The dorms here are really warm and welcoming places, especially for a freshman. And I don't mean that in terms of appearance, because they look just the way you would expect college dorms to look - rather bland. But freshman year everyone is so excited about starting college and making ne friends that doors are always open and you can just poke your head in to chat and introduce yourself. The dorms themselves are very basic, but you have everything you need. They come with a mini fridge, a microwave, and a power strip which is really helpful. The desks are pretty manageable and while the beds most likely aren't the most comfortable ones, you can add padding! Communal showers are also a new experience that you'll have fun getting used to but before you know it you'll be rather fond of your shower shoes...!
At USC, dorms are typically reserved for freshmen. Each dorm has a distinct vibe based on its set-up and the students that tend to pick it. Here's the lowdown on some of USC's most popular residential colleges:
Birnkrant: With the motto, "Eight floors of open doors," Birnkrant is known for its tight-knit community. As of 2011-2012, students must be on an academic scholarship or enrolled in the Thematic Option Honors Program to reside here. Rooms are "cozy" and predominantly doubles, with a few singles and triples thrown in. (These triples are a well-kept secret -- they have a living room of sorts, a luxury very few freshmen have.) Gender-specific bathrooms are communal and floors are coed. Located on McCarthy Quad. A 24-hour convenience store, Trojan Grounds (TroGro) is located on the first floor.
New-North: Widely regarded as the most social (read: party dorm) residential college at USC, New-North is a popular choice with students who are looking to go greek. It's often loud, so many residents make use of Leavey library when they need to hit the books, just a couple hundred feet away. Features a cinema floor, and some rooms have sinks. Also located on McCarthy Quad.
Parkside Arts & Humanities/International Res. Colleges: These recently constructed suite-style dorms are fresh and air-conditioned. They feature the best dining hall on campus, but are isolated from any other freshman housing. There are study rooms, TV lounges, billiards, and a gym. Popular with GDIs, as anti-greeks often call themselves.
Fluor Tower: Fluor rooms are a cross between a suite and an apartment - a small kitchenette in each unit lessens the blow that dining halls are a trek away. Features many special interest floors and is quite popular with athletes because of its proximity to the Lyon Center Gym.
Pardee: Pardee is kind of like Birnkrant Light. Rooms are similar, but are located on single sex floors. Also on McCarthy Quad, Pardee is close to the beautiful Doheny Library and student-run coffeehouse Ground Zero, a great locale for studying, board games, open mic nights, and the best milkshakes in LA.
I'm currently staying in the International Residential College, or IRC, and I can say that it is the best dorm you can ever have. Air-conditioning and a carpet floor are just the basics. It is new, the lift is large, the stairs are bright (they have windows that stretch from the ceiling to the floor), and the bathroom is fantastic. (it is spacious and the water is hot when it should be) You get wooden furniture, and a rocking chair! There are also a range of facilities from treadmills to piano rooms, and you will be pampered. To be honest, my room was the first thing that I missed when I went back home for the winter break.
The dorms are all pretty nice and far ahead most of the other schools I considered on the East coast (George Washington University, Georgetown, Cornell). Living with friends is very convenient through the matching system and it is easy to live with a friend, who is also attending the school even by your freshman year. The RAs are very helpful students, who go through a very rigorous screening system. They know how to have fun themselves and make a priority the experience of every single student for whom they're responsible. I lived in the Radisson, as in the hotel, which has become partially a freshman dormitory with floors 3-6 housing students only.
Basically only freshman live in the dorms at USC, and compared to all my friends at other schools I think they are pretty nice. The triples in Birnkrant (the honors dorm) are particular spacious, but I have not heard very many complaints about any of the dorms. Each dorm is known for having its own personality. For example, New/North is known as the party dorm while Parkside Apartments are sometimes called the "Dark Side" because they have less of a social life (although they are very nice because they are newer, suite-style, and have air conditioning). Birnkrant is known for having a mix of social life and academics, etc. Feel free to ask me more about this if you decide to book a session!
Tiffany gives us a tour of a freshman dorm room.
A short tour of a 2 bedroom 2 bath off-campus apartment unit.
tour of a 2 bedroom 2 bath off-campus apartment unit that's more cost effective and spacious than on-campus housing.
Quick walk-through of Trojan Hall, my dorm Freshman year.
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