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College Dorm Cooking Facilities

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I was surprised to read in one recent thread that some college students have no access to any cooking (and cleaning) facilities in their dorms. Is this really common?? If so, I'm a little bit appalled... I didn't learn how to cook until college, really, and I know that many of us learn how to cook / cook seriously during this time. It would be unfortunate if many students did not have this opportunity.

When I went to school (at the turn of the century ;), all dorms had communal kitchens for us to use, albeit pretty disgusting ones -- and my friends and i made frequent use of them, though in truth, the cafeteria food wasn't half bad. My sister and my brother, who went to very different institutions, also had communal kitchens.

Just curious what other Chowhounds' experiences were -- yours and/or your children's -- if you care to share. It would be interesting to know the approximate decade of the experience, whether the dorm / school was co-ed, and whether the majority of students lived on or off campus.

My college was co-ed and all the dorms were, too. Almost all students lived in campus housing.

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  1. I went to college in the 80s at a school where almost all students lived on-campus. The dorms were co-ed, although the school was historically all-male. There were no student cooking facilities.

    One issue may be the age of the buildings. I would assume that more modern dormitories will be more likely to have kitchens. The first dorm I lived in was built in 1812, the other in 1930.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      I went to college in the early 80's. The only access to "cooking" facilities was a friend on the floor who had a (illegal, according to the rules) hotplate that he could cook spaghetti. Of course, I wasn't paying any attention after the application of numerous "daquiri's" (at that point, straight rum).

    2. Well, when I was up at the University of Kansas, 25 or so years ago, my first year in a scholarship hall, the residents actually cooked the meals as part of their scholarship, and during off-hours we could use the kitchen as long as we cleaned up afterwards, so I cooked a couple romantic meals for my girlfriend.
      We could even buy eggs for a nickle and cheese for a nickle if we wanted to make an omelet or scrambled eggs. CHEAP EATS!
      The dorm I moved into the second year (after my scholarship wasn't renewed due to my social activities) had a couple equipped kitchens that could be "checked out" at the desk and used to prepare meals. You were expected to leave them in clean condition when you returned the key. It was an international dorm, and interesting smells were always coming out of those kitchens. I think I may have used them once or twice to bake a frozen pizza or something, as I had a meal ticket in the dorm cafeteria and they actually fed us pretty well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: podunkboy

        we had minimal cooking facilities that were often checked out too. One year (1999), there was no kitchen due to rennovations. We were alowed microwaves in our dorm rooms so i learned how to cook in it. It is amazing what you can do with a microwave if that is your only option. Now i use mine for heating water and not much else.

        1. re: podunkboy

          Both places seem like great places to me. It really depends on the school and the residential halls in the school, doesn't it?

        2. Went to college in the 1980s. Lived in three different dorms over four years (one year in an off-campus apartment). Approx 60% of students lived on campus, mostly freshman and seniors and a few sophomores and juniors. The school is co-ed.

          Facilities as follows:
          Dorm 1, built in early 1970s, one small ktichen served that dorm and adjoining dorm, a total of maybe 100 residents. Co-ed dorm.

          Dorm 2, a three story building built in the 1950s, Probably 150 residents. Co-ed. No kitchen that I recall, but maybe I missed it.

          Dorm 3, a converted 1920s era house with about 12 residents. Full size kitchen, living room and dining room. Co-ed dorm.

          In all cases, even in Dorm 3 with its full size kitchen, cooking equipment, including basics like plates and silverware, was limited which was not conducive to cooking in the dorms. Most of the student meal preparation went on at the houses and apartments of students who lived off-campus.

          1. I went to college this decade. The first 2 years I lived in dorms built in the 1960's, both equipped with kitchens on each floor (with stove/oven, microwave, and sink). The communal kitchens were invariably disgusting, and appliances were often removed b/c of "misuse" (like the time we had a 4am fire alarm b/c a guy microwaved his socks, in the kitchen of course, wouldn't want to make the bedroom smell like burnt elastic). Most of us also have fridges, microwaves and toaster ovens in our rooms. Oddly enough toasters and toaster ovens were "legal" but Foreman grills were not b/c they were considered a fire hazard.

            My 3rd year I lived in a brand new dorm. No kitchens. They kept promising we would have one, the room was there, with all the outlets and pipes capped. But the appliances and hardware never appeared.

            Since I graduated (but haven't moved on, my alma mater is now my employer) they renovated the dorms I lived in the first 2 years and converted one bedroom in each 4 bedroom suite to a kitchen/living area. They also built a bunch of new on campus apartments for undergrads. It's amazing how much college life has changed in just a few years.

            1. Dorm cooking: I had a nephew who made grilled cheese sandwiches on his iron. It didn't matter as he never ironed his clothes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                i've wanted to try the ironed grilled cheese sandwich ever since johnny depp made one in benny and joon (but never got around to investing in an iron). glad to hear it works in real life.

                1. re: cimui

                  Then there's always fish cooked in the dishwasher.......

                2. re: Querencia

                  Yep. Me too. Wasn't tasty, but it worked. Especially at 3 AM.

