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Once You Get Into a US College, Where Should You Live?

Advice about what to consider, and what questions to ask, in Part 25 of our Foreign Student Series. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

We continue our Foreign Student Series on higher education in the United States. We have talked all about the college admissions process. Now we move on to college life once you get accepted to a school. The first thing you need is a place to live. That is our subject this week.

Housing policies differ from school to school. Students might be able to choose whatever housing they can find. Or they might have to live in a dormitory, at least for the first year.

Dorms come in all sizes. A building may house a small number of students or many hundreds. Some have suites. Each suite has several bedrooms, a common living area and a bathroom. Six or more students may live in one suite.

Other dorms have many rooms along a common hallway, usually with two students in each room.

Many students say dormitories provide the best chance to get to know other students. Also, dorms generally cost less than apartments or other housing not owned by the school.

Most colleges and universities offer single-sex dorms, but usually males and females live in the same building. They might live on the same floors and share the same common bathrooms. But, in most cases, they may live in the same room only if they are married.

At many schools, male students can join fraternities and females can join sororities. These are mainly social organizations but members may also be able to live at their fraternity or sorority house.

Edward Spencer is the associate vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He says it is important to understand the rules of the building in which you will live.

He advises students to ask questions before they decide about their housing. For example: If a student requires a special diet, will the school provide for it? How much privacy can a student expect? Will the school provide a single room if a student requests one?

And what about any other special needs that a student might have?

Virginia Tech, for example, had a ban against candles in dorms. But it changed that policy to let students light candles for religious purposes.

The university also has several dorms open all year so foreign students have a place to stay during vacation times.

Our Foreign Student Series continues next week. Transcripts and audio files of our reports are at

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Steve Ember.