OT: Freshman Housing

Submitted by WFBlue on April 8th, 2016 at 7:58 AM

My son will be starting his freshman year this fall at Michigan.  Like many freshman (I believe it is currently in excess of 50%), I was “stationed” on North Campus (Bursley). Although North Campus may have its merits, I think it would be a better overall experience to be housed on Central Campus or the Hill thereby avoiding the North Campus bus trip.  


I am wondering if there might be some strategy in filing out the housing application to increase the chances of avoiding North Campus. For example, on the housing application is there a combination of selections – room type (single, double or triple); corridor type (same or mixed gender); or bathroom type (shared community or non-community) that would provide a better opportunity to be selected to house on main campus? We have already dismissed as dishonest or impractical (i) faking up a medical or religious reason to live on main campus, or (ii) participating in an MLC (he’s not interested).  Michigan Housing, Google searches and college confidential have been little help. It may be that he has to just take his chances with the lottery, but since it’s the offseason and there are many current/former students on the board with more recent experience than I have, I thought I would ask. Thanks in advance. 


Edit:  A lot of good advice in the responses. Many thanks.



April 8th, 2016 at 8:06 AM ^

If he has selected a major that is "central campus", then I would think he should just put down absolutely no preferences whatsoever.  


One thing to think about though.......his experience on central campus with a bad roommate will probably be worse than his experience on north campus with a good roommate. My opinion.


April 8th, 2016 at 8:06 AM ^

Interesting. When I was a freshman, I could just request any room type but wanted it on Central Campus. I was put in a double in West Quad. Very happy about that. Made the commutes quick and easy.

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April 8th, 2016 at 8:14 AM ^

I would think shared community bathrooms are probably the way to go because Northwood and Baits on North Campus have private baths, and if he ends up on North, Bursley is a MUCH better option than the other two (I say this as someone who lived in Bursley last year).

Otherwise, if he doesn't request a roommate, he has a better shot of getting central. But, Bursley isn't all that bad. Yeah, taking the bus everywhere is inconvenient, but I made so many good friends on North Campus and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else now. Also, having a good roommate on North is better than having a bad roommate on central, IMO. All things to consider


April 8th, 2016 at 9:24 AM ^

I had terrible roommates in a converted triple in S Quad, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in the world especially for a spot on N Campus. To each their own but if your classes are all on central campus there is absolutely no way living on NC could possibly be preferential.

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April 8th, 2016 at 8:15 AM ^

I used to work for the housing office when I was at UM (granted 10+ years ago). There aren't any real tricks to increase your chances of getting Central or Hill placements - aside from things like being in special programs that are housed in specific dorms (e.g., honors college kids are all in S. Quad, residential college kids are in E. Quad).

I can say, a lot of people (parents more than kids, in my experience) worry about Bursley placements, but it usually works out just fine. I know a lot of people who lived in Bursley, and while they would have preferred Central or Hill, it ended up not being a big deal.


April 8th, 2016 at 10:28 AM ^

Think it may have changed actually! When I did it, you just had to submit an essay and they did it as equal parts essay and ACT. Think you had to just have decent writing skills and get above a 32 or so. 

Honestly, it always seemed like not very many people even knew that was an option, as the Honors College is so underdeveloped at Michigan. 


April 8th, 2016 at 8:18 AM ^

I thought they only put engineering majors who applied or were accepted late in Bursley N/C. Never visited NC in 4 years except for an IM soccer game once. It's 50% of freshman now? That is too bad. How many years are students staying in dorms? It was 1-2 back in the 80s and 90s. Sounds like a lot has changed.

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April 8th, 2016 at 8:33 AM ^

It will be difficult for your son to end up on Central unless there is an honors or scholars program that is co-located at a residence hall. My daughter wasn't thrilled about being at Bursley, but riding the bus and making sure she's ready to spend most of the day out of her room has simply become parts of her daily routine. It's also easier (and faster) for me to get to Bursley if I need to swing by for some reason.


