There are some great dorms at JMU, even for freshman. JMU has seven different areas that house dorms. These areas are Bluestone, Hillside, Lakeside, Skyline, the Village, Grace Street Apartments (upperclassmen only), and the Tree Houses (upperclassmen only). This list will rank the areas in which the dorms are located from best to worst (Grace Street and Tree Houses ranked separately). The dorms/locations will be ranked on the following criteria: proximity to food, location on campus, distance from amenities, AC access, and building layout. Each area will also include a “stand-out” dorm which will be the best overall in the given area.
The Ranking of JMU Dorms & Areas
#1: The Village Area
Huffman, Frederikson, Garber, Ikenberry, Dingledine, Chappelear, and Hanson are the freshman dorms in this area, and White Hall is the only upperclassmen hall in the Village. This area took the cake in the food, location, and building layout categories. The Village parking lot is going to house D-Hub until the new D-Hall opens in 2018, and it is also very close to TDU, P.C. Dukes, and Top Dog. It is centrally located, so it is typically no more than a ten to fifteen-minute walk to any class on campus. Village dorms are arranged in a suite style which, in my opinion, is one of the easiest ways to make new friends as a freshman. Living in the suite gives you four other roommates that you can interact with. The village does not have AC, and it can be a hike from the two libraries on campus, especially in the rain or snow!
#1 Dorm in Village Area: Hanson
This was tough since all the Village dorms are nicely located on campus, but Hanson probably has the biggest advantages. Don’t like to walk? You have a bus stop right outside your building. Go to the gym often? You have the quickest access to Duke Dog Alley, which will come out right at the gym. Are you in the College of Business? Well, lucky for you, Zane Showker Hall (which houses most of the COB classes) is a very short walk away.
#2: The Hillside Area
All the dorms in Hillside are freshman dorms. These dorms include Hillside Hall, Bell, and McGraw-Long. These halls all have AC and are close to the Quad, which will be beneficial if most of your classes are there. The dorms are also fairly close to D-Hub. The quickest food options, though, are TDU, P.C. Dukes, or Top Dog. The building is set up hall style with community bathrooms that are cleaned by JMU housekeeping staff. Since Hillside is so close to the Quad, it won’t take but a few minutes to get to Carrier library, though, it will be a bit more of a hike to ECL.
#1 Dorm in Hillside Area: Hillside Hall
For me, there was a clear winner for this one, and it is Hillside Hall. Hillside is the hall that is closest to all the food and amenities, and it is directly on Hillside field (which is really nice for relaxing on sunny days). Hillside Hall also hosts the Hillside computer lab which is open 24 hours a day (this is located in the basement).
#3: The Bluestone Area
This area has eight different dorms. Three upperclassmen dorms, Ashby, Wampler, and Converse, and five freshman dorms, Gifford, Hoffman, Logan, Spotswood, and Wayland. Since Gibbons Hall has been torn down, food is a bit of a stretch from these dorms. The temporary Chick-fil-a will be behind Moody Hall, so that will be the closest food source (but they only take Dining Dollars). The closet food options for using punches will be SSC, P.C. Dukes, or Top Dog. If your major is on the Quad or you have a bunch of classes there, you are in luck since Bluestone dorms are right off of the Quad (if you have a bunch of classes on East Campus, I’m so sorry). These dorms are really close to Carrier and the stadium. All of these buildings, except for Spotswood, have AC. All of these halls also offer a hall style environment.
#1 Dorm in Bluestone Area: Hoffman Hall
This was also a fairly easy decision that Hoffman Hall be the stand-out for this area. Often getting the name of “Hotel Hoffman” (and no, I am not lying about that), this building was renovated in 2008 and offers big windows and a beautiful interior. There is also the Hoffman bus stop for all those 8 AM’s you may have on East Campus.
#4: The Skyline Area
These dorms are definitely the new constructions on campus. Potomac and Chesapeake are both freshman dorms while Shenandoah is an upperclassmen and freshman dorm (these freshmen are usually in the Honors College). The closest food options (and two of my favorites) are E-Hall and Festival Food Court (try Cheese Please ASAP). You’re all set if most of your classes are on East Campus, but if they aren’t, it is a daunting walk to Main Campus from these dorms. You have easy access to ECL and the ISAT computer labs for work you have to do, and all of these dorms have AC. All three of these dorms have two separate wings that have five floors a piece (so you have plenty of people to get to know), and all three of them are hall style.
#1 Dorm in the Skyline Area: Chesapeake Hall
Chesapeake Hall wins out of the three Skyline dorms. It is in the middle, which lends it to have amazing views. You can also walk out of the back door and be at the front door of E-Hall and Jemmy’s Corner Market.
#5: The Lakeside Area
This is the collection of dorms people complain about the most (sorry Lakesiders). Eagle and Shorts are the two freshman dorms available in this area, and Chandler is an upperclassmen dorm. Eagle has a bad reputation of being a heavily party-oriented dorm, and often has fire alarms going off in the middle of the night. People do love living in Lakeside, and they sometimes choose to go back to live for another year. Mrs. Green’s, a buffet or carry-out food option, is located in the basement of Chandler Hall. Unless you are a COB major, your classes will be a good distance. Both libraries are far, but Showker does have computer labs that can be used. None of these buildings are air-conditioned (you can survive without it; I promise). Eagle has three different wings that have either six or seven double rooms per wing and two wings share a bathroom. Shorts and Chandler are both suite style halls. Two suites share a bathroom in these halls.
#1 Dorm in the Lakeside Area: Chandler
I believe, although it is only an upperclassman dorm, Chandler wins this one. It has a food option in the basement, although it isn’t open on the weekends, it has some COB classes on the first floor, and it is right behind Showker. It is the ideal location if you have to take a ton of classes in ZSH.
Grace Street vs. The Tree Houses
#1: Grace Street Apartments
These are really great options for upperclassmen. The apartments were built in 2015, so they have barely been lived in. There is also a Subway available to grab a bit to eat. The downfalls are that you have to pay an extra $500 to live there, and the apartments are close to Memorial Hall but far away from other areas of campus.
#2: The Tree Houses
Located of the West side of Newman Lake, the Tree Houses include Maple, Oak, and Willow, along with Greek Row. While they are hall style, they are said to be very cozy since there are only seven rooms per floor. If you are in a frat or a sorority but don’t want to live in the official house, you can live in one of these dorms and be right beside the houses. Their location leads to some distance from any amenities, food, and classes on campus. All of these buildings do offer AC, so that’s a big plus.