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So you’re about to be a student at the University of Minnesota. Getting excited? Still worried about where you’ll live this year? Don’t worry. There are options, and there is help out there. For example, here is one real student’s guide to the campus living options and how you should really make your choice.

Step 1: Decide your preferred roommate situation

Do you want to live alone? Have a random roommate? Choose your own roommate? Maybe you’d prefer to live with a group in a quad. A lot of these situations will end up having an effect on which building you live in.

Step 2: Decide your campus

For nearly every incoming student, living on or near East Bank will be the most convenient. However, if you’re an agriculture or nutrition student (along with a few other majors) you may prefer to live in St. Paul. If you’re an art or music student, or an honors student, you may definitely want to live in West Bank (Middlebrook Hall is the one for you). Making this decision should be easy, based on the classes you’re taking. If you’re undecided, East Bank is your best bet.

Step 3: Do you prefer a quiet living situation or a “party-always-available” situation?

If you prefer the prior, consider Comstock (located directly next to Coffman), Bailey (a hike over in St. Paul, but the quietest dorm in the most scenic area), Middlebrook (in the corner of quaint West Bank), or maybe one of the quieter Superblock dorms. For more parties and less sleep, think about living in Territorial (not the notorious “t-hall” for nothing) or 17th.

Step 4: Superblock or nah?

Speaking of Superblock, it’s important to decide if you want to live here or not. Superblock is a portion of campus between Stadium Village and the mall that includes 4 buildings: Territorial, Frontier, Centennial, and Pioneer (currently not available). Living in Superblock means access to more people, more new friends, more parties, and less of a chance of ever being alone. It’s a very convenient area to live in, but not for those who live personal space and quiet. Oppositely, some of the more separated buildings might be more suited for these people. Bailey (in St. Paul) is definitely less convenient, but I lived there, and it also definitely has its perks.

Step 5: Dorm or apartment?

While it’s more common for freshmen to live in dorms, the U also has a variety of university-owned apartment options. More expensive than dorms, but with more space and features, these could be the ones you’re looking for. Some apartment options include  Wilkins, Yudof, U Village, and–most recently–Keeler and Radius. Until this year, Radius was not owned by the University, so it’s a controversial switch, but might get you the best university-owned living experience.

Step 6: Making a final decision

Each building is known for something. Take all of the above points into consideration, talk to your roommate, or go random, and then make your final decision. Want to be in Dinkytown and plan to be a part of Greek life? Go with 17th. Honors or art student looking for a quiet place to live? Middlebrook is for you. Want somewhere insanely convenient? Stick with Comstock for a 30 second commute to the heart of campus. Want good ice cream, nice parks, and don’t mind the bus? Bailey is always an option.

But most importantly, remember that this is one year of your college experience and your life. You might make the right decision, and you might not, but either way you’ll be a student at the U, and that’s about as good as it gets. Dorms are never going to be the height of living, but you’ll get through it, and your future housing will only get better from here.


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