When incoming freshmen at Stanford discover their housing assignments in the weeks leading up to New Student Orientation, the two most common housing types they’ll receive are all-frosh and four-class dorms. The former houses only freshmen and the latter houses students of all grade levels, and four-class dorm assignments are often rumored to be less ideal than the all-frosh alternative.
Because I lived in an all-frosh dorm my freshman year, I know little about the validity of this stigma or how to combat it. What I do know, however, is that nobody deserves to start school believing that the year is destined to be a disappointment. F*ck that. So I asked seven of my wisest friends to share their perspectives on the matter, specifically regarding their thoughts on how to make the most out of living in a four-class dorm as a freshman. All of them lived in four-class dorms their freshman year, except for Allan, who is sharing his perspective as a rising RA in a four-class dorm this year.
I loved reading each of their responses– They all chose to focus on different aspects of what helped them not just survive, but thrive in their four-class dorm. @Disappointed frosh– read on to find out why it’s all gonna be okay.
❤ With love, ❤
- Lived in Roble her freshman year
- Stanford Women’s Golf Team
- Fond of vanilla lattes and fly fishing
To the 2020s that opened their housing emails and promptly burst into tears: four-class dorms can be just as good as any freshman dorm.
Two years ago, I opened that same email and and received the same news. I was placed in Roble, the largest dorm on campus, which happens to be a four-class residence. Rest assured, there is no black cloud hanging over the four-class dorms. All the frosh in Wilbur and Stern aren’t blissfully prancing in the sunshine. Well, actually they are, but you will, too.
As a Roblean, freshmen are placed in quads. It’s awesome. You walk in on move-in day and automatically have three best friends. I was fortunate to have three stellar roommates and I know most Robleans had a similar experience. Have faith in the roommate process, it’s terrifying, but Stanford has a knack for matching roommates. The four of us in B153 could not have been more different, yet we were a great fit.
The Dos and Donts:
- Embrace the fact that you’re not in a freshman dorm. Whether its Lag, Roble, or FloMo, take care of your people, you’re a family! You will bond over the fact that you’re not in Wilbur or Stern.
- Learn from (and befriend) the upperclassmen! They know the ropes and can help you navigate your first year.
- Have a good attitude going into move-in. I didn’t go to a single NSO event nor dorm meeting #2kool4skool. I came into my first official day thinking I wouldn’t get along with anyone and was convinced that I was going to hate it. And for a while, I did. Mindset is everything. Once I decided to give people a chance and embrace the culture of a four-class dorm, I forged awesome relationships with not only freshmen, but upperclassmen, too.
- As Hannah Montana pre-foam fingers and wrecking balls once said, “Life’s what you make it so let’s make it rock”. She was probably talking about four-class dorms. There isn’t the innate coddling and ultra social atmosphere that exists in freshmen dorms, but it can so easily be created. Commitment to building connections with the abundance of frosh (and upperclassmen) in your dorm can create a social scene that trumps all *shoutout 3B Nico, AT, Kyle, and Nikhil*. Make it happen, people.
- If you’re in Roble, take advantage of the fact that you live in the largest dorm on campus. 300+ rad people.
Random Tidbits That Don’t Fit Into Either Category:
- Four-class dorms are in best locations. FloMo is in the heart of campus, right next to Tresidder and the row, and Lag/Roble are a short bike ride from the engineering quad, main quad, and the new rec.
- To all frosh, freshman dorm, or not: don’t buy into the athlete-non-athlete divide. As an athlete, I came in thinking that “normal students” would be nerdy and hard to connect with. My close-mindedness prohibited a lot of potential friendships from forming. Once I let go of my inhibition, I realized how much every single person at this university has to offer. Don’t let them slip away!
The freshman experience in a four-class dorm is undeniably different. You’re more on your own and that’s a good thing. Living in a four-class dorm better equipped me for the transition to sophomore year when you are forced to forge your own community without the help of smiley RAs and dorm events. Dedicate yourself to meeting people, being real, keeping and open mind, and having a good time; I promise you won’t regret it. See you on campus, 2020s!
