Princeton Real Estate: Descriptions of Each Residential College

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Whitman Residential College

Congratulations on your acceptance to Princeton! There are so many thrilling experiences to look forward to as you begin your Princeton career, including the incredible academic, service, and social opportunities that are on their way. There is one topic you’ve surely been asking yourself since you officially became a Tiger: exactly where will I be living? Well, I wish I could tell you that bit of information – though you will find out soon enough (specifically, by mid-July). Once you know your college and room assignment, you can see information about furniture here. What I can do is introduce you to the incredible array of housing options that exist as you enter Princeton’s residential college system.

A walk around campus will introduce you to the unique physical character of each of the six residential colleges – Butler, Forbes, Mathey, Rockefeller (Rocky), Whitman, and Wilson. Most of the housing options in the residence halls consist of singles, doubles, and quads, with the exception of Wilson College, which has suites that house anywhere from 5-11 residents.

If you end up in Butler College, you can expect to find some of the newest residence halls on campus mixed in with some older but charming red brick halls. You can view and read all about the Butler buildings here. Butler also has a fairly central campus location, with a terrific home base in Wu Hall, complete with a recently-renovated servery in their dining hall.

The main building at Forbes College was originally the Princeton Inn, designed by the New York architect Andrew Jackson Thomas and built in 1924-25. The Inn served as a hotel until it was acquired by the University in 1970. The central dining and social facilities of the College are now located on two floors of the original Inn. An addition designed by J. Robert Hillier ’59 integrated the existing buildings into a single complex, creating the second undergraduate residential college at Princeton. Students often frequent the “Wa” on their trips to and from their home at Forbes. You can tour the Forbes facilities here. The area around Forbes is currently being transformed into the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, which will change this part of campus in exciting ways when it is completed in 2017.

When students think of real estate at Princeton, they often think of gothic architecture. Mathey College is one of the two colleges that have primarily gothic structures (the other being Rocky). Mathey has a beautiful common room, and the servery was also renovated several years ago. Students in Mathey and Rocky are close to Nassau Street, and all the establishments it has to offer. You can read about all the great Mathey spaces here.

Rockefeller College, or Rocky, is the other residential college with mostly gothic architecture. Rocky, like Mathey, has an exquisite common room, and is the closest college to Nassau Street. The central dining and social facilities of Rockefeller College are located in the group of buildings formerly known as Commons. This complex, erected in 1916, has been called “the best example of the Collegiate Gothic style in the country.” You can learn more about the Rocky buildings and facilities here.

Whitman College, the newest residential college, is situated between Forbes and Wilson. The college is named for Meg Whitman ‘77 and her family, who made a significant financial contribution toward the project. Structurally, Whitman is unique among the other residential colleges in that the entire college is physically connected, including the residence halls, dining hall, common room, college office, and other facilities.

Wilson College, the first of Princeton’s six residential colleges, began in 1957 when a group of students formed the “Woodrow Wilson Lodge.” Following the ideals of Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton from 1902-1910, the Lodge advocated a more thorough integration of academic, social, and residential life on campus, and offered students “a place where individuals could be accepted for who they are.” Wilson has a unique variety of architectural styles among its residence halls, including 1950s and 1960s design, gothic, and more modern structures. As previously mentioned, Wilson is the only college that has large suites of 5-11 residents, an aspect that provides a distinctive community feel. You can read more here about what’s at Wilson.

In the past several years, the University has introduced gender-neutral housing as an option for undergraduates. Some residential colleges, due to their architecture, have more gender-neutral housing options than others, but the University is committed to meeting the housing needs of all students.

After arriving on campus, Princeton students quickly realize that, while the real estate is different from residential college to residential college, home is really where they live. The various college staffs will work incredibly hard to make sure your college feels like “home away from home.” Also, as a reminder, be sure to fill out the matriculation housing form (part of the matriculation packet), which helps in making roommate pairings and giving your Residential College Adivser and college staff some introductory information about your interests.

Congratulations again on becoming a Tiger!

Author Profile

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Michael Olin
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students

Hello new Princetonians! I’m excited to be preparing to enter my 11th year at this great institution. I was hired as the first Director of Student Life in Wilson College, and spent five wonderful years in that role. I began my position as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students in September 2012.

I joined Princeton after working as an assistant dean for undergraduate students at Seton Hall University. I have also worked at Columbia University, and spent my undergraduate and graduate school years at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Loyola University in Maryland, and New York University.

My wife, Dana, is a copywriter, and we have a son, Charlie, and daughter, Tessa. Outside of work, I love to travel with my family, play golf, and cheer on the Tar Heels, Mets, Orioles, Carolina Panthers, and Princeton Tigers.

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