Welcome to Happy Valley — where bleeding blue and white is an expectation, where 1 a.m. is considered early and where wearing sweatpants to class is widely accepted. However, there is one crucial element that can further affect a college experience — the decision of where to live.
“I think in general, for better or for worse, students tend to congregate with people who tend to have common interests,” Sociology Department Head John Iceland said.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said she thinks students live together for many reasons, regardless of age.
“We tend to be with people that we relate to,” Goreham said. “Students like to be together because you are going through the same experiences. You have a lot of things in common and you are going through the same part of your life.”
West Halls tends to hold a strong population of engineers. With the engineering program ranked as No. 11 in the world, it’s no wonder that students enthused by chemistry, physics and numbers flock to this part of campus, as previously reported.
McKee Hall, one of the dormitories in West, is home to the Engineering House, or E-House, according to the College of Engineering web site.
McKee consists entirely of engineers looking to make friends outside of the classroom. Beware of the unity and beware of the textbooks.
Another perk of living in West is its location to many academic buildings.
“Living in West is great because of its close proximity to the library,” Zach Jansma (freshman-chemical engineering) said. “Additionally, West is really close to a lot of buildings that hold my classes, so I don’t have to walk far.”
Also, even to students who don’t live there, the phrase “West is the best” applies to the dining facilities in Waring Commons, where the fresh baked cookies melt in the mouth.
For underclassmen, North Halls is not typically their domain.
“A lot of older students are here, and are nice, but most tend to look down at freshman, or don’t want to hang out with them,” Riley Brinkman (freshman-German business) said.
Loaded with lucky upperclassmen, North dormitories have a “suite” life to offer. North is home to students majoring in agricultural sciences, arts and architecture, as well as student athletes.
Students living in North have the luxury of living in suites with private bathrooms, as well as air-conditioning, according to the Penn State housing website. North’s Warnock Commons offers upscale cuisine from time to time, even serving shark meat as one of their entrée options.
East Halls is a world of its own. Home to the largest collection of dorms on campus, a variety of freshmen try to cram into small living quarters.
One of the perks of being a freshman living in East is simply the fact that they are surrounded by other freshmen.
“The best part of East is that I’m living with a bunch of freshman, and it offers a unique freshman experience,” Sarah Schuchman (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said. “I like its close proximity to the blue loop so I can get to places such as the library and Forum building pretty fast.”
Another perk of living in East is indulging in the vast amount of Berkey Creamery ice cream in Findlay Commons.
Also, East is conveniently located near Beaver Stadium, so the walk to football games and tailgates isn’t long.
Home to a figurative melting pot on campus, a range of students reside in Pollock Halls — from freshman to sophomores to sororities.
“Pollock has a lot of athletes and international students, so it’s always a variety of different students,” Angela Connors (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.
A common place to congregate is the ever-popular Pollock Commons, voted best dining commons on campus as of the 2011 online survey, according to a sign on display in the dining hall. With a grab-and-go style, the food at this dining commons is as accessible as it is delicious.
Home of the students involved in the Learning Edge Academic Program in the summer time and Schreyer Honors College students throughout the year, South Halls is considered one of the most convenient locations on campus because of its proximity to downtown — and favorite late-night jaunts like McDonald’s, 2821 East College Ave.
This year, however, South residents have to also deal with a vast amount of construction work.
“Although the construction noise is annoying, in about one or two years, it will be one of the best residential areas on campus,” Kyle Snowberger (freshman-chemical engineering) said.
In the Schreyer domain, the buildings tend to have large, desirable rooms and better amenities like spacious study lounges.
Also home to sororities, South Halls have a large population of different types of students, ranging from honors students to those participating in greek life.
Redifer Commons, home of the popular “Late Night” buffet, or fourth meal, is sure to please students’ cravings after hours, serving breakfast foods and other food like hot wings until 1 a.m., according to the food services website.
Atherton and Park Avenue
More than walking distance from campus, housing past Atherton Street is home to students looking for a getaway from the lively atmosphere that campus and downtown offer.
“The worst part of living past Atherton is having classes in Thomas, and the best part is that everyone is friendlier on West College,” Julie Graham (junior-biobehavioral health) said.
Housing past Atherton Street is a mix of two different levels of houses and apartments.
Houses far from campus offer a homier vibe, which could be considered a step up from apartment living. One the flip side, the apartment complexes offer many amenities, as previously reported.
The area surrounding Fraternity Row is more than just fraternity houses, also including a mix of student housing and non-student State College Borough residents.
“Personally, I think it’s the best place to live in college,” Phi Kappa Sigma member Jim Mastroni (sophomore-English) said. “Who wouldn’t want to live in a mansion with their best friends?”
Sometimes referred to as “Fratland,” the area is home to a variety of Penn State fraternities, as well as other residential housing.
Beaver Canyon is a collective area of several apartment complexes surrounding Canyon Pizza, a popular stop for a late night craving.
Famous for their dollar slices, Canyon Pizza is a go-to place for a late-night snack for any student who may be drifting from complex to complex on the weekends.
“The best part is being close to everything, and you are near all of the restaurants,” Michael Barton (sophomore-civil engineering) said. “It does get a little bit noisy because there are so many kids out at one time, but I would definitely rather live there over anywhere else.”
Accessible primarily by car, bus or bike, students who live in apartments on Vairo Boulevard can rely on the CATA bus as their essential form of transportation to and from their classes.
“My favorite aspects are the convenient locale, being close to Wal-Mart and other important areas, and also the relative seclusion,” John McGrogan (sophomore-secondary education for English and communications) said.
While they might be farther away from the center of campus, these students find themselves closer to businesses and shopping centers on Vairo Boulevard when it comes time to stock up on the essentials.
University Terrace offers many amenities for students to use to de-stress from classes and exams.
Resident Luke Patterson (senior-economics) said he enjoyed the seclusion that University Terrace offers.
“There’s a ton of space, a nice setting away downtown but close enough, and a bus pass for a bus that is rarely crowded,” Patterson said. “You can have guests park on the street over weekends, and have access to a pool, gym and volleyball court.”
These apartments — located conveniently near the Pollock Commons, the Nittany Community Center, the swimming pool and tennis court areas — are highly desirable for many students.
These suites come with two- or four-bedroom garden apartments and four-bedroom townhouse apartments, according to the Penn State housing website. Living here is like winning the lottery — really rare.
“I’m a sophomore, and I can’t believe I got in,” Anna Dubiansky (sophomore-marketing) said. “It’s a fun atmosphere, I love it. Plus, I get to see all of the athletes that live here.”