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A Brief Guide to UCLA Housing

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Alethea Katherine
One part of the freshman experience at UCLA that will never change over the years are the elated moments after you first realize that, yes, you've gotten in - the #1 public university in the nation actually has admitted you, and you're on your way to being a full-fledged Bruin!  You'll cry, your family members will cry, you'll scream with joy, you'll (probably) spam social media with photos of yourself holding your brand new #UCLABound sign with a proud smile and shaking hands, and you'll count the days till orientation with your heart in your throat, barely able to wait for Bruin Day, Bruintization, Bruin Bash, and everything that comes in the months leading up to starting school. That's the romantic side of it.  The not-so-romantic side?  The moment you realize it's May, you've barely adjusted to the fact that you're actually going to UCLA - you've barely even sent in your official intent to register - and they're already asking you to submit your housing application.  And the most confusing part of the application is figuring out what on Earth all of the different room types refer to, and why they're making you rank them in order.  It's also one of the most important parts of the application, because it will decide which dorm you live in as well as what room type you get. You've already got enough stress as a soon-to-be freshman - why not have one less thing to worry about?  This post is here to demystify the room types and make decoding your housing application that much easier - and to make your time on UCLA's residential "Hill" as comfortable as possible.

1. Classics

  The classic dormitories are what you're probably thinking of when someone utters the phrase, college dorm, so it's not too surprising that UCLA has dubbed them the classics.  They're easily the biggest buildings on the Hill, so when you first tour campus, they're probably the ones you'll remember best: high rises with dozens of windows looking out over campus and beautiful, high-ceilinged lobbies.  The classics are arranged so each hall of rooms on each floor has a communal bathroom for the men and a communal bathroom for the women. Pros: the classic rooms are the least expensive of the dormitories, which makes them easily one of the most popular choices.  They're also known to be very social - people are always walking to and from the communal bathrooms, so if you want to meet some new friends, all you have to do is prop your door open and say hi.  Also, because the rooms are smaller, you're going to want to study in the lounges rather than in your room - which means you're going to tend to meet a lot of people from your floor during your study time.  The halls also have "living learning communities" - whole floors dedicated to one theme, such as the African American floor, the Visual and Performing Arts floor, et cetera - a great way of bringing people together! Cons: if you're a very private person who doesn't love meeting a ton of people all the time, classic dorms probably aren't the right choice for you.  Most freshmen will be in classics, but - as you'll see below - you definitely have other options for your freshman year.  Another con?  The rooms really are small, and while communal bathrooms can make things more social, they can also make things gross.  Whether it's finding someone else's hair in the drain or having to listen to a stranger's unique taste in music two shower stalls over, you're going to have to be comfortable with treating the whole floor almost like roommates.  Also, if you're the kind of person who needs absolute peace and quiet to study, the classics are definitely not for you.  Also, NO AIR CONDITIONING.  If your dorm is directly in the sun, you're definitely not going to want to stay in your room all day (unless you like being cooked to death slowly in an oven). Where to find them: rule of thumb - if it's a high-rise and it's got the word Hall in its name, it's home to classic dorms.  The closest hall to campus is Dykstra Hall.  Sproul Hall, Rieber Hall, and Hedrick Hall comprise the rest of the classic dorms on the Hill.

2. Plazas

Known as the nicest and most luxurious rooms on the Hill, plazas may seem like the kind of ritzy rooms UCLA would reserve for upperclassmen - but, in fact, many freshmen end up in plazas, whether they like it or not.  If you're used to thinking of college dorms as students stuffed into rooms like sardines into a can, you're definitely going to be surprised by the plazas. Pros: plazas are big (as in, big enough to hold sizable dance parties in).  If you had to share a room with a sibling before you left for college, you're definitely going to have a lot more space in your plaza than you did back home.  If you're an introvert and you like to lead a private life, the plazas are also perfect, because the rooms are nice enough you're not going to feel a need to study elsewhere - but you'll also have a lounge for every building, so if you want to study with somebody else, you always have that option.  All plazas either have their own private bathroom, or a bathroom shared with one other room, so you never have to wonder whose hair is stuck on the shower wall and whether you even know its owner's name.  Also, air conditioning! Cons: plazas are known to be the most antisocial of the dormitories, so if you're an absolute social butterfly, plazas might not be the thing for you.  You'll definitely have to make an effort to get to know the people on your floor, and most of your friends will likely be from classes as opposed to from your dormitory.  Also, as the most luxurious of the dorms, the plazas are definitely a little bit more expensive. Where to find them: De Neve Plaza, Hedrick Summit, Rieber Vista, Rieber Terrace, Sunset Village (Canyon Point, Courtside, Delta Terrace).

3. Suites

  The suites are often overlooked as a housing option here - somehow, most people seem to assume you're just choosing between plazas, classics, and deluxes (which you'll see below).  In fact, though, even freshmen often find themselves in the suites - and a lot of the ones that do are happy enough to stay.  The suites are arranged as two adjacent rooms sharing a bathroom and a living room - so, in that way, probably one step up the ladder of luxury compared to the plazas. Pros: the living room.  Everybody loves the living room.  If you thought you could host a good party in a plaza, you'll be able to host an even better one in a suite - without having to worry about people sitting on your bed or messing with your things.  The living room makes it easier to be social, so you're not going to get to know your whole floor as automatically as you would in a classic hall, but if you want to get to know your whole floor, it's ten times easier than it is in a plaza - all you have to do is throw a good party and invite everyone over.  And the living room isn't just a good place for social shenanigans - it's also perfect for studying, of course! Cons: expensive, not surprisingly.  However, the price is never what seems to be complained about the most when it comes to suites - it's mostly the fact that both of the suite complexes are at the top of the Hill, furthest from campus of all of the dorms.  If you're not down for a little bit of extra walking, you probably don't want to live there.  Besides that, though, the suites are a pretty sweet deal. Where to find them: Hitch Suites and Saxon Suites (yes, it's a trek up the Hill - but, as we said, it's worth it...and a trek is really only a five minute walk from the main dormitories).