- Rising Roble Hall RA
- Has cheated death 3-4 times during his summer internship in China already
First and foremost, congratulations! You’re in for what has the potential to be an amazing undergraduate experience and I couldn’t be more excited to join some of you for it!
That being said, the most important word I’ve used so far is potential, and this is especially relevant considering you’ve all just received your housing assignments. I’m going to be frank, some of you guys probably weren’t too excited by your housing assignment and I can understand why. Before you get to Stanford, everything you know about student life is limited to pictures, videos, blogs (S/o @CiC), and a (pretty unrepresentative) weekend. In these snippets of Stanford experiences you may have been told or gotten the impression that there are “best” places to live freshman year and anywhere else will lead to an underwhelming experience. Well…
That just ain’t right fam.
Any dorm has the potential to be crazy awesome. On the flip side, any dorm can be super lame. At the end of the day your freshman dorm experience, regardless of where you live, is going to come down to what you make it. In my two years at Stanford, I’ve seen freshman and four class dorms that were “lit AF”. I’ve also seen the complete opposite. Decide what you want your dorm to be and you can absolutely make it happen.
I lived in a freshman dorm…
It was dope.
I’ll be staffing in a four class dorm…
It’s gonna be dope.
“Oh but wait if you loved your frosh dorm so much why aren’t you staffing in one?”
Because I saw how awesome four class dorms can be. Seriously, I’ve constantly heard about awesome frosh four class dorm experiences and knew I wanted to be a part of that. As an RA in a four class dorm I can guarantee you I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you are able to make the most out of your freshman year, and I’m sure most (if not all) RAs feel the same way. We will provide the framework for vibrant communities and an unforgettable year, but that won’t be enough.
I can’t sign you up for things you would enjoy.
I can’t make you talk people.
I can’t make friends for you.
I can sure as hell let you know how I’ve done these things and I’m more than willing to give you any and all resources I have available, but at some point you have to take ownership and do these things yourself. It might be hard, but that’s what we RAs are here for! If at any point you realize you’re freshman year isn’t all that you’ve dreamed, reach out because you have some of the coolest people in the universe waiting to help.
Freshman year only happens once, so own it. The possibilities are limitless, but nobody can take advantage of them for you. Be real with yourself, take chances, and the rest will fall in place.
- Lived in Eucalipto (Lagunita Court) her freshman year
- Just finished up a month bartending in Paris *just cuz*
- Blunt af and you’re gonna love it
I remember when I received my housing assignment from Stanford: I was on a plane, about to take off, when I opened the email that told me I had been sorted into a 4-class dorm instead of an all-frosh dorm. The 18-hour plane ride that followed consisted of me being a bit upset (read: salty as hell) about the fact that I’d be in 4-class rather than all-frosh, and instead of looking at the bright side (there is a bright side, trust me), brainstorming ways that I could potentially be switched to a frosh dorm. It didn’t help that all of my friends got all-frosh housing, that all of the upperclassmen I knew raved about their all-frosh dorm experiences, and that I had stayed in Rinc for Admit Weekend.
Well, the fact of the matter is that if you’re put in a 4-class dorm, you’re gonna be in a 4-class dorm, so you might as well get over it. And while being in an all-frosh would have been a cool experience in its own right, in all honesty, I loved my experience living in Lag. I loved my dormmates, I loved my staff, and I loved — I love — west campus.
In the beginning, I really didn’t know what to expect: all I had heard about living in a 4-class was that the environment was much, much more tame than that of all-frosh. While it was true that Lag was quieter than, I dunno, Stern dorms, if you think that 4-class dorms have no parties and are completely dead, don’t worry. In fact, the majority of my Lag dormmates also really wanted all-frosh dorms, and were all very social, outgoing people. Whatever 4-class dorm you end up in, you’ll be in good company.
If you think that 4-class dorms have no parties and are completely dead, don’t worry. In fact, the majority of my Lag dormmates also really wanted all-frosh dorms, and were all very social, outgoing people.
