Can You Stay in Your Dorm Over Winter Break?

While most colleges close over winter break, schools may allow some students to remain on campus depending on their circumstances.
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  • In most cases, you must be approved to stay on campus over winter break by your college's residential services.
  • If you do stay, the campus will likely be closed and you will not have access to regular facilities and transportation.
  • Subletting off campus apartments from fellow students is an option if you cannot stay on campus.

As the holidays approach, students vacate their dorms before closing for regular cleaning. Usually, everyone is expected to leave, but some students may want to stay for various reasons.

Typically, you cannot stay in your dorm during winter break. However, some colleges have an approval process for students who need to remain on campus due to special circumstances.

How Do I Get Approved?

Your best option is to email your school’s residential services.

Depending on your school, winter dorm living information may be readily available, like at Harvard.

At Harvard, there is a list of approved reasons for residency, including financial need, special circumstances, and in-season athletes who are requested to stay by the athletics department.

Other colleges state that "unapproved" residents must vacate by a specific date and time.

How to Prepare if You're Approved

If you are approved for winter break residency, the college may move you to another dorm for the break. Be prepared to move your needed belongings since you may not have access to your regular dorm room after a specific date.

Be prepared to go without your regular campus amenities. Your college may be completely closed, with no shuttle, dining hall, library, or facilities access.

If you have access to a car, many colleges and universities do not enforce parking while closed. Check your college’s transportation department website to see the exact dates.

What if I'm Not Approved?

Sometimes off-campus students sublet housing for December while they’re on break. The best way to find people looking to sublet their rooms is in Facebook groups for the college community or by word of mouth.

A counselor or advisor can direct you to non-university housing, such as hotel rooms. If you have a financial need, your school may work to aid you.