Middlebury College is residential campus, with 98 percent of the senior class living on campus. Our housing system is based on the “commons system.” I haven’t seen the Harry Potter movies, but some describe Middlebury’s system as similar to Hogwarts School’s. We have five commons, Atwater, Brainerd, Cook, Ross, and Wonnacott. Each has a dean, faculty heads, coordinator, commons residential advisors (CRA), first-year counselors (FYCs), and residential advisors (RAs). FYCs and RAs are usually well-trained Middlebury juniors and seniors who live in freshman and upper-class housing respectively. The idea behind the commons system is to create smaller and more integrated communities within our already tightly-knit community. Around 450 students are assigned to each commons with their own dean, faculty heads, CRA, FYCs, and RAs. As a freshman, you’re most likely to share a room, but your options improve every year. Sophomores can choose singles or doubles, shared suites, or houses with friends. There are academic-interest housing as well as social houses, as well as houses for every language taught here! The latter aren’t necessarily tied to a commons.
Commons host dinners with remarkable visiting speakers. These dinners provide opportunities such as eating with Victor Zhikai Gao, translator for Deng Xiaoping (China’s Premier during its ’80s economic reforms). For the student interested in Chinese politics and history, that is one amazing event! Commons also sponsor events such as trips to Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, 45 minutes north of Middlebury.
I live in Ross Commons, and I love it! My freshman year I lived in a suite with five other girls whom I consider my “Middlebury Family.” One room combined Afghanistan with South Burlington; another, CT with NYC/Thailand; and the third, NYC with Kenya. We had an amazing year together. Although I chose a single room as a sophomore, some of my close friends lived on my floor. I studied in Egypt my junior fall and roomed with an Egyptian, returning to Ross in the spring. You’re only required to live in your commons for the first two years. You then can live anywhere on campus while retaining your affiliation with your commons, and receiving notice of dinner speakers, and generally staying in touch, especially with your dean. I stayed at Ross, which has great senior housing choices (my personal bias). I live in an enormous single twice as big as my freshman double! It is great, with the best view of the Adirondack Mountains as the sun slowly disappears beyond.
Vermont’s unpredictable weather patterns brought us snow just a few days ago—and I didn’t even have to leave the building! I went to the dining hall in my PJs while others bundled up. I happened to have only one class that day—and we meet at Ross! I spent the rest of the day in the study room, working on my grad school application.