Choosing a dorm at Wisconsin Madison as a freshmen

My son will be majoring in mechanical engineering and attending Wisconsin Madison. What are the best dorms to choose from? Which dorms are best Lakeshore or Southeast? One post talked of southeast more partying and lakeshore more focused. What are the best dorms for a freshmen?

Have him explore the Housing website.

He may be interested in a Learning Community like Chadbourne or Bradley.

Thanks! What about Witte and Sellery?

Witte and Sellery are known as the “party” dorms on campus. They’re still nice places to live and there’s a really good sense of community. The lakeshore dorms are closer to the engineering campus if that helps at all. The Engineering campus is closer to West Campus whereas the Southeast dorms are on East Campus.

This was very helpful! He was interested in the lakeshore dorms, especially Dejobe then someone told him that southeast was better. I told him he had to research and read the info. What more feedback would you share about a freshmen choosing the right dorm? I shared with him that I read lakeshore was closer to engineering although I didn’t know if that would be the case his freshmen year.

I like this dorm best:

Though rooms are smaller than in some of the new dorms, it does have air conditioning (not all dorms have it). It has its own dining hall and a central location.

It is a Learning Community so if the student ranks it first, he/she will almost certainly receive his/her first choice (and can choose the exact room).

Unless a dorm is a learning community and ranked first, you can’t count on being assigned there.


See other dorm threads- I just posted on one. There are many variables to consider. I dislike Chad- an opposite opinion of the one above. Remember- the student, not the parents, need to choose the dorm. There are really no bad choices. All are maintained and each has pros and cons (which are pros and which are cons depend on the student).

Thanks-I agree that the student and not me make the choice. I am just still asking questions and the feedback is helpful. He did state that he wanted to live in the Southeast dorms.

Where do I find your other dorm thread that you posted? I don’t see it.

“Choosing rooms for housing”.

My son will be in Witte dorms and doing multicultural Learning
Do they have to purchase curtains
Where does he purchase books?
Does me need a printer?

Look at the Res Halls website for his dorm specifics. Check the do/do not bring lists. SOAR should answer most questions for him about that as well. Window coverings should be provided- curtains would be for decoration I would think.

Options for buying books are all private- he can choose wherever he wants. University Bookstore (NOT a part of UW) is on State St and there are others. Online purchases work as well.

There is printing available through Res Halls I believe- the cost of it may be cheaper than buying one plus ink. Also, if he takes computer science he will have a certain number of free pages that can be used for anything.

Current students will be helpful here. I wonder- can some work be submitted electronically now???

btw- don’t go overboard with attempting to decorate for your son. I remember walking through son’s dorm in the fall and noticing guys weren’t into decorating like the women. Remember it is the student who takes charge (parents still are welcome to pay bills).

Witte has window blinds so you don’t need to buy curtains.

I looked at the Res Halls current dorm website- wow. They have videos of real rooms for all of the dorms- messiness and all. You can do a virtual 360 and go up/down towards the ceiling and floor. Add the unlived in lofting guides and you get a nice feel for a room in every dorm. A few dorms have light blocking style curtains but most seem to have shades. Most no longer have closet doors. A view of a room discloses the lockable drawer- different in various dorms. I noticed how they removed most fixed furniture but kept built in dressers (they could have kept the shelves above them). You can see the various eras’ building styles and retrofits as well. Certainly plenty of differences along with the similarities in modern style furnishings and amenities. Ranking dorm choices is about much more than location.

Please note the relative lack of space when figuring out what students should bring. The refrigerator is provided but only one microwave is needed- something roommates need to discuss and decide who provides it. Definitely another discussion is lofting options- no student should compromise if one desires to wake up and put both feet on the floor. There are towel bars- even if some students choose to ignore them (as son did and I saw in one room). Enough closet space and other storage if one does not bring everything likely found in a typical teen’s nonshared bedroom.

Things on “what to bring lists” are not always wanted. Rain boots? Or even for snow for some. Thanksgiving is soon enough for winter gear (and remember to check the school calendar- there can be major exams the Wednesday before the big day so don’t figure on skipping out for a whole week).

Res Halls has printing covered in its tech centers. Remember the ethernet cables for direct computer connections (I wonder if the front desks still sell them more cheaply than we paid beforehand).

Moving in. Remember it is your son’s show. Only he can pick up his key. Parking is limited by time. Pay attention to the details given on the website and in info sent to him- everything you need to know is there.

The campus, including dorms, constantly evolves. Your son is in for a fantastic experience.

You have been so helpful! Feedback awesome

@blackbeauty66 Just talked to my rising sophomore son about your questions, and he said that although he wished many times that he had a printer in his room, he managed just fine without it. It did mean having to drag himself out to the library or to Dejope late at night. One friend on his floor who had a printer was a very, very popular guy and occasionally allowed friends to print one or two-pagers. He also said that a couple of things you might consider: headphones (not just earbuds), portable speakers for sharing music experiences, thermal everything, comfortable waterproof footwear, sturdy laundry basket and plenty of detergent pods, a folding side table (something larger than a tray) because there just isn’t enough space for everything on the desktop or windowsill; disposable utensils and a microwavable bowl for cereal/oatmeal. he also said that he and his roomie never, ever closed their blinds in their room for the entire year, and they didn’t have curtains. Boys really are different from girls.

I stayed in Sellery my first two years, before opting for off-campus housing (fraternity).

The Southeast dorms are closer to:

  • State Street
  • Bascom Hill & Hall
  • Business, Communications/Journalism, Psychology, and Humanities buildings
  • Memorial Library, the Mall, Historical Society, Langdon Street
  • Kohl Center

The Lake Shore dorms are relatively closer to:

  • Engineering and some other STEM buildings
  • University Hospital
  • Lake Mendota/Picnic Point

They are roughly equidistant from the Memorial Union (depending on the individual dorms you’re comparing…).

In essence, Southeast has more of an urban/city feel, while Lake Shore has more of a woodsy feel.

UW parent here, I agree that a printer is not worth it. I believe it has to be wired, not wireless, and my kid and his roommate could never bother to get it hooked up properly. They just printed in the dorm computer lab, or if they had already left the dorm, in any one of the many many on campus places to print – libraries, various academic buildings etc.

Witte has shades, so no window coverings needed. I foolishly rigged up some kind of curtain for the open closet, which lasted until our car drove out of the parking lot.

Books required for classes are listed on the MyUW class search function – click on the class, and there will be a “book” icon, click on that for the book list. The UW bookstore also has an online search function for books, by class, but the MyUW site is sometimes more current, there is some lag between that and the bookstore. Buy used or rent when possible, paying attention to when a book includes an online access key, which usually is only available in a hard copy new version, not the used version. UW Bookstore has a compare price function which will show what the book is selling for, new and used, on other online sources such as Amazon, Abe books etc. If the student might change the classes they are taking once classes begin – then there can be an advantage to buying new books from UW bookstore for the classes that might change because they can be easily returned (if not marked up etc). Used cannot be returned.

A phenomenal university, congrats to your son, and On Wisconsin!