Freshmen Advice: When You Don't Live in the Towers

So you’ve made your decision to come to TCNJ, bought that college apparel and joined all the social media groups for the Class of 2022. No doubt, on your tours here, you’ve seen the Towers and their mural-covered walls. Perhaps every alumni you’ve spoken to mentions living in the Towers their freshman year and remembers the experience fondly.

But, I’m here to tell you what might at first seem to be the unfortunate truth that not every freshman lives in the Towers. There are three other residence halls that house freshman: ABE, Centennial and Norsworthy. While the first two are exclusively freshman buildings, in recent years, Norsworthy has been home to freshman, sophomores and some transfer students. They are much smaller than the Towers, only 3 floors each as opposed to 10. Centennial is separated in two wings by gender, but the rest are coed.

When you first see your housing assignment as either of these three buildings, you will likely face a crushing wave of disappointment. You might feel like crying and may ask your parents to call the school and see if you can be moved to the Towers.

As someone who lived in Centennial her freshman year and served as a Community Advisor in ABE as a sophomore and will be there again as a junior, the Lakeside freshman dorms are near and dear to my heart.

These buildings still have floors of approximately 50 people, but since the buildings themselves are pretty small, it feels like a smaller living community. They’re typically quieter and more laid-back than the Towers, at least in my opinion.

Sometimes, it’s easier to get close to your floor in a smaller community like these. There are less people around, and so you see the people in your proximity more often and can get to know them better.

It also goes the other way, if you find it hard to connect with people on your floor, there aren’t that many other groups to connect with.

However, you shouldn’t be sad or nervous if you are assigned to live in ABE, Cent or Nors. You will get opportunities to meet people from the Towers in your classes or clubs, or through sports, if you are part of them. You might have to put yourself out there more to connect with people who are not from your floor, or building, and it might take a little more time to get to know them, but it doesn’t mean you won’t form as close relationships as they did.

I met my best friend on my freshman floor in Centennial and since we are in very different majors, we would probably never have started talking if we didn’t live in such close proximity. So many of my residents this year told me how upset they were to find out they would be living in Allen, but they’ve created some very close friendships and have enjoyed their time here.

ABE, Cent and Nors all have the lake in their backyards and are very close to Eick, lib café and ed café. They have a pretty central location in comparison to the Towers, and so you can roll out of bed at 7:45 and still make it to class on time if you have one of the dreaded 8ams.

I want to end by saying that wherever you live, you’re only going to get as much out of your living community as you put into it. If you talk to people, and try to get to know your community, and people in your classes, where you live isn’t a big deal. For everyone who doesn’t live in the Towers, you might not get the quintessential TCNJ freshman year experience, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a great one too. You’ll have something to bond with your own communities about because all of you will not be living in the Towers.

If you decide now that you won’t enjoy living where you are placed if it’s not Travers or Wolfe, you probably won’t end up enjoying it. Wherever you’re placed, know that you are in charge of the experience you have. Maybe you don’t end up becoming best friends with the people in your floor, but maybe you do. Maybe you’ll get better at making friends through classes because you don’t have the Towers experience. Maybe you’ll find your niche in the first two weeks of college, but maybe it’ll take until sophomore year to really find your place.

Whatever happens, the places you live doesn’t determine who you’re going to be, or who you’re going to know. You determine the shape of your college career.