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Considering Sober Housing in the College Search

How to discuss the option of sober dorms with your child during their college search, plus of a list of schools that offer drug- and alcohol-free housing.

From figuring out financial aid to helping with homesickness, parents of high school–aged students have plenty to think about when considering their child’s upcoming entry to college. But news accounts of sexual assault on campus, alcohol poisoning, high-risk sexual practices, and drug addiction are enough to concern anyone. Yes, parents place their trust in their grown children to make wise choices and avoid potentially dangerous situations, but who can blame them for wanting to exercise caution when helping their son or daughter choose a college?

Concerns about the college culture

The college experience is supposed to involve higher learning, exploring career paths, making new friends, and enjoying social activities such as fraternities or sororities, clubs, and other activities that help further adult development. Though college still revolves around those ideals, a heavy party culture exists on many college campuses that may cause some students to veer off their academic path and wind up paying a heavy toll.

Exposure to drugs and alcohol continues to rise unabated among college-aged students.  In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2016, 1.2 million full-time college students used alcohol and over 700,000 used marijuana on any given day.

The heady reality of being on one’s own away from the watchful eye of parents can fuel the experimentation of substances and the party aspect of college life.  While many young adults can experience a certain amount of these activities without losing sight of their purpose at college, some may not have the same ability to control it, leading to failing grades, substance abuse, and risky behaviors that can have lifelong repercussions.

Start the discussion

When it’s time to begin college planning, sit down with your high schooler and discuss these realities, as well as different on-campus housing options available. A frank, open chat about how a sober dorm could reduce distractions, improve academic performance, and provide a healthy environment for college life may resonate with your young adult. 

It’s a mistake to assume that all high school seniors envision college as one big, four-year-long party. Many look forward to reaching their academic goals and are driven to succeed in life while dreading the idea of enduring four years of drunken behavior in their midst. Without resorting to hyperbole, state the concerning facts about drug and alcohol abuse on campus and why sober dorms might be the best option for them.

Colleges with sober housing

There are dozens of US colleges and universities that seek to provide safe, drug- and alcohol-free living environments by offering sober dorms, sometimes referred to as “dry campuses.” Lists of schools with sober housing are readily available online and provide a good starting point when helping your child look for the safest possible place to attend college. Of course, just because a school offers sober housing is no guarantee that drugs and alcohol aren’t present, but it can ensure a certain level of safety above schools that have fewer restrictions or consequences.

The following list of colleges with sober housing is by no means complete, and some of them may only offer an option for sober housing in addition to housing where young adults of legal drinking age are permitted to have alcohol in their rooms. It includes schools that attempt to maintain a safe social order in their provided housing, promoting respectful behavior to fellow residents. 

Colleges and universities that provide sober student housing include:

  • Albright College
  • Assumption College
  • Auburn University
  • Babson College
  • Bates College
  • Baylor University
  • Biola University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Bucknell University
  • California Lutheran University
  • California State University, Monterey Bay
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Coe College
  • Colby-Sawyer College
  • Eckerd College
  • Emory University
  • Fairfield University
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Gonzaga University
  • Hillsdale College
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Iowa State University
  • James Madison University
  • John Carroll University
  • The Juilliard School
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Lebanon Valley College
  • Lorain County Community College
  • McDaniel College
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Monmouth University
  • Nazareth College of Rochester
  • New York University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College
  • North Central College
  • Northern State University
  • Oakland University
  • Ohio University
  • Oregon State University
  • Penn State University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Point Loma University
  • Saint Anselm College
  • Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
  • Saint Cloud State University
  • Saint Michael’s College
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas College
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Southern Oregon University
  • SUNY Plattsburgh
  • SUNY Potsdam
  • Sweet Briar College
  • Texas Tech University
  • The College of New Jersey
  • The Evergreen State College
  • The Ohio State University
  • The University of Georgia
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Troy University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Houston
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Nebraska Omaha
  • University of Nevada
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Southern Maine
  • University of Vermont
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Walsh University
  • Washington and Lee University
  • West Virginia University
  • Whittier College
  • Willamette University

Related: Schools Offering Substance-Free Housing

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