Priya Desai 9 min read 12th Grade, Campus Life

UCLA Dorms: What They’re Like from a Former Student

The University of California, Los Angeles is a public institution located in sunny Southern California. The school is known for its highly ranked academics, beautiful campus, and vibrant social life. With both the largest student body and one of the smallest campuses in the UC system, you might be wondering how everyone manages to fit on campus! An underrated, but essential, part of UCLA’s student experience is housing. With multiple dorm options, off-campus apartments, and exquisite dining, there’s a lot to discuss when it comes to living options, so let’s get right into it! 

 

I recently graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology. I lived on-campus for three years, in three different housing types. I’m very excited to give you the inside scoop on UCLA’s dorm life! 

 

UCLA College Dorms: An Overview

 

While most first-years live in the on-campus dorms, collectively referred to as the Hill, they are not required to do so. Living in the apartments or commuting are also feasible housing options. After their first two years, people usually move off-campus into UCLA-affiliated or non-affiliated apartments for their remaining years. This is because off-campus housing is usually much cheaper. 

 

On campus, there are multiple types of dorms, each with their own setup. The various types are classics, deluxes, plazas, and suites. Most people are in triples, although doubles and singles are also available. Triples consist of a bunk bed, and one lofted bed with a desk and closet underneath. Doubles consist of two beds that are on the floor but can be adjusted to provide more under-bed storage as needed. 

 

Most dorms come with drawers or storage in the form of cabinets or closets. For each bed, there is a desk either next to or under it. These desks usually have storage in the form of cabinets and shelving. They also come with a wooden chair, so you might want to bring a cushion from home! There is also at least one central light in each dorm. These are energy-saving, meaning they are a bit on the dimmer side and turn off if motion is not detected for about half an hour. It can make for a fun, spontaneous study break — my roommate and I had many late night study sessions where we had to wave our arms wildly because our lights would turn off every thirty minutes!

 

UCLA also has LLCs, or Living Learning Communities — these are themed dorm floors, usually in the Halls, designated for students with similar interests. Some floors are cultural in nature, such as Afrikan Diaspora and Pilipinx. Others are centered around shared interests, such as Sustainability and Creative Collective. These are a great option for those who have some idea of the community they wish to seek out in college, as many of the resources you might want are already integrated into the floor’s programming. For example, the Global Health floor residents receive free CPR certification training. The First To Go floor has the Mentorsh1p program, where first-generation students are paired with a faculty member who was also the first to go to college in their family. 

 

Types of Dorms at UCLA

 

Classics – The first type of dorm are classics, which are found in Dykstra Hall, Sproul Hall, Rieber Hall, and Hedrick Hall. Classic dorms are the cheapest, but also the smallest dorm option. They have no adjustable air conditioning unit and have communal bathrooms, one for males and for females, although anyone who lives on the floor can go in either. These bathrooms get cleaned at least once per day. Classics are a great option for freshmen who love to be social. Since the rooms are so small, people are often roaming the hallways or study lounges and are looking to meet new people. As a result, these floors are usually more tight-knit. 

 

Deluxes – Deluxes are found in Sproul Cove, Sproul Landing, and De Neve Gardenia and Holly. These are usually the most sought-after dorms because they are the “perfect” middle between classics and the more expensive plazas and suites. Deluxe dorms are larger than classics and have in-unit air conditioning. Like classics, they have communal bathrooms that are cleaned daily, but deluxe communal bathrooms are slightly larger and there are fewer people per floor, so these are usually cleaner in general.

 

Plazas – Next up are plazas, which can be found in Sunset Village, Rieber Vista, Rieber Terrace, Hedrick Summit, and the De Neve buildings (except for Holly). Plazas are roughly the size of deluxes, but usually have some sort of hallway or additional storage space, so they can feel slightly larger. They come in two variations: private bathroom and shared bathroom, which are cleaned by staff once a week. The private bathroom contains a shower, toilet, and sink and is inside of the room, only accessible to the room’s residents. The shared bathroom is in between two dorms and is shared by four to six people. The shared bathroom contains two sinks, a shower area with a closing door, and a separate toilet that also has a door. Many people think the private bathroom option is superior because fewer people share it, but I personally prefer the shared bathroom. Not only is it cheaper, but it is much larger, and can comfortably fit four people in the bathroom at one time. Also, the plazas are less social in general due to their setup, but I know people who have met their closest friends just from sharing the bathroom! 

 

Suites – Suites can be found in Saxon and Hitch; these two clusters are unique in that they are more secluded from the rest of the Hill. They are similar to apartments and simultaneously have an outdoorsy vibe meshed with a futuristic feel. Suites have a common “living” room area, which is shared by two bedrooms that each have their own bathroom. Saxon is replete with unique inclusions, such as a patio with grills and a transparent skyway between two buildings. Hitch also has a large common space which includes the Hitchen, a fully furnished kitchen where students can join a cooking class or book a time slot to bake with friends.

 

Singles – Singles are probably the least common dorming style and can be found at the ends of the hallways in most residence halls. They come with a bed, a desk, and some sort of storage cabinet or closet. There are singles where all five singles share a bathroom, and there are some that have private bathrooms as well. Singles usually have their own common areas and lounges, so you still have the chance to interact with others in your living space! Resident advisors also have singles that are integrated with the floor, rather than secluded. Resident advisors are older students who put on floor events and ensure resident satisfaction and safety. Being a resident advisor is a great option for upperclassmen who still want to live on the Hill, and it comes with free housing and a meal plan. 

