Housing, dining and student life FAQs, answered
Choosing a place to spend your next four years is a big decision. Academics come first, but life outside of class is another major part of what makes a residential liberal
arts college experience so exciting. And we encourage thorough exploration.
With that in mind, we brought current students together to answer a handful of questions that Skidmore Admissions recently received from prospective students and their families.
Honest and unfiltered, we hope their individual views are a helpful resource as you continue to discover all that Skidmore has to offer.
Don’t have time to watch? We’ve also highlighted some of the topics covered below.
*Note: Recorded in spring 2021, this Q&A references how the College managed COVID-19. The students’ answers are accurate at the time of recording but may no longer apply.
Tell us about your on-campus living experiences.
Lindsey: “I lived in Howe-Rounds my first year at Skidmore and chose to live in a special-interest, substance-free community. I’ve had a really positive experience so far in the dorms. There’s a nice community on each floor no matter where you are. Residential Life put on a lot a great programs that helped me get my bearings. I liked them so much I chose to apply to be an RA for my sophomore year.”
Shayna: “I lived in a triple my first year at Skidmore which, despite what you may think, I found I had plenty of space! And, really, it was an interesting experience to live with people I perhaps wouldn’t have ever had a chance to meet. Both my roommates were STEM majors, which turned out to be so eye opening as I was headed into political science and history. My sophomore year, I chose to live in a single, which was super awesome. As someone who grew up sharing a room, I had a lovely time finally having my own space.”
How does finding a roommate work at Skidmore?
Shayna: “Your first year, a roommate will be assigned to you. That pairing will be made based on a questionnaire you fill out.
“After your first year, a lot of people choose to select roommates from among their friends. I chose to try a year on my own in a single, but a lot of people I know roomed with people of their choice. If you get stuck or just aren’t sure where to go, you can also enter back into a random placement or find people through Facebook pages or other student-run resources. For example, sometimes people will have a four-person on-campus apartment, and they are looking for one more person to join. And they’ll use Facebook to find someone.
“One of the really nice things about Skidmore’s Residential Life staff is that they’re really flexible ... Whereas, when I was off campus and ran into an issue, I was all on my own to find a sublet and somewhere to go next.”
*For more on community living, visit Residential Life.
As a first-year student, did you do any cooking or have access to do so?
Richie: “Residence halls have communal kitchenettes with a shared fridge and microwave. I definitely recommend labeling anything you put in there. But, generally, other than microwave cooking or grab-and-go stuff in a fridge, if you’re in a residence hall you’re likely not preparing much of your own food.
“Once you move into on-campus apartments, you have a full kitchen – stove, oven, dishwasher,
kitchen sink, etc. – which is both exciting and intimidating. You will also need to
bring your own utensils, plates, pots and cookware. And when I don’t feel like cooking,
I can just walk up the hill and grab something delicious from D-Hall or The Spa.”
Are first-year athletes typically paired together as roommates?
Austin: “I play on the men’s hockey team and did live with another player my first year. However, it’s really case by case. I know examples of students who have and students who haven’t, and it’s completely up to living style and how you answer the first-year questionnaire. All to say: there’s no ‘typical’ set up when it comes to athletes living together their first year.”
What is permitted in the dorms?
For the latest information, please review Residential Life’s policies and procedures resources. The Residential Life Handbook will have all of the details on what can or cannot be in your room.
Are the dorms noisy? Is it an adjustment to sleep in a shared building?
Shayna: “There’s always going to be an exception, but generally speaking all res halls have quiet hours that will be enforced to a good degree. It’s different on weekends, but during the week it’s usually not a problem.
"That said, all but one of our res halls are suite-style. Meaning that rather than
a whole floor sharing a bathroom, it’s three to four rooms that each share a suite
and one bathroom, so the only noises you’d hear could come from your direct suitemates.
Managing that is all about communication and respect. If it’s a perpetual issue, then
that’s where your RA can be a great resource.”
Is there gender inclusivity in housing? How do housing and gender intersect?
Shayna: “In general, res halls rooms will be shared by people of the same sex and/or gender. On-campus apartments are not split or defined in any way by gender.
“That said, when it comes to res halls, we do have gender inclusive options and I know plenty of people of different genders or questioning genders who have shared rooms. I also know a lot of queer people, and there is specific LGBTQ+ housing if you’d feel comfortable there. Ultimately, it’s about having a conversation with Residential Life. And, importantly, knowing that this is an accepting campus.”
Do most students stay on campus for all four years?
Shayna: “Yes, the majority of students live on campus all four years. During COVID-19, that number changed a bit, but historically it’s 90-95% of students on campus.”
Can people come visit you on campus?
Richie: “Anyone can come into your residence hall that’s on campus, if you grant them access. They cannot get into your building, if they are not also a resident of that building. If a visitor is staying over, you have to inform Campus Safety, and it has to be short term.”
How does one do laundry in the dorms and is it free?
Lindsey: “Laundry is not free, but that’s realistic. You put money on your Skidmore ID and swipe it on the machine. They are standard high-efficiency machines, and many are in the basement of each residence hall. You can also pay to send your laundry out and have it done for you."
Any tips on setting up your dorm? How can you personalize it while still making it a good learning and studying space?
Richie: “One of the most important things for me was to make a designated space in my dorm to work. For me, that means getting up to work at my desk so my bed can remain a relaxation space.”
Lindsey: “Almost everyone has a window seat, and they are the best thing ever. The windows open and you can get fresh air there and likely have a beautiful view. I use my desk for schoolwork, but my window seat is my hangout spot. I try to use my bed only for sleeping, which really helps.”
What kind of furniture is in a standard first-year room?
