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Dartmouth Dorms: What They’re Like from a Current Student

Dorms at Dartmouth vary widely in terms of size, layout, and room type, which means that no two students have the same experience in campus housing. However, because Hanover is a rural town and nearly all the dorms are located close to the center of campus, Dartmouth housing provides students with a community-based living experience that begins as soon as they arrive.


My name is Adrian, and I’m a current senior (or ‘21, we go by our class year) at Dartmouth studying philosophy and neuroscience. In this post, I’ll be sharing information about what housing is like at Dartmouth!


Dartmouth Dorms: An Overview


Dartmouth’s housing policy requires all first years to live on campus, although there are exceptions for students who have children or long-term partners. In general, however, most people choose to live on campus not only freshman year, but throughout their time at Dartmouth. 


While some students do choose to live off campus for a more comfortable, flexible living situation, Hanover is a small town and doesn’t have a lot of houses or apartments available to rent. There are neighboring towns with more housing options, but these areas are more disconnected from campus life and thus not particularly popular. Generally, people are happy with the community they find on campus, and on-campus housing is more convenient for accessing the dining halls, library, and academic buildings. 


When you receive your housing assignment freshman year, you are also sorted into a housing community. The six houses are Allen, East Wheelock, North Park, School, South, and West. Each dorm building is assigned to a particular house, and you are only able to live in dorms that are part of your house. Housing fees are the same across all six houses. Below is a table showing which dorms are in which houses:


House Dorms within the House
Allen Gile, Streeter, Lord, Wheeler (all first years), Richardson (all first years)
East Wheelock Andres, Zimmerman (half freshmen), McCulloch (half freshmen), Morton (half freshmen)
North Park Ripley, Woodward, Smith, Brown (all freshmen)
School Massachusetts Row (Mass Row), Hitchcock, Bissell (all freshmen), Cohen (all freshmen), Little (all freshmen)
South Topliff, New Hampshire, the Lodge, North Fayerweather (North Fay, all freshmen), Mid Fay (all freshmen), South Fay (all freshmen)
West Fahey, McLane, Butterfield, Russell Sage, French (all freshmen), Judge (all freshmen)


All the houses offer accessible and substance-free options, which you can indicate interest in when you fill out your housing application. The types of rooms vary widely across the houses, however. Just about every kind of room can be found somewhere on campus: four-person suites, two-room triples, two-room doubles, one-room doubles, and singles. Which rooms you’ll have access to depends on your house, but the majority of rooms are some sort of double. There are some apartments on campus as well, but these are always taken by seniors.


Dartmouth also gives students the option to live in a Living Learning Community, or LLC. LLCs are centered on a particular topic, for example entrepreneurship or Italian language and culture. Students who live in LLCs will have group discussions, events, and sometimes assignments related to their LLC’s theme.


What you’ll find in your room varies slightly—for example, some rooms have more furniture for storing clothes than others—but in general you can expect a bed, a mattress, a desk, a chair, and at least one dresser or closet.


Freshman Dorms at Dartmouth


As a freshman, you can live in one of fourteen dorms, also listed in the house table above:


Wheeler Cohen
Richardson Little
McCulloch North Fayerweather (North Fay)
Morton Mid Fay
Zimmerman South Fay
Brown French 
Bissell Judge


Some of these dorms, like the Fays, are all freshmen, while others, like Zimmerman, have some floors for freshmen, and others for upperclassmen. If you are living in an LLC, you will live in a separate dorm cluster called McLaughlin.


All freshman dorms are within ten minutes of the center of campus, although French and Judge are the most removed. The other dorms’ locations all have advantages and disadvantages. For example, Zimmerman is close to the gym but far from the dining halls, while Cohen is close to the library but far from some of the academic buildings.


Most freshman dorms have shared bathrooms on each floor, although some rooms have private bathrooms. For example, some rooms in Wheeler have private half-bathrooms—just a toilet and sink—while every room in Zimmerman has a full private bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. The room sizes also vary widely across different dorms. McCulloch, Morton, and Zimmerman all have relatively spacious rooms, while most of the other freshmen dorms have smaller, more traditional college dorm rooms.


When you fill out your housing application the summer before you arrive on campus, you are not able to choose a roommate, but you can request the number of roommates you would like to have: 0, 1, 2, or 3. There are very few singles available to freshmen, but if you do have some say in how many other people you live with. Dartmouth does not guarantee that you will receive the number of roommates you requested, however.


I may be partial because I lived in Zimmerman my freshman year, but I think it’s the best freshman dorm. The rooms are large, and nearly everyone lives in a two-room double or a four-person suite, so you’re almost guaranteed to have your own space. You also don’t have to share your bathroom with anyone but your roommate(s), so you don’t need to worry about waiting for the shower. It is located somewhat far from the center of campus, but it’s only a ten-minute walk, and I like being close to the gym.