 

Accessibility

 

There are several ways to make housing more accessible on the Hill. There are rooms with accommodations such as lowered peepholes, sit-down shower options, and doorbells that flash in addition to ringing. There are also special buttons in some elevators that you can gain access to in order to allow you to go around the Hill without climbing stairs. There is also a process through which you can apply to bring your service or emotional support animal to the dorms. 

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Best and Worst Dorms at UCLA

 

The best dorms at UCLA are probably the deluxes in Sproul Cove and Landing. This is because they have air conditioning, space, and storage without the steep price increase that comes with living in a plaza or suite. These two are also situated in a prime spot that is fairly close to campus and fairly central on the Hill as well. These two dorms are close to multiple campus eateries such as Bruin Plate, Bruin Cafe, Cafe 1919, and the Hilltop Store, which is an on-campus store that has dorm essentials.

 

The next best dorms at UCLA are probably the Rieber Terrace and Rieber Vista plazas. Most of these have shared bathrooms and have spacious storage and ample room. If you get lucky, you might have a good view of the line at Rendezvous, a popular eatery in Rieber Plaza. In terms of location, they are pretty central on the Hill, but you do have to climb the notorious Death Steps to get to and from campus. 

 

Although none of UCLA’s housing options are actually terrible, the classics can feel pretty congested, particularly Dykstra, Rieber, and Hedrick Hall. These are mainly freshman dorms and the bathrooms can become dirty easily, especially during weekends. The lack of air conditioning and space can feel claustrophobic at times, although there are ample study spaces on the first floor of these buildings, as well as in their communal lounges. Rieber Hall is also close to Feast, a dine-in location, and the greasy smell of food can waft into your dorm if you face the wrong direction. 

 

Another particularly poor option for your first year could be Saxon or Hitch. Not only are these dorms secluded from campus and the rest of the Hill, but they are also isolated in that they are composed of separate buildings, making it hard to meet your neighbors. These locations are also far from any Hill eateries, meaning it could take you ten minutes door-to-door just to get a snack from The Study. Sunset Village also gets lots of complaints about isolation; each “house” only has a few dorms arranged in a circular format, compared to halls, which can contain fifty or more dorms in a row. 

 

However, every dorm floor is unique, so wherever you end up, there’s bound to be a special set of perks. Don’t take these reviews at face value; individual factors like roommates, floormates, and Resident Advisors will all coalesce to produce your floor’s unique dynamic.

 

Housing Selection at UCLA

 

Students can roughly decide their housing situation after they are accepted. You enter a lottery system where you rank all of your housing preferences as well as how many roommates you’d like. UCLA mainly has triples available to freshmen, so keep that in mind when you’re ordering your preferences.

 

Priority housing is given to athletes, Regent scholars, and students with disabilities. Once you live on campus, you can work on the Hill in one of the residence halls, such as at the front desk. This also gives you housing priority, leading to an advantage when you choose your dorm sophomore year. 

 

In terms of roommates, most people go random, meaning they leave it up to UCLA to pair them with others. Before you choose housing, there is a survey with under ten questions that asks you about your living preferences. This includes questions about your sleeping and studying habits, as well as lifestyle questions like drinking and smoking. Personally, I did not find this survey thorough at all, as there was very little that had to do with compatibility on a personal level. 

 

Another roommate selection option is through social media! When I first got accepted to UCLA, I joined a Facebook group with recent admits where people posted their pictures and a brief description about themselves and their interests. This is a great way to get to know people and make friends before you even set foot on campus. My freshman year roommates and I actually found each other through this group, and we are still close friends to this day!

 

My Dorm Experience at UCLA

 

I personally really enjoyed my living situation at UCLA, and I would easily rate my experience a 9 out of 10! The only real issue I had was that the Hill is on an incline and it can be pretty difficult to walk around it, not to mention to and from campus. I lived in Hedrick Summit my first year, in a triple plaza. Plazas have a reputation for being less interactive, but my floor had a lot of freshmen, so it was still pretty social! My second year, I lived in Sproul Cove in a triple deluxe. This central location was much more ideal and I could much more easily go to the gym or my favorite dining hall, BPlate. Although most people live off of the Hill after two years, my roommate and I loved it so much that we decided to stay. Our third year, we lived in Sproul Hall in a classic double. Classics can get cramped with three people, but with two, we had so much room and storage. 

 

Apart from the dorms, the Hill is a great place to live. There are four dine-in restaurants and four takeout places, each with their own theme. They all have great options for people with dietary restrictions; as a vegetarian, I always had a tasty variation of options to choose from! There are also plenty of great study spots. Each residence hall floor has at least one lounge area furnished with desks, couches, and chairs, and there are also reservable study areas of varying sizes on the first floor of many buildings. 

 

The residential staff also keeps the Hill active with various hall-wide and Hill-wide events. Every year, there are events such as an annual haunted house, sustainability fairs, film screenings, and paint nights. During finals, Hill residents can pick up free snacks, beverages, test booklets, scantrons, and other goodies to help them get through the week. These activities are all free for students and were some of my favorite on-campus events to attend with my friends. 

 

Whether you’re grabbing an early morning bagel from the Study or having a late night study session in De Neve Dungeons, there is always something fun to do on the Hill. Living on UCLA’s campus was one of my favorite parts of college, and if you choose to attend this institution, I’m sure it’ll be one of yours too!

 

You may also like these posts:

How I Got Into UCLA

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Priya Desai
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Priya has been working at CollegeVine for two years in various capacities, including mentoring students, editing hundreds of essays, and creating blog content. She has also interned in healthcare consulting. She is extremely grateful for all the help she received as an applicant and wants to pay it forward by demystifying the admissions process for others.