Forming a Community in Residential Dorms

Kelly elaborates on forming community within a residential living space and talks about some of her favorite aspects of dorm life.

Kelly elaborates on forming community within a residential living space and talks about some of her favorite aspects of dorm life.

What a typical floor community entails

Your first year at Carleton there are a few options you can make in regards to your living community. Typically, dorm floors at Carleton house students of all class years and gender identities on a single floor, but if you are looking for a more specific type of community, Carleton has single gender floors, substance free floors (no alcohol or drugs allowed, even if you are 21), quiet floors (I find these floors to be frightening, as I am a naturally loud individual), and first-year only floors. In general, bathrooms are gender neutral, though this is something that residents on the floor vote on to decide.

On every floor there are one to two Residential Assistants. See Katie’s blog on “The Role of an RA” for the specifics of what an RA does for their floor. This past year I had the pleasure of being the RA for the 5th floor of Watson Hall. One of my largest roles as an RA was to support my residents in any way that I could. There were many late nights spent in the lounge talking with residents about their classes and personal lives, and the occasional (metaphorical) fire to be put out. An important takeaway is that you are never alone as a Carleton student. RAs are just one of the amazing resources Carleton provides to make sure its students are always cared for and supported in all aspects of being a college student. Mental, emotional, and physical health are prioritized by Carleton students just as much as academic support.

RA Photo

The above photo shows the RAs and Area Director (AD) for Watson Hall. I loved being part of this team and getting to know my fellow RAs and Oscar my AD, who became one of my biggest role models on campus.

A typical Wednesday night on 5th Watson

It is a snowy evening in Northfield, Minnesota. Residents of 5th Watson curl up in their rooms with hot chocolate and a book to complete readings for class the next day. The smell of Pear ‘22 cooking ramen from the floor kitchen wafts down the hall. The RA, Kelly ‘23, arrives back to the floor after her Karate class and finds Edgar ‘22 and Hugh ‘24 talking about Economics, yet again, on the lounge couches. Sydney ‘24 stands at the nearby table, focused on her ceramics project. The occasional flute melody floats down the hall from where Lily ‘23 practices in her room. Things are peaceful, yet hectic as residents try to finish problem sets and readings for the following day. Viv ‘24, for example, must finish her homework early enough so that she can make it to 7:00 AM swim practice on time. At some point in the evening, Anthony ‘21 and Miles ‘21 float into the lounge to impart wisdom unto the underclassmen. Around 11:30 PM, the residents in the lounge disperse as people head to their rooms for bed.

Edgar with Cookies
This is a photo of my resident, Edgar ’22, posing with the cookies I made for Study Break. RAs host Study Break once a week on Sunday evenings to give residents a chance to catch up and take a breather from doing homework. My Study Breaks consisted of lots of laughter and sharing stories from the week.

Winter bonding!

I took this photo on the day of the first full snowfall of the year. Pictured are three of my residents and snowbears of various sizes. Seeing that it had snowed, I spontaneously texted our floor groupchat to ask if anyone wanted to play in the snow, and of course my residents were down! Afterwards we got dinner from LDC and made hot chocolate and cookies. Having built in friends and snowbear builders is one of the best perks of living in a residential community.


This blog post is just a glimpse into what dorm living is like. To sum it up in one word, I would say it is awesome. Living with a bunch of other college students in a safe and happy environment reminds me of being at summer camp as a kid. Some of my best memories at Carleton are from making friends on my floor, spontaneously baking cookies in the kitchen with them, and initiating late night dance study breaks. 

See Kelly’s previous blog post, Residential Living: The Basics of Dorm Life, for more information on residential living. Or, check out ResLife’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Kelly is a rising Junior at Carleton. She is a Psychology major and is considering a minor in Cognitive Science. Her other academic interests include Neuroscience and Educational Studies. Kelly considers Northfield her home as she is spending the summer here as an Admissions Fellow. Outside of the classroom, Kelly enjoys hosting programs for her residents as a Resident Assistant, planning practices for the Womxn’s Club Soccer team where she is one of the captains, and playing the cello in the Carleton Orchestra. Meet the other Bloggers!