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Residential Life

Knowing that Carleton is a residential college, you might expect our dorms and houses to be the center of life for many students... and you’d be right. Sure, we joke about the Libe as a hub of social life, but really, our students spend more time in their residence halls than anywhere else on campus.

With housing guaranteed for all four years, and a variety of options to choose from, it's no surprise that nearly 95% of Carleton students live in college-owned housing. And whether it's in a residence hall, a shared interest house, or one of the coveted campus townhouses, Carls pack a lot of life into their residential life! From pizza study breaks to Bad Poetry Night to raucous games of Settlers and Apples to Apples, the activities that go on in Carleton’s halls and houses are often some of the most memorable of your college experiences.

Residence Halls

Most of Carleton's students—and all first-year students—live in one of the College's residence halls, also known as dormitories or just simply "dorms." Most floors have a diverse mix of men and women from all four class years, and this is an important difference between Carleton's dorms and the ones you'll find at many colleges: we don't isolate our first-year students into just one dorm on campus. Instead, you'll find friends from your class year living all over campus, and your neighbors could be freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Just think of all the built-in homework help! And of course, each dorm has upperclassmen Resident Assistants (RAs) to help coordinate floor and hall activities and other social and educational events. All dorms have lounges, TVs and laundry facilities, all campus buildings are smoke-free, and most halls have substance-free floors.

Other Campus Housing

In addition to the residence halls, Carleton has ten apartment-style townhouses on campus and over two dozen other college-owned houses in the surrounding neighborhood. Several of the houses are shared interest living communities, where students with a particular passion—sustainability, faith, outdoor adventure, food, and science fiction, to name a few—can share space and ideas with like-minded classmates.


Generally speaking, we're a safe community. However, we encourage prospective students to review the Carleton College Annual Security and Fire safety Report. The Report includes statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in residence halls; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Carleton College; and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus. The Report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security such as sexual assault and other matters. You can obtain a copy of this Report by contacting Carleton College Security Services or online here.

  • Johnson House
    What does the social life of a student consist of? Are parties considered a normality or a matter of expulsion? The Admissions Office says:

    The answer to the first question is: the social life depends on the student. For some, the perfect Friday night is spent watching movies with friends. For others it is spent at a coffee shop, or holding a bonfire on Mai Fete Island. Maybe it's running in the arboretum, or playing Frisbee with floor-mates. And since this is Carleton, there is probably someone playing Scrabble somewhere, or knitting, or juggling.

    As to the second question: a party certainly isn't a reason to expel someone. No one, to our knowledge, has died from dancing badly, or often. Because this is a college, and because some of our students are over 21, there are parties that involve alcohol (though there are plenty that do not). If a party involves alcohol, we expect students to make healthy and legal choices. If someone makes poor choices, then each case is dealt with individually and in accordance with school policy.

    See how some of our students describe campus life.