What Residence Hall to Choose?
I remember before coming to Illinois, I had to fill out some preferences for housing in January. At the time, I was pretty clueless, so I just put down three random halls without thinking too hard about it. It honestly worked out just fine for me, but after living in the halls for a year and then working in them, I realized that there really are differences between the various residence halls on campus. Here are some things that I’ve kind of observed about some of the University Housing halls. Sorry that this doesn’t include Private Certified Housing…I’ve never lived in those areas, but maybe another blogger has. (:
Some things to think about when you’re considering where to live:
First of all, where on campus do you want to be?
A lot of engineers try to choose ISR (Illinois St. Residence) because it’s the closest dorm to the Engineering Quad.
Similarly, if you’re in Art and Design or Architecture or Business, you might choose the Champaign dorms (students call them “the 6-pack” because there are 6 buildings pretty close together), which are pretty close.
However, even if you don’t live close to where your classes are, don’t worry–the great thing about living in dorms is that there is always a bus stop right outside your dorm, so you can get anywhere on campus pretty easily.
And now for the characteristics of the halls themselves…
I lived in Urbana my freshman year and in Champaign my sophomore year. The co-ed halls seemed more social to me than the single sex halls (LAR, Barton, and Busey-Evans for girls; Lundgren for guys), although it really may depend on your floor.
If you really want to be able to get homework done in your hall, rather than the library, the single-sex halls are normally fairly quiet. Also, there seemed to be strong Christian and Muslim communities in these halls, in case anyone is interested in that. LAR also had a pretty strong African-American organization. For all you vegetarians out there, there’s also a vegetarian dining hall in LAR, which I definitely took advantage of. (:
And now, the co-ed halls. I always felt like the Champaign halls were louder than the Urbana halls. Maybe that’s because the Champaign halls are so close to fraternities and big apartment complexes, while the Urbana halls are a bit more isolated from that.
The Champaign halls do have their differences–for example:
Snyder is a substance-free hall, so there are normally non-drug related activity nights on Fridays there.
Weston is an awesome dorm (I would highly recommend it), because of the living-learning community called “Weston Exploration” for people who are still trying to decide on their careeres and majors. There are just a ton of fun activities to get involved with there.
Garner is also pretty social and I know a lot of people have had good experiences there. Since these halls are pretty close to IMPE and playing fields, there are a lot of intramurals here…and I know it might not be true, but it always seemed to me like there were a ton of really athletic people living in the Champaign halls.
In the Urbana halls:
ISR tends to be the quieter hall. As I mentioned earlier, it’s stereotyped as being a little bit “nerdier” and it’s really close to the quad.
Allen is normally considered a dorm of “artsy” people and bikers. If you’re really into music, visual arts, theater, etc., or if you’re a serious biker, you’re probably going to find a lot of other people at Allen who share your interests. There’s also a living-learning community at Allen, where you can take classes inside the building…they also offer free music lessons and a pottery class! Those are things I wish I would have gotten to do. The other thing about Allen is that there is literally always something to do. The RA’s there, at least in the past, have always gone above and beyond in planning things for their floors to do together. This hall also tends to be LGBT friendly.
The other major halls are PAR and FAR, also in Urbana. These are far from the quad and the rest of campus, but there are buses literally every 5 minutes. I think the key differences are that FAR has air-conditioning (at least, I think…) and PAR is smaller and more international. PAR has living-learning communities with a focus on global issues and international communities, so you will find a lot of international students there.
FAR is just huge, so a lot of freshmen end up here…I’m not sure how to generalize about it, although there do seem to be a lot of intramural opportunities there. And just as a warning, the elevator doesn’t go to the top floor of FAR, so if you end up living there, pack lightly :p What I really enjoyed about FAR, though, is that there is a gym in the basement, so you can lift weights, etc., if you don’t feel like making the 5 minute walk to CRCE. There also seemed to be a big Christian community at FAR.
Wow. Okay, I know that was a lot of info, but I hope it’s helpful to someone who’s trying to decide what halls to put down. Feel free to ask questions!