Skip to content

First-Year Residence Halls 101

Moving into a residence hall was one of the things I was most excited about prior to my first year, because I love being in a community and love being surrounded by people. If this does not sound like you, do not worry– introverts and extroverts alike can all have a positive experience living on campus. 

First-year students have the option of living on the first-year quad, which is in the center of campus, or the first-year hill, which are tower-style buildings closer to the edge of campus, near dining halls. Both locations feature similar style living arrangements, with single, double, and some triple rooms, and all first-year options are very close to academic buildings, dining halls, athletic buildings, and convenience stores. 

Within a residence hall, there are a number of upperclassmen committed to making your transition to college as smooth as possible. Resident Advisors (RA) are student leaders who provide resources, support, and various community building opportunities– you have probably heard of these before, since they are standard positions in most universities.

University of Rochester first-year halls also have “D’Lions,” who act as social facilitators, and “First-Year Fellows,” who serve as academic mentors.

Example of a single room, with a view of Rush Rhees Library

My friend Liz Carleton (sophomore) is a First-Year Fellow living in Susan B. Anthony hall, which is on the first-year hill. This is a picture of her single room in this building, though keep in mind, it is likely that in your first year, you will have to share a room, so yours may look a bit larger, with another bed and set of furniture.

Roommates in College

Some people choose to talk to potential roommates on social media before moving in, while others choose to be surprised. I have heard equal levels of success on both ends– it seems like living compatibility is something that can only be accurately assessed by actually living together. This is usually a matter of luck, but there are a few things to consider before moving into a double or triple room with a stranger. 

It is important to establish important conversations ahead of time, to prevent conflict later on. Do you want there to be quiet hours? What time do you wake up? When do you want the lights out? What is the protocol for having friends over? Significant others?

Overall, you do not need to be best friends with your roommate in order to have a positive experience living together. Being neat, clean, courteous, and communicative are the most important things, and being compatible as close friends is a bonus. 

Can I Cook in a First-Year Residence Hall?

Many residence halls are equipped with communal kitchens. While these are functional, and I have used them before, I would not rely on them solely for all of your meals, since there typically is only one kitchen to serve a lot of students. All first-year students are signed up for a campus dining plan, which comes with plenty of options. 

I always recommended bringing in a mini-fridge and microwave, or renting one from the school. This is a good thing to coordinate with your roommate prior to move-in.

Entrance to Danforth Dining Hall, located in Susan B. Anthony Hall

Must Have Items You May Have Forgotten

This is a non-exhaustive list of some items you may not think to bring, but should!

Twin XL sheets for beds: Instead of haphazardly packing the sheets you already have on your bed, keep in mind that the residence hall beds are sized Twin XL. I would bring more than one set, incase of spills or long laundry lines.  

Shower shoes: You are sharing a communal shower with an entire hall of people. You do not want to do that barefoot. Specific shower flops do exist, but ordinary flip flops will also do. 

Shower caddy: Whether you chose a hard case or mesh one, you need something to carry all your essentials to and from the bathroom. Don’t forget to clean it often!

Fan: With the exception of Genesee Hall, first-year buildings are heated but not air conditioned. This typically does not matter because the majority of the year is chilly in Rochester, but the first and last few weeks of the semester can be quite warm.

Headphones: Living communally is fun, but you will have moments when you crave silence. 

Decorations: Campus rooms are not cute until you make them cute! There are poster sales on campus, but it’s also a good idea to bring in personal mementos such as photos to make the place comforting. 

Cleaning supplies: You are responsible for cleaning your own room. Bring in the basic supplies ahead of time.

Medicine: The first time you get sick away from home can be stressful. I like to have a ready-made kit with cough drops, a thermometer, etc., and whatever else you might need, just in case you catch something. 

What to Leave at Home:

Before moving in, read up on fire safety rules and make sure you are not bringing anything that is not permitted. Candles, certain types of lamps, and even large rugs that block entry ways can cause you to fail a fire inspection. 

First-year rooms on any campus are admittedly not the most spacious of living quarters, so I would avoid bringing in anything that takes up excessive room, such as large decorations or furniture. Keep in mind that student housing already comes furnished with a bed, desk, chair, and dresser. If you want to get creative with space, consider lofting your bed for extra storage. 

Another way to be mindful of limited space is to avoid bringing in amenities that already exist on campus. For example, the libraries all have printers, so I would not waste valuable floor space on bringing your own. 

Whether you find the prospect of living in a residence hall to be exciting or anxiety inducing, living with your fellow students is a huge part of campus life. While it may be a big adjustment from living at home, it is well worth it. Living in first-year housing on campus is a crucial and memorable experience because of the friends you will make and the community you will foster!

Return to the top of the page