The pros of being a freshman in a four-class dorm

Oct. 12, 2018, 2:00 a.m.

Friday, August 11, 2017:

I had been waiting for this day since I filled out the roommate and housing preferences form in spring. Today, Stanford would assign me to my freshman dorm! I paced inside my room, constantly refreshing my email. Eight a.m. passed into 9 a.m., which then passed into 10 a.m., until …


A new email in my inbox! From Stanford ResEd! I quickly clicked on it and scrolled to the bottom, reading frantically. Would I get J-Ro like my sister did the previous year? Or maybe somewhere in Stern? And then I saw it: Norcliffe in Lagunita. What was Norcliffe? What was Lagunita? When I looked it up online, I frowned at my fate. Norcliffe was a four-class dorm in the greater community of Lagunita – which I had ranked last on my dorm preference form.

Over the next few weeks leading up to my arrival at Stanford, I pouted over my assignment to Norcliffe. I worried that I wouldn’t have the fun freshman experience I heard about from my sister. I fretted that I would make no friends in a four-class dorm, that there wouldn’t be any freshmen to socialize with. I saw my freshman year falling apart in front of me, wasting away in the halls of Norcliffe, before I even showed up for orientation. My freshman year did not fall apart like I thought it would. Rather, it was one of the most transformative, exciting years of my life.

I’m sure this year, some incoming freshman experienced the same feelings when reading their dorm assignments. So, if you are a freshman in Roble or Lagunita, let me share with you the pros of living in a four-class dorm.

1. Unity

Believe it or not, freshmen in four-class dorms are actually more eager to make friends. While some of the freshmen requested a four-class dorm, many are just like you; they also wanted a freshman dorm and are disappointed they didn’t get one. This, first of all, makes you guys bond faster. My friends and I talked about how jealous we were of people in freshman dorms for the first week of our relationships. And, second of all, this makes you guys feel united and like you’re not alone. Take advantage of this!

2. Upperclassmen

Upperclassmen are surprisingly helpful and fun, too! When I first moved into Norcliffe, I tried to avoid the upperclassmen. I assumed they didn’t want to be bothered by an annoying, excited freshman. (This was true for some of them, of course.) However, a few weeks into school, my group of friends started hanging out with some of the upperclassmen, and we discovered they were normal people just like us! Ultimately, they had a lot of helpful advice, including which classes to take freshman year and which on campus cafes were the best lunch spots for a quick bite between classes.

3. Dining halls

In my opinion, Lagunita dining is better than Wilbur, Arrillaga or Stern. At first, you might be jealous of the hype around Wilbur brunch or Stern burrito bowls, but trust me, Lag dining is consistently better than Wilbur or Stern. And I do mean consistently – Monday through Sunday, and breakfast, lunch and dinner. When Stern burrito bowls get old and Wilbur brunch doesn’t have the same appeal it did the first week of school, the variety of Lag dining will come in clutch. My personal recommendation: Take advantage of the griddle to make omelets or grilled cheeses!

 4. Location

West campus is so pretty! Both Roble and Lagunita Court border Lake Lag, which is a nice place to take an outdoor walk while soaking in the greenery and sunshine. Lagunita Court has a very cute, rustic vibe, and the actual buildings are much nicer to look at than freshman dorms. There are more trees and flowers on the west side, and I personally think the sun shines just a little bit brighter over Roble and Lagunita. While those who live on east campus will say that the west side is so far away from everything, I actually think it’s just as close to classes as freshman dorms, depending on where your classes are.

5. Ability to escape

“The escape,” as I like to call it, was one of the greatest pros to living in Norcliffe. I had friends in freshman dorms and would often go to their rooms to experience the social events. But when I was tired and wanted to sleep, I could walk or bike back to Norcliffe and crash in my quiet, empty room. In four-class dorms, you can have the best of both worlds. When you want to experience the craziness of freshman dorms, you can visit friends and classmates. And when you want to sleep, read or study in a relatively quiet dorm, you can go back to your own room. In this way, you have an “escape” from the freshman mayhem that eludes the people who live in freshman dorms.

5. Closeness

Because there are fewer freshmen and less craziness in four-class dorms, you can bond with your smaller friend group more. While I might have known more freshmen if I had lived in Wilbur or Stern, I don’t think I would have had as close-knit of a friend group by the end of the year. My Norcliffe friends and I ate together in Lagunita, rode our bikes to freshman dorms to hang out and studied together in our rooms. Really, I did everything with my Norcliffe friends fall quarter. I created real friendships that lasted all year and will continue into my sophomore year; I owe a large part of this closeness to my four-class dorm community.


Contact Aria Fischer at afisch ‘at’

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