As the school year gets into swing, high school graduates all across Toronto — and around the world — are gearing up and packing up to move into their new home for the year: residence.

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While the idea of living away from mom, dad and dog can be daunting and nerve-wracking, it’s also the first little taste of #adulting, without the paying of bills and without that mid-life crisis part.

Living in a dorm can be one of the most exciting, creative and informative times of someone's life. 

Whether you're a curious parent, an ex-dorm dweller, or a newly-minted frosh, I’m here to break down the new reality of “Dorm Life” for you.

First Thing's First: How Much Does It Cost?


Moving into residence will be one of the more expensive investments of a university career (aside from tuition of course), but it’s definitely worth it.

The cost of living in residence at most Ontario universities and colleges can range anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 per year. Some dorm spaces can even reach $14,000 to $17,000 (I’m looking at you, Queens and Ryerson).

Most schools offer the opportunity to request the type of dorm you want to live in, as well as one to two friends you’d like to live with.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll nab a spot in a shared dorm with a full kitchen — THAT, my friends, is like winning the lottery.

If you prefer to have your own personal space, you can opt for a solo dorm and make the single space your own.

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Meal plans are crucial for surviving, especially if you live in a dorm without a kitchen.

The cost of a meal plan is sometimes built into the tuition price, but most of the time is an added expense. Meal plans can cost anywhere between an additional $2,000 to $6,000.

Most schools have options, varying from plans that suit those who live on campus 24/7, to those who aren't around all that often. Some schools, like Western, Laurier and Ryerson, have a "Flex Dollar" option built into the plan. This means a certain amount of these Flex Dollars can be spent at participating retails who are actually located not just on campus, but off campus as well.

Fancy dinners off-campus? Late night eats after a night out? YES, PLEASE! But just like credit cards can get maxed out, so too can these meal plans and flex dollars. 

What's It Like? 

Whether you're a 30-something moving cross-country for a new job or a student moving into a dorm, moving into a completely new space can be scary at first. 

But it's also really exciting.

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The first few nights are often a little weird. You get to know your dorm- and floor-mates. Then ... it's frosh week.

Frosh week and orientation are huge deals on campus. They also help break the ice and introduce you to everyone in a fun way.

And though there are many adjustments to be made, the design alone of each residence forces people out of their comfort zones. 

The small spaces give dorm residents the opportunity to really express their style in the most impactful way. 

Living in residence with friends and/or strangers will also bring on some seriously awkward moments, from bumping into that person you were avoiding to your ramen exploding in the shared microwave ... These experiences are like those little things in life that teach you how to take things in stride — and laugh.

Lastly, living in residence will introduce you to the people who will become some of your best friends for life.

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You will share late-night cram sessions in each others' rooms, you will console each other in tough times, you will binge-watch Netflix and order Domino’s to your residence together at 2 a.m.

In the end, for some, dorm life just isn't their thing. But no matter what, living in residence will definitely teach those valuable life lessons to help you live on your own and with others.