College Life: What are Coed Dorm Rooms?

When Young Men and Women Live in the Same Dorm

Young man and woman playing video game in dorm room, smiling
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From Stanford to Harvard, many colleges offer coed dorm rooms or gender neutral housing. This can be troubling to some parents though many students who have lived in a coed dorm have found it to be beneficial.

What is a Coed Dorm Room?

Coed dormitories integrate men and women on the same floor or even in the same room. By request, male and female friends can ask to room together. They may also include gender neutral bathrooms.

The option was first designed to accommodate lesbian, gay and transgender students who felt more comfortable rooming with someone of the opposite gender. The policy was later expanded to include anyone who requested it.

The Advantages of Coed Dorms

Many students who live in coed housing quickly become used to having the opposite sex living so close to them. This is especially true for girls who tend to be a little shy and more discrete.

Comfortable with Yourself

Young women who move into coed dorms may be worried at first about men being in the hallway, lounges, and other communal areas. They may put on street clothes whenever they leave their room.

However, many quickly find themselves at ease. They will wear pajamas to study sessions or hang out in the lounge without perfect makeup and hair. It can be a liberating experience in this sense.

Understanding the Opposite Sex

Before college, many kids do not have the opportunity to really understand the opposite sex. Even in high school, girls are a mystery to boys and boys a mystery to girls. In the coed dorm scenario, all of that changes.

Young men get the chance to see that women are not always dolled up. Young women soon realize that sex is not the only thing men think about. The two sexes become more comfortable with each other without the pressures of a romantic relationship.

Room Assignments

Now that most dorms are coed, it can be much easier to get the desired room assignment if you are willing to live in a coed dorm. This does not mean that they will be rooming with someone of the opposite sex because students can still request a same-sex roommate.

However, for those students who do want to live in a single-sex dormitory, the options are going to be limited because there are often fewer rooms available. If your student wants to live in these, be sure to put in a request right away.

What Parents Should Know About Coed Housing

Coed dorm rooms are often by student request. If you discover that your child is suddenly rooming with a member of the opposite sex, talk to him candidly before approaching university housing officials.

Get the Details

It is also important to note that schools are very detailed in their instructions about dorm assignments. You and your child should pay close attention to these letters when they arrive.

Some dormitories have meetings during which roommates are assigned by consensus. If this is the case, make sure that your student attends it. Those who miss this meeting could be stuck in a dorm assignment they do not like or you do not approve of.

Have a Frank Discussion

If you are sending your college student off to a coed dorm, sit down and talk about the situation. Listen to your child's concerns about this situation and make sure that they understand yours.

Multiple sexual partners and heavier drinking are both reported to be higher among students living in coed housing. This does not mean that every kid is partying like crazy, but now would be a good time to have another discussion about responsibility.

The conversation will let your kid know that you are aware of what they will face. Hopefully, it will also put your mind at ease that they will make smart choices. A last minute chat can serve as a great reminder!