8 Colleges With the Worst Dorms

colleges with the worst dorms

Choosing the right college can be overwhelming. While dorms shouldn’t be the sole consideration, living in a rundown, outdated building can quickly ruin an otherwise great college experience. Moldy walls, unreliable plumbing, and unpleasant odors are the last things you should have to bear for an education.

Dorm quality varies greatly across colleges and universities in America. It’s not always possible to visit and evaluate each one on your list. Some colleges are notorious for their lackluster dorms, while others offer luxurious living spaces comparable to five-star hotels.

Below, you’ll find a list of colleges with the worst dorms in America. We’re not suggesting you outright avoid these schools—they may still be a great fit academically and socially. However, we do advise caution when making housing decisions.

Colleges With the Worst Dorms in America

We’ve gathered insights from students nationwide to compile this list of schools with subpar dorms. Here are eight of the colleges that made the cut.

The Ohio State University

Let’s start with the good news: dorms at “THE” Ohio State University are generally clean and safe, providing a secure place to live. Unfortunately, the positives end there.

Ohio State’s dorms are massive and overcrowded. More than six of them lack air conditioning, which can be unbearable in Columbus during August and early September. As a freshman, forget about getting a single room—you’ll be lucky to snag a double. Triples and quads are the norm, even though the rooms are sized for just two people.

Perhaps the worst part about Ohio State’s dorms is that you’re required to live in them for two years, not one. This can feel like an eternity when you’re cramped in an 18th-floor shoebox of a high-rise building, while your friends attending other schools have moved off-campus to apartments with their own bedrooms.

Pennsylvania State University

At Pennsylvania State University, the dorms are facing the same issue as Ohio State’s. There are too many people for the available space. Even dorm rooms advertised as doubles end up housing three or four students due to overenrollment. This leaves little room for personal belongings, privacy, or even a little peace and quiet.

In some cases, students end up in converted common areas with a dozen other students, as there are no overstuffed dorm rooms left. Throughout the semester, they gradually get moved to regular dorms as spaces become available.

Regardless of the lack of adequate housing, Penn State still requires first-year students to live on campus. This can be tough to handle, especially with the stress of college coursework and adjusting to a new environment. If you’re planning to attend as a Nittany Lion, it’s crucial to ask the housing office plenty of questions and try to get some guarantees before making your deposit.

Purdue University

Moving on to Purdue University, another Big Ten institution known for squeezing too many freshmen into small dorm spaces. Even when not overcapacity, the dorms at Purdue are notorious for being bleak and cramped. Picture cinder block walls, linoleum floors, and 12-by-12 dimensions… not exactly luxurious.

To add to the discomfort, many of Purdue’s freshman dorms lack air conditioning. Despite its location in the northern part of Indiana, West Lafayette isn’t exactly cool and refreshing at the start of the fall semester.

On a positive note, living on campus at Purdue is not mandatory, even for freshmen. However, much of the social scene for first-year students revolves around dorm life, especially if you don’t join a fraternity or sorority. Opting for nicer off-campus housing might mean missing out on the mad rush to make friends and form close social bonds.

University of Miami

University of Miami is located in the ritzy suburb of Coral Gables, just minutes from the beach and the nightlife of South Beach. It should be paradise, right? Well, living in the two freshman dorms on campus, Hecht and Stanford Halls, can put a damper on the glitz and glamour of Miami life pretty quickly.

These two monstrosities feel more like living in a glorified hurricane shelter — but you can rest easy knowing you’ll be reasonably safe if another Andrew comes along during your time on campus. In the meantime, you’ll have to deal with cramped rooms, depressing dimly lit hallways, and community bathrooms that may or may not remain clean for most of the week (that all depends on your hallmates).

On the bright side, UMiami only requires you to live on campus for your freshman year. After that, you can skedaddle and find a place to rent with friends in one of the many walkable residential areas nearby.

If you choose to stay on campus beyond your freshman year, the housing options drastically improve once you become an upperclassman. The school recently built new housing for juniors and seniors, and it basically resembles a luxury apartment complex. Living there isn’t cheap, though, so be prepared to shell out some cash if you want to upgrade your living situation at The U.