April 8th, 2016 at 8:42 AM ^

Honors (as said) or Learning Communities guarantee Central Campus. If pre-selecting a roommate North Campus is a near certainty.

EDIT: also, Markely will be closed for renovations. This 1200 bed deficit led to many current freshman who wanted to live in dorms sophomore year to being denied. Many rooms usually alotted to sophomores (WQ, SQ, EQ) will go to freshman this fall. But, that is a redistribution more than an increase of freshman on CC. Same shot, but better locations.

oriental andrew

April 8th, 2016 at 12:57 PM ^

Wow, really? That's a huge hit to lose good ol' Mary Markley. 

I was in Markley freshman year as an engineering major. Because I had classes on central and north campuses, I would ride my bike everywhere when the weather wasn't terrible. Sometimes, my friend would get on the bus and I'd race it on my bike. I won about half the time. Helps that there were other bus stops and I could take shortcuts and didn't always obey traffic signals...


April 8th, 2016 at 8:40 AM ^

I lived on Central in Cambridge (west quad) and was an engineer. I went back and forth to North twice a day and it really wasn't bad at all. I loved living on Central though


April 8th, 2016 at 8:40 AM ^

Aside from being in Honors or an MLC, there's really nothing you can do to increase your odds of central campus. Just fill out the form, I'd suggest a double simply because it's the standard freshman room and that's fewer people to worry about getting along with, and hope for the best.

Oregon Wolverine

April 8th, 2016 at 8:44 AM ^

I lived in Bursley, 7th Douglas for two years, then Couzens for one (RA), then private housing close to campus for a four years (encompassing my JD too), but that was 25 yrs ago.

The bus was a hassle for sho, but overall N Campus was less dense (green space) and had better rec as the CCRB was so crowded. I was stoked to have the NCRB so close at hand and loved my music school friends. It also had free parking which made it easy to dash back to Detroit for the weekend.

As I look back I wonder what I was thinking when I actually asked for Bursley -- one of my best friends, a year older, was placed there. I don't think I missed out on much at the time (caught the last bus home a lot). but if I could it again I'd probably try for central out of the box.

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April 8th, 2016 at 11:14 AM ^

I was a 7th Douglas RA for a year back in 2004!  

I agree with many of the posters here already... North Campus isn't bad at all.  Don't stress over it.  I spent a lot of time between classes on central campus hanging out in common areas doing reading/work for classes.  I think it actually made me a better student.  When I lived in south quad prior, I think I spent a lot more time watching TV or napping between classes.


April 8th, 2016 at 8:46 AM ^

I did 4 years of research during my undergrad through the UROP program. Headed into my freshman year, I applied and was accepted to UROP in Residence, and they put us in Mosher-Jordan.  It was honestly a crap-hole, but they've renovated it. UROP is an AMAZING program, but I honestly got nothing from the residence other than being certain I would get to be on central campus.

If the residential community still exists, I would go that route. However, i don't know if that program is around. (I went to school '03-'07).


April 8th, 2016 at 9:18 AM ^

UROP is spectacular.  Seriously changed my career trajectory.  And, being a peer advisor in that program remains one of the best jobs I've ever had.


April 8th, 2016 at 8:48 AM ^

Central is nice if your major is there. I only had to go to north campus two times during my time at Michigan.

The flip side is that you miss out on experiencing a large piece of the campus. Also, in my specific case, my dad worked on north campus and I didn't have a chance to visit him at all because of the distance and lack of a need to be on north campus when he was working.

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April 8th, 2016 at 9:04 AM ^

1. Go in blind

2. ???

3. If you believe your son's college experience will be ruined by living where most freshmen have to live, I'd suggest you quit drinking and go to bed.

Jeff M

April 8th, 2016 at 9:06 AM ^

You mentioned you and your son ruled out MLCs and several folks still mentioned them, as they are one of your few options to guarantee placement on Central.