                3. My daughter is in college now, and there are no kitchen facilities to speak of. You can reserve one of the few remaining communal cooking for a club, but then you have to provide all your own cooking vessels. Well, without a regular place to cook, why would you own baking/cooking dishes? Each floor has a microwave, but my daughter doesn't consider that a kitchen at all.

                  1. I went to college in NYC. Meal plans were encouraged and cooking was not (one kitchen per floor, if lucky). I ended up getting a hot plate my sophomore year and either did prepared foods from Fairway or cooked on the hot plate in my room my junior and senior year.
                    *NB the kitchen in my junior/senior year dorm was smaller than my small NYC apartment kitchen now...1 range for 100 people.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Lucia

                      When both of my kids were in college, small refrigerators were common in the dorm room, as were microwaves. Most were owned by the students, although the fridges could be rented. Some of the dorms were not wired to accept the electrical drain posed by a fridge & a microwave, so you could rent these things called "microfridges". When you turned on the micro, the fridge would shut off. When the micro shut off, the fridge turned back on.

                      1. re: PattiCakes

                        Gee, where can i get one, my micro and fridge can't be on at the same time either.

                    2. I just graduated from college in December (BGSU) (also, just discovered this website recently and absolutely LOVE it!) and lived on-campus for two years and off-campus for a year and a half. Even though most dorms had one kitchen, you had to go to the desk to check out the kitchen key with your school ID as well as sign out any and all kitchen utensils used (not a huge deal if you knew what you needed, but a hassle to walk back and forth if you forgot something). Everything then had to be washed, dried, and returned before you could get your ID back, and it ended up being much easier to grab something from a cafeteria or the convenience stores on-campus. No grills, hot plates, hot pots (not sure why on this one) or toaster ovens were allowed, and I'm not sure whether we were allowed coffeemakers, either (exposed heating unit). Few spices and sauces were available for purchase on-campus, and the grocery stores required a shuttle or bike ride and about 2 hours of free time to get there. Once I moved off-campus, a good chunk of my food budget the first few grocery trips went to spices and basic foods that weren't easy to prepare on-campus (i.e. anything not made in the microwave).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bikerchick9999

                        I am also a BGSU grad - went there in the early '80s. No cooking facilities at all in the first two dorms I lived in (both coed by floor). The third one I lived in, also coed by floor, was the newest one at the time and had a cooktop and a sink in the lounge on every floor. No ovens. One microwave for the entire 10-story building in the lobby. We had a tiny fridge in our room and at that time we were allowed to have hot pots. No hotplates, toasters, toaster ovens, etc. though.

                      2. When I moved into an MIT dorm in 1961 we were told that there was no cooking in the rooms and that we were NOT to pour bacon grease down the drains. We were next to a dining hall and the meal plan was encouraged.

                        After I was graduated, the dorm and the dining hall were remodeled; the dorm WITH kitchens and the dining hall was made into offices.

                        I went to college both to get an education and to become a Mature person - having to feed oneself pushes a kid toward being an adult.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: rich in stl

                          There is (was?) a lot of variety in MIT dorms. My dorm in the late 80s had several large communal kitchens, each shared by about forty people. Lots of people cooked more or less seriously/frequently.

                          1. re: maryv

                            The same was true (in terms of variety in dorms) when I was there in the late 90's. When I submitted my dorm choices I ranked the dorm with the biggest kitchens highest and ended up in a great dorm where you shared a good-sized kitchen with the 3-5 other students in your suite. Other people prefer the amenities at dorms that didn't have kitchens, so it was apparently no problem getting into my dorm of choice...

                            I think a lot of college students aren't used to cooking for themselves and thus like the idea of having somebody else (the cafeterias, in this case) take care of such things for them...

                            1. re: emmo42

                              At Caltech ("that other" institute of technology), we had kitchens in each dorm building, some were built in the 1930's, 1960's, and 1990's. Our kitchens were always open for students to use, although some of the cabinets had keys so that students could leave personal cooking equipment there. The ones in the dorm I lived in were about as clean as you could expect from a communal kitchen, although we always tried to leave it cleaner than it was when we started cooking.

                              I would say about 40-50% of students lived in on-campus dorms, and a lot of them probably had fridges and/or microwaves in their rooms, although the communal ones in the kitchens also saw a lot of use.

                        2. I lived in a college owned apartment complex my freshman and sophomore year, and then we got our own apartment for my Jr and Sr year. The school did have a arrangement that we could use the dining facilities at a adjoining school few did except for lunch.

                          1. "at the turn of the century"--
                            First I've heard of it referring to a recent time :)

                            I went to school in the early 80s and like most here, had no kitchen. There were a couple old houses you could reserve to hold a private party and you could cook there, but that was special occasion stuff. So I cooked with friends maybe 4 or 5 times over the 4 years. I didn't learn to cook till I went away to grad school and lived in an apartment.