Shayna: “Everyone will have their own bed, of course. In a residence hall it will be a twin XL bed. You get a desk, a chair, a bookshelf and your own closet space. In the apartments, it’s similar, but you could have a full bed or a twin XL depending on the apartment, and you could have an armoire instead of a built-in closet. Apartments also have a common area with a couch, chairs and a dining table with chairs.”
Visit Residential Life for furnishing details
How are allergies handled in the dining hall?
Richie: “As someone who worked in the dining hall, I can say we are intensely trained on dietary restriction, especially to prevent cross contamination. Depending on the severity of your issue, you also have a flexible dining services staff that understands how important it is that you can dine safely, so they take accommodations seriously.”
Lindsey: “The identifying ingredients. if something included is one of the major allergies. So, before you even grab something you can know if it has dairy, gluten, soy, peanut and more.”
Learn more about the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall
What food options are on campus?
Austin: “So yea we’ve talked about the dining hall, but there’s also The Spa which is located on the ground floor of Case Student Center. They serve sandwiches and have a daily hot meal and a salad bar. They also have a variety of drinks and snacks.”
Learn more about The Spa
“Then there’s Burgess Café, which is like Starbucks for coffee and light food options like muffins and yogurts. My favorite is definitely chicken fingers and fries from Spa or Chicken Finger Friday in D-Hall.”
Learn more about Burgess Café
In terms of grocery stores, are there good options nearby? What about for vegans or vegetarians?
Shayna: “I live off campus now and can say there’s a grocery store for every need, including Hannaford, Market 32, which is like a fancy Price Chopper, Wal-Mart and Target. One of my roommates is vegan, and she goes to a local grocery store called Four Seasons for specialty options or Healthy Living, another local store that’s nearby.”
Austin: “Fresh Market is also right down the street and is pretty comparable to Whole Foods.”
What’s religious life like on campus?
Lindsey: “I’m the treasurer of one of the faith-based clubs on campus, and it’s been one of the most meaningful experiences for me at Skidmore. I’m in Newman Club and Christian Fellowship. We have clubs and gatherings for Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist students as well. Students sometimes choose to join local churches or temples in Saratoga, of which there are dozens of options for nearly all denominations.
“We also have a nondenominational chapel on campus that’s open for everyone to come worship in any way they desire. It’s also a place where yoga and meditation classes or gatherings are often held.”
Visit the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life
How often do students go into town? Do people spend most of their time on campus?
Shayna: “It totally depends on what you want to do! Downtown is really accessible. It’s only a 10- to 15-minute walk and there is free transportation as well. But we are a separate, private campus so you can be more of an on-campus person, too. When I lived in a residence hall and had an unlimited meal plan, I didn’t venture off as much as I do now.
“Saratoga is a great college town when you really consider how many restaurants and things to do there are. Even more so in comparison to peer schools of Skidmore’s that don’t have a town like we do.”
Richie: “I fell in love with Saratoga. I remember my first time here someone invited me to go paint pottery, which I never thought I would enjoy, but it’s just that kind of place. I also love dining out in town; it’s one of my all-time favorite things to do.”
Austin: “I’m a big coffee drinker and have to have a breakfast sandwich with it. My tip, though, is to shop multiple spots. Get your coffee at Saratoga Coffee Traders and then walk down to Uncommon Grounds for a bagel.”
Read more about why students love Saratoga
Can first-year students have cars on campus?
Austin: “Yes, you can. I had one and it worked for me, but a lot of students don’t and they aren’t at any disadvantage because of it. Some students even prefer to not have one because it encourages them to utilize resources more and connect with people. If you have a car, parking is really easy on campus.”
Is there a place to get mail and packages on campus?
Lindsey: “Me and my Amazon addiction will happily answer this. Yes, there’s mail! You get a personal lockbox that works a lot like a typical P.O. box in a standard U.S. post office. When you get a package, you simply go up to the mail window, swipe your ID and they go get it for you.”
How long does it take to get to and from other places on campus? What’s the distance between your dorm room and classroom?
Shayna: “It’s going to of course depend on where you’re going and where you live, but I’d say the farthest possible walk would be from the apartments to any of the administrative offices on North Broadway like Admissions, Advancement or Communications. You’d really only be going there, if you’re a student worker for one of those offices. And even that “long” walk is only 15 minutes.
“Campus is a circle and that means you’re always cutting through the center, which makes most walks less than 10 minutes. Your first-year room is going to be anywhere from a 30-second to a three-minute walk to the dining hall. And classes are the same, with maybe an extra minute or two to get to the athletics facilities, dance studio or Zankel Music Center.”
What is the weather typically like and what suggestions would you have for someone coming from somewhere other than the Northeast United States?
Richie: “Yeah, you’re going to need a warm winter coat and boots. The Skidmore Shop has some nice options for gloves and hats and a few coats but no boots. But it’s wild — spring and summer do get hot! You get a full range of temperatures between all of the seasons, which, honestly, I love.”
Shayna: “For packing, keep in mind that the summer heat will only last the first two or three weeks of the semester, and then it will be mild, cool or cold until the last few weeks where you can likely just repeat your clothes. So, leave most of your summer clothes at home.”
Is there good hiking and skiing nearby?
Mariel: “Gore Mountain is a great ski resort that’s about 45 minutes away. There’s also a smaller mountain, West Mountain about 20 minutes away. For big trips you could head to Vermont or up to Lake Placid, too. Multiple options under three hours.”
Read one student's guide to local parks and trails
Lindsey: “As far as hiking, we have our own North Woods that a lot of students use as a nice reprieve during their week. It’s not super strenuous, and you can make it as short as half a mile or loop the trails so you walk for several miles.
“We’re also really close to the Adirondacks and a lot of students go there. Our Outing Club is super active and is the largest club on campus. They do lots of excursions, including rock climbing and boating and swimming. On school breaks they also plan long-distance trips.”