Main Points Edit
- Sharing a room is normal here. This may or may not be an issue for you - if you feel it might be, pick dorms to avoid it (e.g. Macgregor, Baker, Simmons).
- Many dorms have compulsory meal plans. These are extremely expensive and of questionable quality. Most FSILGs will have meal plans which come with your rent, or are not too pricey.
- Location: campus isn’t all that big, so most locations are pretty close to everything else. That said, East Campus is generally more convenient for restaurants, shops, and the subway to Harvard and greater Boston, while West Campus (where the vast majority of accommodation is) is a bit more into suburbia. The frats across the river in Back Bay, Boston, get the advantage of being right in the middle of a really nice area of a major city, but the downside of having to walk over the bridge every day (which isn’t a lot of fun in the depths of winter).
If you’re like most British people and want a single room for yourself, your best bet is to go for a dorm room. Certain dorms have particular things that they are known for (hint: East Campus), so you’ll want to check that the dorm suits you before you decide on your choices (use i3 videos). They’re all conveniently close to campus.
Dorm rooms are typically more expensive than FSILGs, and some dorms have a requirement that you must purchase a meal plan, which is not particularly good for your wallet or your taste buds. Only certain dorms offer dining, so if you live in a dorm without dining and you have a meal plan, you’ll just have to go to somewhere that does (Maseeh is probably the
best biggest and with the most options at any given time but for other places you will find that food quality is often dependent on who's working that day- so make friends with the dining staff!).
In-House Rush/Temporary Rooms Edit
Don’t unpack until you know you have a permanent room assignment.
Quite a few of us didn’t realise that the dorm rooms we were assigned by email are only for the first few days. Most dorms have a process called in-house rush in which you are then assigned to a permanent room. This process is different in each dorm.
For example, in Macgregor, all the new students get put into groups and go round and visit each section (“entry”) in the building and talk to the people who live there for about 20 minutes. At the end of the night, each student ranks to entries 1-9 in order of preference and the entries also rate the students. Overnight, an algorithm is run to optimise the assignments and you find out, and move room, the next day. You may not get your first choice, but you should get one of the top few.
Fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. Frats are typically male-only, sororities are female only, and ILGs are for any other groups of people who want to live together but don’t want to be bracketed under the first two names. These are your choices if you don’t want to live in a dormitory. Student typically choose to live in FSILGs for a more American experience, and you tend to get to know the people you live with better than if you lived in a dorm. Not all FSILGs will be recruiting CMEs, so you will be told which ones are available to you.
It usually costs less to live in a frat compared to a dorm, and obviously there is no requirement that you buy a meal plan like at certain dorms. Some food is usually included in the cost of rent. Often duties are given to everyone in order to help run the house.
Once you’ve found a few you like the look of, you will need to contact them to arrange an “interview” (more like a chance for both parties to get to know each other). It’s rather difficult to gauge how it’s really like to live somewhere even after going on their websites and doing the interviews, so you should talk to people who have lived there in the past.
|Alpha Delta Phi (ADPhi)||All male frat situated towards Central on the Cambridge side
|Delta Tau Delta (Delts)||All male frat situated near the river on the Boston side
|St Anthony Hall
(Number Six Club)
|The international frat - lots of people from around the world.
|Tau Epsilon Phi (tEp)|
|WILG (Women's Independent Living Group)||
Fraternity Rush Edit
At the start of the fall term, there is a week long “Rush” period where fraternities put on activities to actively recruit freshmen. It’s rather mad and chaotic and there are lots of fun things to do at each frat. Whilst many frats do not take CMEs, most frats still allow them to take part in whatever activities they’re putting on for free. This includes: indoor skydiving, jet skiing, boat trips, go karting, paintballing, and LOTS of food especially steak and lobster. Be sure to take full advantage of this at the start of the year.