If you haven't lived in a dorm yourself, you've probably at least heard stories about living in one. From colorful roommates and football in the hallways to dining hall food and shared bathrooms, dorm life is a breeding ground for stories to tell at dinner parties years after you've graduated from college.
There's a lot of fun involved, but dorm living really is a hallmark of the college experience. Think about it: Have you ever heard anyone talk about the fast friendships they forged in their apartment complex during their first year of college? Dorms promote communication and bonding among groups of people who, while widely varied, are all grappling with the shared experience of a new life at college. The difference in face time alone between commuting students and dorm dwellers can be the difference between a cordial smile in the hall and a lifelong friendship.
Despite the many perks of dorm life, which we'll explore on the next page, no one expects you to stay there forever; third- and fourth-year students often move into apartments or homes in the surrounding community. Think of this transition as a condensed version of moving out of the family home: Once you have your footing in the college environment, many feel the urge to explore the community -- and adult life -- on their own.
However, not all students leave the college version of the proverbial nest; in fact, some choose to stay in dorms throughout their entire higher education experience. For instance, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ashdown House, the university's first graduate residence, plays an important role in the graduate-level community. In programs where research and collaboration are of paramount importance, the closeness that dorms foster is especially crucial for academic and career success [source: Ashdown House].
Whether you're a new college student or just want a trip down memory lane, read on for some reasons you should thank your lucky dry-erase boards for dorm life.