The Great Penn State Housing Finesse

You never really know how bad situations can be until you’ve dug a deep, deep hole for yourself. For me, this hole was getting deeper and deeper, starting at the beginning of the school year. 


I have three words: Penn State housing. This summer, this department of Penn State that deals with on campus housing for students has been giving me more stress than some of my school work. However, I have proof that anything is possible when it comes to housing.


Before I begin, here is how on campus housing is set up for those who don’t know. There are seven residence areas with several dorms within each: North, South, East (freshmen only), West, Pollock, Nittany (which has apartments and dorms), and White Course Apartments.


In my opinion, I would say East and Pollock are probably the two you don’t want, except for the renovated dorms in East. In that case, Pollock is probably worse, which I’ll get to later. The other ones I think are pretty nice, especially the dorms that have just been renovated. 


In my sophomore year, I decided I wanted to be a resident assistant, or RA. I would get a free room and meal plan, which would cut my tuition by a lot. I was banking on that for my housing.


I found out in November that I didn’t get the job.

Then, I started looking off campus. I already signed a non-renewal form for my lease in my apartment (which we had to do before I got the decision about the RA job), so I couldn’t stay there next year. I won’t go much into this part, but let’s just say I realized really late in the game that it wasn’t going to work out between me and one of my friends I thought I was going to live with. 


I didn’t know what to do because all of my other friends had their housing situations figured out. Along comes my hero, Hannah. She is one of my best friends, and also a writer for Her Campus Penn State. She was planning to live on campus in a renovated dorm and thought that if we asked housing, they might be able to put us together.

They said they couldn’t place us together, but suggested that I take an on campus housing contract anyway. I would be placed in supplemental housing, where I could have up to 7 roommates (*groans*), but I would most likely be reassigned to a traditional dorm. They suggested to Hannah that if we want to live together, we could ask either of our roommates if they want to switch with one of us. We talked about it, and agreed to do that. 


Fast forward a few months, I was still in supplemental, and our housing assignments would come out soon. I was worried that I would be stuck there. Finally, just a few days before the housing assignments came out, I was placed in a traditional dorm. I was extremely happy and hopeful that Hannah and I would live together. That is, until I actually got my assignment. 


I was placed in Pollock. POLLOCK.

As I mentioned, Pollock is probably one of the worst residence areas to live in. I never lived there, but I have stayed there for camps and for freshman orientation, and the rooms seem tiny. It may just be the way they are set up, but you really have no privacy. The beds are perpendicular, and literally almost touching each other. With the way the wardrobes and desks are set up, it leaves very little space to walk. 


One thing I can say is Pollock dining commons are nice, and they’re doing some renovations there so it will be even nicer. 


As far as the rooms go, let's just say it’s just not somewhere I would want to live. 


I didn’t expect Hannah to want to live there either, and I was right. We tried to see if her roommate would by some miracle want to switch to pollock, but she didn’t, of course. I was extremely bummed. 


I took to the exchange board, which is where you go on the housing website to try and exchange your room for some else’s. You can only see posts for people that want your dorm, and you can make your own posts for dorms you want. I tried to exchange with some people, but my request kept getting canceled because they probably found something better than Pollock. 


I was very, very sad. It was mostly because I wanted to live with Hannah, but I just didn’t want to live in Pollock with a random roommate. My mom knew I was genuinely upset because I really never complain about anything. She suggested that I talk to housing and see if there was anything I could do to switch rooms. I didn’t expect them to change my room, but perhaps they could suggest a waitlist I could put myself on. I could even ask what chance I have of switching my room on the exchange board. 


Then, a miracle happened. Housing said there was nothing they could do, however they just had a cancellation in Nittany Hall, and no one was on the waitlist for that dorm. They said I could have it if I wanted it. 


Thank you, Mom! Thank you, Penn State housing! Thank you, people of Penn State that did not go on the Nittany Hall waitlist!

Of course, I took it. I told Hannah, and I think she was surprised that I switched out of Pollock. Boy, that was hard to do. 


First, we tried to see if Hannah’s roommate would switch with me. She didn’t because she wanted to stay in a renovated South dorm, but Hannah said she would switch with my roommate. I texted my roommate to see if she would want to. 


While I was waiting for her to answer, I got curious and went to the exchange board to see how many people wanted Nittany Hall. The list was much longer than when I was in Pollock. I noticed something interesting: someone in Stephens Hall, which is a renovated South dorm like Hannah’s, was trying to exchange for Nittany Hall. Since my roommate wasn’t answering, I told Hannah that I was going to try and get that. It was better because we would both be in renovated South either way. 


I switched to Stephens Hall, and I asked my new roommate if she would switch with Hannah. Guess what, Collegiettes. She did! Now, Hannah and I are roommates!

I went from supplemental housing to renovated South, the worst to the best. You can usually only get a renovated dorm if you apply for it early in the year, but not me. I finessed the system all too well, and struck gold in the end. 


It goes to show that with just a little hard work and determination, you can get anything you want in life. Whether it’s something small like the dorm you want, or something big like the job you’ve been dreaming of, you can absolutely do it.