                            1. I lived at home for my freshman year (01-02), then moved schools for the next five years (I finished up my undergrad in three years then later did a two-year grad program). Because I skipped out on the freshman experience I was always able to live in apartment-style "dorms" (we call them residences). During my undergrad I shared a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, one-kitchen rez apartment with three other girls. I cooked 75% of my food there and went to restaurants for the other 25%. I only ate in the cafeteria once as an undergrad. As a grad student I had a private studio apartment on campus with my own kichen. In the first year of grad school I chose the cheap apartment that only had a mini-fridge; that wasn't my smartest idea. Next year I got a full fridge. Grad students had to provide their own microwaves; undergrad apartments had them provided. My grad school apartment was connected to the cafeteria by underground tunnel which made it a little more appealing to go over for food sometimes; unfortunately the food was consistently disgusting. I don't remember much of what I actually prepared as an undergrad in our rez apartment. I'm guessing there was a lot of pre-made frozen foods.

                              1. I went to college in the 90s in San Francisco. Probably half to 2/3 of the student body lived in dorms (mandatory for freshmen and sophomores). At least one of my dorms had a "kitchen" that was about the size of a closet and about as inviting. We had a fridge and a microwave in our dorm room, and I remember eating a lot of cocoa krispies. We eventually figured out how to make pasta or kraft mac & cheese, but that's as sophisticated as our dorm cooking got. If you lived on-campus, you were also required to have a meal plan, so there wasn't a lot of need to cook in the room.

                                Lived off campus for two years, and learned pretty quickly to feed both myself, and large groups of hungry college boys!
                                Lived off

                                1. I went to (and do again) the University of Virginia in the early to mid 90s. There weren't any kitchens in the dorms (there are a few new buildings in the last few years that might have some now, I'm not sure) and we weren't allowed to have any cooking appliances (microwaves, hot plates, etc.) in the dorm. There were the occasional illegal microwaves though they were pretty large then so it took quite a bit of effort to hide them. They didn't get used very often.

                                  Beyond that, we were required in our first year to buy the meal plan at the dining hall. The combination of a complete lack of facilities and having already bought the food at the dining hall made working really hard to be able to sort of cooking something in a dorm room less than appealing.

                                  Most students live off-campus but that still leaves a few thousand living on campus. Once one is past their freshman year, I think kitchen facilities show up in almost all housing. Most of the housing is not dorm style for anyone beyond freshman year but apartment style with full kitchens. There are a couple of housing situations that don't have kitchens but those comprise a few hundred students at most (total student population is about 20,000) and one has to work pretty hard to live in those situations as they're particular kinds of things so you'd very clearly know ahead of time what you were getting into.

                                  1. very eye-opening! didn't realize just how lucky we were to have even our nasty little, sticky-countered kitchens. somehow, communal pots and pans weren't ever stolen, probably because the pots and half melted spatulas were really pretty undesirable. and ultimately, the lack of kitchens for some of you in college didn't impede your development as 'hounds / kitchen 'hounds, it seems.

                                    thanks again, 'hounds!

                                    1. DD is in her junior year at Brandeis, just outside Boston. This is the first year that she has access to cooking facilities (pretty primitive). First semester she lived in college sponsored apartment with communal kitchen for 5 kids. This semester she is RA and has very small efficiency kitchen. It has been very interesting to "coach" her cooking from 800 miles away. She is learning how to shop, plan meals, cook, clean up and how to live within budget. Frankly, I think she is sopping for clothes with some of her food budget, but not going to press the point. Have bought her some cookbooks, she has transportation to local grocery stores, Whole Paycheck, TJs, Costco and other places.

                                      DD is learning how to make 1,000 things with cans of tuna or salmon, how you cannot eat the same meal 5 nights in a row (for a lot of reasons), lots of valuable skills she will need in "real" life. Very good experience for her!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                        There is a good cookbook out there (albeit with a sexist title) called "A Man, a Can and a Plan". It's targeted at the cooking-impared, and uses a can of something as a key ingredient. Not always the heathiest, but it's a start.

                                        I went to college in the late 60's. My cooking implements consisted of an imersion heater and an iron.

                                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                          Diane, I think some colleges allow a few small appliances in the dorm, and I was wondering if this was the case with Brandeis. I know you said your daughter never cooked her first year, was wondering if anything has changed since then. In any case we're still waiting on a few other responses, I might have a few more questions in time (for DS though so any knowledge of boys dorms would be great!).

                                          Nice that she's an RA now with her own little kitchen ;)

                                        2. Graduated from Widener in '99. Widener used to be a military academy, and the old barracks had no kitchens. The newer dorms did have a sink and cooktop in the lounge on each floor. You could rent microfridges as well. Almost all students on campus had to be on the meal plan, which was awful.

                                          Toaster ovens were illegal, but I had one. I didn't cook much back then, but I couldn't live without the toaster oven. Frozen pizza in the microwave? No thanks!

                                          1. Well, I am on college number 2 (after choosing to transfer). At college number 1 (fancy private school), there were kitchens on every other floor (alternated with laundry rooms). They had counter-tops, cupboards, and a sink. No stove top or oven. School number 2 (public school...surprisingly, after visiting friends, I liked the crappy better than the fancy :) ) has a single two burner electric cook top and sink thing. There is a microwave. Everything is kinda grimy looking, and the cook top doesn't work well. So, microwave it is!

