Are College Dorms Open During Holiday Breaks?

After I got used to living in my college dorm, I never wanted to leave. It was so fun, but then I remembered all of the holiday breaks that were coming up, and I wondered, do I have to go home?

Do college dorms close during holiday breaks? College dorms stay open during short holidays such as fall and spring break. During longer breaks, such as winter break, dorms will shut down, only allowing students with approval to reside in the dorms. This is typically granted to international students. All students are required to move-out come summer break.

If you would like to see more details around when college dorms are open, and what to expect over holiday breaks, check out the rest of the article below.

What Are The Common College Breaks and Are Dorms Open During the Breaks?

College dorms are typically open during shorter breaks, but then closed, with exceptions, to students during longer breaks. Out of the most common college breaks, here’s what to expect:

  • Fall Break: This break is typically one or two days in addition to the weekend, creating a 4 day weekend. For colleges that have it, you can expect the holiday to be in late September or early October. This is typically the first “holiday” or “break” since the beginning of the school year. College dorms remain open during this time, and unless you have family nearby, the majority of students will choose to stay in town. Homework and exams will still proceed the break, so this is a good time to keep studying.
  • Thanksgiving Break: This break is typically the entire week of Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday of November in the USA). Most students will go home during this time, however dorms typically remain open. If you’re not able to go home, don’t worry, you’ll likely find more people in town than you expect. Given winter break is so close to Thanksgiving break, it’s not uncommon for people who live out of state to wait till winter break in order to go home. The majority of professors will choose not to assign homework over Thanksgiving, and exam preparation is usually fairly minimal. Thankfully (no pun intended), this is a time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.
  • Winter Break: This break is usually one month long, spanning from mid-December to mid-January. Dorms during this time will typically close down, with exceptions made to students on a case by case basis. International students are the most common to remain home during this time, especially if they’re not able to go home, or choose to stay on campus. Given the majority of college classes are a semester, you likely will have little to no academic responsibilities during this entire time period. Take some time off and reminisce on a semesters’ worth of hard work!
  • Spring Break: This break is typically an entire week in March or early April. Many students will typically travel home during this time, or go on a trip with a group of friends. Don’t worry, if you choose to stay in town, dorms will remain open. Academic responsibilities will vary during this time. The majority of large exams will likely be before this break, allowing students to refresh and not have to worry about homework or exam prep during the break time.
  • Summer Break: Time to pack your bags! All students at this point will be required to move out of the dorm, unless they are paying to live in the dorm over the summer. Not all dorms choose to stay open during the summer, but if you do find one that is open, they will likely require students to be enrolled in a certain number of credit hours during the summer semester.

Are Dining Halls Open During Holiday Breaks?

Dining halls typically follow the same closure schedule as with the respective on-campus dorms. During shorter breaks such as fall break, thanksgiving break, and spring break, you will be able to find on-campus dining halls open. In regards to winter break, they will typically close, but stay open a couple days after classes end before winter break, and open a couple days before classes start after winter break. This is to allow for students leaving campus later or arriving on campus earlier to have a place to eat. When all else fails, be sure to check the specifics on your dining hall contract.

Do You Have to Move Out of Your Dorm Every Semester?

For a college that follows two primary semesters, one in the fall and one in the spring, you will not need to move out of your dorm over winter break. Unless you have a contract to move out of your dorm after the fall semester, your belongings will be safe when you return from winter break.

If you do plan on staying in the dorms for the proceeding year of schooling, you should anticipate that you will need to move out of the dorm during the summer break, and move back in during the fall semester. This is to allow for cleaning of all dorm areas, and assessments of damages, etc.

What if I Need to Stay in College During a Break Where the Dorm is Closed?

The need to stay in town while your college dorm is closed is a common problem, and one that universities are well aware of. If you have to stay in town during a longer break, such as winter break, talk to your student housing department first. This won’t be their first rodeo, and they’ll usually recommend a couple different options.

Unfortunately, having to do this will likely cost you a decent amount. When you signed your housing agreement, it likely stated (in the fine print) that you are required to vacate the property during several time durations. If you do need to stay, there may be options with staying temporarily in another student housing dorm. If that isn’t an option, there is likely some sort of vacancy at nearby college apartments, or extended stay hotels/motels in the area. While this will cost more, some students traveling internationally may be able to do it cheaper than going back home.

What Do Students Normally Do During College Holidays?

Shorter holidays such as fall break, thanksgiving break, and spring break are times to disconnect from craziness and studying. Whether it involves going home, or hanging out with friends, this is a good time to take a step back and recharge for life after the break. As mentioned above, you usually have exams prior to these breaks, and unless you have a professor that really doesn’t like anyone, you shouldn’t expect too much homework.

If you do choose to stay, be sure to plan ahead. You may find that all of your friends have decided to travel back home, therefore you’ll be sitting around bored, doing nothing all break. Also, if you choose to stay on campus over the summer and take classes, you will find that summer living is a lot more quiet than life during the school year.

If the majority of your friends go home during the summer, and you choose to stay, it’s important to find a new group that will be there all summer. Some of my most found memories in college were making new friends over the summer. Usually you’re only taking a minimal number of classes, and homework isn’t as intense, so it allows more time to be stress free and enjoy the company of others.

Why Do They Close Down College Dorms During Breaks

College dorms truthfully close down during extended breaks to limit the exposure of “bad things” potentially happening. If you realistically think about it, the majority of students are pre-occupied with school work during the semester, so when they’re provided a period of time without any kind of academic responsibilities, there’s not much for them to do. Also, it encourages students to travel home and visit friends and family.

In addition, it allows for colleges to save money on utilities such as water and heating costs, and save on the need for a front desk attendant, or other types of janitorial services. Although, it is important to note, colleges do spend a lot of time, while students are gone, deep cleaning and making necessary repairs to anything that may need it.

Check out our next article on the top 10 dorm room essentials!

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