Welcome home, Wildcats: breaking down dorm life at Northwestern


Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang

Elder Hall. Northwestern has a wide range of residence halls on campus, each with its own amenities and character.

Chiara Kim, Reporter

Living in a residence hall is a huge transition, and feeling at home on campus is an integral part of adapting to life at Northwestern. We’re breaking down the ins and outs of living on campus.

Navigating dorm life

  1. When it comes to roommates, communication is key — from chatting about your day to setting clear boundaries. Don’t assume your roommate can read your mind, tell them when something is wrong. 
  2. Be considerate of others and of shared spaces. Use your own laundry and kitchen supplies, and don’t leave your laundry in the machine (or if you do, don’t get mad when people inevitably move it).
  3. Take advantage of residence hall resources, like Resident Assistants, for academic and other support. If you live in a residential college, opportunities to connect with faculty are beneficial for networking. 
  4. If there’s a maintenance issue, submit a maintenance request online or by calling Residential Services.
  5. Take time to make your room feel like home, whether through decor, momentos that remind you of home or comfortable furniture. 
  6. Bring or buy a doorstop — leaving your Wildcard in your room could mean a hike to an Area Desk to get a temp card, which may result in a $25 fee.

Residence halls vs. residential colleges

Each residence hall has its own character and holds from 25 to 500 students. Residential colleges house 40 to 250 students each. They feature a theme, like the “Communications Residential College” or “Science and Engineering Residential College,” and more opportunities for faculty engagement. 

A Faculty Chair and other fellows participate in programming including meals and outings, in addition to leading seminars and mentoring residents as research assistants. Students can gain leadership experience by joining their residential college’s executive team.

A tour of the freshman dorms

There are four housing areas: South, Southwest, Northeast and North. Beyond these areas, some characterize North campus as more social and South campus as more artsy.  

North campus dorms 

This bustling side of campus houses the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion — NU’s largest gym — Lincoln Street Beach and the Technological Institute, or Tech, where many STEM courses are taught.

Located to the north of Tech, Sargent Hall has its own dining hall. The nearby newly repurposed fraternity houses 2307 Sheridan, 2313 Sheridan, 2347 Sheridan, 2349 Sheridan are located in the fraternity quad. They each have large lounge spaces, and 2349 Sheridan has lounges in each suite. 

Also in the fraternity quad, 2303 Sheridan is home to two special interest housing options. The GREEN House is centered around sustainability and hosts environmental discussions, and the Residential College of Cultural and Community Studies features activities related to cultural and social issues. Just next door is Lindgren House, which holds 37 single rooms.

Across the sidewalk, Bobb-McCulloch Hall has a reputation as the loud, mainly-freshman social residence hall. While the rooms are average-sized, bathrooms and lounges are relatively old and outdated. The building’s northern neighbor, Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering, hosts suite-style rooms and Lisa’s Cafe. The Residential College of Commerce and Industry is located in Ayers Hall, which has a vibrant social scene with numerous common spaces. 

On the north end of campus, Schapiro Hall (formerly known as 560 Lincoln) is among the newest dorms, with suites and lounges with full kitchens. Across Sheridan, Elder Hall hosts its own dining hall and frequent North Area events, such as the weekly Sunday Cider. 

South campus dorms 

Located closer to downtown Evanston, south campus has Fran’s Cafe, which offers late-night food, and Kresge Hall, a hub for Weinberg classes. 

The newly renovated sorority houses — 710 Emerson, 636 Emerson and 640 Emerson — are smaller housing options that underwent renovations last summer. The nearby North and South Mid-Quads are home to the Public Affairs Residential College, which hosts activities like political discussions, and Shepard Residential College, which is multi-thematic. They have amenities like kitchens and seminar rooms. The Women’s Residential College is located in Hobart House and hosts programming like fellows lunches. It has two kitchens, a library and renovated bathrooms, and the building is often quiet. 

Nearby, Chapin Hall is home to the Humanities Residential College. It has relatively large rooms and is the oldest residence hall. Willard Residential College features a tight-knit community and with the expansive rooms, and amenities like the fitness room and Fran’s Cafe, and the effective executive board, which organizes activities like faculty “firesides,” it’s not hard to see why residents want to live here multiple years.

Across the street from The Arch, 1838 Chicago Ave. has a communal kitchen, the South Area fitness room and easy access to Allison Dining Hall. Allison Hall has a two-story dining hall, large rooms and clean bathrooms, but does not host many events. Across from Allison, Shepard Hall has great amenities, with nice bathrooms and an Engagement Center with a kitchen, private study rooms and classrooms. 

Known by many students as “Plex,” Foster-Walker Complex is the only mid-campus dorm, and the only one with a package center, convenience store and two dining halls. It is a singles-only residence hall. 

Next to Kresge, East and West Fairchild are home to the Communications Residential College, where faculty often have meals or “firesides” with students, and the International Studies Residential College, which features events like international food cooking nights. Facilities have not been updated in a while. Across the street, Jones Hall is relatively isolated from the rest of residential life, with the nearest dining hall, Allison, a few blocks away. 

While there is a large range of residence halls and colleges, each space is what you make of it. No matter where you end up, you can make yourself at home on campus.

Email [email protected]

Twitter: @chiarafkim

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