Sunday, May 24, 2009

College Housing Decisions for Freshmen

Notifications are making their way into your kids' emailboxes or mailboxes. It's time to pick housing! They'll fill out questionnaires about their lifestyle. This is not the time to be wishing they were neat or hoping they didn't snore while sleeping, this is the time to be honest! The school is asking for a reason, so give them all of the information they'll need, so it'll be a livable match. If the music blares, say so.

I have total incoming freshman envy when it comes to the "getting to know you" piece. (That's the only envy I've got, quite frankly.) These kids have Facebook Class of 2013 at wherever university, etc. popping up all over the place, so they have a chance, months over the summer, to do some real sharing, stalking, whatever on their soon to be fellow classmates.

(We weren't told our freshman roommate's names or anything until the moment we stepped foot on campus, nothing. BTW, my Alma mater still does this, not sure how I feel about this now longstanding tradition.)

At any rate, your child can chime in on whether or not they want to be in an all frosh dorm, 4 class dorm, single sex by hall, by floor, by building, chem free....the list goes on and on. My personal favorite overall choice or recommendation is all freshmen. It's the ol'- you're all in this together, experiencing things for the first time together stuff (sometimes it's the "misery loves company" stuff). And the added bonus that of course our kids don't think about is years later, when it comes time for reunions, the freshman dorm friends are all there, or certainly in spirit. I've got a reunion coming up this fall and once again my fellow freshman dorm folks are rallying! Now I know there are those of you that had 4 class experiences and you all survived, so say something about that. But in my experience, freshman dorms are the way to go.

As for the single, double,triple question, very personal, but again, having a roommate is all part of the college experience. As a parent, getting those initial phone calls when the roommates are getting to know each other, those are some of the best "listening" phone calls. (Back to my blog on Transitions Part 1 and CU Boulder orientation).

Here's a good tip: If your kid knows anyone at the college they're headed to or was recently a student there, tell them to call them up. Ask them about housing. They know. They can give your child the real 4-1-1 on all of the different dorms at that school, what they're like, the stereotypes, how they might rate them if asked for preferences. This proved to be invaluable when it came to CU Boulder, thanks Maggie! And really helpful at Princeton and CC, thanks Jessie and Nick. And our son who's at Stanford, he got the benefit of his Mom's knowledge, and he read through the Facebook stuff, deciphering what he could.

Anecdotally, a friend's son is headed off to GW in the fall, a mother of someone already there told them not to live in a particular dorm, it was a big party dorm, "you definitely don't want to live there." They then spoke to a current junior there, and one of the first things he said was "definitely put down "X" dorm as your first choice, it's by far the best dorm. The most happening dorm, the best located dorm for freshman classes, etc." Of course that was precisely the dorm that the other mother said not to put down. Love that. Everyone's got an opinion. I think he put down the junior's suggestion as his first choice. :)

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