Gone are the days when all students could hope for was a tiny two-to-a-room dorm with 50 others sharing the communal bathroom. As we look ahead to the new academic year kicking off in September 2014, wealthy students looking for posh new digs are spoiled for choice. Whether they choose to live on campus (which is sometimes compulsory) or off campus, luxurious college housing options are popping up all over the United States at both public and private universities.
After taking a quick look at some of the top contenders, you’ll feel like you’re looking at an upper-class hotel or resort. There are rooftop pools, giant rock-climbing walls, king-sized beds, beach volleyball courts, fine dining options and big-screen TVs. Sometimes costing almost $15,000 per year, upscale college dorms and student houses are hugely popular and in high demand (partly thanks to the rising student population). As reported in June 2013 by The New York Times¸ student housing developments have remained a strong business even during the recession.
It’s not just private, Ivy League schools that are jumping on the bandwagon and upping the quality of housing – several public universities also offer exceptional, brand-new facilities these days. There’s a lot of competition on all universities throughout the USA to keep up and offer students luxurious options. In 2006, research by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers found that students’ primary concern when deciding against enrolling in a particular college was the low quality of the accommodations.
Here are the top 10 luxury college dorms (on and off campus) for the year ahead.
10 University of Pennsylvania – Evo at Cira Center South (off campus)
Based in University Center, Philadelphia, this off-campus housing option caters for students from the area (including UPenn students and others). As stated on the development’s website, it’s all about bringing lifestyle to “swanky, high-rise properties in urban markets”. With 33 stories and 850 beds, it’s the tallest student accommodation option in the USA and it cost almost $160 million to construct according to reports. Students can access a rooftop pool and patio, a fitness center, a coffee bar and a study lounge. Along with a private bedroom and bathroom, residents get their own washer and dryer and kitchen, and they have a special “roommates matching service” to find the right fit for you. A one-bedroom apartment costs about $2,000 per month. The same company is looking to open up a 1,000+ bed dorm in Montreal, Canada.
9 Pomona College – Several Luxury Dorms (on campus)
Year on year, liberal-arts institute Pomona College consistently comes out as one of the top providers of college dorms in the USA so it’s not surprising than nearly all students there prefer to live on campus. The Princeton Review’s annual research ranks college dorms and Pomona’s options are often compared to castles or palaces. Although there is a lot of choice between dorms at Pomona, the Oldenborg Center is perhaps the most intriguing. Students living here can choose to be immersed in one of six languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian or Spanish). There’s air conditioning, a foreign language dining hall, and space for up to 140 students. Other options include the newer Sontag Hall or Pomona Hall, which offer suites, rooftop gardens and tons of sustainability measures. A room costs over $4,000 per semester (not including meals).
8 New York University – Founders Hall (on campus)
Founders Hall at NYU is the newest on-campus accommodation option (having opened in 2009) and it houses up to 700 freshmen each semester. It’s located in Union Square and stretches up 26 floors, meaning some of the hall’s lucky residents get superb Manhattan views including the Empire State Building. There’s a garden, a big outdoor courtyard, sustainability features, free wifi throughout, big windows, extra-large rooms and clean facilities. A one-semester stay at Founders Hall can cost over $6,500 per person. Another perk is that there are no triples, meaning students won’t have to share with more than one student.
7 Yale University – Welch Hall (on campus)
Welch Hall, based at the Ivy-League Yale University in Connecticut, is a dormitory for freshmen and has been part of the university since the late 1800s making it all the more majestic. This is one of the most desirable on-campus accommodation options for Yale Students, mainly because it’s known for having a lot of one-person bedrooms, big common areas and doors leading to different parts of the building without the need to go outside. There’s also a late-night snack bar, a gym, a movie room and large outdoor courtyards. On the building’s fourth and fifth floors, the female dorms affectionately dubbed the “Princess Suites” can be found. These suites boast two-level common areas, large skylight windows and huge bedrooms.
