can you live in a dorm without going to college?
October 31, 2013 2:27 PM   Subscribe

After I recently left college I missed have neighbors my age can I move back into a dorm if I dont go to college anymore?
posted by john123357 to Society & Culture (36 answers total)
I've never heard of a college that permitted this.

But nothing forbids you from getting an apartment in an area where lots of college students live.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might also consider going to graduate school.
posted by box at 2:33 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Literally a dorm? No, I don't believe so. But I lived in a building in New York once called Normandie Court; at the time (quite a while ago) the building's nickname was "Dormandie Court." I hated it (didn't much like the one year I lived in a real dorm either) but I think all big cities (and medium-sized cities and even small cities), probably have that apartment building full of young people that would provide the environment you're looking for.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't think so, but lord knows most of my twenties were spent in large, dirty, charmless living spaces filled with other idiots my age. So if that's really what you're craving, I don't think you'll have a hard time replicating those circumstances. Go to craiglist, click 'rooms/shared' and go from there.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2013 [13 favorites]

In many cities there are co-op houses near universities. You can get a very dorm like setting but you don't have to be a student.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:41 PM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

No, and if I were a student living in a dorm I would be majorly creeped out knowing that a non-student was living there.
posted by Melismata at 2:42 PM on October 31, 2013 [49 favorites]

It's time to move on. You're not a student anymore. That phase of your life is over.

Most cities of any size have post-collegiate/bohemian-ish neighborhoods where twentysomethings tend to live.

I think you'll find what you're looking for there.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:45 PM on October 31, 2013 [9 favorites]

Most college towns have apartment complexes specifically geared toward students. You could live there. Although I suspect that if you are an adult who keeps regular working hours you might start to become annoyed with parties starting at 11:00pm on a Thursday, for example.
posted by something something at 2:45 PM on October 31, 2013

No, move onto a commune or into a co-op.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:47 PM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you considered a large flat share? I don't know about wherever you live, but in my city up to, say, ten young people living together isn’t unheard of (although not particularly common).
posted by wachhundfisch at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2013

If you are a graduate of the college, there might be options for you as far as being a live-in residence assistant, IT consult, etc, etc. If you REALLY want to live in the dorms as a non-student, there might be options; the best bet would be to discuss it with the housing office at your college.

But keep in mind that you're only going to get older...the college kids are going to stay the same age. If your goal in wanting to move back into the dorms is simply to have neighbors your own age, that's only going to be the case for so long.

You should search for houseshares, coops, and apartments in the immediate vicinity of your college, as others above have suggested.
posted by phunniemee at 2:51 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's possible. I've known people who have done it. But it isn't easy and probably not legal. You basically have to convince housing you're a student even though you aren't. If you're very savvy and willing to lie, you can probably pull it off. I knew one "student" who managed it for a year and a half.

But I recommend just finding an apartment complex that's heavy on young people. I've found there often tends to be those apartment buildings that attract sort of similar demographics.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2013

Generally, no. I would suspect campuses would have all sorts of liability issues letting people who no longer have campus affiliations living in their dorms.

That said, I remember that at my college there were some apartment buildings near campus where the campus rented part of the building for housing students, but there were also parts of the apartment building that were just regular apartments anyone could rent. So that could be an option if there is something like that. You might find that the situation is clustered, though, so certain floors are all-students and you wouldn't really be running into or interacting with those students.
posted by Stacey at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a friend many years ago who offered to let me stay in her dorm as her roommate when I had to leave school for financial reasons. Apparently she/her friends did things like that all the time and the college wasn't the wiser. Not entirely legal, but if you know the right people, well.

Alternatively, do you have an arts center near you? There's one downtown where I live that's a large building with a bunch of rooms that people rent out. There are both older and younger people that live there; you don't need to be a student, you just need to be an artist. Not sure how into the arts you are or where you live but something like that is probably an option.
posted by Autumn at 3:00 PM on October 31, 2013

Former resident advisor here. The answer is emphatically no, and you should not ask any of the local colleges in your area if you can because I guarantee you will have cops called on you since such a request will be perceived as creepy and predatorial. I know that is not where you are coming from, but you should be aware of what might happen if you decide to try anyway.

