Right before Orientation started, I walked into my dorm room in Hamilton Hall for the first time. I met the six women I was going to be sharing the bathroom with for the next two semesters. The seven of us come from five different countries and practice three different religions. One of the things I will miss most about HBS when I graduate will be the Sunday morning talks we have regarding life, when we are all still somewhere between being asleep and being awake.
So you have been out in the world for a few years, and now you are headed back to life as a student? One of the big questions that will enter your mind is whether to live in a dorm, live in Soldiers Field Park, or live off-campus.
Living in the dorms has many advantages and can be a great way to spend your first year or both years at HBS.
There are several advantages to living in the dorms. The first and most important is the convenience. First year at HBS is a time-intensive experience and anything that makes life more convenient is greatly appreciated. The most obvious advantage is the proximity to Shad, classes, club meetings and other students. It is approximately a three-minute walk from your bed to your 7:30 a.m. study group meeting at Spangler Center. You can use the tunnels that connect Aldrich to the dorms when it is cold (show up in class in shorts and make non-dorm section mates jealous). Laundry and dry-cleaning are located right in the tunnels. You don’t have to deal with paying electricity and water bills or cleaning your room.
Best of all, each room is wired with high-speed Internet access. Downloading files and course assignments is simple and quick, and you can talk on the phone and surf the web at the same time.
The second advantage is cost. Between section events, formals and ski weekends, you will be spending a good amount of money at HBS. Dorms are relatively inexpensive compared to Soldiers Field Park and most of the housing available in Harvard Square. In addition, you won’t have to worry about shipping or storing furniture if you are moving from long distances or planning an out-of-town internship for the summer.
Lastly, but most importantly is the fun aspect. Dorms make the transition back to being a student and being in a new place a smooth and fun one. You will meet a lot of people outside your section. It is always possible to find a case you forgot to pick up from someone at midnight or to find a volunteer to go grab a drink if you need a study break.
There are also some drawbacks you need to consider before you make your decision. Space is definitely a constraint and room sizes vary widely from dorm to dorm. Some of the dorms make studios in New York City look expansive, and squeezing in a television set may prove difficult. Some of the dorms have been recently renovated, whereas other dorms have an “Old World” charm with an emphasis on old. Also, if cooking is important to you, think hard about getting an apartment. If you are assigned to Hamilton, widely regarded as the most social of the dorms, you will most likely have a roommate.
If you decide to make the leap to dorm life, you may briefly feel as if you have regressed to freshmen year of university. But if you are ready to meet a lot of people, settle easily into a new city and get the most out of on-campus life, consider the dorms as a great option.