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Articles / Campus Life / Can I Stay in My College Dorm Room During Vacations?

April 26, 2020

Can I Stay in My College Dorm Room During Vacations?

Question: If I go to college more than 1,000 miles from home and I can't afford to go home for vacations (or I don't want to), can I stay in my dorm room?

Policies vary greatly from college to college. Commonly, dorms will remain open during all of the shorter breaks (Fall break, Thanksgiving break, etc.) but many close down completely during the winter break, and all students will be required to vacate. Some schools, however, will have special provisions for students who cannot return home, but they may charge an extra fee to remain on campus. Dining halls and other on-campus eateries may close down for the vacations or stay open for limited hours.


Students who cannot return home during the winter break and who cannot stay on campus may be able to find a local family to host them. International students are often invited to live with local families in the spirit of cultural exchange. If you are not an international student, you may still be able to find a local family that will welcome you (and your college's office for international students might even be able to help you make the connection). There are also likely to be nearby families looking for a house-sitter, a pet-sitter, or a babysitter during the holiday period. Sometimes, too, students who cannot return home for the holidays will be invited to go home with a friend who lives within driving distance.

In summer time, many (but not all) colleges will rent dorm rooms to students who want to stick around, whether the student is attending summer school, working on campus, or not doing anything that's college-affiliated. Some colleges even rent summer dorm rooms to students from other colleges.

If staying on campus during the school breaks is going to be a necessity for you, you should check with prospective colleges before you apply … or at least before you make your final choice (if you are a senior who has already applied) to see how easy—or complicated—it will be to live in the dorms during the breaks. Although it may feel lonely when the dorm is nearly deserted, many students do appreciate the opportunity to enjoy some peace and quiet (as well as unchallenged access to showers, televisions, and laundry facilities) when most of their classmates are gone.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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