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MIT student blogger Chris M. '12

A Sorting Hat of Sorts by Chris M. '12

Where you live may be one of the most important parts of your time here at school


Ahh summer. The fresh air. The copious amounts of free time (HA!). The Temporary Housing Assignments.

Hard to believe that it was years ago I received my temporary housing assignment (Simmons), and since being at school I’ve lived in many different parts of the housing system (West Campus, East Campus, Off-Campus). And from those experiences I think it’s worth saying that for me at least, where you choose to live can be hugely important for your health and happiness, as well as your academic success.

Thankfully the MIT Housing system is designed to give everyone the best chance at being put where they’re happiest. Of course no system is perfect and there are no guarantees, but it’s flexible enough that most people can end up where they want to be.

It all starts with your temporary housing, which actually means practically nothing. It’s mostly just a place to put bodies while all the freshmen go out and experience REX (Residence Exploration). REX is where each of the dorms pulls out all the stops that they can to try and showcase their culture and the people who live there so that the freshman can get the best idea of where they want to live. At the end of REX, you can enter the readjustment lottery, where you can re-rank the dorms you’d like to live in. Maybe REX changed your ideas, maybe they didn’t. But the readjustment lottery tries really hard to maximize everyone’s preferences through some fancy algorithms and voodoo. I seem to remember that most people get their first or second choice for where they want to live.

The key to the whole party though, is to pick a place you feel most connected to the people in. I can’t stress that enough. A lot of times, I see students getting charmed by beautiful buildings, nice facilities, bigger rooms, more singles etc (myself included). But none of those things matter if you don’t like the people you’re living with. Thankfully, with such a wide number of Dorms and FSILGs (more on that in a minute) you’re bound to find a group of people with whom you connect.

It would be impossible to categorize each dorm concisely and completely, so I’ll give you my impressions (that’s my blog is for after all right?). Your mileage may vary. Without further adieu, here’s my insultingly shallow and biased descriptions of the dorms, each in 144 char. or less! #twitteristakingover :

WEST CAMPUS: Many newer dorms. Same side as the student center. Generally considered more “tame” than East Campus.

–Baker: Largely athletic and “social”. Lots of “normal” college kids. Extremely popular choice among freshmen.

–Simmons: New and modern. Unestablished culture and quiet. Lots of nice things, but a bit far from campus and other dorms. Has a Puerto Rican floor.

–McCormick: All women. Former hotel. Don’t know much since I’m not a woman, but seems to house many international students.

–Next House: I always confuse Next and New. I don’t actually know much I can in conscience say about it. Near the end of dorm row. Everyone I know from Next is Asian, but that’s not statistically significant.

MacGregor: Very tall. Has a convenience store which is, well, convenient. For a long time I thought this was a men’s only dorm, but that’s not true.

–New House:  Has several “international floors” including a french floor, a spanish floor, and an African-American floor known as Chocolate City.

–Burton-Conner: A curious number of bloggers have lived in Burton-Conner. In my admittedly limited experience, the most “east” of the “west” dorms. Has a jewish floor.

Maseeh Hall: Brand-Spanking-New. Choice location next to campus. No experiences to speak of, since this will be the first year it’s open!

EAST CAMPUS: Older side of campus, with lots of heritage and very unique cultures. 

–East Campus (EC): Truth be told, probably my favorite dorm. Large number of nerds. Lots of Course VI majors. They build a rollercoaster in their courtyard every year, and they’re super close to most classrooms you’ll frequent.

Senior House (Haus): Non-house residents shouldn’t spell it like “Haus”. The oldest dorm on campus. Very accepting of alternative lifestyles. Residents of Senior House seem to have a really strong bond with the place and the other residents. They throw a big party called “Steer Roast” in the spring.

Random House: Not near the other East Campus dorms, but more or less aligned culturally. Lots of kids who love deeply nerdy things like LARPing and RPGs. (The games, not the weapons). Their isolation relative to campus tends to make them a tight knit bunch.


??? Campus:

–Bexley: Bexley is crazy. ‘Nuff said. Primo-location for campus.


Of course, your experiences will vary greatly from mine, but the most important thing is that you find a place you like to live. Living near people you like and get along with has, for me, made studying easier, and life better. MIT is hard, and having people you care about and who care about you goes a long way in helping you get through it.

More questions about dorms? Ask away in the comments!

7 responses to “A Sorting Hat of Sorts”

  1. (Wow a Russian spammer got past the Captcha…)

    I think such inclined people conduct experiments in their rooms. Maybe set off some fire alarms in the process. Although mostly that occurrence would be due to lack of cooking skills.

    Most of the dorms have weight rooms. Not sure about Senior House or Bexley. I would think that the newest dorm would have one.

    I recall some EC and BC people are into robotics. But don’t think there’s one dorm that specializes. Similarly with overclocking i7’s. Using liquid helium is gonna blow out the power grid of Cambridge. tongue laugh

    You’re treated like every other undergrad, regardless of your maturity level.

  2. James says:

    I guess this is your opinion from experiences…

    Do all the dorms have mini labs where we can conduct experiments? And of course a gym for bodybuilding etc?

    Are there any dorms that specialise in robotics, like autonomous vehicles?

    How about a dorm where overclocking i7’s with lequid helium is a hobby?

    Yeah, those are my interests lol. MIT is awesome, hope I get in.

    Oh yes, I’m 15. Where do I get put if I am a minor? Disregarding my maturity that is.


  3. kran balka says:

    It’s interesting to find how challenging the content side is for some

  4. James says:

    Thanks for clearing that up!

  5. MIT EC 85 says:

    MacGregor may not be an all-male dorm now, but it was in the past.

  6. Pi^2 says:

    totally had the idea for a sorting hat prank during RUSH a few days before this post. :D

  7. mellesleg fm says:

    Thank you very much for that excellent article