Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Dorming and Dining

What it's like to live and eat and Princeton

Two of my very favorite things are a good night of sleep and delicious food. So, if you're anything like me, you may be wondering about where you might live and what you might eat as a Princeton Tiger! I’ve just chosen my housing on campus for the spring -- after a semester abroad, so I’ve been thinking a lot about dorms and meal plans lately. I thought that I’d provide a current student’s explanation about what choices there are for these two aspects of life at Princeton.

First of all, all freshmen and sophomores live in a “residential college,” which is a fancy term a dorm community on campus. We have six: Butler, Forbes, Mathey, Rocky, Whitman and Wilson. Each residential college has its own advising office, which provides academic support and hosts study breaks. The res college is also home to your primary dining hall, and each offer unique trips for their students like Broadway shows and operas in New York City. Living in a residential college essentially means that you are put into a smaller community at first, so when you arrive at Princeton, you already have a home base. It makes it a lot easier to make friends and connect with others!

A fun perk about living at Princeton is that if you live in Rocky, Mathey, or Whitman (three of the residential colleges), you might just find yourself living in a castle to start off your college experience!

From day one, you will find out that your residential college loves giving out tons of free clothing and accessories to show off your college pride (my loyalty remains with Butler!), and you’ll also quickly learn that it’s a great source of academic advice anytime that you have a question. For instance, I just recently reached out to my dean and director of studies in Butler for guidance for selecting courses even now as an upperclassman. My residential college continues to provide an incredible support system.

In terms of everyday living, the residential colleges have a range of room types: singles, doubles, triples and quads. Although you stay in your same residential college for your first two years, you can indeed switch room types; for example, I lived in a quad in Butler my freshman year and then moved to a single in Butler down the hall from one of my best friends for my sophomore year. Both were great experiences!

I absolutely loved my single in Butler during my sophomore year. It was so spacious and had a great view!

In terms of dining, all freshman and sophomores must have a meal plan through Princeton, but you can pick different sized plans based on how many meals you want to eat at the dining hall each week. Also, Princeton has five dining halls: Butler/Wilson, Mathey/Rocky, Whitman, Forbes, and the Center for Jewish Life, which offers kosher meals daily. You can use your meal plan at any of these dining halls. Plus, Frist Campus Center has a food gallery. This means that you are certain to find something that you want to eat every day!

As an junior or senior, you have more living and dining options. In terms of housing, you can move out of your residential college and into a different dorm building that isn’t specific to any one residential college … or you can stick with your college! Non-residential college housing for upperclassmen also has the same various room options, from singles to quads. One important note is that if you stay in the residential college, you have to stay on a meal plan. But if you move out, you can a) keep a traditional meal plan, b) join an eating club (a dining option that doubles as a social community for upperclassmen), c) cook entirely for yourself (go “independent”), or d) join a co-op. You can read Avaneesh’s blog about his vegetarian co-op, 2D, here.

Although I had a meal plan last year, I really enjoyed cooking some of my favorites on my own from time to time!

It may sound a bit overwhelming, but once you have been at Princeton for two years, you will definitely know what kind of residential and dining experience you want for your last two years. And you are certainly taken care of from the start in your home residential college. It's also helpful to know that Princeton has free buses that run from campus to the main grocery stores nearby each Saturday, including Walmart, Target, Wegman's, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. Also, most dorm buildings (both in the residential colleges and in the upperclass dorm buildings) have kitchens so that you can always cook freely -- even if it's just cookies with your friends at night, which is always a fun idea!

Well, I hope that this blog shows that you can select from several options of housing and dining to satisfy your specific desires. When I get to campus in January, I'll be moving into the Edwards Collective in Mathey College. I am looking forward to my new adventure there this spring semester!