What is it about a dorm that you want to experience again? If you elaborate on that we can help you find similar residences that will not be uncomfortable with you being there.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:03 PM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

If you want neighbors your age, move into a shared house as others have suggested. I did that for years and it filled the community void left by leaving the dorms.

Another idea: in many expensive cities, the concept of super-small, cheap studios has become a thing in recent years. Here in Seattle, they're called "apodments" and they typically have really small, dormlike studios with half-kitchens (ie, a small fridge, range, and sink) in the units and then larger kitchens and sometimes lounge areas in the building. They tend to have a lot of students and recent grads.
posted by lunasol at 3:13 PM on October 31, 2013

No, not legally, but depending on the type of colleges around you, living on campus for the summer is totally a thing. I never went home for the summer and spent many years from June to September renting a room in various frat houses.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:27 PM on October 31, 2013

From a student affairs perspective, no housing office at a university is going to be happy with a non-student living long-term in university housing (excepting situations like full-time hall directors and other staff). Dorms are there as a student support service and are not meant to be a sort of "alternative apartment" for anyone who happens to be in the area. A lot about dorm life is based around the residents being a group of people with similar needs, and about creating a student community that supports students in their academic and social lives. Additionally, the RAs and hall directors are responsible for student safety in the dorms, and having any significant population of non-students would really undermine their ability to do this. I agree with Melismata that as a student, I'd find it creepy if my permanent dorm neighbors were non-students. Students who choose to live in dorms (and quite often their parents too!) have an expectation of being part of a student community with the additional level of security and support that brings. On the whole, they're not going to want their dorm to become just another apartment option for whoever happens to live nearby.

I really do understand where you're coming from - I attended a small liberal arts college with a 4-year dorm housing requirement, and it was HARD to make that transition away from living in a tiny community surrounded by friends. It took me years, frankly, and I'm still working on it in some ways. This is really a situation where there's no appropriate easy way for you to get that "college" feeling back, though, unfortunately. You have to work on building that new community yourself. Yes, that's much harder than in a college setting. But you absolutely have the ability to do it, and you're at a point in your life where moving on from the college setting is very important. As many people have suggested, there are a variety of appropriate ways for you to seek out new housing options that will have a similar community feel - focus on those rather than trying to go back to a setting that doesn't exist for you any more.
posted by augustimagination at 3:39 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I miss the dorm sometimes too. But honestly what I miss the most is the freedom of being "on my own" without any of the actual responsibility. Meals were taken care of, I didn't have to do dishes, I didn't have to clean the bathroom or any common areas, I was only responsible for keeping a small space clean, I didn't have to worry about ruining any furniture, etc. But if anything went wrong it got fixed, there were "adults" in charge, etc.

Also part of what bonds you to all your roommates/floormates is that you're all going through the same stressful thing (school) together.

So yeah, unfortunately, you kinda have to grow up.
posted by radioamy at 3:49 PM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you go into administration, as a career, the entry-level jobs in Residence Life require you to live in student housing. That's true of most universities and colleges. Pursue this! It's a position that you might not be aware of as a student. Memail me if you want me to point you in the right direction as far as job search sites go.
posted by vincele at 4:04 PM on October 31, 2013

Obviously as you get older your relationship to students will change, and from a position of authority you will start out in a different relationship to other residents, but if you really love that kind of living, you'd be a great candidate for the job and career path.
posted by vincele at 4:05 PM on October 31, 2013

I understand where the OP's coming from - there's a lot of great things about dorm life! There are also lots of people who still enjoy communal living and that have the same vibe even outside of school environments. What city are you living in? You might be able to get some targeted suggestions with a more specific location.

I'd also recommend looking into co-op housing. Even if you live in an apartment on your own, co-ops are usually social environments with cool people from all walks of life.

