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.