There isn’t too much of a difference between 4-class and all-frosh. In terms of numbers, we basically had the same number of freshmen in Lag as the smaller all-frosh dorms. As members of a 4-class dorm, we still went on ski trip, did Secret Snowflake, had screw your Roo, did DormStorm, etc. A lot of my friends lived in all-frosh dorms, and I was over there pretty often to hang out, for meals, and to sleep over (just ask Cath — I was in Larkin pretty often my frosh year.) I mean, besides the fact that you’re sharing the dorm with non-freshmen, there are more similarities than differences. However, there are a few things that make living in a 4-class dorm unique:
A few things that make living in a 4-class dorm unique:
- You get a sink in your room. Your own fucking sink! There will be a time when y’all will appreciate this — trust me.
- All freshmen in Lag are in triples. Your rooms are much bigger than the one room doubles that all-frosh kids have to deal with.
- You don’t need to deal with dormmates puking outside your door on a Tuesday night.
- You can actually sleep and do homework in your room. This will come in handy sometime.
- Even though there’s quite a bit of freshmen in 4-class dorms, because there are also upperclassmen living in the dorms, I found that the freshmen were all really close to each other. I can’t speak for other 4-class dorms, but Lag had an extremely tight-knit, non-cliquey (?), supportive, relatively drama-free freshman community. From what I know and have heard from my all-frosh friends, that wasn’t the case in most frosh dorms.
- You’ll be able to take advantage of your non-frosh dormmates–They’re a really good source of Stanford advice and wisdom.
- Lag’s location is really nice. You’re across the street from the new gym (which is, in my opinion, a lot better than the old gym), on Lake Lag, basically connected to Lag Late Nite, and, if you want the big ol’ freshman community, you’re next door to Roble.
Though I do think it’d be better for all Stanford freshmen to live in all-frosh dorms, there’s no point in being hung up on the fact that you didn’t get your first-choice housing. Life isn’t fair, and the Stanford housing system isn’t, either (the draw will probably screw you over again sometime in your Stanford career, anyways.) Instead, worry about other things, such as whether your roommate will be a psychopath or not (I kid — they do a pretty good job with that.)
I know a lot of people who are staffing 4-class dorms this year, and they’re all stellar human beings. Seriously — you guys are in very good hands. You’ll meet your dormmates during move-in, many of whom will have had the same worries as you about living in a 4-class dorm, and you’ll realize you were worried over nothing. My advice? Go into freshman year with an open mind. Stanford will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, and the possibilities are endless. Your dorm is only one of many, many communities you’ll be a part of at Stanford, so try out a bunch of new things, go out, join clubs that interest you, and, most importantly, get to know lots of cool, different people. They’re the best part of Stanford.
- Lived in Eucalipto (Lagunita Court) her freshman year
- Dances with Stanford Basmati Raas
- Drop dead gorgeous
Hi, my name is Meghana! As a freshman, I lived in Eucalipto in West Lag. I distinctly remember waiting to receive the dorm assignment email and excitedly opening it, only to feel my heart fall into my stomach. Eucalipto? I had never heard of it. I immediately googled it and realized I would not be living in the raved-about freshman dorm community. While many freshmen had not ranked a 4-class dorm as their first choice, myself included, I quickly fell in love with the environment.
The smaller group of freshmen in Lag grew close quickly. I was surrounded by some of the most loving, curious, adventurous, and driven gems. On the weekends, there was always a squad rolling out to the row as well as people who wanted to chill in the lounge. We discovered that the study rooms in Adelfa and Naranja (the purely upperclassmen dorms) were ideal for study parties, and some of my best memories were made just doing homework with friends there or in the halls. Having upperclassmen neighbors initially intimidated me, but they became some of my best friends and mentors. They provided personal insight into how Stanford works, whether it came to professors or parties and provided immense support when I felt overwhelmed. I wish I had realized this earlier on my freshman year and reached out more to them.
On the weekends, there was always a squad rolling out to the row as well as people who wanted to chill in the lounge.
While it might be tempting to spend all of your time in other freshman dorms or feel initially bummed out about your housing assignment, I highly recommend investing yourself in your 4-class dorm and embracing it. Since it is a smaller community, it is an opportunity to develop deeper friendships with people of all ages and really learn from those around you. Take initiative to connect, whether that means joining dorm gov, planning a crepe night in the RF kitchen, or planning a nightly “anaconda abs” event where you blast Queen Nicki’s Anaconda in the middle of the hall minutes before quiet hours and do a few sit-ups. Go in with an open mind – you are about to be surrounded by wonderful people.