                                            I have a 10 meal meal plan per week, along with 500 dollars worth of on campus food purchases. I either get take out or eat a sandwich in my room.

                                            I love to cook, but the two burner cook top isn't useful, as it's hardly big enough for a pan, and takes forever to do anything.

                                            During the early fall (when it was still nice), we would get Brie and a baguette from Wal-Mart (fancy food cheap) and enjoy it on the treed walled in patio I am lucky enough to possess.

                                            I sometimes get packaged salmon or canned chicken and have that mixed with mayo on crackers, but it's smelly, and my roommate is a vegetarian, and I try to at least not smell up the room with meat, since she's so nice about me eating meat all the time around her :)

                                            Other than that, food sucks. Thankfully my BF is moving off campus next year, and I will have a full kitchen...he already knows that I will be cooking there at least once a week. :)

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: milkyway4679

                                              Having been responsible for managing a dorm or two during my graduate school years, university risk managers cringe when you talk about kitchen facilities in dormitories. Fire is one of the leading causes of death among college students and many are caused when student attempt to cook whether in their room or in a kitchen. Personally, I would like to see each dorm have a seperate kitchen located in an area away from sleeping rooms and a complete ban on cooking within the room.

                                              1. re: jlawrence01

                                                I don't think that is quite a logical choice though. I think that rather than banning cooking, students need to learn how to cook without burning anything down. In my current dorm set-up, the kitchen is located towards the front of the building, away from the dorm rooms. I regularly cook with the microwave in my dorm room, and myself, and my 3 roommates have had no problems. In fact, most people I know, don't have any problems. The biggest problems come from the freshmen. If freshmen had to take a beginners cooking class, I think that would be extremely beneficial. (I also see many of the foreign students having trouble...different set-up/appliances maybe?) The students who cook usually have more skills than other students, and most alarms come from students who burn things in the microwave. I think that learning how to cook a few basic dishes using what is available to you is beneficial.

                                                As a student who has a ten meal per week plan, I have to eat in my dorm room some of the time. I do not want to eat 21 meals each week in the school dining facilities, and do not want to spend the money to get takeout. I use the microwave in my room with no problem, simply because I was taught how to cook from an early age. If students had to learn how to properly use a microwave, then I think the number of problems would greatly decrease.

                                                Students also need to learn basic kitchen safety. I think every school that allows microwaves should also have a basic fire kit within the room, containing an extinguisher, a fire blanket, etc.

                                                1. re: milkyway4679

                                                  I really don't want to start expecting that colleges should teach students how to cook much less how to prevent burning down a building with cooking equipment. Parents should teach their kids the basics or, at the very least, a basic home ec (or similar) course in high school or middle school. If we're just talking about microwave basics or how to do a couple of things on a stove top, it should wait until college.

                                                  1. re: milkyway4679

                                                    The problem we had wasn't with students starting fires or setting off the alarms with cooking, but with drunken stupidity. To the drunk 19 year old mind it seems like a good idea to microwave socks at 4am to combat cold feet, or to put random stuff in the oven "to see what happens."

                                                    I'm not advocating a ban on cooking in dorms. Basic life skills training is a good thing (it seems like more and more students here aren't getting it at home), but as far as the safety of cooking equipment in residence halls goes the thing we really need to do is get a grip on the binge drinking behavior...

                                                    Of course, I should note that the drinking/party culture varies greatly from campus to campus. I just happened to go to a university with a lot of work hard/play hard students.

                                                  2. re: jlawrence01

                                                    yes, i can imagine the nightmare cooking facilities might pose for university risk managers. i have to confess to maybe having set the fire alarm off once or twice in my day. (the campus fire fighters were faster to arrive than superheroes.)

                                                    but you're right that a strong argument in favor of making an actual kitchen available to students (and installing good smoke detectors) is that doing so minimizes the number of do-it-yourself-over-a-bunsen-burner types and the damage they might cause.

                                                    making a kitchen available might result in higher insurance payments, but not having one might increase the actual risk.

                                                    1. re: jlawrence01

                                                      That sounds like a brilliant solution to me. All of the dorms at my school (I'm back for my third degree) have electronic/magnetic key cards for entry now. A separate, serious kitchen that one had to swipe their card to get into would be excellent. It could be well stocked with equipment (one, we've got an honor code and two you'd be logged into the kitchen so it's unlikely anyone would take anything) and have some real appliances. A small dining room could be right there, too so that students could cook and eat. I like this idea a lot, I may speak with one of the resident life folks about it.

                                                  3. I worked in res life for 3 years while an undergrad and 1 as a grad student at 2 different institutions (1 small private urban, 1 large public college town). Both had some communal cooking facilities, but both were moving away from them while I was there, removing ovens and ranges and leaving behind just microwaves and sinks or converting the spaces to "study lounges" or whatnot. There seemed to be two major factors influencing this shift: liability and dining hall contracts. When the private institution eliminated kitchen facilities altogether, they claimed the ovens and stoves on each floor were too costly to insure (though I never knew of a fire alarm being set off by them), and defended the position by saying students didn't really use them and would prefer to use the space for other things. But really, I believe the largest motivating factor is the contracts with the dining halls. While students in some dorms must purchase meal plans, many other students did not have to do so, and were free to obtain their food however they'd like. Obviously, if there are no kitchens, students are more likely to eat in the dining hall and/or purchase meal plans. At the public uni, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, and Burger King moved into "updated" dining hall, and the kitchens were immediately eliminated from all undergrad student housing. Hmmm...trying to drum up some business? Students lacking kitchens have little choice but to spend their money in these facilities.

