Generally speaking, dorms do not sound like the most glamorous living arrangement. I have to say, though, that living at Dartmouth is as great as dorm experiences can get. I will focus on first year living communities, as I am a first year and some of you readers might be in the near future!
First year communities differ from upperclassmen housing because they provide your “freshman floor” support network, your chance to establish your lifestyle as college student, and perhaps your first experience with a roommate and your first time living away from home. Dartmouth has 6 First Year residential communities, and here’s a bit about each.
– The Choates: older buildings, close to center of campus and library, mostly made up of doubles.
-The River: newish architecture (glass walls), far from most of campus, but has really great common rooms and contains the climbing gym.
– McLaughlin: Newest of all dorms, very nice spacious rooms, very close to the Life Sciences Center (for those taking that 8:45 bio course)
– Russel Sage AND Fahey-Mclane: old school type of building, mostly made up of 2-room triples (3 people, 2 rooms), but rooms are very nice and have fireplaces for decorative purposes. Very close to campus.
– East Wheelock: This is where I live and it is my favourite, obviously. It’s a little far from center of campus, but right across from the gym. East wheelock requires a special application (after your first year) because it tries to foster an intellectual community, where artists, authors, and visitors to campus are invited to speak over dinner at intimate gathering at East Wheelock’s Dean’s House. Rooms are nice, spacious, and some come with bathrooms!
Most of the places I listed are not individual buildings, but rather 3 or 4 that are connected somehow. They are known as “Clusters”. It is important for the college that first years live ON CAMPUS, and in these well-connected communities. All floors in every building have a UGA (undergraduate advisor), who is an uperclassman/women who is there to provide advice, social opportunities, and establish general rules of conduct for the floor. PS: photo below is of my floormates and our UGA on homecoming weekend
As a first year, you do not choose where you will live, but you have some say in the kind of roommate you will get based on your habits such as sleep schedule, neatness, and study time. That said, I have yet to meet a person who moved out of their room because of roommate issues/floor issues/room size issues. Most freshmen end up enjoying their living arrangements no matter what cluster they end up in, and that is what matters the most about residential life at Dartmouth.