Not sure of your reasons, but I wouldn't be quick to rule the MLCs out. If he's completely disinterested in all of them, then sure don't bother. But if it's more about a lack of motivation for them, they may not be some huge commitment.


I did HSSP in 2007-08. Commitment was an easy seminar class, attending a few lectures throughout the year and doing some simple write-ups, and getting to job shadow a few people at the UM hospital (which was pretty cool). Upside of living on central was nice, and the other students in the program were cool. It also had the added benefit of convincing me pre-med was not for me (since I saw where I was in terms of motivation and capacity for organic chemistry vs. my peers), but maybe it would have a reverse effect for your son of exposing to a few career options.


So, I'd suggest taking another look at the MLCs and understanding the extent of commitment required for any he might be marginally interested in. I'm sure you could even ask the people running the program about it from the angle of "wanting to make sure my son isn't overwhelmed with work his freshman year."


April 8th, 2016 at 9:55 AM ^

It is a well known secret amongst many that the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (at least it was around 10 years ago when I matriculated) was the backdoor to guaranteeing central campus. Two classes in the dorm (freshman comp in the fall, an arts/writing class in the spring) and your commitment is over. And at least in that program, the overwhelming number of participants were in it for the same reasons your son would likely be for it.

He should reconsider MLCs and their commitments. Not even necessarily from an academic perspective, but from a pure housing situation.

Mabel Pines

April 8th, 2016 at 9:17 AM ^

and have never been to North campus.  It must have grown a lot, Bursley was the only dorm there when I was there (early 90's).  Are most Freshman on North campus??  I'm surprised by this.


April 8th, 2016 at 10:09 AM ^

Bursley was and I believe still is the only dorm, but I lived in Baits (upperclassmen only) sophomore through senior year.  Even if Bursley was 100% freshmen, that would not equal 50% of the freshman class.

The only way most of the freshmen are on North Campus is if they allowed them into Baits, which would be a major shift. 


April 8th, 2016 at 11:48 AM ^

In the 90's:

Northwood - graduate student and family housing. Almost impossible for undergrads without a family to get into.


Baits - upper classmen and graduate students without families housing. No freshmen,


April 8th, 2016 at 9:27 AM ^

If he does get Bursley, I wouldn't be upset. I lived there freshman year and came from out of state not knowing much. It really isn't that big of a hassle and it can be nice living there for a year. It was also really easy to make tons of new friends because most people didn't know anyone else, and there was a lot of hanging out in the dorm. He will likely have ~3 years to live wherever he wants after that. I would take the advice of someone below who suggested not requesting private bathrooms to take Baits out of the equation.


April 8th, 2016 at 9:31 AM ^

Preselecting a roommate is weird. A huge part of the college experience is meeting new people from different walks of life. If you want to guarantee CC, have him go in blind. It's a no brainer. Most of the people I know that chose to live together ended up killing their friendship or they were just weird and didn't get the same college experience as those who lived with randoms. Learning to adjust to others is an essential skill to have and missing out on that quintessential college expedience of a random roommate would be a shame. I completely disagree with anyone who claims having a good roommate on NC is better than a bad roommate on central. I had terrible roommates and we learned to get along just fine in our converted triple in SQ. I also met some of my best friends in the world there who I still see on a regular basis 20 years later. Part of going to college is letting go of all the familiars of home, selecting your roommate is a safety blanket that isn't really essential to anyone.

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April 8th, 2016 at 10:31 AM ^

I'm thankful for my two degrees from U-M, but I hated living with roommates.  If only you could put these things on the dorm application form:

requesting roommate that

-- doesn't sleep with girlfriend on bottom bunk while you are on top bunk

-- isn't drunk all the time

-- doesn't play rap full blast 16 hours a day

-- speaks English

thank god the bathrooms are at least clean in the dorm and you don't have to fight over who does the cleaning