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Students should not be required to live in a dorm their freshman year

Students should not be required to live in a dorm their freshman year

Students should not be required to live in a dorm their freshman year
April 22
13:00 2022

Residence halls — or dorms — a staple of college life since the mid-17th century, have become inconvenient to many college students who live in them. Some colleges require their freshman students to live in on-campus residence halls, but it is an incredibly outdated policy that a lot of students don’t always appreciate.

UNT is one of the several schools in Texas that requires freshman students to live in residence halls on-campus, space permitting. Its housing website claims the reasoning behind requiring new students to live in residence halls is because students who live on campus have higher GPAs, more direct access to university staff and faculty and are more likely to graduate on time.

While some of these factors do have some truth to them, it is inappropriate to assume all these things can be attributed to living in a residence hall. Students, regardless of their living situation, are more than capable of maintaining high GPAs and deep connections with their university.

Students should be allowed to have the dignity to choose whether or not they want to live on campus. Some students prefer to live in the comfort of their own homes, rather than living surrounded by 20, even 30 other students at all hours of the day.

It does not encourage academic success to have the constant distractions of doors slamming, people talking late at night and early in the morning, loud music playing almost always and people running down the hallways at full speed. 

While some people do thrive in a close-knit social environment in a residence hall with friends and events constantly within arm’s length, it is unfair to require people who do not thrive in that kind of setting to be immersed in it for an entire academic year.

An article by CollegeXpress helps to further outline the cons to “dorm life,” the potential for bad roommates, having to share bathrooms with multiple other people and the biggest one of all: the exponentially high cost of living in a residence hall.

For some families, having the money to send their child to college is difficult to do in the first place. Having to shell out even more money just to satisfy a university’s unfair requirement is ridiculous. Students and their families should be able to make their own decisions based on their specific financial situations, rather than being forced to comply with the university’s inflexible and unreasonable standards.

Living in a residence hall, while it is such a stereotypical component of the traditional college experience, should not be such an important factor in a student’s life. Going to college should be about getting an education, not about living situations or social status. 

Even though having a social life is key to being successful in college, it should not be the main priority, nor the majority, of what people are paying for, as it is at other universities.

Schools like the University of Texas-Austin and Texas A&M do not require students to live on campus at any point in their time as members of the university. On the other hand, Texas Tech University and Texas State University both require their students who are classified as freshmen to live on campus.

The reasoning these schools give varies widely but it mostly comes down to freedom versus academic success. Some schools giving some reasons as opposed to others does not mean they don’t value certain traits. It just means that this is their stance on the matter, whether people agree with it or not.

Still, it is incredibly wrong for universities to impose on individuals’ freedoms like this despite how students are supposed to be beginning their lives and having the freedom of choosing things for themselves. All this being said, however, sometimes it is good for students to be able to start their lives on their own in a controlled environment like a residence hall: where many chores, bills and other major responsibilities are handled for them.

Either way, the point is that students need to have the choice to live in a residence hall or not in the first place. Students who want this security blanket of “dorm life” should be able to have that opportunity, but students who desire the opposite should not be forced to endure living in a residence hall.

This policy that some universities hold must change. Students must be allowed to decide whether or not to live on campus for their first year at college, not have the university take that liberty away and choose for them.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas 

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Natalie VanDerWal

Natalie VanDerWal

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