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It may be the most crucial decision for an incoming Georgia Tech freshman: Choosing to live on East Campus or West Campus. Committing to The Institute brings about a lot of concerns for newcomers. By no means is becoming a RAT (Recruit at Tech) a typical college experience. I remember being worried about having a social life, but also being able to focus on work.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for the indecisive, there isn't an incorrect answer to this question. It truly comes down to preferences and what is important to you. Soon this summer, the pleb class will receive time tickets to self-assign themselves and a roommate to a room of their choice. Let's break down the pros and cons of each side.
In my freshman year, I chose Fitten Residence Hall on West Campus. I had a blast. I met my best friends at Tech, and I have absolutely no regrets about my decision. Granted nearly all classes in the 2020-2021 school year were online, I wasn't too worried about the proximity to the center of campus. Instead, I was nearby the band practice field (SAC Field next to the Campus Recreation Center). Fitten was also great because it housed a laundry room and a printer.
Your dorm choice has already been made if you plan to join a Living Learning Community (LLC). But don't let that be a reason to join or not to join an LLC. LLCs aren't for everyone, especially if there isn't one that closely relates to your major or interests; you plan to be very active in various campus organizations; or you have a busy class schedule. While the LLCs provide you with a group of like-minded friends and set events, there are plenty of people who lead great college experiences without one. Besides, you get more freedom in choosing where you live without joining one.
East Campus, the PROS
Close to Tech Square, which has restaurants like Moe's, Ray's Pizza, Gyro Bros, Waffle House, Umma Kitchen, and Buffalo Wild Wings
In the heart of the Gameday action and the Greek Life scene, if you plan to rush or go to parties
While not near the CRC, there are smaller gyms located in some dorms on East; check The Residence Hall Directory
Not far from Peters Parking Deck, with Basketball and Tennis Courts
It's loud on Gameday, and there's lots of music on weekends. Some students love the energy or say they get used to it, and others can't stand it.
Some East Campus dorms are right off the interstate. That means your study music may occasionally be accompanied by the sounds of 18-wheelers and emergency vehicles.
West Campus, the PROS
West Village Dining Hall a.k.a. "Willage"
Generally quiet and peaceful
Near to the following Religious Organizations: Chabad Student Group, Chinese Christain Fellowship, Muslim Students Association (hosts prayers and events at the Exhibition Hall and Instructional Center), and Reformed University Fellowship (Meets at Mason Building)
The rooms, on average, are SLIGHTLY larger than the rooms on East Campus.
A fifteen-minute walk from Greek Houses, Tech Square, Brittan and North Avenue dining halls, and many of the sports complexes.
The band practices at SAC Field Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3:30 - 5:30 in the Fall. Some dorms nearby may suffer from hearing repeated rehearsals of our drinking (I mean fight) songs.
Criteria to think about when Choosing a Dorm:
Proximity to the Dining Hall
Check The Residence Hall Directory and select "First-Year Experience" from the "Community" filter to verify the following items.
Where is the Laundry Room (not all dorms have one)
When was the most recent renovation
Where is the nearest gym
If Quad options are available
The Floor Plan (check which direction the room is facing and the dimensions of the room)
If there is an LLC Program located at the dorm
Criteria to think about when Choosing a Room:
Floor Level While closer to the entrance doors and not having to carry their things up the stairs, residents of lower floors complain about foot traffic and noise, bugs, and uninteresting views from their windows.
Which Way the Room Faces This may be more important than you think! If you like sleeping in until noon, you may not want your room to have a window to the East! On the other hand, having an Eastern window may score you a brilliant view of the Atlanta skyline. If you're the kind of person to look out the window, take a look at the building from a birds-eye perspective using a map application and see what you may be looking out at.
Proximity to Heavily Trafficked Areas Check where the stairway exits and bathroom entrances are.
Check The Residence Hall Directory for your chosen building to see a floor plan, locate which floors kitchens are available, and the room dimensions.
The Bad News
If you are leaning towards becoming a fellow "Wampus" resident, I recommend bringing a bike or electric scooter. It is three quarters of a mile from one end of campus to the other, and a set of wheels makes the campus a lot smaller. Traveling from East to West Campus is nearly entirely uphill. In fact, many East Campus residents will take detours when walking to class just to avoid climbing the dreaded Freshman Hill. No matter where at Georgia Tech you decide to nest, when it rains, the entirety of campus becomes a giant pond. Atlanta is infamous for her outdated and overwhelmed storm drains. Students take one of two approaches: Invest in quality rainboots and rain jacket, or wear quick-dry clothes and sandals. I accept the latter.
The Good News
Bus service is accessible virtually everywhere on campus. In addition, Tech is very biker-friendly. Both sides of campus have access to recreational activities such as beach volleyball, basketball, and tennis. Tech Green, Price Gilbert Library, the Clough Commons (CULC), and the new John Lewis Student Center are in the center of campus and are about equidistant from East and West campus.
No matter where you live, you can have a vibrant social life and excel in academics. The most important part is never being afraid to introduce yourself to others and actively get to know your neighbors.
You can stay engaged with events and programs through student organization Instagram pages, email newsletters, and Campus Services (@gatechlife on Instagram).
Though choosing which side of campus to live on may be a stressful decision for incoming Freshmen, the truth is that if you ask a current student, they may not be too passionate about the issue. Last year I produced a video for the housing department where I asked students which side of campus they preferred. I dramatized the video heavily for comedic effect, but students on both sides of campus provide excellent arguments for their sides. Watch it below.
Still can't decide? Here are some suggestions.
Print out a campus map and pinpoint where your classes and activities will be.
Ask your preferred roommate where he or she would like to live.
Ask your friends where they plan to live.
Freshman, be sure also to check out our article Tech's Declassified Freshman Survival Guide, where The Jacket writers share advice they've learned.
Fellow Veterans of the Institute, feel free to email me with details I missed!
Did I make an impression? Did I leave anything out? Voice your opinion by sending a letter to the editor or submitting a counter-point as an article on our Contact page! I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Let's make political discourse civil again.