6 University of Michigan – North Quadrangle Complex (on campus)
Officially opened in March 2010, the $175-million North Quadrangle Complex in Ann Arbor has 450 luxury rooms, all with wifi and central air. It is stylish with red brick and stone exteriors to match much of the rest of the university. Students can choose between single, double and triple rooms, costing upwards of $4,000 per semester in some cases. At this internationally-themed college dorm, there’s award-winning gourmet dining options (including shark on the menu apparently), a coffee shop for study sessions, a TV production studio, a big common area, and a good mix of study and lifestyle. One thing students won’t find is parking – they’re encouraged to use public transport or to bike or walk. According to reports, this accommodation option is one of the first to fill up every year.
5 Illinois Institute of Technology – State Street Village (on campus)
Even from the outside, this top college dorm in Chicago is luxurious and futuristic. SSV is the newest housing option for students at Illinois Institute of Technology. Students will get to benefit from exceptional views of Chicago city, temperature-controlled suites, 50-inch TVs in the common lounges, video games and pinball machines, three dining halls (including a full-service restaurant) and kitchens on each floor. Designed to look like the nearby “L” trains in Chicago, the State Street Village is sleek looking with metal and woof furnishings. It houses over 360 students, most of who live in suites. A private bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment at SSV costs almost $6,000 per semester.
4 Boston University – Student Village Phase 2 (on campus)
Boston’s Student Village Phase 2, also known as StuVi2, is 26 stories high, making it the tallest building in town. When it was opened in 2009, the Boston Globe said it was one of the most “opulent” dorms ever seen in Boston. It’s got walk-in wardrobes, 24-hour security, a penthouse suite, private (and shared) apartments, study rooms, bike storage, music rooms and a sleek exterior. It’s also got views of the Beantown skyline including the Bunker Hill monument and more. All in all, StuVi2 is known by everyone as the “jewel” of Boston University’s residential options, and can cost about $13,000 per year per student. It houses about 960 students all up.
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology – “The Sponge” (on campus)
Although officially named Simmons Hall, this student accommodation option at Cambridge’s MIT is known by most as “The Sponge” thanks to its unique sponge-like exterior. The building, which was completed in 2002, cost almost $80 million to construct and the result is modern luxury. Architect Stephen Holl actually set out to make this building look like a sponge, and he won several architectural awards for his work. Students living at Simmons Hall in 2014 will benefit from at least nine windows per room (meaning lots of sun), a pit of plastic balls to de-stress and pelt your friends, a 200-person media lounge and a two-storey gym looking out over the Boston skyline. The development houses 344 people, primarily undergraduates, in one and two-bedroom units. A single room costs about $4,500 per semester.
2 University of Missouri – The Domain (off campus)
About a mile away from the MIZZOU campus in Columbia, this off-campus residence for students aims to be “student living at its finest” with a whole lot of “over the top amenities”. Students get a free shuttle service to and from campus (and from downtown late at night) as well as many other perks. There’s a volleyball court, a business center, a golf simulator, an outdoor fire pit, free tanning, a video game room and a large resort-style pool. With a choice between one, two or four-bedroom units, students living at The Domain must sign on to a 12-month lease and can use the friendly “roommate matching” service to find a good fit.
1 University of Central Florida – NorthView (off campus)
The almost $60-million NorthView development offers UCF students a chance to live in luxury off campus and is marketed as a “resort-style community” and “the ultimate in college living”. Up to 600 students live in fully-furnished apartments just across the road from the UCF campus. NorthView offers a Swedish sauna and tanning area, beach volleyball and pool volleyball set ups, full fitness center, granite bench tops, 60-inch TVs in every apartment (with 200 cable TV channels) and walk-in wardrobes. A four-bedroom, four-bathroom loft apartment costs almost $3,800 per semester (per student). NorthView has been very popular since it opened in fall 2013 and is currently at more than 90% occupancy rate heading into the summer semester.