Dormitory life is not necessarily the best setting for serious study. There are potential factors of noise, distraction, and personal discomfort that can make living on campus less conducive to academic achievement. While in some areas, off-campus life is going to be more expensive, it may be a worthwhile investment if it means that you are getting better grades and finishing on time. We will talk about some of the more obvious problems and some that may not be so straightforward as well.
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This may sound odd, but dormitories are a lot less studious than they were in our parents’ day. The past several decades have witnessed the transformation of the dorm from a single-sex enclave with a house-mother or house-parents, lights-out and quiet time rules, and one phone in the hallway, to something quite different. We now take for granted co-ed housing, with sources of noise and disruption on every hand.
Consider the stereo equipment powerful enough to damage ear-drums, booming from many students’ rooms. Listen to the sound of cell phones in every pocket as well as, frequently, ringing landlines. There are no televisions in many rooms and computers or handheld devices that beep, ding, talk, play movies, and amplify video games with vivid and gruesome sound effects, or profoundly irritating voices such as in Angry Birds. The result? The dorm can be a fairly noisy spot during the hours when you want to study. The library or a lounge in another building may be your only refuge from such noise.
The word dormitory comes from the Latin word for sleep. A dormitory is supposed to be a place where sleep takes place. Not the easiest accomplishment, given all of the other distractions, to be tolerated. The lights are on in the hallways all night, which can disrupt melatonin production and lead to poor sleep patterns. There are comings and goings at all hours, especially when bars close and parties end, usually accompanied by alcohol-fueled excessive vocal volume and fumbling attempts to unlock doors and disengage from unwelcome embraces. Roommates may be talking on cell or land-lines at any hour of the night. There is always, it has often seemed, someone undergoing a personal crisis that requires peer counseling and support – in the hall, the lounge, or somewhere else in earshot.
Sleep is the one thing that no one can give back to you if they rob it from you. Sleep is what allows you to listen in class without doing a face plant on the desk or allowing your head to roll onto the shoulder of the attractive person next to you in the classroom. Sleep, in short, is not negotiable. And sleep often seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind in a dormitory.
Even if there are no pieces of technology tintinnabulating at the moment, people create enough cacophony by themselves to banish sleep or study. Consider the games of catch, Frisbee, or hacky-sack in the hallways, the pursuit of practical jokes, and the cooking of food at all hours. The smell of microwaveable popcorn, to take just one example, ranks among the more penetrating odors of the modern world, and can persist for hours and even days in the ill-ventilated spaces of an internally situated dormitory kitchenette. An otherwise harmless empty can of tuna fish, improperly disposed of, can taint the air for a week.
So, think carefully before committing to living in the dormitory.
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