Back when I was a student (in the Dark Ages, naturally)
the dorms were not popular at all, especially among independent self-supporting students like me who had a choice in the matter. You couldn't beat the location of a dorm, but it had its costs. Dorms were sometimes co-ed but had curfews if my recollection is correct, and they didn't seem to provide much space for the money - - plus residents had to vacate the dorms between terms, sometimes a PITA.
Often university students shared apartments with one another, instead. Nobody gave a hoot as to the gender of a roommate, as long as he paid his or her share and got along with everyone reasonably well. And with enough regularly paying roommates (who cares about gender?
), an apartment was much less expensive than a dorm.
I suppose that students are more prudish these days.