Rider University

Rider University, on the other hand, is a small private school in New Jersey with only about 3,000 undergrads. You might think that means they would have nicer dorms than the typical massive state university, but you’d be wrong.

Rider is known for having some of the worst dorms around. The buildings are old and run down, and the bathrooms are frequently dirty and smelly, especially if you end up on a “party floor”. The rooms themselves are cramped and small, with two to three people squeezed into a space that will likely be much smaller than your high school bedroom.

To make matters worse, you’re required to live in these conditions for two full years before you’re allowed to move off campus. That’s a long time to live in squalor, especially during what are supposed to be the best years of your life.

But there is a glimmer of hope. If you pledge a frat or sorority, you can move into your Greek organization’s house for your sophomore year and escape the dorms a year early.

However, this option is only suggested if you genuinely find a group that brings you joy and you consider them your close friends. Otherwise, you’re essentially swapping one unfavorable circumstance for another.

The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) is another Big Ten school known for having some of the worst dorms in America. Clearly, this conference is great at academics and football, but not so much when it comes to palatial living arrangements.

The dorms at UIUC are old, drab, and run-down, not to mention cramped. They barely fit two or three people in a room that’s suitable for just one person.

To make matters worse, UIUC’s campus is massive and sprawling, so these dorms are often inconveniently located far from class. Prepare to trek for 15 or 20 minutes, even in the snow or rain, just to make it to your early morning class.

And let’s talk about the lack of air conditioning in many UIUC dorms. August and September become practically unbearable without it. The heating is not the best either, making the winter months just as challenging.

Unfortunately, UIUC requires freshmen to live on campus. But once you become a sophomore, you’re free to move off-campus and explore other options.

Aside from off-campus apartments, Greek houses and program houses are better alternatives to the dorms. They offer a chance to be part of a community and have more control over your living situation. Plus, their rooms are usually much more spacious than the cramped dorms, and many even have air conditioning.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University can be quite the experience. If you’re lucky and talented enough to get in (with a tough acceptance rate of 12% for fall 2022), brace yourself for not-so-great freshman dorms. Not all the dorms at GU are terrible, but the ones allowed for freshmen aren’t great either. The biggest issue is the possibility of getting stuck in Darnall Hall, which has a notorious reputation for being one of the worst dorms at GU and even in the entire country. Darnall is old, cramped, smelly, and moldy. It’s definitely not an enjoyable experience, and you may question whether the prestige of a Georgetown degree is worth the suck if you end up there.

The good news is that you won’t have to live in Darnall again as a sophomore, but you’ll have to stay on campus. The same goes for your junior year, and only seniors get the privilege of living off-campus.

The College of William & Mary

Moving on to the College of William & Mary, it’s a great school with a rich history. However, nobody chooses it for the dorms. This school values rigorous academics and attracts bookworm students, but it holds on to the outdated idea that colleges should be solemn places without luxuries and indulgences. This mindset is evident in the on-campus housing.

While the dorms at William & Mary aren’t complete pigsties, they take “basic” to a whole new level. Picture cinder block walls, old tile or linoleum flooring, and not much walking space between two beds and two desks. It’s definitely not luxury living.

W&M requires you to live in the dorms for two years before allowing you to move off-campus. The positive side is that you’ll get to enjoy much nicer housing in the latter part of your college experience, and then you’ll graduate with a prestigious degree.


Choosing the right college is a big deal, and the quality of dorms matters. We’ve compiled a list of eight colleges with not-so-great dorms. While these schools may offer awesome academics and social experiences, it’s important to be cautious when it comes to housing choices. Freshmen might find themselves in overcrowded, uncomfortable, or outdated dorms at places like Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, University of Miami, Rider, UIUC, Georgetown, and William & Mary. Exploring other options like off-campus apartments or Greek houses can help improve living conditions. Remember, college is about more than just dorms. Get involved on campus for a rewarding experience. Make informed choices to ensure your college journey is everything you want it to be.

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