I thought that it was common for students of all ages (freshman - senior) to live in dorms but found it's not the case, but rather juniors and seniors typically don't, is this true?

Basically what the title says.

Varies a lot by school.

In general the larger the university the more likely it is that more students live off campus / not in college housing. At very large universities, housing may only be guaranteed for first years (and obviously, at commuter colleges not even that).

In general LAC’s are more likely to have most students on campus- but even at LAC’s Seniors living on campus are often in separate housing (typically apartments or townhouses run by the college).

The main thing is that there is such a range you are likely to be able to find whatever you want!


My oldest never lived in an on-campus dorm or ate in an on-campus dining hall. She lived in a privately-owned dorm at the edge of campus as a freshman (which was allowed by the university), an apartment, her sorority house and an off campus house.

D21 (at a different university) is in an on-campus dorm as a freshman but will be moving off campus for her remaining years. Her uni does not have the housing space for upperclassmen/women. There are a few spaces that they can enter a lottery for, or become an RA, or join certain LLC’s that are guaranteed 2 years on campus, but that’s it. Most kids welcome the option to move off campus because it’s cheaper (for the most part, where she is) and they can have their own room vs. the small dorm rooms and cook their own food, which is definitely cheaper than the dining plans.

There are schools (usually smaller in size) that require on-campus living for all 4 years, and others that have enough dorm space to offer on-campus living to anyone who wants it, but I think the trend for some time now has been a combination of on-campus/off-campus living during the four years. I only wish I had gotten into the business of building all the fancy student apartments because those things are a gold mine!

U.S. News provides this information. Search for a college, then select “See student life details.” For example, at Hamilton College, 100% of students live on campus: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/hamilton-college-2728/student-life.


Varies by school. But even at the ones where 95%+ stay on campus for 4 years tend to have different options – and some, such as apartments, tend to be only upper classmen.

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My son started living off campus as a sophomore. He attends a mid sized uni where this is common, but a substantial number of upperclassmen still live on campus. His uni offers apartments to upper classmen with kitchens, etc…

My D lived on campus for all four years, as did her friends. She attended a small LAC where nearly all students live on campus for four years. The college did offer a very limited amount of off-campus college-owned housing for seniors only.

If you are seeking highly residential colleges, this site may be helpful: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/most-on-campus.

For my daughter and the HS friends she’s still in touch with, it is true that by Junior year many live off-campus.

My daughter had the typical twin room as a Freshman, was able to get 4 friends together to managed a nice suite for sophomore year, but then just rented an apartment with friends, rather than deal with COVID-related variables for Junior year.

As a Senior, it may be actually be more practical to have a year-round apartment to live in the city for your full-year internships - which is what she ended up doing.

On the other hand there are plenty of seniors. who are “so over” having suite mates, and very happily use their Senior status to snap up nice, on-campus Singles, where they can also have more privacy with their partner!

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As noted, it varies widely by school.

My D17 went to Purdue and I’d guess the school-sponsored living percentage was probably 95%, 70%, 45%, 25%. This includes all “campus” housing. She spend the last two years in a 4BR, 2BA apartment that the university purchased/leased to use as “campus” housing. It was “off campus” two years before, and was going to,revert to this before high enrollment, when the university retained it.

A classmate of hers is at MIT and he said it’s pretty much on-campus for a vast majority, as off-campus housing is very expensive. (Which he found to be true, taking a Covid gap year, and not being offered campus housing on return).

A college’s Common Data Set, section F1, may tell you the percentage of frosh and all undergraduates living in campus housing.

The percentage of frosh in campus housing is often a decent proxy for residential students (versus commuters). But many colleges see most non-frosh residential students living off campus nearby.