David (AKA D-Will)
- Lived in Roble his freshman year
- Stanford Men’s Tennis Team with forearms to make a girl faint
- Artistic as fuq
When I first found out that I had gotten a 4-class dorm (Roble), I was pretty disappointed. I had heard that in order to get the “all-around freshman experience,” I had to be in a freshman dorm my first year. I quickly texted a couple people that I knew going into Stanford, and one of them happened to be in Roble too, so that made me feel a little less uneasy. I expected to come in pretty intimidated, especially living together with upperclassmen. In my head, I thought that the freshman dorm kids would be much closer than the freshmen in my 4-class dorm.
I was SO wrong, though. My original expectations quickly became shattered. Roble had so many other people with the same perspective going into freshman year, but that only made us closer than we had ever imagined. We built a very tight-knit, freshman community and I felt that we had actually become our own, little freshman dorm that included some other grades as well!
As the year went on and I branched out past Roble’s fantastic community, I (just like everyone) made many, many friends in the actual freshman dorms. Because of this, we could easily go hang out with our other friends, resulting in me spending a lot of time in the freshman dorms. I had a lot of friends in Donner, and I felt welcomed there anytime, almost as if I was a part of that dorm as well! What I learned very early on is that everyone at Stanford is always so welcoming, especially freshman year when everyone feels nervous for the start of college.
What I learned very early on is that everyone at Stanford is always so welcoming, especially freshman year when everyone feels nervous for the start of college.
One of the misconceptions freshman year is that you have to get to know as many freshmen as possible. In reality, though, after you make a good group of friends, it’s really nice knowing people form other grades as well. That’s where 4-class dorms are extremely unique. Whereas people in the freshman dorms knew primarily other freshmen, I met many sophomores, juniors, and seniors in my own dorm, and I truly value this eclectic, blend of friendships that Roble helped me create.
- Lived in Eucalipto (Lagunita Court) his freshman year
- International student from Malmö, Sweden
- Likes to make rumors about me on YikYak (jk) (inside joke) (hi Marcus)
Back when I was applying for housing everyone I asked told me that all-frosh was THE way to go. Needless to say I was less than thrilled to see I had been assigned to Eucalipto, a 4-class dorm. Looking back a year later, though, I and pretty much every other freshman in Eucalipto agreed that living there had been a wonderful experience, and very few would have wanted it any different.
Sure, there might not be as many parties as in all-frosh dorms, but living in a less rowdy dorm can have its benefits too (particularly around exam-time). Sure, it’ll be a smaller community of freshman in your dorm, but it’ll likely also be a closer-knit one. Sure, there’s a bunch of upperclassmen around, but they’re pretty cool too (you’ll be one sooner than you think) and have very valuable perspectives and experiences. And so on and so forth. Lastly, the different dorms are not prohibitively far from one another, and you will find yourself making friends with people from all over campus and spending time around their dorms too, so don’t sweat it too much.
- Lived in Roble his freshman year
- Stanford Men’s Soccer Team
- Voted most attractive man at Stanford by Tom Fawcett
When I first got a 4-class dorm I was pretty disappointed. Everything I’d heard about them, up until that point, was very negative. Them being so far away from the regular freshman dorms and having a seemingly non existent social environment, I didn’t have high expectations. However, my actual experience was amazing. I ended up forging a lot of genuine friendships that last to this day. And specifically for Roble, the quad aspect is something that is undervalued and can be a huge benefit if you put time into creating a positive room environment.
I didn’t have high expectations. However, my actual experience was amazing.
If I could give one piece of advice it would be to keep an open mind and make an effort to meet people-not only freshman but the older years as well. You gain a different perspective on Stanford by not being constantly surrounded by other freshman-appreciate that perspective and know that most other freshman aren’t afforded that opportunity.
Bonus: Christian McCaffrey lived in a four-class dorm his freshman year. He turned out alright.
A big thank you to Calli, Allan, Slim, Meghana, D Willy, Marcus, and Bryce for contributing to this Alternative Perspectives post. You can read more “Alternative Perspectives” posts HERE.