On Residential Colleges

Look — it’s Ezra Stiles, the best of Yale’s 12 residential colleges!

Towards the end of summer, all incoming freshmen are waiting with anticipation for the monumental decision that defines a huge part of the next four years at Yale: their residential college assignments. I know I was worried. Would I be living with my friends from Bulldog Days, be placed in my host’s college, what if I had an insane roommate — or worse yet, be placed in Morse?!

You know, it’s kind of like that Harry Potter sorting hat thing in the first movie when the actors were still prepubescent, except that if you were placed into Calhoun, it wouldn’t be in front of all your friends, who would be undoubtedly laughing at you. See, at Yale, students receive assignment letters (Yes, Yale decides to mail them) in the comfort of your own home — which is probably a good decision now that I think about it.

Anyway, when I finally received my letter in the mail (I live on the West Coast so it seemed like everyone else already knew), I was too nervous to open it. I recall embracing my letter, begging in a whisper “Not Morse, not Morse, not Morse.” And when I ripped that sucker open, alas, not Morse! I was placed into Ezra Stiles, even though I had all the qualities of a loser that should have landed me in Morse! Hallelujah!

I was greeted with a friendly letter from my dean about the residential college, a list of my fellow Stilesians, their room assignments and contact information. Some students actually immediately post their lists on the Yale Facebook group, so you can find out early if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to find your name online. Or like me, you’ll brave through the grueling wait by the mailbox.

During this waiting period, it’s natural to have your eyes set on a college — or perhaps know which college you’d dread being in. I’ll admit that after visiting a family friend who was a senior Saybrugian, I actually kind of wanted to be in Saybrook. (I know, I know —what was I thinking?!) We’re all going to be swayed a bit by our hosts or friends, but don’t worry! Yalies end up loving (or for some cases, grudgingly accepting) their residential college, no matter which one they end up in — oh, expect for Jonathan Edwards that is.

Just kidding! All of the residential colleges are great! Really. Psychhh. Gotcha! Yale’s residential college system was implemented way back in 1933 to emulate the college systems of Oxford and Cambridge. And the colleges really become a home, with an extensive support structure including a Dean, Master, (who probably wouldn’t reprimand you if you used your magic for fun), affiliated faculty, and resident fellows.

And luckily for you freshman by the time you move out of Old Campus, all of the 12 colleges will have been fully renovated. Trust me, it’s a big deal. Each college boasts distinctive styles of architecture, secluded courtyards, dining halls, common rooms, gyms, libraries, theatres, pool tables, cafes, and even darkrooms — and when they’ve just been redone, it makes them that much nicer. There’s so, so much residential college pride (as you might be able to tell from my ranting) that you’ll be bashing other the other colleges, even if you’re in Pierson!

If still worried, remember, it’s not all about the college, but who’s in them! (Ehh, that might not help…) Well, best of luck to get into Stiles!

2 thoughts on “On Residential Colleges

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>