Students walk outside a campus building.

What are the Types of Campus Housing in College?

What are they like? Do college dorms have bathrooms?

These seem to be the questions running through students’ minds as they embark on the journey of finding the college they will attend. It can be nerve-wracking, moving away from your home and settling into a college dorm for the first time. Though it can be stressful, there are ways to avoid the stress of finding a space that works best for you!

When looking for a college and scoping out their on-campus housing, create a pros and cons list. This is a great place to write down everything you love and everything that you could live without. It makes life easier when you are looking at several schools because you can refer to your notes to compare.


A woman sits on a bed in a robe while doing her hair.

Bathrooms could be a pro or a con depending on the school and your preference. Although bathrooms in your living space should not make or break your college decision, it is a huge topic of thought. What a dream would it be to have a private bathroom, one shared between just you and your roommate? Although they can be hard to find, it’s recommended to tour a school that has private bathrooms, just to see if it’s something that would suit you and your living preferences. If you choose to attend a school where you share dorm bathrooms with your entire floor or building, do not forget shower shoes and a bathrobe!

Types of Dorms in College

Students studying in front of a residence hall.

As you are looking for your perfect college fit, you will encounter numerous types of on-campus living arrangements. Some colleges and universities have traditional dorms, where you share a room with one other person and have shared community living spaces such as bathrooms, lounges, and kitchens. Some traditional residence halls have private bathrooms inside your room, shared only between you and your roommate.

In addition to traditional dorms, colleges may have suite-style dorms, where you will share your living space with three other people – two roommates in each bedroom.  You and your roommates will have amenities – like a bathroom, kitchen, and living room – to share within your suite.

Some schools even have apartment-style living on campus, which are similar to the suites, but allows you to have your own bedroom. Obviously, this sounds like a dream come true for those who really value their personal space, but still enjoy the company of others.

Most schools run their housing by seniority, meaning incoming first-year students will live in the most shared spaces, and the more credits you earn, the earlier in the queue you will be for selecting your room assignment. Weigh your options and ask questions to really understand the housing options and opportunities afforded at each school.

What is life like in college dorms?

Students playing board games in a common area.

Life is what you make it in college dorms, truly. Going to college gives you a level of independence where you can make your own decisions and go to events or do things that interest you. Take advantage of all the opportunities that are provided while living on a college campus. Student Life events often provide free food and games right in your very own building!

Going to these events gives you the chance to meet people that live in your building and community. Resident Assistants, or RAs, are also great resources to help you understand all that is offered to you on campus. Where is your mailbox? Where can you grab a basketball to play a pick-up game? How does your meal plan work? Ask your RA! They are incredibly helpful and are students just like you.

Living in a college dorm helps to develop skills that will be utilized in your everyday life; how to be independent, and how to interact with those who are like you and those that are different than you. You might even learn how to make innovative microwave meals while engaging with your peers or attend game nights and many movie marathons. Living on-campus is a unique opportunity to experience life together with other students.

What about off-campus housing?

apartment building with courtyard

Many universities and colleges require students to live on campus at least their first year, but many students do choose to live off-campus the following years. Things to consider when choosing whether to move off-campus are the cost, commute to school, and the resources provided to you. It’s important to come up with a detailed budget to really weigh the pros and cons.


At the end of the day, the housing that you’ll live in on-campus is a community-building experience – take advantage of it! Make your space your own, meet new people, and gain some independence. You can do it!

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Alexandra Campion answers common college questions for students learning about higher education. She breaks down industry jargon. As a Marketing and Communications Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, her goals include eliminating barriers for first-generation and/or minority students as they embark on their higher education journey.