                                                    1. For me college dorms were 02-04. My freshman year was a traditional dorm for Florida but had recently been renovated to have a communal kitchen on every floor with cabinets and tables, four burner stove and oven. I think there might have been a fridge. Very few of us kept any food in the kitchen, anyone used it and few people cleaned up after themselves. I did have a mini-fridge and microwave in my room. The food plan was less than stellar, but I didn't go hungry. It was common knowledge that if an event promised food, they would get more students show up.
                                                      My second year I moved into an apartment style dorm, with the same equipment just only for the four people in my suite using it and keeping it clean. Microwave meals and meal plans were used often. We had a lot of restrictions on cookware, but we didn't follow it and neither did any of the RAs. My first Thanksgiving away from home was cooked in dorm kitchens that year. Passover bagels were made and then never spoken of again. My boyfriend had a George Forman grill and a dehydrator (for jerky purposes), I had a blender and we both had microwaves. The blender broke, the grill is now on a shelf in our condo (we're married now) and both the microwaves got donated to Goodwill.

                                                      College is where I learned you cannot cook frozen chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet on the stove - thanks to a Moroccan student who lived with my husband and set off the fire alarms about once a month.

                                                      1. I went to college in the early 90's. The freshman dorm had no cooking facilities. Am I the only one who was making ramen in a hot pot in my dorm room? :) I had communal kitchens in my dorms sophomore and senior years. One of those years, I also got the sandwich maker (like an early version of a panini maker but has triangular pockets) so I'd bring back a bread and cheese sandwich from the dining hall to make a grilled cheese snack later.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: cheesepowder

                                                          Oh, that's so silly; you can make grilled cheese with an iron.

                                                          1. re: cheesepowder

                                                            I loved that thing, the sandwich maker, though mostly for making pancakes. A jar of pancake batter in the fridge, a couple of minutes to preheat the sandwich maker while I made coffee, a couple of minutes to make the pancakes and breakfast on the table with my second cup of coffee in less than 8 minutes. Brilliant.

                                                          2. Most of the dorms at Indiana University in Bloomington have no cooking facilities. My daughter goes to Earlham, and all of the dorms have kitchens on every floor. Very nice kitchens, I might add.

                                                            1. I went to college in New York just after the turn of the century. We were largely residential, though many of our students also commuted. As a transplant from the Midwest, I dormed with the other freshman at a location near campus, one that also came equipped with a gross communal kitchen. There were a few utensils (that often went missing), no refrigerator, but a surfeit of unidentifiable stains and smells. I only knew a few people who used it and only to make brownies or something simple.

                                                              My campus housing Sophomore through Senior year more resembled an apartment than your stereotypical dorm. The building was a converted luxury high-rise and each apartment had the same basic layout as every other generic apartment built since the 1990s (parquet floors, narrow entry hall, California bar, etc.). Each apartment had a narrow kitchen, an amenity I took advantage of more than most others, though truthfully we all had dinner parties now and again. I have to admit, the boys' rooms usually had better food than the girls'. Never found out why that was.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                                WHICH century? I'm sorry, but I'm old enough to still think of that phrase as the turn into the 20th. So my first thought was OMG that guy is like 120 years old!
                                                                LOL! Carry on....

                                                              2. I went to Towson State(now University) back in the late 70s/early 80s and the women's dorm that I lived in during my freshman and junior year actually did have a small kitchen on our floor. I can remember making scrambled eggs, sauteed peppers and onions, and even tacos in that little kitchen.....I'm not sure that they still have the kitchen because the students I believe now are allowed those microfridges in their dorm rooms....we were only allowed a "hot pot" and a mini fridge.....oh our dorm was built in the 50s.

                                                                1. When I went to college we had to dress for dinner (tie and jacket for boys, skirts for girls). Boys and girls lived in separate buildings. Girls had matrons and doors were locked at 10 at night. But oh the panty raids. You young ones don't know what you were missing.

                                                                  No, no cooking facilities.

                                                                  1. I lived in two different dorms on campus in 2002 and 2004. The first was a freshman, all- female dorm, the second was a co-ed dorm for students in the honors program. The freshman dorm had nothing! It did have a community cafeteria downstairs, but if you couldn't make it in the microwave, you weren't eating it. The honors dorm did have a little kitchen downstairs, but i don't recall seeing anyone use it except for maybe sharing takeout pizza while playing pool. Everyone i went to college with did take-out and campus cafeteria (we were required to have an on-campus meal plan, too).

                                                                    1. Back in the dark ages when I was away at University, I was in the first year that the formerly all girls dorm was co-ed. Each suite of 10 rooms had a living room with a counter height refrigerator and a two burner hot plate.

