There are close to 20 million college students across America and an estimated 220 million tertiary education students around the world.
College students have the choice of on-campus dorms, off-campus apartments, or living at home.
Close to 60% of first-year students live in dorms, which are highly regarded for their tight-knit community and proximity to classrooms.
Dorms are known for their small size, with standard doom rooms measuring 12 by 19 feet for 228 square feet of living space.
This makes standard dorms the same size as a one-car garage, although some dorms are smaller and others are bigger depending on the school.
Check out the rest of this article to learn more about dorm room sizes and what to expect from college residences.
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How big are college dorms?
Most standard college dorms are 12 feet by 19 feet for a total of 228 square feet, but some colleges have more spacious single and double dorms.
Single dorms have room for one bed, while double dorms are made for two beds. There are also dorms with four bed spaces in two double bedrooms.
Large public universities are more likely to have a variety of dorm room sizes with multiple buildings across campus.
Private universities may also offer a range of college dorm sizes, which are displayed during tours for prospective students.
Why are dorm rooms so small?
Dorm rooms tend to be a slightly tighter squeeze than normal house bedrooms because universities need to fit as many students as safely possible into each building.
Most dorm buildings are multi-story with hundreds of units to accommodate thousands of students.
Oftentimes, freshmen are given the smallest dorms while sophomores and juniors have access to more spacious student housing.
Also, college students are ideally meant to spend more time out and about rather than in their dorms, so having a small living space is okay.
Plus, a lot of college students leave at least some of their possessions back at their family home, so they don’t have too much stuff to move into their dorm.
Generations of college students have gone through the ups and downs of living in dorms, often forming great friendships with their roommates after living in such close quarters.
How many students live in dorms?
An estimated 60% or 12 million U.S. college students live in dorms, with similar rates of student housing around the globe.
Student housing trends fluctuate depending on the overall population of college students, and the coronavirus pandemic also prompted more students to live at home and attend school online rather than in person.
Some colleges have more on-campus housing than others, with dorms assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
Both public and private universities encourage incoming students to secure on-campus housing when available, as it helps them get involved with the school community and stay on track.
For high school students exploring potential colleges, it’s important to check on the living situation at each university to get a better idea of the dorm size and availability.
How many dorms are there in the U.S.?
There are millions of student beds in dorm housing throughout the U.S., and it’s a $4.5 billion industry.
With 5,300 colleges, on-campus housing varies greatly by school enrollment, dorm size, and facilities.
Older campuses may have limited on-campus housing, with colleges planning to build new dorms to accommodate rising enrollment.
Newer colleges with large campuses have room for more housing developments and many have thousands of bed spaces throughout several buildings.
Keep in mind that some universities actually require students to live on campus, which is why they need more dorms.
Here’s a list of U.S. colleges with 100% of students living in campus dormitories or affiliated housing:
- United States Air Force Academy – Colorado Springs, Colorado
- United States Military Academy – West Point, NY
- Thomas Aquinas College – Santa Paula, CA
- Ohio Wesleyan University – Delaware, OH
- Hamilton College – Clinton, NY
How much do dorms cost?
Although college dorms are essentially small bedrooms with shared bathrooms, they cost thousands of dollars each semester.
Dorms are one reason why college is so expensive in the U.S., as students need to pay for on-campus housing on top of tuition.
In the U.S., the average room and board cost was $11,500 at public universities and $12,990 for private colleges in 2019/20.
With this price, living in a small college dorm for all four years could tack on $45,000 to the total college attendance investment.
That being said, dorm costs vary at each college, with some universities offering financial aid and more affordable accommodation options than others.
At the same time, smaller dorms with shared facilities will likely cost less than private dorms.
Do all colleges have dorms?
Not all colleges offer single or double dorms on campus. Most liberal colleges and public universities have dorms, although community colleges may not.
That’s because community colleges are more affordable and mainly cater to commuter students who live with their families or somewhere off-campus.
The admissions office can recommend nearby housing options for incoming students at colleges without dorms, such as affiliated apartments or off-campus units.
Generally, the larger the college, the more likely it is to have a wide range of dorm sizes and buildings.
This may include same-sex and co-ed dorms, with different buildings scattered around campus near each educational department.
What do you need in a dorm?
Considering most dorms are around 230 square feet, if not smaller, there isn’t much that students can actually fit in their rooms.
That’s why most students focus on the basics they need to get good grades and obtain a high GPA: sleep and study.
Once their bed and desk are in the dorm, there may just be a little bit of extra room for a dresser or nightstand.
Many school dorms actually come with furniture, making the transition to college easier for students as there is less to buy and move in and out.
This is another reason why freshmen and sophomores may prefer to live in dorms rather than in apartments where they have to buy their own furniture.
Colleges have residential housing offices that handle all the on-campus dorm details, from tours of each type of room to the arrival and departure of students each year.
Students can access resources at the housing office to make sure they get everything they need.
Are dorms or off-campus apartments better?
Choosing whether to live in the dorms or off-campus apartments depends a lot on the school and each student’s personal preferences.
Dorm housing is designed to support students throughout their college experience, offering access to community resources and events to foster new friendships.
However, dorm housing may also be more expensive than off-campus living options, and there are generally more rules in dorms, too.
Most on-campus student housing is paid for in one big chunk rather than monthly rent, although students can speak to the residential housing office to explore payment options.
At the end of the day, finances play a large role in whether students live on or off-campus, not to mention the fact that most dorms are smaller than apartments.
Students who want more living space and privacy may opt for an affiliated or off-campus apartment, while incoming freshmen who are eager to meet new friends may embrace close living quarters as part of the overall dorm experience.