So I'm a sophomore here, living up in Cerro. At least three times this week, I've been stopped by prospective freshman/parents asking what the housing situation is like. I don't know how many confused people this lj entry will reach and/or help, if any, but I have a little extra time, and I wanted to put something together to help with housing.
As far as I know, there are two types of freshman housing for the '08-'09 school year: the dorms, and the cerro vista apartments. The main question I have heard from prospective students is "what is the difference between cerro and the dorms?". I know these questions are answered on campus/housing tours, but you might not want to wait till then. In the past few years I've been here, there has been one major theme of on-campus housing: APPLY AS EARLY AS YOU CAN. A major flaw of Poly's housing system is not only their lack of ability to house all the freshmen, but also how off-campus freshmen get shut out of campus housing for the rest of their years at Poly. Traditionally, second-year on campus housing has been offered, in lottery form, to current freshmen residing on campus: by the time the offer reached those living off-campus, the rooms had already been filled.
The '08-'09 year has some obvious differences: Cerro Vista, which is currently sophomore housing, will be opened up to freshmen, and sophomores will be moved to Poly Canyon (brand new on-campus apartments). I don't know whether this means all freshmen will be able to live on campus (I highly doubt it), and I do not know whether Poly plans on correcting the issue of shutting out off-campus freshmen (I saw something about Poly Canyon spots being offered to off-campus freshmen first this year, but I might be crazy). Still, housing seems to be first-come-first-served: APPLY EARLY to get the on-campus living situation that you want. Now, on to the descriptions:
- North Mountain: If you have driven through or been on the Cal Poly campus, these guys are the pasty yellow colored buildings right off of the outer perimeter (N. Perimeter road). I lived in these for half my freshmen year, and there are some definite advantages to them. Their central location makes it spectacularly easy to roll out of bed and get to class in five minutes. The rooms are huge. Seriously, even with two beds, two desks, two bookshelves, and two dresser/nightstand things in the room, there was enough room for about 1.5 games of Twister to be going on. This might be different if you agree to have more than one roommate. There are huge windows, so there's plenty of light, and usually good views. Bathrooms are shared by 4 rooms, and each room has a door that leads directly into the bathroom. Two toilets, two sinks, two showers. Okay. Now for the cons. The bathroom thing isn't bad, necessarily, but if you end up with "suitemates" (the four rooms that share a bathroom) that party, and any of them use the bathroom for activities of the projectile vomiting sort (sorry about the rather graphic depiction, but it happens. gross, I know.) then that puts half the bathroom out of commission. The toilets are older, and tend to have issues. There's no way to get into another North Mountain bathroom short of knocking on doors and hoping people are home, whereas in every other dorm, you can walk up or down a floor and get to another bathroom. There's also not much necessary interaction between people outside your suite, so I suggest not living here unless you're extroverted, outgoing, or you already know your roommate. Oh, and I never had any issues with it, but there were some ground-floor people on the other side of Shasta (I lived in that building, second floor) that mentioned cockroaches. Could have been a rumor, but just letting you know.
- Red Bricks (major-oriented housing): I never lived here, but I've been in them. Pros: you live with people that are already a little bit like you! That's kind of cool. More social interaction than North Mountain. They are also pretty central campus, comparable to North Mountain. Cons: if you're a business major and don't like to do the whole partying thing, DON'T LIVE IN TENAYA. Partying things happen. Or so I've heard. The rooms in the red bricks are the smallest out of everything. They are tiny.
- Sierra Madre / Yosemite: I lived here (yosemite, tower 4!) for the second half of the year. I liked it, don't be afraid of the prison-like exterior. Oh, and the two halls are ever-so-slightly different: Yosemite is rather far from the center of campus, don't live there if you don't like walking. The floors are half girls/ half guys, but separate bathrooms. Sierra Madre is closer to campus, but further than N.M. or the red bricks. A floor is either all male, or all female. Buildings switch up the floor layers, so it'll be either male/female/male or female/male/female. Pros: I found that there was more floor / building / hall unity in these buildings than anywhere else. Cons: The distance was tough when I had a class in the education building (a 20 minute walk) at 8:00 in the morning. Oh, and sharing 2 showers with 6 rooms of people made prime shower time (either early morning or 9-10 at night) a little tough.
- Cerro Vista: I love cerro. I live here now, it's great. However, I would not live here as a freshman. I was pretty annoyed at my mother for talking about that "college experience" of sharing a dorm room, bathrooms, and eating campus food, but trust me, IT'S WORTH IT. Even if you hate it for some reasons, there will be benefits to it. You will make more friends, have more weird college stories, and, in my case, get a little out of your comfort zone. That's good, by the way. Cerro, though. Pros: It is quite new, and it looks new outside and inside. It's clean - as a cerro resident, you will be spoiled rotten and have your apartment and bathroom cleaned once a week (yeah, bathrooms are cleaned in the dorms, but that's different). You have a kitchen, which is great if you like to cook. You share your bathroom with one other person, and the biggest pro of all: you get your own room! Cons: The rooms are tiny. If you have lots of stuff, it's not going to work out too well. Stairs. I live on the third floor of Bishop: SEVEN flights of stairs up. It might not seem that bad, but there's no easy way to take an elevator - the floors are staggered, so it's a diagonal seven flights of stairs up. This isn't so bad if you live in one of the lower four parts, but the two upper ones (Bishop and Islay) are a ways away from everything.
I really hope somebody gets something out of this! Please leave comments if you have questions, comments, or if you see that I got something wrong! Oh, and if you are a prospective freshman that wants to know more about school here, just ask! I'm happy to answer questions (even though I won't know everything, for sure).