                                                                      However, in each of the 4 corners of the 5 story dorm there were stair wells, and half way between the floors, there was either a full kitchen or a laundry room for student use. It had been built in the ealry 1960s and there was no on campus food service on the weekends,.

                                                                      The all male dorms were from the 1900s and had no cooking facilities. There electric service could not support anything more than a coil immersion heater.

                                                                      My daughter attends a state university. Her freshman dorm had no cooking facilities, and if you were caught with a hot plate, hot pot or microwave oven, you were thrown out and lost all that you had paid for the semester and banned from student housing for the rest of your university career.
                                                                      Her current dorm is all apartments with full kitchens. The students do have to supply their own microwaves.

                                                                      1. My undergraduate institution had traditional dorms that had one kitchen per smaller building or section (probably 30 doubles/60 singles) of a building. In the mid '90s, everyone was expected to get all but one meal per week in the dorms and it wasn't until my second year that you could choose different types of meal plans. Most were still unreasonably priced at about $8 per meal and you were required to purchase one to stay in the dorms. I think all students were required to live on campus the first year, but most people I knew did not stay in more than a year unless they got a dorm position or some monetary incentive to stay a second year.

                                                                        I went to summer school at another school where people did not have to purchase meal plans. There were smaller sections to the dorms and we had a kitchen for about 8-9 double rooms that people seemed to use frequently. At this school, on-campus housing is not guaranteed for anyone, so most students live off.

                                                                        I just finished going back to school for a graduate degree at a school that had a much different demographic. About 80-90% of the undergraduates stayed on campus in traditional dorm-style accommodations the full 4 years. The dining halls were excellent and I didn't get the impression that many undergraduates cooked for themselves. From what I heard from some neighbors in my apartment complex with grandchildren at the school, the dorms were well past capacity with doubles turned into triples. About 50% of graduate students lived on campus in apartment-style facilities that had full kitchens. I think few graduate students had meal plans. The cost of living on campus as a grad student was comparable to living off campus.

                                                                        1. I lived in dorms in the early to mid nineties, and there were no kitchen facilities. There was a sink in the lounge area, and some floors pooled money for a microwave, but that was all. Food was provided by the cafeteria.

                                                                          Later, they built a second set of dorms that were more like shared apartments - four rooms sharing a bathroom, living room, and kitchen.

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                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                            I'm about to have my second child graduate from college. When she was in a dorm, there was a communal kitchen. However, like most colleges in California, there isn't enough dorm space - at most of them, only the freshmen live in dorms, everyone else is on their own.

                                                                            My son went to a maritime academy and they have no cooking facilities in the dorms. Just like on the ship, you're supposed to go to the dining hall for meals.

                                                                          2. my daughter is living in a college dorm right now.
                                                                            the school provides no cooking facilities.
                                                                            she has a little fridge and a microwave in her dorm room.
                                                                            there is an outside company that delivers milk and cookies in the middle of the night . . . . .

                                                                            1. I went to a private college situated in a small town in the early 2000s. I lived in a dorm room all 4 years.

                                                                              Freshmen were mandated with a full meal plan (3 a day), so I didn't do much cooking. There was a communal kitchen in my last two residence halls. I kept a small pan and pot, but didn't use the communal kitchen much.

                                                                              Every year I had a microwave and small fridge. I also had a coffeemaker and an illegal rice cooker. After freshman year, I did the minimal required dining package. I survived using the rice cooker and microwave for most of my meals. My meals weren't great, but it was better than the dining hall food.

                                                                              1. I see this thread is a bit old, but what the heck.
                                                                                Freshmen year, full meal plan mandatory. Dorms did not have cooking facilities. From sophomore year on, the university offered suites and school owned off-campus apartments (like a giant condo complex about a 1/4m mile off campus) with cooking facilities.
                                                                                Even when I lived in an apartment I never cooked during college. Our dining halls has really good pasta and salad bars.

                                                                                I would guess that cooking facilities create a huge liability issue for schools.

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                                                                                1. re: AdamD

                                                                                  Unraveled and Adam, thanks for that feedback. DS will have a meal plan, but I imagine he'll be sick of it in no time. I guess that's to be expected, and always wondering what other options are.

                                                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                                                    Basically if its a traditional dorm room, there is not a lot of space. Like most I had a small fridge. I did have an immersion boiler that I used to make instant coffee noodles, soup and rice, but that was about it. Maybe an electric kettle or a george foreman grill would be an idea if they are allowed. One nice thing is that my mom used to send up care package with tasty treats like salamis, cheeses, olives, pickled veggies, salsas, and chocolates. But trying to prepare a full meal of fresh food in a dorm room will be tough.
                                                                                    Truthfully, many of my college meals consisted of off campus wings, pizza, cheap Italian, Chinese and subs with the occasional splurge for sushi. And late night cheese fries!

                                                                                    Not sure of DS's eating habits, I know kids are much more discerning than when I was in school.

                                                                                    1. re: AdamD

                                                                                      I have high hopes for a small fridge/freezer combo and a good small cooker. Not sure if the slow cooker is too much planning, but I figured rice/nodles/pasta and other options if he's ambitious enough. I guess he'd have the iron anyway for the occasional grilled cheese (I cringe at the thought ;)) And from other posts I'm guessing first year may even be out of the question, so I'll have to wait and see.

