Real Talk

Should You Get Your Kids A College Dorm?

Having a dorm has its pros and cons when sending our kids to college. Here’s the advantages and disadvantages.

College is usually where kids start developing their independence and especially if the family lives in the province, they normally start about by renting out a dorm. While colleges offer dorms on campus, they’re also surrounded by other third-party dorms. But the rules of these dorms aren’t always the same; college dorms often follow the university’s rules while adding some of their own such as curfews. On the other hand, outside dorm providers may seem a little more flexible, especially with regard to visitors, receiving packages, etc.

But is it worth getting our kids a college dorm? Here are advantages and disadvantages to getting our kids a college dorm:

1. Advantage: College dorms are closer to school.

When our kids choose a college, they usually target the one that’s the best for their course. For example, if they want Architecture or Medicine, they target UST. Those who want business or engineering – they either attend Ateneo or La Salle. Getting accepted is one thing but staying in is another; besides their class requirements, face-to-face classes need them to weather through the traffic.

Unfortunately, for students who live in Makati or Alabang, driving through the traffic-stricken streets of Taft, Ermita, or Quiapo will exhaust them before they even get to their first class! While some universities have certified carpool groups to accommodate students from specific areas, there are specific times to meet and leave which isn’t always favorable for the overwhelmed students.

Ateneo and UP’s Katipunan Avenue fares no better with the bustling streets of Commonwealth filled with commuters on one side and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the fly-over heading to the booming business center that is Eastwood on the other. Let’s not even start with just how traffic it is in Fairview, Marikina, and Cubao!

Burning gas, the time spent driving – at this point, it’ll probably be more cost-efficient for our college kids to just rent a dorm or rent out a unit.

2. Disadvantage: Additional expenses.

While colleges charge rent per semester, other dorms charge per month which is an additional expense that may feel senseless if we live in the metro. However, that’s the cost of convenience: we’re paying for less strain from traffic and travel, a safe place for our kids to sleep if they can’t go home right away, and additional storage to safely store their valuables. And if their course is the kind that has a lot of laboratory deposits, renting a dorm is an additional expense that may feel daunting.

3. Advantage: A controlled area to experience independence.

Most college kids from the provinces will echo the same story of how their journey to independence started when they rented a dorm in college. They’ll tell us how they learned to manage their allowance, their laundry, and even their personal space if they were bunking with roommates. So if we’re trying to teach our kids to learn on their own, a college dorm is a place to start. At least the place is secure and there are strict rules in place.

4. Advantage & Disadvantage: Meeting all sorts of people.

While some parents consider this an advantage for their kids, others (or even the kids themselves) would prefer if they had their own dorm. Although it’s good for character development and a training ground for our college kids on how to deal with all sorts of personalities, that isn’t worth neglecting their grades if they’re too distressed to study. At the same time, the request to have a solo dorm also needs to be processed by whoever is handling the dormitory which means there’s a chance of it being rejected.

Staying in a dorm also isn’t always favorable for college kids with chronic immune system problems. The many people who go in and out can bring in things.

5. Advantage: An instant group

College dormitories usually have their own official social media groups wherein they can offer support especially when the students are feeling homesick or new at handling logistics for sending or receiving things from home. Besides, college can be quite the culture shock for some students and putting them in a dorm allows them to build a foundation for friendships before they start the academic grind.

6. Disadvantage: What happens in the dorm, stays in the dorm

All students who stay in a college dorm abide by the strict rule that whatever they do in the dorm doesn’t leave its halls. That includes all the parties, the things they partake in, and sometimes even the relationship. There are a lot of things that could happen and for any parent, that’s anxiety-inducing. After sheltering our kids for so long, the dormitories may feel like an arena for battle royale. Anything can happen.

Getting a college dorm is quite an experience but something to talk over.

Having both perks and quirks, a college dorm for our kids isn’t an overnight decision. It’s something to talk about with the kids, considering how some universities are planning to transition more into face-to-face classes. But one thing’s for sure: college is the starting line for our kids’ lives beyond the family. These dorms are usually where it starts.

They’ll meet all sorts of people, get into shenanigans (and if our relationship with them is strained at best, we’ll be none the wiser!), and learn some lessons without us. It may be heartbreaking to realize but, the moment they received their college acceptance letter, they were already planning their bucket list of things to do in college and we’re probably not part of those plans.

But if we want any hope of at least being kept in the loop, we can only slowly accept the decisions they make. It won’t be easy, especially for those who have been making decisions for all their kids’ lives. But college is a place where parental interventions are more damaging than helpful. It’s time we trust the parenting we’ve done for them for the last 16-18 years will guide them in the real world.

More about college?

Not Our Alma Mater? What to Do When Kids Don’t Get in the College They Want
My Kid’s Going to College! What Now?
New Colleges of Medicine Signed Into Law: How It Helps

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