How To Find On-Campus Living Arrangements

Finding on-campus living arrangements is surprisingly simple. Colleges often go the extra mile to encourage students to stay in their housing system and live on campus. However, there are a few things you can do to facilitate the process.  

  1. Contact the student housing office. If you're interested in learning more about available on-campus living arrangements, go right to the source. Call or email the office in charge of on-campus housing, or visit their website to see the array of dorms, rooms, and apartments.

  • Look for special housing events. Some colleges offer fairs and tours to help students learn more about on-campus living arrangements. They usually offer freebies, games, and entertainment to turn a common open house into a must-attend event. Look for flyers and newspaper advertisements for such events.
  • Get out of your dorm. You'll never know what else is out there if you never leave the comfort of your own dorm room. When you visit a friend across campus or stop by your lab partner's room for notes, think about how these rooms and dorms differ from you own. You don't want to stand and gawk, but you can learn more about on-campus living arrangements by just being more aware. Even visiting another dorm's cafeteria for dinner can help you feel out the atmosphere.
  • Keep your eyes open. As you walk around campus, get a feel for the different areas of on-campus living arrangements. Some dorms just have their own personality, especially if the campus dorm system was built over a long period. Do you prefer the quaint charm of the oldest brick dorms on campus, or do you crave the facilities of a modern high-rise dorm or student apartment complex?
  • Make note of deadlines. When signing up for student housing, mark your calender with important dates for when you must claim a room, sign contracts, and pay deposits. You don't want to miss out on your chosen dorm because you forgot to fill out a form.
  • Know the system.  Every school has a different way of assigning available rooms.  Usually when it comes to on-campus living arrangements, freshmen students have little say in where they will live and are randomly assigned to dorms.  Some schools do ask incoming students to fill out questionnaires about dorm preferences, although these will usually ask general questions about atmosphere and location rather than letting students pick a specific dorm.  

    Upperclassmen looking for on-campus living arrangements will find a mix of seniority-based decisions, lottery-based systems and first-come, first-served sign-ups.  Some housing systems have staggered sign-ups, with students first having a chance to reserve their current room, then another room on the same floor, and finally any room in the same dorm.  Then, available spaces are opened up to students currently living in other dorms.  Knowing the system employed by your university can help you make informed decisions while keeping your options open for on-campus living arrangements.

  • Learn about restrictions. Before you commit to an on-campus living arrangement, find out if there are any restrictions on where you may live. Some colleges reserve specific dorms for upperclassmen or set aside floor for student involved in a particular academic program. You don't want to get your heart set on a room that isn't available to you. 

    However, there can be ways to work around restrictions.  If you are friends with an older student, you may be able to get into a traditionally upperclassman dorm by signing up as his or her roommate.  Find a roommate who is graduating in December or studying abroad in the spring semester, and the housing office may let you keep the room as a single for the rest of the school year. 

  • Get there early. The most coveted rooms in a dorm go fast, whether they're single rooms or offer a special feature like an extra closet. The earlier you join the line-up, the better your chances of getting the on-campus living arrangements you want.
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