                                                                                      I imagine I'll be doing same as your mom too, there are a lot of healthy foods that don't require cooking.

                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                        Good thing about the fridge is that you can always have a salad and fresh fruit on standby. I used to take fruit from the dining hall and keep it the fridge and Id take a salad to go without dressing. That and a bowl of soup and you are good to go. Don't expect much from the freezer. It will barely hold a tray of ice cubes. My school was Syracuse U 86-90.

                                                                                        And make sure you sample the dining hall food when you visit. Most schools allow that. At my school there were two dining halls that were MUCH better than the others. Find out where the school athletes eat if you can -In my case, that dining hall had a better selection of healthier foods. But that may not matter if its a small school.

                                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                                          I guess he'd have the iron anyway for the occasional grilled cheese (I cringe at the thought ;))
                                                                                          hey, Dale Talde won a Top Chef challenge doing that! just make sure your son's iron has a steam option - apparently that was what allowed him to heat it through *and* achieve a nice, crispy exterior ;)

                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                            I remembered seeing Michael Keaton doing that on "Mr. Mom" (while watching the Nicky and Victor saga of "The Young and the Restless" ;D) - maybe before your time ghg?
                                                                                            Adam electric kettle is a great idea, and I will remember to visit all the dining halls.

                                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                                              before my time? nah, Mr Mom came out when i was in junior high. i actually remember that scene - we had a housekeeper who loved Y&R, so i was tickled that i recognized the characters when he was watching it :)

                                                                                          2. re: lilgi

                                                                                            Okay, looks like it's going to be BC and with the dorm situation there, no cooking for sure, at least for a year. I think it'll be all about a fridge (possibly), a tea kettle, and my care packages, if I can find a way to send Momofuku ginger scallion sauce which only needs to be refrigerated, and of course JT cookies. It's an athletic school, better food maybe or wishful thinking? Will visit the dining halls soon. It kills me he's a late night eater and craves food, not snacks, and I won't be around ;( I know, I'm a helicopter mom.

                                                                                    2. early 1990's Atlanta, school was co-ed, dorm was not. common room on the ground floor of a 5-story dorm had a microwave, a small sink, and a decrepit, teeny 2-burner electric stove that looked (and smelled) like it would blow up at any moment. the MW perpetually reeked of a combination of burnt popcorn and cup-o-noodle soup. a few people had illegal hot plates in their rooms, but i was too paranoid about starting a fire. i got a mini-fridge for my room and kept it stocked with milk for cereal, yogurts, produce, and of course beer. fortunately my generous parents kept my meal card stocked with plenty of money and the dining options on campus were pretty good, so i made the best of it Freshman year, and then moved off campus to a really nice apartment with a good kitchen...and only one roommate with whom i had to share it :)

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                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                        Attended University of Maryland in 93-98 the dorms had communal kitchen it was a co-ed dorm. Already knew how to cook because they was part of my up bring at home. I used the kitchen unfrequently since I worked in the dining hall and was stationed on the grill and fryer 3 days a week.

                                                                                      2. Villanova University (outside Philadelphia), and I graduated in 2007. Freshman year, I lived at home. Sophomore and Senior years, I lived in single rooms in very old residence halls, and there were no cooking facilities-dining hall was basically it. Junior year, however, I lived in an on-campus apartment with 3 other girls, with a full kitchen---oven, range, microwave, toaster, etc.--and that's where this incredible (or predictable) story happened....

                                                                                        My roommate, my boyfriend and I go out to a party. Drinking and hilarity ensue. My boyfriend and I leave at about 1, but my roommate stays out. We don't hear her come in. My boyfriend gets up to leave for work at about 9 am, and comes almost immediately back into my room to wake me up because 1) my kitchen is filled with smoke, 2) there is a block of Elio's pizza actively ablaze in my oven, and 3)my roommate is passed out against my apartment's front door in her underwear, sleeping in a sitting position.

                                                                                        This story IS funny now----we took the charred Elio's, wrote the date of the incident on it in White Out, and hung it on the wall so we'd "never forget." What is NOT funny, however, is that those are the kinds of things that happen when kids drink and attempt to cook/ grill (we also had access to grills-mistake). As a result, I'm really conflicted about cooking facilities in residential college situations, but we could have just been extra irresponsible :)

                                                                                        1. I go to UCLA and the dorms (fortunately I have moved to an apartment!) do not allow cooking of any sort. No kitchen facilities are provided, and there is one microwave per building in the laundry room. Microfridges were allowed in my dorm for $200 a year; otherwise microwaves were not allowed at all (though minifridges were). It was irritating to not be able to cook, especially when I just wanted some quick oatmeal or something, but fortunately dining hall food was generally high-quality and I never really went hungry.

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                                                                                          1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                                            Bruin shoutout!! [: And we were darn lucky with our dorm food- though I'm excited to have a kitchen now that I've got an apartment! Even if the smoke alarm is more sensitive than baby skin. I think it went off 5 times just making an omelette (with no smoke or burning involved, thanks).

