With flashy new study rooms and state-of-the-art dining halls, newly renovated Hill College House and recently opened New College House have changed the freshman dorm experience.
But many students are still unwilling to sacrifice a spot in the Quad for the luxuries that other houses have to offer. Established in 1895, the Quad now houses over half of all freshmen annually across three college houses: Ware College House, Riepe College House and Fisher-Hassenfeld College House.
Hill resident and Engineering freshman Eva Killenberg said she was disappointed to miss out on the tradition and social life of the Quad.
“It’s the quintessential Penn experience to live in the Quad,” Killenberg said. "It makes people feel like they’re missing out if they don’t live there.”
Ware resident and College freshman Zach Zamore agreed, describing the Quad as "the legacy of Penn."
“Alumni will ask, ‘Oh, where in the Quad do you live?’ It’s been around for so long that everyone knows it’s the place to be," he said. "It definitely has the reputation of being the constant social hot spot for freshmen on campus.”
Riepe resident and College freshman Whitney Elmlinger said she chose to live in the Quad based on advice from upperclassmen.
“That’s just what everyone tells you to do, even if you don’t really know why,” Elmlinger said. “I would talk to older students and follow what they told me to do, which was to pick anywhere in the Quad as your first choice, no questions asked.”
Other students have different thoughts.
NCH resident and College freshman Alex Seidel said the facilities within NCH are incomparable, and while the dorm is not entirely composed of freshman residents, there’s always something going on within the house.
“Regardless of what house you’re in, now that we’ve started classes it’s really starting to matter less and less where you’re living anyway,” he added. “I’ve found that the differences between the houses have really minimized.”
Zamore said he did not consider living in Hill, despite its $80 million renovation, after hearing “horror stories” from residents who lived there before the renovation. In 2015, The New York Times named Hill one of the country's "most loathed" college dorms.
Hill resident and Engineering freshman Alexa Spagnola said Hill fosters a tight-knit community for many freshman in STEM because of its proximity to the engineering school. She said she loves living in Hill and “wouldn’t change living there for anything, 100 percent.”
“It combines the social atmosphere that I want, with the ease of access to all my classes,” she said, adding that she feels like she has become “a part of Penn’s history” living in Hill during the first year after renovations. She said she believes Hill will gain traction as a popular choice for freshmen.
"It can be hard, as a freshman, to know concretely where you want to live. But really there are advantages to living everywhere and communities exist within every college house,” she added.
“You just need to wait and stick it out.”