Tips in choosing the right dorm

As another school year begins, students from outside the metropolis are again on the lookout for dormitories or lodging houses, their temporary home away from home. 

Choosing the right dorm is among the most important decisions they have to make each year. Here are some tips on what to bear in mind:

Dorm types 

Dormitories come in many forms like purposely-built university or college accommodations, privately-owned apartments, and mid-to-high end condominiums used as dorms or “con-dorms”. Residential areas near universities and colleges also have bed space and rooms-for-rent for the budget-conscious students.

Location and convenience

Location is a major consideration when selecting a dorm, as students do not want to be late for their classes. Many on-campus buildings are popular since students need not have to walk far and can save valuable time. Meanwhile, nearby off-campus dorms reduce the inconvenience brought about by long commutes as well as lessen the problems encountered during inclement weather such as getting drenched or being stuck in flood-prone areas.  

 Number of occupants 

Dorms come in a variety of sizes.  Some are for solo users while others are intended to be shared. If you are eager to socialize with people or on a tight budget, look for dormitories that can accommodate two or more persons per room.

Some dorms within campuses are entirely for freshmen, upper class students or graduate students. Meanwhile, there are dorms that are exclusively for same gender while others allow mixed occupancies.  


Not all dorms and rooms are designed the same way. Many dorms are now curated to target different-minded personalities. Thus, it is no longer unusual to find dorms that have lively and trendy interiors. 

Many newly renovated or refurbished dorms have slick and stylish furniture, better room amenities like in-room sinks with hot and cold water supply, furnished with microwave and or refrigerator appliances, exhaust fans and air-conditioning, ample closet spaces, individual study tables, bedside lamps and USB ports. Newer dorm rooms are also provided with their own bathroom, in contrast to older dorms that still require students to use community-wide toilets and baths. 


Students are on the lookout for internet-ready rooms, communal study halls, and business centers equipped with computers and printers. Today, expect dorms to have individual mail boxes, cable tv-supplied common rooms, gyms and swimming pools, play and entertainment areas, or near spas and salons. 

Some students want to live within walking distance to nearby cafeterias, convenience stores and groceries, self or full-service laundry shops, public utility terminals, among others. Finding a dorm with on-site or nearby parking lot is also important to students who have cars.

House rules

House rules dictate the do’s and don’ts.  Dormers should be clear if they will be able to abide by these rules such as curfew hours, no bringing of their own appliances, no cooking inside the rooms, or not allowing guests into the students’ private quarters.

Safety and security

Students should also consciously check the safety and security features of the dormitories like intercoms, standby power generators, automated smoke detectors and fire alarms, area-wide fire extinguisher provisions, centralized fire sprinkler systems, 24/7 security guards and CCTV cameras.

Decision time

Choosing the right dorm boils down to the students’ needs and preferences. Compare the pre-selected dorms according to your most important considerations. Do not forget to check your budget.  

References used include “How to Pick the Right Dorm for You”  (; “Five factors to consider when choosing a Dormitory” (

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Henry L. Yap is an architect, environmental planner, real estate practitioner and former senior lecturer.