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!


Please note that comments close after 90 days.


May 27, 2008, 10:36 am

Hi Pallav,

PAR is great if you want to get to know other international students, and there are also two “learning communities” called Global Crossroads and Intersections, both of which have to do with internationalism, multiculturalism, etc. For more info, definitely check out the housing website.

The Peabody halls can be load as far as I remember, but a lot of engineers study at Grainger or another library, anyway.

Good luck-



June 4, 2008, 5:17 pm

It has been mentioned that PAR is such an international dorm because of the programs, but does that mean that most of the students there are international? Will an in-state person possibly feel isolated there because of the international diversity combined with the distance from campus?



June 5, 2008, 8:34 am

Thank you Anita! ^^ I did not get a chance to research the dorm I am now placed in before hand, so finding your article has really helped me. Usually, there is only more ‘technical’ information found elsewhere about my dorm, but you gave me some facts that I really care about hearing. Thank you for the ‘real’ evaluations. You have soothed my fears. =D



June 10, 2008, 9:23 am

Do you guys have any information on Busey-Evans? I got into evans and cant really find anything about it.



June 10, 2008, 12:03 pm

Hi Erika,

Anita’s out of the country right now and no longer blogging with us. I’m an intern at Admissions and Records and here’s a little information you might find useful.

From the University Housing website: “Busey-Evans is an air-conditioned hall, and facilities include computer centers, libraries and study areas, classrooms, and meeting spaces.

Busey-Evans houses only women.”

If you go to this website you can also look at floor plans to get a better idea of what your room/hall will look like.


Hope that helps!



June 10, 2008, 6:53 pm

Hey Kelsey,

My name is Yuri, Anita’s fellow Illinois blogger.

I lived in Blaisdell, one of the halls of PAR. I am not an expert when it comes to housing but I think there’s just a larger number of international students living at PAR compared to other areas, not necessarily a majority. Also, I would take it as an unique opportunity to meet people of other cultures. It’s all a part of the Illinois experience.

I am also an in-state student and I did not feel isolated at all. I met three of my closest friends during my freshmen year.

The distance from the Quad seems like a lot at first, but it’s not too bad. I actually took the walk to the Quad or bus ride as an opportunity to get to know my dorm mates and strike up conversations.

If you have any more questions, feel free to post more comments.

Yuri 🙂



July 15, 2008, 12:23 pm

I was wondering, have you heard anything about Presby Hall? Is it/will it be a social dorm?




July 16, 2008, 10:24 am

Hi JoJo,

Anita’s out of the country right now and no longer blogging with us. I’m an intern at Admissions and Records and I’ll try and give you my opinion concerning Private Certified Housing.

Since Presby Hall is brand new, no one quite knows what type of students will live there. From my own personal experience with Private Certified Housing, through Bromley Hall and Illini Towers, the students who live there are pretty social.

When I lived in Bromley, my floor was not necessarily social, but other floors were and I met people and made friends in the dining hall. It was great because I had people all over the building that I could hang out with.

I’m sure Presby Hall will be around the same as Bromley and Illini Towers in terms of sociability. There are always those who are not as interactional as others, but I’m sure there will be many students who want to meet and hang out with new people.

I hope this helps!




July 16, 2008, 10:28 am

Could you tell me how the crowd is at busey-evans? Is it true that not many freshmen go there??



July 16, 2008, 3:46 pm

Hi, Brinda,

I’m Sara, an intern at the Office of Admissions, and I would be happy to answer your questions.

I would say that Busey-Evans has a pretty nice mix of freshmen along with sophomores, juniors, and even seniors. There are quite a few freshmen that go to Busey-Evans every year, so I wouldn’t worry about being stuck in a sea of upperclassmen.

I have some friends who have lived in Busey-Evans, and they all seemed to absolutely love it there! The atmosphere is laid-back, and you get to be close to campus while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Urbana.

Also, they have really delicious desserts at the Busey Beanery (yummy chocolate covered strawberries!) and Oodles, which is a pasta bar set up every Friday afternoon at Busey-Evans.

Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any more questions you may have!




July 16, 2008, 11:09 pm

hey sara,
thanks alot for the info. few more questions-
1. should we take a bus from busey to campus or can we walk it?
2. how long is the walk anyways?




July 18, 2008, 11:57 am

Hi, Brinda,

Busey-Evans, like all University Housing, is on campus, so walking to class is easy! From Busey-Evans to the Main Quad, it’s about a 5 minute walk. To get from one corner of campus to the other, it’s only a 15-20 minute walk at most.

While the buses are very convenient, especially when it’s cold or raining, walking has always been my choice, because campus is so beautiful. Let’s just say that I recently graduated this past May, and I never took the bus the four years I have been here!