Choosing the perfect pet to keep you company at school


Courtesy of @cwru Instagram

Looking to make your next year housing plans complete with a pet? Check out this guide to finding the animal that works for you!

Christie Lanfear, Life Editor

For most of us, the housing selection process for the 2022-2023 school year is in full swing. With assignment times and lottery numbers released, and everyone waiting with their quick fingers and track pads, the whole process can be a little overwhelming, and the stress can start to overpower the fun of it. So, I wanted to give you something related to dorms next year that isn’t related to your room selection time: pets. 

Whether you have had pets your whole life or want to start now, it will likely be a great addition to your housing plan for next year. Your initial reaction to this proposition was probably similar to mine: are we even allowed to have pets in dorms or common rooms? Well you can, as long as you fill out a Pet Registration form and then get it approved by both your suitemates and their Coordinator. The details surrounding the approval process can be found on the Case Western Reserve University website. 

Alright, now onto the fun part: deciding what pet you might want to get. Obviously, there are a plethora of options, and every website you go to for recommendations will give you a slightly different list. The animals not permitted in residential communities are dogs, cats and ferrets. But that still leaves so many other options. I did the hard work for you. I scoured the web and sought advice from every pet-owning college student I know. I think the list I have come up with is rather a good one, so I hope you can find at least one candidate for a furry—or not so furry—friend!



Despite not meeting the ‘cuddly’ requirement that most people look for in a pet, fish are perfect for us college students. They are aesthetically pleasing, cheap, easy to care for and their tank does not take up to much space. The most common kinds of fish—the colorful pretty ones—include guppies, goldfish and betta fish. You also need to decide whether you want more than one fish, because everyone knows the infamous male betta fish must remain isolated from the others. Once you have your fish picked out, find a small space-accommodating tank and you are all set! 

Hermit Crab 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised to see this one on almost every list. When I asked around, it turns out it’s a common pet for college students. Despite the small investment required for an appropriate tank, they are fascinating pets and are certainly more active than some fish. They are also easy to feed and care for. As a plus, you can even paint their shells, as long as the paint is nontoxic. These little creatures are sure to provide you with an entertaining muse during a study break. 


As the classic starter pet, hamsters had to be included. Despite coming across as generic, these little fur balls are cuddly, like to play and are very cute, making them worthy of the hype. Although it might seem dismal, their life-span also makes them an appealing choice. Of course no one wants their pet to die, but factoring in what you will do with your pet once you graduate is important. Hamsters only live approximately the time it will take to graduate if you get it at the beginning or part way through your time at CWRU. 

Guinea Pig

I grew up with guinea pigs and loved every minute of it, so I will try my hardest not to be biased. No promises though. They are arguably the most adorable pet on this list and they also love being snuggled, if you’re feeling down. As long as they are taken out once a day, they are perfectly alright being kept in a smaller enclosure that fits in a dorm room. The only downside is that they crave company, so if you are not sure you will always be able to play with them and give them some attention, getting two might be a good idea. As an upside, watching them play can be a relaxing break from schoolwork. 


These are also obvious good choices for dorm room pets; mostly because they are unable to make a run for it, so to speak, if momentarily taken out of their enclosure. This takes away a source of anxiety for many students seeking to have a pet. The best types of turtles that are suitable for students new to pets are the Western Painted, the Common Musk, Mud and the Red-Eared Slider. The only disadvantage is that turtles live for a long time, on average about a span of 30 years. But, if this isn’t an issue for you, they are definitely still an exciting option. 


If you have ever seen a gecko, I am sure you would agree that they are pretty cool animals. With their huge eyes and colorful exteriors, they make for the perfect pet. On top of that, they are not high-maintenance and can live in a relatively small tank, as long as it is set up correctly. They are also not dependent on much interaction or play time, which is ideal for us busy college students. Now, back to the pretty colors part. Their colors depend on the breed, and there are a few different options. The most intriguing ones, in my opinion, are the Leopard, Frog-Eyed and Mediterranean-House geckos. 


Even if having a cute pet to look at and play with isn’t enough to prompt you into getting one, they are also extremely beneficial to your mental health. Some studies even suggest improvements to physical health, though research in that area is still relatively new. Interacting with pets causes a release of extra oxytocin, which is the feel-good hormone. It also decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Basically, you’ll have an adorable little companion and an elevated mood. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.