How Can A Dorm Influence Fit?

SVA dorm room

SVA dorm room

I often write and talk about fit; encouraging families to find colleges that have the right blend of academics, environment, and community to meet their needs. Cost, distance from home, and comfort need to be included as well. The key is to weigh all of these – mostly tangible – elements until you come up with the place that just feels right. That’s logic transitioning into a gut instinct.

Just as fit is important to you, it’s also important to college administrators and professors. They want students who fit what they’re teaching, in the way they’re teaching it. They want contented, energetic and engaged students to walk their hallways.

So how do you find your fit and how do colleges find theirs? As I stated, numerous factors combine to create the best fit. We’ve discussed many of them at Art.College.Life., and will continue to do so. But today I’m gravitating towards comfort and what creates that “feels like home” sensation. Blame it on “back-to-school” season, and the catalogs from Target, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond that have stuffed my mailbox…

SAIC dormitory studio space

SAIC dormitory studio space

Comfort comes in many forms. One way to experience it on campus is in dorm living. You may scoff at the idea that a college dormitory can influence college choice, but the reality is we’re all comfort-seeking creatures. Institutions work hard to create environments so students can envision themselves on campus. If the design, proximity, or offerings of a residence hall can help, that college is one step closer to creating a good fit. Naturally, spruced-up dorms are coveted. Most that exist still have cinder block walls, bunk beds, and showers down the hall, but that doesn’t mean they’re unhappy places. Plenty of great friendships continue to be built and great careers continue to be launched in new and old dorms alike.

I wrote about Cleveland Institute of Art’s new freshmen-only dormitory last month. Also new this year is Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) apartment-style residence hall, directly across the street from the college’s main academic building. This multi-use facility houses 75 fully furnished, two-bedroom suites and has 5,780 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The new apartments offer the latest in amenities; a wide-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen and living room, and a bathroom attached to each bedroom. Best of all, students will be able to display their work inside and outside the building.

For art students, design and display space inside their dorm is a coveted feature. So is close proximity to on-campus studio space, especially in environments with inclement winter weather. It’s not like when I attended college, lugging portfolios across campus, then on the bus, in the rain; but that’s another story for another day.

From personal experience I can say that creature comforts can be found in any style dorm or living environment. Of course, it’s the people and friendships that make it memorable. But it doesn’t hurt to have accessibility and the latest offerings either. Whether your student is moving into a new residence hall or an old and well-loved dormitory, make sure you take the time to see what each campus offers. Even those that have been well-loved can check the box to ensure a good fit.

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