How to make housing work for you

    Home sweet home? It could be. There are still apartments available in Evanston. Photo by the author.

    Housing blues got you down? Whether you’re stuck in the dorm from hell or just so lazy you never got around to signing up for housing at all, you’re not out of luck — there are still rooms available on campus. And if you’re ready to move out of the meal plan-mandated dormitories, it’s not too late to snag a place in Evanston.

    What’s the story on dorms?

    Every student who applied for a priority number had the chance to reserve a room on campus for the 2008-2009 school year, according to Undergraduate Housing Associate Director Mark D’Arienzo.

    While some freshmen have complained that dorms filled up faster this year than in the past, D’Arienzo said about the same number of students sought on-campus housing this year as did last year. The only difference this time, he said, was that fewer rising sophomores registered for housing, while more of next year’s juniors and seniors expressed interest.

    Although no students were turned away from on-campus housing entirely, some students with high priority numbers were less than thrilled with the dorm options left for them. McCormick freshman Sloane McNulty said she wanted to live in Bobb Hall or McCulloch Hall, but she resorted to choosing a room in Sargent when the first two filled up before her selection time. McNulty’s priority number was 1736.

    “I wanted to live in Bobb with all of my friends,” McNulty said. “But by the time it was my turn, Sargent was one of the only dorms left on North Campus.”

    McNulty requested to be on the wait lists for Bobb and McCulloch minutes after the housing contracts were distributed via e-mail.

    What are the chances of getting in off the wait list?

    According to D’Arienzo, McNulty and other students on dorm wait lists shouldn’t be too concerned. It’s not like a college wait list; people do get into residence halls by placing themselves on these lists. In fact, D’Arienzo said every student with a “feasible” waitlist request last year was satisfied. He defines feasible requests as those seeking a room that exists on campus.

    “If they were asking for a single in Allison, it didn’t happen because there’s no such thing,” D’Arienzo said. “Other than those impossible requests, if students applied to be on the waitlist at the time they signed their contracts, they all got in.”

    What if you never registered for a priority number but still want to live in a residence hall?

    It’s not too late to get a room on campus, even if you skipped the room selection process the first time around. Although Northwestern doesn’t guarantee students housing past freshman year, there are still spots available. D’Arienzo said there are singles open in Foster-Walker and a small number of rooms in other residence halls around campus. GREEN House (Group Residence for Environmental Engagement at Northwestern), the new environmentally-themed living community, also has eight spots left for upperclassmen, according to Green House Co-Founder Jackie Beard. Most of the more popular dorms, though, like Allison, Bobb, McCulloch, Willard and Kemper, are already full.

    Students still looking to reserve a room on campus should contact the Undergraduate Housing Office at

    Why doesn’t Northwestern guarantee housing to upperclassmen?

    Even without an official housing guarantee, D’Arienzo said the school has never turned away any student looking for on-campus housing. According to him, Northwestern hasn’t considered a four-year housing guarantee because it would be unrealistic to assume that every student would want to live on campus for all four years.

    “We can’t guarantee housing because that implies we have one bed for every one of the 8000 undergraduates registered,” D’Arienzo said.

    What about off campus living?

    For those students who have had enough of hairy showers, signing in guests and the double-occupancy rule, there’s still time to find an oasis beyond Northwestern’s grounds. There are a number of free real estate agencies serving the Evanston area, such as North Shore Apartments & Condos, Inc., as well as online resources like the classified ads on the Daily Northwestern’s web site and Craigslist.

    Although students began signing leases for off-campus houses and apartments as early as January, some apartments are still available in off-campus buildings popular among Northwestern students, according to North Shore Apartments & Condos Managing Broker Andy Scott. Scott said open apartments exist in buildings at Sherman and Noyes, Simpson and Ridge, and Maple and Noyes. Many downtown apartments are also still on the market. Some of these available off-campus abodes may even be good finds; Scott called the apartments at Simpson and Ridge “huge,” but said they usually rent for the same or less than those in the other two buildings.

    “The apartments at Simpson and Ridge have lots of space, but they are a couple of blocks further away from campus so they’re around the same prices as smaller apartments closer to Northwestern,” Scott said.

    Rent varies from building to building, but many of the apartments available from North Shore Apartments & Condos or listed on Craigslist have a monthly rent of about $1100 for one bedroom, $1500 for two bedrooms and $2000 for three bedrooms. As a rule of thumb, Scott said the apartments closer to campus are more expensive, but that prices reflect everything from size to location to furnishing.

    If you’re still looking for a place for the ‘08-’09 school year, Scott said to call North Shore Apartments & Condos at (847) 491-9039 with a price range and an idea of where you’d like to be located.

    A word of warning, though: Be prepared to sign a 12-month lease when renting an Evanston apartment. This means that if you plan to leave Northwestern over the summer, you’ll have to find someone to sublet or you’ll be stuck with the bill from an empty apartment!

    Monthly rates for apartments still available through North Shore Apartments & Condos

    1 Bedroom2 Bedrooms3 Bedrooms


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