Far more than dormitories, Yale’s residential colleges serve as a home away from home for students. Each college has its own distinctive architecture, courtyard, dining hall, library, and activity spaces such as a movie theater, music room, recording studio, dance studio, and gym.
The term “college” can be misleading. Yale’s residential colleges have nothing to do with majors or academic interests. Before arriving as a first-year each student is randomly assigned to a college, where they will spend all four years. Each college creates a microcosm of the undergraduate student body as a whole, allowing students to have the cohesiveness and intimacy of a small school while still enjoying the vibrancy and resources of a world-class university. The residential colleges are among the most diverse communities at Yale; they are also the most significant in the everyday lives of Yale students.
The colleges provide an exceptional opportunity to meet and learn from students with different interests – people students might not otherwise encounter in their courses or extracurricular activities. While many students form their closest and most enduring friendships through their college, students can choose to engage in residential college life as much as they like.
The colleges also bring together faculty and students to form an integrated support system. Each College hosts guest speakers, fellowships, and cultural events. With programs of formal advising, seminars, and activities that encourage students’ extracurricular interests, the colleges create a dynamic bridge between academic and social life.
Now more than 75 years old, Yale’s residential college system is perhaps the most distinctive feature of undergraduate life at Yale.