Community: Living and Learning in the Residential College

Spencer Asch

79 Washington Square East on West 4th Street, the Paulette Goddard Residence Hall

Prospective students and parents often ask: “New York is such a big city. How do students find community while living on campus?” While there are plenty of articles on the residential community, it is important to recognize that each residence hall is different. You can see the individual residence hall pages here. This article will highlight a unique community that students can engage in while living on campus: The Residential College.

Location, Location, Location

A map of Greenwich Village, Goddard Hall is circled right at the center of campus.
Goddard is in the heart of campus, steps away from food, from class, and from numerous restaurants and art galleries.

As a first-year student on campus in the Residential College Program, you will live in Goddard Hall. Located at 79 Washington Square East, Goddard offers great views and easy access to the main academic buildings on campus. Beautiful in any time of year, Washington Square Park becomes your front yard. In addition, Goddard is right across the street from Bobst Library, the Kimmel Center for University Life, and is only a four-minute walk from seven dining halls. Most school buildings are located nearby, meaning a bedroom-to-classroom commute of seven minutes or less.

As a coffee lover, I have to mention Goddard’s storefront: the campus Starbucks. As a first-year resident, I can’t count the number of times I walked downstairs in my pajamas to grab a hot chocolate or an iced coffee. If Starbucks isn’t your thing, there are several different cafes nearby. Part of the fun is finding a new spot for afternoon or evening studying.

The Application

A person writing in a notebook.
The Residential College is a small community—submitting an application is required to join.

“Res College”, as it is known to residents, is designed as a smaller and student-driven residential community. Since it is purposefully designed as a tight-knit group of students, interested residents must apply to join. This is a unique aspect of the Residential College that is done during the housing selection process. There are two key components: selecting an “Engagement Stream” and writing your Statement of Interest.

Choosing Your Stream

A person playing piano in Washington Square Park.

You might be wondering what an “Engagement Stream” is. In other words, a “stream” refers to interest-based student community group. Each stream comes with its own associated activities. These are lead by a Faculty Affiliate and assisted by a Resident Assistant. Currently there are four streams for different interests: All the World’s a Stage, Creators and Innovators, Global New York, and Inequality and Difference.

Coming from a rather remote community, I knew living in New York would present me with new and diverse perspectives. As a result, I decided to join the Social Justice League, an early predecessor of the Inequality and Difference stream. There were a lot of incredible activities:

  • A Guggenheim Museum lecture with Claudia Rankine,
  • A religious talk with Hillary Clinton at Riverside Church,
  • An interactive exhibit by author Ta-Nehisi Coates,
  • A conference on activism at the Brooklyn Museum,
  • A visit to the United Nations Headquarters, and
  • Trips to the Women’s March and Climate March

Being a part of a stream is an easy way to form community on campus. Your fellow stream members will be your neighbors or even your roommate. This means you’ll have similar interests right from the start and go on exciting adventures throughout the city. You may even have class together.

Writing the Essay

A student writing on a piece of paper.

Speaking of class, one of the most beneficial parts of being a Goddard resident is its “Writing the Essay” course. Although WTE is required for most first-year students, these courses taught at Goddard are uniquely integrated with stream programming experiences. Residents have class in the building’s second-floor classroom and are taught by the same Stream Faculty Affiliate, meaning easy commutes and a strong connection with your professor.

Ready-to-Join Community

Students gather around professor during an interactive lecture
Students in Goddard often travel on community excursions around New York City with Faculty Affiliates

The Residential College program is perfect for students anxious about the scale of NYU and NYC. As a small-town student myself, Goddard was the perfect community that came “ready-to-join”, complete with academically and globally diverse new friends, activities, and experiences.

An important note about Goddard is that the students who join the Res College are actively looking for and interested in forming community at NYU. Goddard residents can easily connect to different organizations and offices on campus. My Faculty Affiliate connected us to a lot of personal and professional development programs through the NYU Leadership Initiative and the Wasserman Center for Career Development. As the smallest (~200 students) residence hall on campus, you will frequently run into other Goddardites. It is designed to provide students the support and platform they need to adapt to their new surroundings and to expand their horizons.

That is to say, if Goddard sounds like a place you would like to live, I’d encourage you to apply. College is about new adventures and unique experiences. The Residential College is just one of many ways to find community on campus. In my eyes, it is one of the best places to start your journey on the right foot.