As well, try to travel (even in your own country!) and stay in hostels for a while. I spent my late 20s travelling and hostels totally brought back all the aspects of dorm life that I remembered.
posted by Pademelon at 4:40 PM on October 31, 2013

There are a lot of hostels that will let you stay there if you work for them. Maybe try to get one of those jobs? Co-op housing is also a good place to look. I agree that a more precise location would be helpful.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:43 PM on October 31, 2013

You can get a summer job for a hospitality company in a national park (Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon are some) and have the privilege of living in the dorms with other employees. When I did it, I worked housekeeping for a park hotel and was required to stay in a dorm with 3 roommates.
It was probably crazier than dorms because
a) many people are old enough to procure alcohol
b) being a 24/7 operation, it was always somebody's "Friday night" even if it was really Tuesday morning
c) most people only know one other person and the experience only lasts a few months so everything was new and exciting
d) outdoorsy fun adventures is where you would look for said opportunities

Downsides: the work is awful, pay is bad, half your paycheck goes to mandatory meals and dorm
posted by coolsara at 6:28 PM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

The purpose of dorms is to facilitate ease of education, not to bolster social life. As such, I don't know of any colleges that allow this.
Apparently, people dropping out of college but wanting to stay at university, has become so common that it has turned into a joke.
posted by horizonseeker at 6:29 PM on October 31, 2013

There are housing options that are aimed at a mix of students, interns and young professionals that could work for you. I'm not sure how common they are, but two that I know of are:
Thompson-Markward Hall in DC for young women studying and working in DC, and 92YResidence in New York for students, interns and young working professionals. I'm sure if you look around, you can find other similar options - maybe not everywhere, but in places where there are a lot of other young post-college people looking for somewhere to live.

You might also consider the growing microapartment trend in places like Seattle, that give a bit of independence, but also some community feel through shared kitchens.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:33 PM on October 31, 2013

There are typically lots if group houses in college towns full of current an recently graduated students. Typical size is 4-5 people, but some can get quite large-- 10-12 people. Some co-ops are even larger. I have also heard of some university-recognized off-campus living groups (like fraternities) that rent rooms to non-students.

Co-housing tends to lean towards the middle aged, in my experience, which is not what you're looking for.
posted by deanc at 7:21 PM on October 31, 2013

go check out apartment complexes near campus, and check around for locations that seem to cater to grad students. Dorms have a community based on being of similar ages and attending the same school. You can, with some effort create community wherever you live.
posted by theora55 at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2013

Work at a ski hill! They put up their employees in staff housing just like dorms a lot of partying tho, I'm not sure if that is what you are looking for?

After school when your group scatters can be really lonely but its time for new adventures. When I finished school I moved into a group home with about 20 people most of them on year long visas from different countries. It was really fun but there are no RA's to keep the peace in regards to noise etc.
posted by blueberrypicasso at 7:59 PM on October 31, 2013

If you have graduated from college and move into a dorm you will still not have neighbours your age. They'll just be younger than you and exponentially more annoying. As others say, look into shared housing instead.
posted by tavegyl at 8:04 PM on October 31, 2013

I briefly lived in a college town "quad". It was four rooms with exterior entrances sharing a common area with a kitchen and bath. If you wanted nothing to do with the other 3, it was doable but for the bathroom.

Seemed nice. I never spent a night there, it was just an expensive charade for my girlfriend's parents. But it felt pretty dormy.
posted by codswallop at 8:33 PM on October 31, 2013

I heard a story about a ski bum who was admitted to a small, cheap, New England college, registered for the minimum course load, moved into the dorm, ate in the dining hall, and went skiing instead of attending class. So no, you don't have to actually go to college to live in the dorm.

But this would be a pretty short term situation.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:49 PM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I left university and moved to the Big City, I was specifically warned by a few wise elders (in their late 20s) that working people and students should not live in proximity due to differing lifestyles.

I didn't listen.

Nothing particularly bad happened, but my life improved once I figured out they were absolutely correct.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:10 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's comforting to want to go back to the familiar, but there's a gap now. You'll be like that guy in Dazed and Confused, you'll get older and they'll all stay the same.

You could get a job in the dorm, but I suspect that it will get old. Part of the comaraderie of living in shared housing is that you have adventures together. If you were an employee, that wouldn't be permitted. Also, you'd be "the man" and most of the kids would steer clear. So you'd have all the drawbacks of dorm living, with none of the fun.

Do look into places that are age and stage of life appropriate. Flat shares, house shares, Brooklyn. Or Melrose Place (I lived in a building in Oakland that was similar, great fun.)

Find some friends and move in together.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I assume that this is what the old folks' home will be like.

Right? Right?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:38 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can hit the snooze button on life and go to grad school.
posted by anaelith at 5:59 PM on November 1, 2013

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