For some freshman, college policies that require new students to live in dorms limit choices. However, many schools offer flexibility, and older students typically have options. As a member of a Greek fraternity, you may have the choice of living in a dorm or living in a frat house. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each may help in the decision.
The costs of living in a dorm versus a frat house depend on the school and fraternity pricing policies. The Cornell University web page on Greek life notes that dorms and frat houses are relatively close when you consider comparable costs, such as rent, food and utilities. Dorms usually have one flat semester fee that includes all of these costs for room and board. Frats may have a rental fee and leave students to purchase board plans or food, or they may have food catered by a local business and charge each student for a portion of that expense.
Student goals should be considered as well. Dorms may provide a better option for academic-minded students concerned about the distractions of a bustling social fraternity. Additionally, some students prefer dorms where they can live with or near others in their majors. Some frats are program-specific, which may offset this factor. For students interested in a strong social experience while in college, fraternities do offer a number of opportunities to build social bonds and to participate in planned social events like mixers and dances.
In a dorm, students commonly have one to three roommates, whereas a frat house may have 10 to 30 residents. In a two-person dorm room, your relationship with the roommate can make or break your comfort with living arrangements. A benefit of dorm living is that you usually only have one person's schedule or habits to work around. In a frat house, students must adjust to the preferences and habits of many roommates. They also must consider more people's needs when sharing space in the house.
Dorms are normally integrated within a campus community. They provide consistent and close access to classes, student support offices, rec centers and campus events. For students who prefer a bit of separation between their campus life and personal or social life, frat houses make more sense. Frat houses also normally have fewer restrictions on the use of alcohol and noise levels. Of course, abiding by the law and maintaining academic discipline are still important considerations.