April Pickens, student author
One of the most important experiences you will have in your collegiate career is living on your own. No parents to tell you when to go to bed, when to do your homework, or what to do in your free time. This is truly liberating, but you want to make sure you have the best experience that you can- and that starts by choosing the right residence hall or living situation for you.
Both of my residence hall experiences have been great. My freshman year, I didn’t research which hall I wanted to be in- I just chose one that looked cool from the pictures. It ended up being a great place to live, but it was about a fifteen minute walk to my classes, and I wanted to be closer. My sophomore year, I decided that I would thoroughly do my research to find the perfect residence hall, and it turned out to be a much better experience than my first year. For both my junior and senior year, I decided to move off campus, but that is an entirely different list and an entirely different article.
“April, what are these criteria that you looked at?” Don’t worry, friends. I have compiled a list of the things to think about when you are getting ready to choose your residence hall. If you follow these, I can almost guarantee that your experiences living on campus will be better than you expect.
- Don’t Have your Heart Set on Only One: There are a lot of people who are going to want to be in the same hall as you. While there might be one that has your heart, I promise that there is one that is just as nice (and maybe better) than that one.
- Different Styles: Some universities have different styles of rooms to choose from, like single bed (just you), double bed (you and a roommate), triple bed (you and two roommates), and suites (you and your roommate in one bedroom, sharing a bathroom with two other roommates in a separate room). There are also other spaces within a residence hall to consider, such as open and private study spaces, if a kitchenette is available, or if they have lounge areas with televisions and comfy chairs. Just knowing what is important to you and thinking through what it will be like to live from day to day can go a long way in making your new living situation feel like home.
- Look at Bus Stops and Walking Distance: If you hate walking (especially in the cold or rain), make sure that there is a bus stop pretty close to your residence hall. Buses can take you all over campus, and some might even take you to other places, like a local movie theater, grocery store, or the mall. If you’re like me and would rather walk, then look at how close your hall is to your classes, dining hall, and how it is situated on campus. I never minded walking fifteen minutes (it was my only exercise), but it was definitely nice to be closer!
- Where are the Dining Courts?: Food is extremely important, and when it’s bad weather, you aren’t going to want to walk very long for food. If possible, choose a residence hall that has a dining court attached to it, or maybe right across the street. The shorter the distance, the better. If you can be close to multiple dining options, then that’s even better- you will have much more to choose from!
- Co-Ed or Single Sex?: Would you rather live in a co-ed residence hall or single sex? This stuff matters, people! Even though this is something you might not think about, it is important to consider. My freshman year I lived in a co-ed residence hall, then sophomore year I lived in an all-female hall. I tended to like the all-female hall better because it seemed like it was much more peaceful with just girls, but maybe you will have a different opinion.
- What about Learning Communities? Some schools will have groups inside of their residence halls called Learning Communities (or something similar). These groups are can be composed of students who are in the same major, or of students who have a similar interest. LC’s are a great way to make new friends who share some of your passions. An added bonus for LC’s with a focus on major, is that if you are struggling with a problem on some homework, all you have to do is go down the hall to find someone who can help you.
April Pickens is a senior at Purdue University, and has been writing short stories since the age of three, so it’s probably a good thing that she is majoring in Professional Writing! She plans to work in publishing and editing, and knows that this experience will further the skills she will use in future jobs and opportunities. As an intern with My College Navigation Hub, she looks forward to sharing her collegiate experiences with others (even the mistakes and slip ups), and hopefully helping students make their college years the best they can be!