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May 02 2017
by Meghan Field

A Guide to Residence Halls at Penn State

By Meghan Field - May 02 2017
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Often times, the transition to college can be hard for incoming freshmen due to a variety of reasons, including the entire roommate and living situation. At Penn State, there are many different housing options so you don’t have to worry about housing too much (other than who you get for a roommate)! Freshmen can live in five different housing options and are randomly put into a particular room. Before you attend New Student Orientation, you should have set up an eLiving account and put down your top two housing choices. When I was an incoming freshman, I put down North first and South second and got put in a 2-bedroom, 4-person suite in North, which has worked out perfectly. After reading more about each of the residence halls, it is OK to change your preferences. All you have to do is log onto eLiving, click on My Room under the My Information tab, and resubmit your preferences.

Keep in mind, if you accepted your Penn State contract after April 1, you may not receive either of your preferences you indicated and will be in supplemental housing. Supplemental housing is housing where three to eight people are put in a larger room in the residence halls.

If you have any questions about the arrival and move-in process or want to check out more pictures of each residence hall, then check out this website.

1. East

East is the most popular option for freshmen. Only freshmen live in East, except for the Residence Assistants (RA). There are currently 14 coed residence halls in East, but a 15th residence hall is being built as we speak. The majority of dorms are traditional doubles with hall bathrooms and the floors rotate male and female. For example, if the first floor is female, the second floor will be male. The rooms are laid out in a way that everything such as the desks and beds are parallel from each other.

There is some supplemental housing in East, as well, which houses three to eight students in one large room. East is in close proximity to the Berkey Creamery, Intramural Building, Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center. Food wise, Findlay Commons and Johnson Commons are located in East and it has an all-you-care-to-eat option, Edge, Flipps, Market East, Deli, Salad, Chef’s Table, Pizza, Pasta and Sushi. The hours of operation can be seen on this website.


2. Pollock

Pollock is the second most popular option for freshmen. While it houses a lot of freshmen, upperclassmen are able to live there as well. Pollock has traditional dorms suited for two students, as well as built-in wall storage. There are nine residence halls that are the same set-up as East — if the first floor is female, the second floor will be male. The rooms are set up in a way that the beds meet in a corner to create an L shape and the desks and wardrobes are up against the other walls. Pollock is really close to the Pollock Testing Center, University Health Services and the Bank Career Services building. For food, Pollock Commons has a large selection of meals and snacks available. You can eat at the dining commons or The Mix. Redifer in South is super close as well, so it’s up to you to see where you would like to get food.


3. South

South houses the second biggest group of freshmen. There are 12 residence halls and they are the same deal as East and Pollock in terms of having all females on one floor and then all males on the next floor. There are various housing options here. Simmons and Atherton house the Schreyer Honors College students, but anyone is permitted to live there. The other halls, except for McElwain, house sorority floors since Penn State does not have sorority houses on or off campus. Anyone is able to live in the sorority residence halls as there are some floors that are for males or do not house girls in a sorority. Some halls have been renovated to include air conditioning and others are in the process of being renovated. Bathrooms have also been renovated and some rooms even have a bathroom that four people can share, but those are reserved for upperclassmen. 

South is really close to downtown, the White Building and the HUB. If you’re hungry, some great close food options would either be Redifer, which includes the Southside Buffet, Hot and Steel Noodles, Fresco Y Caliente, Off the Ground, Edamame, In a Pickle, Piatto Felice, Redifer City Grill, Urban Garden and Louie’s. Pollock dining commons is also in close proximity, as well as the many dining options the HUB and downtown has to offer.


4. West

West houses quite a few freshmen, but primarily upperclassmen live there. There are six residence halls to live in and the floors alternate males on one floor and females on another. The six halls face inward to form a traditional quad. Each room varies in terms of size and how many people are in the room, but it ranges from one to three people per room. West is right next to the Pattee and Paterno Library, Rec Hall and the Nittany Lion Shrine. A lot of major classroom buildings are located right near West as well. For food, you are closest to Waring Commons, which has a food court, Sisu Store, Sisu Coffee Bar and West Wing. It is also rumored that West has the best cookies on campus.


5. North

North is slowly expanding. There are currently four residence halls in North, but a fifth one is being built. North also houses the least amount of freshmen. All rooms in North are suite style. The rooms all consist of two rooms, a shared common room and a shared bathroom in each of the rooms. You can either be in a four-person suite with two students per room or a two person suite with one person per room. There are some supplemental rooms in North in which you will have five other roommates. The rooms are carpeted and you have a thermostat in each room so you don’t have to rely on a fan or heater to maintain the temperature you would like.

Food wise, you are closest to Warnock Commons, which has Northside, Bluespoon Market, World Beat, Deli Station, Grill and Salad Station and there is even an Au Bon Pain that is less than a three-minute walk from your residence hall. North is really close to the Forum, which is a classroom building you’re almost guaranteed to have at least one class in at some point, the Arboretum and the Pattee and Paterno Library.

Julie Black

There are three other housing options which are reserved for upperclassmen, so as freshmen you don’t have to worry about them. They are Eastview Terrace, Nittany Apartments and White Course Apartments. If you do not want to live off-campus sophomore year, you are able to live in any of the residence halls except for East. In order to get on-campus housing for the following year, you have to keep an eye out for an email from eLiving that lets you put your top preferences into the housing lottery. Technically, you are not guaranteed housing after freshman year, but depending on the year it could be easier or harder than previous years depending on how many students would like to live on campus. There are three rounds to the housing lottery and if you are not offered anything or if you were offered a contract that you did not like, you will be entered into the traditional dorm lottery and will not be able to select the exact housing you would like, even though you can put your preferences in.

If you would like to explore more photos, dimensions or maps of each residence area, take a look at Penn State's housing website.

Good luck with your roommate(s) and getting to know your way around campus from your residence halls! Take the time to learn what makes your individual space on campus unique or special and have a great year living there.

Lead Image Credit: Penn State via Instagram

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Meghan Field - Pennsylvania State University

Meghan is a sophomore at Penn State - University Park. She's from Hershey, PA. She is going to major in Biobehavioral Health and Psychology with a minor in Global Health. She has been dancing her whole life and has always had an interest in writing and anything science related. Instagram is @meghanfield.

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