and recall about being young, the drinking wasn't a big deal (perhaps this is in line with the general numbers for AfAms on campuses). You can't perform all of those fancy, complicated "steps" and cane twirls if you're drunk :) </p>

<p>I'm always hesitant to draw a hard line between races. But, when it comes to frats, there's a huge difference between black and white frats.</p>

<p>There was that wonderful book by that Harvard dean (name totally escapes me; ah, the wonders of old age) based on surveys of several thousand Harvard graduating seniors. They reported that the single most important educational experience of their four years was living and interacting with a diverse group of close friends and associates. They ranked it (as I remember) above classes, professors, research, extracurriculars, etc. </p>

<p>Just something to keep in mind. Good luck! (and remember, nothing is irrevocable, and things change!)</p>