The following post was originally posted on Luther's Inside College Admissions page and is reprinted here with permission.
If you use the word "dorm" around someone that works in residence life you might get an eye roll or perhaps a little grief. You will then get a short language lesson about the difference between a residence hall and a dorm. The difference between the two words is really what makes a residential campus experience special and something to be considered when selecting a college. Would you rather live in a dorm or a residence hall?
Dorm: a building with a number of bedrooms for sleeping.
Residence Hall: where college students develop personally and mature, a college building in which experiences and planned activities result in personal growth and enjoyment of the collegiate years.
A residential campus supports campus involvement. College campuses offer many opportunities for students to be involved such as intermural sports, lectures, student organizations, sporting events, concerts, movies, or impromptu night games with one hundred of your friends on campus. Students that live on campus are more likely to take advantage of campus events, use college resources, and be more involved in leadership opportunities.
A residential campus has several conveniences. In our world of packed schedules and busyness, everything on a residential campus is within walking distance. Did you press the snooze button one too many times on your alarm? No worries because it is only a short walk to class. It is also just a few short minutes to coffee with friends, workout facilities, the dining hall, student organization meetings, faculty offices, health center, and the basketball game against the conference rival.
A residential campus promotes student learning in the residence halls. Think about a residential community of learners and how that can impact your academic life while at college. Many colleges have first-year residence halls where help with a math problem is available just by walking down the hallway. Campus experts are guests in the halls for programs that cover topics such as How to Study in College and Time Management for new students. If you are in a writing intense class, it is not uncommon to see tutors from the writing center in your hall to review papers or even academic advisors helping students pick classes for the next semester.
A residential campus provides students with opportunities to connect and interact with other students from all over the country and even the world. The variety of cultures and backgrounds found in a residence hall lends itself to a learning community like no other experience a student will have in college. A residence hall is also the perfect place to hone your skills when it comes to compromise, communication, problem-solving, and working with others. A residential experience also is a great place to meet your new life-long friends that we hear so much about after commencement.
Opportunities to grow and learn inside and outside of the classroom are plenty on a residential campus.