Pros:Good location, very happening, nice architecture
Cons:Rowdy, rooms vary in size and quality, expensive
As a freshmen coming into Penn, the choices for housing is quite overwhelming. I lived in the Quad and High Rises, and have spent substantial time in other dorms. Here are the pros and cons for each. I definitely recommend staying on campus freshmen year. I did for all four years and really enjoyed the opportunity this offered to meet lots of people. It is also much safer to live on campus.
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I loved living in the Quad. Part of the Quad is renovated (Spruce street house, community house, all of upper quad), and the other part is unrenovated (ButcherSpeakman, Class '28). People who live in the Quad generally enjoy the social life. The quad is the most expensive housing campus. It is the center of a lot of freshmen activity. Spring Fling takes place here, so good or bad, there is a lot of partying and alcohol during weekends and Fling.
I recommend staying in the renovated part of the Quad because the well lighted rooms with nicer furniture make a big difference. The unrenovated part of the quad is dim, but rooms are larger, and tends to have a rowdier crowd, but it is cheaper. All rooms have ethernet. However, doing laundry is quite a hassle in the Quad. There is only one elevator in the whole quad. You basically have to carry your laundry up and down the steps and through many fire doors.
The quad has a great location from just about every school ,but in particular from Wharton and Nursing School. Not having air-conditioning when the summer comes around can be quite unbearable The quad is also the only dorm that is in a old building. It's really beautiful. There are some really lovely study lounges in the Quad though they are often packed. I particularly like Ashurst lounge.
During the Fall, the Gingko trees in the Quad really stink up the place, beware of this if you stay near the lower quad gate. Fortunately, this area has a really great location because it is right near just about every facility - kitchen, music room, computer room, study lounge, hang out lounge, laundry room and the lower quad gate.
In order of preference, I would choose to live in these sections of the quad -
Spruce Street House
Class of '28
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