Hello, everyone! Following last week’s post on ten factors to consider before choosing your dorm, I thought that it would be a great idea to talk about why you should see a real dorm room (not just a display dorm room) when visiting a college and choosing your housing.
I have lived in 6 college dorms and have visited 7 others during college tours. (I know it sounds crazy to have lived in 6 dorms, but that number is so large because I participated in a couple of residential summer programs that took place on college campuses while in high school.) For most of these tours, I was shown a “display” room: a room that is set aside specifically for college tours, beautifully designed and decorated with collegiate merchandise. On other tours that I took, I was shown a dorm room that students were actually living in. Of course, the real dorm rooms didn’t always look as glamorous as the display rooms, but as a high school senior I didn’t give much thought to it. After all, the tour guides claimed that the display rooms were identical to the actual dorm rooms.
I eventually realized the difference when I went to an open house for a school that I am going to call College A. This open house gave me the opportunity to see a real version of the display room that I had been shown during the campus tour a few months earlier, which had been clean, spacious, and bright.
“The only difference between this room and the actual rooms,” the campus tour guide told me as our tour group walked around the dorm room, “is that the door is actually on the other wall.”
Of course, I didn’t think much of this. After all, the only difference was (supposedly) the door placement; what else was there to think about?
So when I did get to see the “real” version of the display room, I experienced a bit of a shock. I realized that I (like many other students) had forgotten that display rooms can be an enticing marketing technique. Incoming students forget that the glossy, magazine-style display room isn’t going to match the actual version.
Of course, I’m not saying that this is always the case. What I am saying is that display rooms don’t show what life is like to actually be a college student, which is what I discovered the day that I walked into to the “real” version of the display room. Actual college dorm rooms are going to be a bit messy, usually not professionally designed with a matching color scheme, and are covered with pictures, posters, tapestries, and other personal mementos. Display dorms, on the other hand, are devoid of personal items, might just have a few college pendants hanging up, everything matches perfectly, and nothing looks as if it has ever been used before. Actual dorm rooms are going to have desks piled with textbooks, homework, and papers, with extra storage bins tucked under the bed or next to the desk filled with living essentials. On the other hand, the only stuff a display room might have on its desks are a few notebooks and pens with the university logo and the only “living essential” is a mini fridge with bottles of water to give to the campus visitors.
While I don’t mean to make it sound as if display rooms are misleading, it can be easy for prospective college students and their parents to forget that the picture-perfect, never-lived-in display room is (most likely) going to be different from what they actually have during their collegiate years. This means that–if at all possible–I encourage you to try to look an actual dorm room while on your college tour to get an understanding of what the residential life at a certain dorm actually looks like.
P.S. Do you have any questions or comments? Please write me a letter back (in the comments) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!