An Easy Guide To Understanding Dorm Room Layouts

Moving into your freshman year dorm room is concurrently one of the most exhilarating yet nerve-wracking days you will encounter in your college experience.

Before the official move-in day, people tend to suffer anxiety and begin to express apprehension towards what dorm living will be like.

  • How far will my room be from the bathrooms?
  • Will I have access to a kitchen?
  • How many roommates will I have?
  • Is there a common area for everybody to convene?
  • Will my roommate like me?

While you may be given a lot of control over how well you will get along with your potential roommate, you can enhance your confidence in dorm life by exploring various dorm room layouts. Most colleges have a process that assigns students to dorm buildings and floors based on student preference. After you have committed to a college, you will likely receive information regarding the dormitories and the various dorm room layouts that your school offers.

While many colleges will offer on-campus housing and dormitories to upper-class men, my school only reserves the dorms for freshmen.  While my college offers a variety of dorm room layouts and floor plans suiting a wide range of needs, keep in mind that not all colleges are identical and each school may vary slightly in their unique housing options. The dorm layouts mentioned below are based solely on what is available at my university.

1. Standard Configuration

The picture most people derive from their imaginations when they think of college dorms is the standard configuration, which features a main hallway with rooms evenly dispersed down the entire span of the corridor. I was put into a standard configuration dorm building for my first year, and I loved the experience and constantly miss dorm life.

My entire building was coed, so out of convenience, the rooms were designated so that a consecutive row of about four rooms down the hall were assigned to females only and clustered around a women’s bathroom, and the next few rooms would be assigned to males and located near a men’s restroom.

You may essentially use any bathroom as you please, but my main designated restroom was shared by about fifteen girls and included two communal showers, two toilet stalls, and three sinks. Residents mainly stick to using the bathrooms located in close proximity to their rooms because people start to leave their shower caddies, makeup and hair supplies, and toiletries in the cubbies provided in each bathroom.

On my floor, the lounge served as the family living room, and was always filled with people. I highly recommend taking advantage of the common areas of your dorm building to bond with your floor mates.

The standard configuration dorm offers more opportunity to meet a lot of different people and to socialize since everybody wanders around to different floors because the space is all shared and public. The stairs, the elevators, the trash room, and the common area lounge were placed near the center of each floor, dividing up the hallways into two halves.

Half of the ground floor of my building housed students, and the other half contained the laundry room and the study lounge. The common lounge on the first floor was also the only one that contained a television. Some residence halls may also have a kitchen on the main floor, but since my building did not, we instead had access to use the kitchen in an adjacent building.

2. Suite Configuration

Dorms arranged in suite-style dorm room layouts are essentially full apartments with two or three rooms and one or two bathrooms convened around a living room with a hallway and a coat closet. The only thing a suite lacks is a kitchen. All the freshman dorms on my campus come fully furnished, and the living room in the suite is no exception so residents do not need to worry about purchasing additional couches and coffee tables if they are assigned to a suite.

Residents living in suite configurations have access to multiple laundry rooms that are located outside their buildings. The suite-style resident halls at my school also have a communal pool that only residents have access to.

Each suite is located off of a main corridor, but is separate from all the other suites. Residents living in suites tend to get very close to their suite-mates, but it is a bit more of a hassle to make friends with your neighbors.

3. Apartment-Style Configuration

Apartment-type dorm room layouts offers freshmen a sense of “off-campus” living. These dorms have full apartments located off of a main hallway. While the hallway is communal, people rarely use it for purposes other than getting inside their individual apartments.

The apartment-style dorms feature a furnished living room and kitchen, with two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms in each unit. Each unit on my campus also has its own balcony, and there is one laundry room located on the grounds of the complex.

One of my friends was placed in the apartment-style configuration, and he says that the main draw-back was that he feels like he was robbed of the regular college dorm experience. While his apartment-mates tried to leave their apartment door open to encourage neighbors to come in, most people kept their doors closed and stuck within the confines of their individual units.

Whenever this friend came over to my floor, he would be awed by the close connections that my floor-mates had easily formed among one another.

4. Quad Configuration

Quad configuration dorm room layouts features a hallway with a series of separate quads located off of the main corridor. A quad is made up of two rooms connected to a small living room space. Each room in a quad usually houses two people, bringing the total number of residents in each quad to four, hence the name “quad”. The living room is commonly where all four of the resident desks are placed in order to reserve more space for personal belongings in the actual rooms.

While there are several college dorm layouts to choose from, you will also need to consider whether you would prefer single-occupancy, double-occupancy, or even triple-occupancy rooms in order to get a grasp on the layout of the actual room you will be sleeping in.

I was assigned a triple in a room that was made to be a double, so the space was slightly constricted, but not unbearable. My actual room was very long and rectangular, with ten feet by twenty feet dimensions. The beds and the desks were grouped on the far end of the room and the closets and mini-fridge were placed near the entrance.

The furniture placement in rooms with double-occupancy is very similar to triple-occupancy rooms, but doubles have additional space due to the absence of a third desk and wardrobe set. Double-occupancy rooms are by far the most popular student request, so just remember that you may not always get your first choice.

I was initially hesitant to share one room with two other people, but it turned out to be a memorable experience that I will probably never have again in my life, with the additional advantage of never being lonely.

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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