The dorms are very varied. For freshman year, all the students live on North Campus, which is a collection of different freshmen dorms. I was in a new one that was built only a few years ago, Mews Hall, and that was really nice. Court-Kay-Bauer was built around the same time. I believe that they are all 3 doubles to a single in room ratio, and have nice study rooms and hang out areas. However, there are a ton of other freshman dorms, most of which I've never been in. Balch Hall is the only all girls one. It looks cool from outside and each room has a tiny bathroom shared with the room next door, though the building is a little old. Dickson is mostly singles; Risley is for artistic people. As you can tell, I'm not very helpful on dorms other than my own, but I can tell you that living on North is pretty awesome. I'd just read the Wikipedia page on North to get a general idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornell_North_Campus. It doesn't really matter anyway, most of the time you just get assigned a dorm. The most important thing is is deciding whether you want a single or double etc. I'm personally against singles for many people because some people end up sitting in their rooms alone if they don't have social skills. I have heard that you have a better chance of getting a new dorm if you have allergies, since they have less allergens.
Dorms are generally good at Cornell, but it depends on where you are. For freshman, everyone lives on North Campus, which is a great plus for coordinating things with your new friends, seeing other freshman at the North Campus dining halls, and generally having a sense that everyone around you is going through the same stuff. I have a single in a Suite setup, where there is a small hall way with 2 singles, a double and a triple, and everyone shares a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and two sinks. There are 6 suites per floor, along with a large commons room and a kitchen. My dorm is not typical, however, and most students live in doubles. As a sophomore, you get the opportunity to enter a lottery for on campus housing (if you choose not to go off campus/frat/sorority house) in the West Campus housing system. These are all very nice dorms set up in mostly singles and doubles, and are the most coveted on campus housing at Cornell. By junior and senior year, most students live off campus in Collegetown houses or apartments.
All Freshmen live on North Campus. The dorms include Donlon Hall (often considered the most social bc approximately 100 students live on each floor), Court-Kay-Bauer Hall (a recently built, hotel-esque dorm), Mews (similar to Court-Kay-Bauer), Jameson Hall, Dixon Hall, and Balch Hall (which is an all girls dorm).
All of the freshmen are housed on North Campus. There are a lot of different buildings, and they seem to each have their reputation. You have Court-Kay-Bauer and Mews which are the newest. They have air conditioning, which is pretty amazing. Donlon's the social dorm, the low rises are a bit more secluded at the back of North Campus, Dickson's a lot of fun with a lot of single rooms, Balch is beautiful from the outside and some of the rooms are really big, even though it's the all-girl's dorm. Everyone who I talk to seems super happy with where they were put. I was worried about housing before living at Cornell, but it's worked out perfectly so far. Then there's West Campus, where the upperclassmen can get housing if they want to. (Upperclassmen either live on West or in Collegetown in apartments and houses.) It's widely known that the best buffet-style food is served on West. Seriously, it's delicious. Unfortunately I don't know much about the individual buildings of West, but a lot of them are pretty new and they seem fairly nice.
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