People also tend to enjoy living in the Fays, which are three separate buildings joined in the basement and by outdoor walkways. Because the Fays are all freshmen, the freshman social scene is often centered on the Fays and you get to meet a lot of people. You are also close to many of the academic buildings, so it won’t take you long to walk to class.


On the other end of the spectrum, French and Judge are the farthest from the center of campus, so some people feel somewhat isolated living there, particularly during the winter. The rooms are also very small, although there are some odd room set-ups like three-room doubles, where you’ll have an incredibly small room to sleep and then a larger common room to share with a roommate. On the bright side, these dorms are also all freshmen, and people who live in them often form strong bonds with each other.


Brown, Bissell, Cohen, and Little also form a cluster called the Choates. The rooms in these dorms are generally viewed as the worst on campus. They’re cramped, and sometimes have problems with the heaters being loud or not working. But the Choates do have a very central location, as you’re hardly ever more than a five minute walk from something.

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Best and Worst Dorms at Dartmouth


For upperclassmen, the dorms are:


Gile Hitchcock
Streeter Topliff
Lord New Hampshire
Andres The Lodge
Ripley Fahey
Woodward McLane
Smith Butterfield
Massachusetts Row (Mass Row) Russell Sage


From the freshman dorm list, some upperclassmen also live in McCulloch, Morton, and Zimmerman.


Fahey and McClane are joined, and are two of the best dorms for upperclassmen to live in. They are centrally located, and most of the rooms are either singles, two-room doubles, or suites, so you’re guaranteed at least some privacy. Seniors and some juniors typically take the rooms in these dorms.


Andres is also a good dorm to live in as an upperclassman. It has the exact same floor plan as Zimmerman, so each room or set of rooms has its own bathroom, and even if you have roommates you will likely still have your own space.


On the other end of the spectrum, although Mass Row has a great location, the rooms themselves are incredibly small. You are also sharing just a couple of washing machines with a couple hundred other students, so doing laundry can be a challenge.


Topliff is also not a great place to live. It’s the largest dorm on campus, so common areas—including bathrooms—often aren’t particularly clean, and you have to compete with a lot of people for showers and laundry. There are some singles in Topliff, but most people live in small one-room doubles.


Housing Selection at Dartmouth


Housing selection for the fall term happens at the end of the previous spring. Everyone receives a housing number, with the first group of numbers being given to seniors, then juniors, then sophomores (the freshman process happens separately). So, every senior has a better number than every junior. This number determines when you will select your room, so seniors typically have better rooms than juniors, who have better rooms than sophomores.


You are then assigned a date and time to select your room. You can only choose rooms in dorms that are part of your house, and you obviously can’t pick a room that someone else has already chosen. If you would like to live with a roommate or roommates, you indicate that on an online form, and in that case, you can use whoever’s number is higher. Your roommates must also be in your house.


If you won’t be on campus in the fall (if, for example, you are doing a study abroad program), you will receive winter housing information at the end of the fall. This process works differently—you fill out a short online form and then Residential Life assigns you a room from the ones that are vacant. The same process is used in the winter to assign spring housing.


My Dorm Experience at Dartmouth


Overall, I was very happy with my experience in Dartmouth housing (I say was because, with the pandemic, my time in dorms is likely over). A large part of this was just luck—I was sorted randomly into East Wheelock as a freshman, which includes some of the nicest dorms on campus, so I never dealt with a lot of the classic dorm horror stories.


My freshman year, I lived in a two-room double, and had a great roommate. My sophomore and junior year, I lived in singles that were part of suites, so I shared a bathroom but had my own space. I will say that my experience was highly atypical. Many Dartmouth students have a roommate all four years. Overall, your housing experience is determined in large part by your housing community.


I should also add that housing at Dartmouth is somewhat strange because of our academic calendar. Over 50% of students study abroad, and you are required to take classes during your sophomore summer, so you take a different term off to make up for that summer. 


What this means is that there is constant shuffling in the dorms. You might be in one room in the fall, move out in the winter, and then move into a different room in the spring. Or even if you are in the same room all year, your neighbors will almost definitely change. During the term, I don’t find that this movement impacts my living experience much, but it does mean you will be packing and unpacking your things more often than your friends at other schools.


You may also like these posts:

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Short Bio
Adrian is a current senior at Dartmouth College, originally from Seattle, WA. At Dartmouth, she studies philosophy and neuroscience, and has been involved with research in the philosophy department, sexual assault prevention on campus, and mentorship programs for first year students. She spent her junior fall studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.