                                                                                          2. I went to a state college in the 80s. The dorm I was in for a couple of years was really more of a 2bedroom apartment (2 bedrooms, bathroom, living room, balcony) without a kitchen. There was a stove and microwave we could use but it was in another building where our mailboxes were located.

                                                                                            We had a Weber Smokey Joe on the balconey (concrete), a popcorn popper, an electric hot pot that boiled water for ramen noodles and a deep fryer. If you've never made french fries while hammered in a dorm room, you haven't lived dangerously. Oh, we also had a pizza oven. Microwaves were about $500 back then, so no microwave. We rented a small refrigerator. I have no idea what they cost back then but I'm sure they cost less now than they did back then.

                                                                                            1. Graduated from Brandeis last year (although I'm a grad student there for another three weeks or so). Freshman year meal plans were not only generally required, but we had to have the most expensive plan (I guess they were afraid we'd starve.) The food at Brandeis is and was unbearably awful, so even as freshmen my hallmates and I were always trying to rig up ways to cook things in the dorms. There were, technically speaking, kitchens in all the dorm buildings, but (a) you couldn't get in without getting the key from the quad director, who was never ever around, (b) even if you did get in there were no pots/pans/utensils/anything, so if you didn't already own the stuff you were screwed (and freshmen at Brandeis aren't allowed to have cars, so you couldn't really go buy them, either), and (c) even if you did manage to get the key and scrounge up cooking vessels, the kitchens were so decrepit and spider-infested that by the time you finished cleaning the webs out of the oven, you were generally no longer in the mood to cook. Technically hot pots/coffee pots/toasters/etc weren't allowed, but most RAs would turn a blind eye as long as you weren't, say, using a fryalator in your room. (Case in point, pets were also not allowed on campus, and I had a hamster, two newts, a chinchilla and four rabbits during my time at college (one of the rabbits my mom eventually stole, and the other two rabbits still live with me. All of the other animals perished for non-living-in-a-dorm-related reasons, largely old age, except the last rabbit, who fell very ill and passed suddenly. Just because I smuggled them illegally doesn't mean I didn't take good care of them.))

                                                                                              Sophomore year lived in Brandeis' famous (infamous?) castle, which was very charming except for the centipedes and lack of hot water or heat, and my suitemates and I had a pantry, but no kitchen. That year I subsisted on Tootsie Rolls and cereal because I could not stand another day of Brandeis food, and decided that the next year I needed to be able to cook for myself or perish.

                                                                                              Junior year moved to Brandeis' off-campus-but-owned-by-the-university apartment buildings, which were basically disgusting mold-ridden bug-infested hovels (they were actually renovated as I was leaving, and are supposedly much nicer now) out in the middle of the woods and about a 20-40 minute walk to the top of campus, but each room or pair of rooms had a kitchen, so I taught myself to cook and refused to ever eat college food again. If you lived somewhere with a kitchen, the university wouldn't make you have a meal plan, but since (at the time of my matriculation; it's different now) the dorms with kitchens tended to be run down and far away from anything interesting, very few people wanted to go that route. However, it also meant that a lot of the dorms with kitchens tended to be populated by serious, mature students who could take care of themselves, so we didn't have a lot of drunken-apartment-burning-down. (To be fair, Brandeis is not much of a party/drinking school anyway, except for the hipsters who drink bad wine while doing their homework because they think it makes them erudite.)

                                                                                              I'm glad I was given an option to cook for myself, but I sort of get the feeling that a lot of college students these days aren't really "ready" to take that step towards adulthood (which, frankly, I think is immature and a sign of how poorly we've "marketed" adulthood to youth-- really, it's not so bad!)-- the state of disuse of the communal kitchen at my school seemed to attest to that.

                                                                                              Maybe colleges should have a cooking requirement! I could get behind that.

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                                                                                              1. re: HJSoulma

                                                                                                You made a very brilliant point about how poorly "adulthood" has been marketed to youth.
                                                                                                That was a very brilliant insight. Thanks for your post.

                                                                                              2. We had kitchens in the dorms, but it was one of those suburban schools where everyone lived on campus. Enrollment in the meal plan was mandatory (ew), so it wasn't cost-effective to cook. I didn't really figure out what I was doing in the kitchen until after college.

                                                                                                1. Before the days of jazzy college apartments with nice kitchens, my son took up dorm cooking in the '70's when he had come to the end of his patience with dining hall food.
                                                                                                  For the first culinary adventure of his life he bought a Crock Pot and made chili. A line formed. He then started taking the Crock Pot with him on ski weekends (more chili, and forget rip-off resort restaurant prices). He is now an accomplished cook. Amazing what hunger will do.

                                                                                                  1. In my dorm room I remember 2 mini fridges (one for food, one for beer), a mini microwave, a sandwich grill for grilled cheese sandwiches (and also use for nasty, triangle-shaped "omelettes", a hot plate and an electrical kettle (for ramen, tea and instant coffee).

                                                                                                    I didn't cook much in college. I lived in dorms, a sorority house (where we had a full-time cook), and in an apartment where restaurant-working roommates kept me in free meals.