Hey, Even Hippies Have Rules

Before committing to a co-op, students should check out a facility.

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Before committing to a co-op, students should check out a facility for:

Cleanliness. Tidiness standards vary widely. Some, such as the Florida houses, require students to keep their rooms tidy at all times in case a donor drops by to visit.

Culture. Some co-ops have shed their crunchy-granola cultures. Some have even taken distinct right turns. The members of one Ann Arbor co-op recently organized a house outing to a shooting range. Many co-ops invite prospective members to visit for dinner to see if they feel comfortable.

Rules. All co-ops will kick out students who slack off on chores or are disruptive. And some, such as those at Ohio State and Florida's scholarship houses, won't invite back students who don't maintain good grades.

Food. Some co-ops don't provide meals. Some rely on student volunteer chefs, while others, such as those around UCLA, hire pros.

Age restrictions. Some schools require freshmen to live on campus.

Room opportunities. While most first-year students have little choice but to share rooms, many co-ops offer deeply discounted single rooms to students with co-op seniority.

Chore choices. Not all co-ops require toilet scrubbing. Some let members choose duties like carpentry or food-ordering.