4. Deluxes

  Deluxes are basically classics, but with the plaza perk of having a private bathroom, or a shared bathroom dedicated to two rooms.  They really should be further up this list - they probably deserve a spot right in between classics and plazas - but they've been demoted in this post because most freshmen don't get the option to room in a deluxe.  However, if you're a sophomore or upperclassman, the deluxes are probably the most popular choice of room here at UCLA. Pros: you get your shared/private bathroom, which is honestly a pretty big perk for most people.  Every student here has heard the horror stories of the occasional debacle in the communal bathrooms, and the deluxes avoid all of that drama completely.  However, the deluxes are still cheaper than suites or plazas, so you don't have to worry about all of your money being sunk into life at the Hill.  Unlike the classic rooms, you will also get air conditioning (hurrah!). Cons: like the classics, the rooms themselves are still small, so you're still going to feel cramped, especially if you're in a triple (more on this later).  You'll definitely want to hit up those study lounges instead of trying to hunker down in your teeny, tiny room.  You'll also get the shared/private bathroom con of the (somewhat) antisocial dormitory, just like the plazas. Where to find them: rule of thumb - if it's a high-rise and there isn't a Hall in its name, it's for the deluxe dorms.  That means Gardenia Way and Holly Ridge in De Neve (better known simply as Gardenia and Holly), and Sproul Cove and Sproul Landing.

5. Triples, Doubles, and Singles - the Scoop

  So now you know about all of the different room types, and you can finally list your room preferences on your pesky housing application without pain - and before the deadline!  Hallelujah!  Except...what's the deal with the double, triple, single business? It's pretty straightforward, since it's exactly what it sounds like: triples house three people per room, doubles house two per room, and singles house one per room.  Don't get your hopes up, though.  In recent years, UCLA has had a strict policy of housing all freshmen in triples, so you're going to want to focus on ranking your room type preference instead of putting all of the single rooms - plaza, suite, classic, or deluxe - at the top. Rule of thumb?  You aren't going to get a double unless you have a very good reason and you appeal through DSHAB (see below).  And you're probably not going to get a single, no matter what you try - those are usually reserved for RAs (residential assistants), and you definitely won't be one until at least sophomore year.  So unless you have a very pressing medical condition, assume you're going to be stuck with a triple.  Sorry to crush your hopes.

6. Special Needs: Appealing Through DSHAB

  Most people can skip over this section without a second glance, but if there's some reason you need a specific kind of room or accommodation - air-conditioned, close to campus, double or single occupancy, et cetera - there is, in fact, a way to do it, and it's called DSHAB. DSHAB is a disabilities housing appeal for students who need special accommodations in living on the Hill.  So, for example, if you have a medical condition that requires you live in an air conditioned room, check the box on your housing application that says you intend to submit an appeal, fill out the DSHAB packet here, attach a personal letter and have your doctor fill out his part of the packet, and you'll be good to go. The housing appeals board is very accommodating, but they are understandably strict about only giving accommodations to those who need it, so please don't utilize this resource unless you absolutely need it - out of respect to DSHAB, and out of respect to the students who really do need the accommodations.  You'll just waste your time and they'll turn you down.

7. Living Off-Campus

  There is, of course, one other option for students, although it's not recommended for freshmen.  Living off campus can be a great way to cut down on your costs, although you miss out on all the fun UCLA-sponsored events on the Hill, and the absolutely great food.  If you feel absolutely inclined to live off campus, there's a lot of great options nearby, whether you want to give Greek life a go and live in one of the houses along Gayley, or go a little further off campus to one of the apartments.  If you do end up off campus, don't get too nervous - the walk to campus really isn't that much further from the apartments than it is from the dormitories (especially if you're thinking dormitories like Saxon and Hitch). UCLA only guarantees three years of on-campus housing, so keep that in mind when you're planning for the future.  Most students move off campus their junior year, although a fair number of students choose to move off campus as early as their sophomore year.  The overwhelming majority of freshmen, though, opt to stay on campus - and it's definitely not a decision you'll end up regretting. If you are absolutely heartbroken about the idea of living off campus your fourth year, having to cook your own food and give up the fine dining of UCLA residential life, you can always apply to be an RA - or, if you need to stay on campus for medical reasons, you can make an appeal through DSHAB during your freshman year.  Just know that UCLA really does care about its students, and no matter what you choose, you will be happy here. The bottom line?  Even if you don't end up with the room of your choice, never fear - all of the dorms at UCLA are lovely, and you'll be happy no matter where you end up on the Hill.  Also, pro tip - requesting a roommate is much better than going random.  Random roommates have known to work out, but they've also created their fair share of horror stories, and you might end up - as my friend did - the one random roommate in a triple-occupancy room where the other two people requested to room together.  That's never fun.  It's basically third-wheeling, but worse.  So join the Facebook group, get to know some people, make use of the fact that it's the twenty-first century and social media is everywhere - and enjoy your life as a UCLA resident on the Hill! P.S. Want to know more about the Hill, take a virtual tour of the dormitories, or check out diagrams of every single floor of every dormitory (yes, they actually have that)?  Go check out the UCLA Housing website here!

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