Why do I have to live on campus?

The concept of living on campus goes back centuries to the establishment of colleges and universities. Because these institutions were few in number and far away from family homes, the students needed a place to sleep - and devote themselves to study.

College dormitories were a standard feature of the many universities that grew around the world. Except for some inner city or "commuter" campuses, almost all colleges have some kind of living facilities for students. Recently, even some traditional community colleges have added on or off-campus housing.

The concept of "Residence Life" became common in recent years. Dorms were once spaces to "warehouse" student bodies; today Res Life includes an array of living arrangements, and most importantly, programs to help foster independence, decision-making, and inter-cultural experiences among students.

Most universities want Freshmen and Sophomores to live on campus to gain academic skills, be exposed to diverse people and ideas, and make strong connections with other students and faculty. Though it might seem like an annoyance to some students who'd rather just live alone, it is valuable learning and life experience. That's why most colleges insist on it.

Types of Campus Housing

Depending on the nature of the university or college, when it was built - or rebuilt - campus housing takes a number of forms, even on one campus.

"Barracks" style dorms that house four or more students in bunk beds might still be available at some schools, though that arrangement has pretty much gone out of style.

The traditional two-students-to-a-room type of layout (a double) is the norm at most colleges and universities. Room sizes and furnishings vary, but they include beds, desks, dressers, and closets in most cases. Many rooms of this type are arranged along a hall, with shared bathrooms and showers down the hall, or connecting two rooms. Some two-student rooms have a private bathroom attached, with or without a shower.

Suite-type floor plans have become popular in recent years. These have at minimum a common "living room" with two or more, single or double bedrooms off of it. A bathroom might be included, or it might be down the hall and shared with other residents.

Larger suite-style layouts might also include a shared kitchenette and eating space, making the suite into a kind of apartment. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws, accessible rooms, bathrooms, and other spaces must be incorporated into the various types of campus housing.

Most campuses include several move-in-ready, wheelchair-accessible rooms. In addition, other rooms are "adjustable" and can easily be modified to accommodate a wheelchair or other disability equipment.

Features like fire alarms or doorbells with strobe lights or other visual signaling are also usually built in, or available to install. Personal devices like a visual alarm clock are the responsibility of the student.

Most campuses have a process for requesting an accessible room, either through the Residential Life website or the Disability Services office on campus.

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