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For most college students, dorm living is the staple of college life.

More than 5,000 students live on campus, including almost 800 people in each highrise and nearly 1,500 in the Quadrangle. Students live in singles, doubles and triples between 34th and 40th streets ­­— whether in a 24-story modern tower or the historic Quad.

There are currently 42 "themed" Residential Programs across the 11 college houses. Students have the opportunity to engage in the College House Student Film Festival, the Residential Advisory Board and the Go Green movement, among other co-curricular activities.

See below for a more comprehensive guide to on-campus living.

Is Community Living for me and how do I apply?

Community Living is for those who want to live on-campus in a group of six to eight friends.

Available in all high-rise college houses as well as the Quad and Sansom Place West, the program allows residents to occupy multiple rooms in the same building and usually on the same floor.

In the high rises and Sansom Place, groups must be even-numbered, though groups in the Quad can be even- or odd-numbered.

In the high rises, groups are divided into either groups of four and two or two groups of four. Sansom Place groups are divided into one-bedroom double apartments, or sometimes into singles. Groups in the Quad are assigned suites of three to five students.

Each Community Living group must appoint a “Captain” who applies before other group members.

The application will be available on Campus Express Feb. 12-16. More information is available on the Housing and Conference Services web site.

What is the ‘housing lottery’ and how does it work?

For upperclassmen who wish to remain in their buildings, each college house holds its own lottery to assign rooms. Some college houses give students the option of retaining their rooms, using the lottery to assign the remaining rooms. While each house’s lottery is different, most houses award points based on seniority and the number of semesters lived in the house. In those cases, the lottery is used to break ties. Students with the highest priority after the lottery pick their rooms first.

What are residential programs?

Within the college houses, residential programs allow students (and sometimes faculty) who share a passion for a particular subject to live together. The subjects of the programs range from arts and culture to science and technology. The programs have a separate application process that usually requires an essay, but it’s well worth the extra work — applying to a residential program takes you out of the housing lottery and targets your application to a certain college house, which can help students who are looking to live in a particular building. Once you’re in a program, a residential advisor will usually organize a few activities for the floor. It is a very low-level time commitment, but a great way to take control of the housing selection process and meet people who share common interests. The underclassman deadline is Jan. 20; incoming freshmen apply during the summer.

What does the RA application process entail?

Rising sophomores and juniors with GPAs above 2.5 in a degree-granting program can apply to be Residential Advisers. Your application must include a letter of application that captures your academic interests, skills and relevant experience. You should also indicate your preferences for the college house and residential program, if applicable. In addition, submit two references — an academic reference and a professional or peer reference.

What is a 'low-rise'?

Typically, Penn’s low-rise housing refers to Gregory, Stouffer and W.E.B. Du Bois College Houses. They are called "low" in comparison to the taller high rises — Harrison, Harnwell and Rodin.

Low-rise culture is very unique. Generally, the low rises are more community-oriented than the high rises. They hold regular house-wide events that are well-attended by students, and it’s easy to get to know the faculty masters and the house dean. Low rises are also very different from the typical freshman dorm — in part because students of all ages reside in them.

For students who already feel that they belong to a strong community and a strong network of friends, the low-rise experience may not be for them. For most residents of low rises, their college house is not just a place to live — it’s a culture and a community. If you’re not looking for this, you may want to consider the high rises, the graduate towers or off-campus housing.

What is gender-neutral housing?

Gender-neutral housing is a program in which students can live with other students of the opposite gender. All upperclassmen students may apply for gender-neutral housing. They must identify their own roommates and should be able to fill all beds in the room requested. Roommate requests must be mutual.

The group as a whole must apply online, following the same processes and deadlines as students applying for regular housing. In addition, all prospective roommates must personally go to the Housing Assignments Office to hand in the corresponding forms, which can be found on Penn’s Housing web site.

Students must also sign an additional agreement affirming their understanding of the gender-neutral housing terms.

What do I do for housing if I am planning to study abroad?

Students studying abroad spring semester should apply for college-house residences the following year in mid-December before they leave. Those who are studying abroad in the fall cannot apply for housing until Oct. 1, when materials are available online. If you want to live with friends when you return, provided they will have a vacant space that semester, follow steps on the CHAS website for requesting that space.

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