What Is a Dormitory? (2024)

What Is a Dormitory? (1)

What Is a Dormitory? (17)


Have You Ever Wondered...

  • What is a dormitory?
  • Who lives in dormitories?
  • Would you like to live in a dorm one day?


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Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Aidan. Aidan Wonders, “What is college like?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Aidan!

Grab your crystal ball and let's take a peek into your future. You breeze through elementary and middle school. Your four years of high school are the time of your life. But what's next?

Maybe you've prepared yourself for a journey to a college or university after you graduate from high school. You will be much older and independent, ready to move away from home to continue your education.

You pack up all your stuff and head off to a new city. It might even be really far away from your hometown. It will be an all-new adventure for you. Colleges and universities offer so many exciting opportunities for those ready to pursue them.

But you may be wondering about one small little detail. Where are you going to live? You've lived your whole life with your parents at home up until now. But now what? Where do you live at college?

Of course, colleges and universities are located in a wide variety of different types and sizes of cities and towns. There may be many different housing options available to you. If you're like many first-year college students, though, you'll be living with hundreds of other college students in a large building. What are we talking about? A dormitory, of course!

A dormitory — also called a residence hall or simply a “dorm" — is a large building divided up into many rooms where college students live, often with a roommate or two. Dorm rooms are usually small, with just enough room for a couple of beds, a couple of desks and maybe a few small pieces of furniture.

Unlike hotel rooms, most dorm rooms don't have their own bathrooms (although some dorm rooms, called “suites," may share a bathroom with another adjoining room). Each floor in a dorm will usually have one or two bathrooms that all the people living on that floor share.

Unlike apartments, most dorm rooms don't have kitchens. Dorm residents usually eat together in a large cafeteria area in the building or another building nearby. You may find small appliances, such as toasters or microwave ovens, in dorm rooms, so that students can fix snacks without leaving their rooms.

College students who live in dorms often become close friends with the other people who live in the rooms close to them. Most dorms have common rooms on each floor where residents can gather together to chat, watch television or play games.

College students aren't the only people who live in dormitories, though. Dorms are often used for short-term housing in many other situations. In the military, for example, personnel often stay in dorms during initial training at military bases.

Some large companies also house workers in dorms during initial training sessions. Younger students may also stay in dorms if they attend camps and programs at a college or university during the summer.

Wonder What's Next?

You might want to wait and read tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day from the comfort of home!

Try It Out

Would you want to live in a dorm someday? Maybe you'll get the chance! In the meantime, try out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Want to explore what dorms have looked like through the ages? Grab a friend or family member and jump online to browse through the photographs in Time's feature called The Evolution of the College Dorm. Which dorm rooms appeal to you? Why? Do you look forward to living in a dorm one day? What are some of the pros and cons of dorm life?
  • If you have a college or university nearby, take a field trip to see a dorm up close. If you know a student there, you might even be able to get a tour of the inside of a dorm. Getting a taste of the college life now might give you all the inspiration you need to set a goal of going to college!
  • Up for a challenge? Design the dorm of the future! Put pencil to paper — and use a ruler if you have to! — and draw interior and exterior designs of what you think dormitories should look like in the future. For inspiration, think about what you like and what you would change about your current bedroom. Imagine what the people who live in dormitories would change if they could. Would they like more space? More privacy? A bathroom? A kitchen? Have fun coming up with an inventive new design for the dormitory of the future!

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