First Year Housing

Where do First Year students live?

First Year students live in West Hall residence, primarily in double and triple rooms with private bathrooms. All incoming students complete a housing profile to be matched with roommates within the First Year class. The ResLife team utilizes a series of qualitative and quantitative questions to holistically pair students together.

West Hall
The silver West Hall residence building sign

Incoming students receive the Housing Agreement & Roommate Profile via their Olin email account in June.  This form has incoming students review the housing agreement, complete basic contact information for themselves and their emergency contacts, inputs student directory data, and completes the roommate matching profile.  We highly encourage students to complete this profile independently and directly based on how you operate today. Matching roommates is a tricky puzzle, with some questions we find opposites attract while in others matches tend to be the best match.  All in, we will completely review your profile and do our best to find your best match.  We also utilize this information to best cultivate intentional communities within the wings of West Hall.

Roommate Profile Questions

  • Short Essay Responses
    • Describe yourself and what you are looking for in a roommate relationship.
    • In considering the gender identify of your potential roommate, please select all which best describe yourself and all which best describe who you are comfortable being paired with as a roommate.
    • Looking forward to your experience across campus, tell us how you see yourself making the most friends and/or where you would spend the most time
  • Rank statements pertaining to:
    • Level of cleanliness roommates can expect from you:
    • When you typically would go to sleep on week nights:
    • Adjective to best describes how you interact with others
    • Best describes the noise levels for a successful living environment:
    • Comfort with guests visiting your room

Students seeking an accommodation to the housing assignment process or the assigned housing due to a disability-related reason are to request the accommodation through Disability Services. Given the limited on-campus housing, please submit accommodation requests before the deadlines listed in the Housing Assignment Process section above, where it is possible to do so.



Although Residence Life works with Disability Services to address disability-related housing accommodation requests, students must make those requests directly to Disability services. To contact Disability services, visit their section on Olin’s website: https://www.olin.edu/student-life/disability-services or email disability.services@olin.edu.

A photo of a young woman unloading a tote from the trunk of her car

Packing for Your Olin Experience

We always encourage students to pack light as many of the things you may think you need will be left untouched under your bed all year. Just a 7 mile drive from campus is the Natick Mall & Shoppers World of Framingham where you can find just about anything you may need from a wide variety of big-box stores. Below you will find our packing list categories for you to consider, but by no means should you feel the need to bring everything on the list!

First Year Packing List

For the bed (Twin XL Mattress is 36" X 80", 95cm X 203cm)

  • Pillows
  • Sheets (Twin XL)
  • Blankets, comforter, duvet - your choice

For the Wardrobe & Dresser

  • Clothing you wear frequently, find comfortable
  • At least one professional outfit for the Career Fair
  • Hangers
  • High Efficiency laundry detergent
  • Laundry basket, bag, or hamper

For the bathroom

  • Towels
  • Toiletries & cosmetics
  • Medications
  • Cleaning supplies (Multi-surface cleaner, toilet cleaner, etc) 
    • Talk with your roommate to split the list 
    • You can get basic toilet paper from the trash room, some folks prefer to bring name brand

For the Desk & Classroom

  • Chargers for phones & other tech
  • Wattage adaptors (International Students)
  • Surge protectors (no extension cords)
  • Your tools for successful study 
    • If you love your paper planner, bring it & the stickers
    • If you find success in paper notes - bring the stationary
    • If you organize your life on a tablet, bring it!

For life on campus

  • Reusable Eating utensils (you can buy a reusable take-out container at the dining hall, but you need your own forks to eat in your room)
  • Water bottle 
  • Bookbag 
  • Acceptable ID for Student Employment if seeking jobs on campus (e.g., passport or birth certificat AND drivers license, etc)

Creating a Home-Like Environment

  • Desk Lamps and reading lights add a much-needed option to dim your room
  • Aroma diffusers and fragrance sprays are a great way impact the olfactory experience of your room without violating the no fire policy that prohibits candles & incense 
  • Small rugs add color and softness (though most rooms have wall-to-wall carpeting)
  • Mattress pads can make the provided mattresses much softer - we encourage folks to try out the mattress as is and then order a mattress topper if you are unsure how soft you like your mattress

Think about Food

  • All students have a meal plan, but food and snacks can be a great way to bring home to the dorms
  • All rooms have a microwave-fridge unit, so bring a few microwave safe bowls, mugs, plates
  • Favorite Snacks & Drinks
  • Community Kitchens have a baseline of pots & pans but if you are passionate about cooking some students like to have their own supplies

Decorating Your Room

  • Posters and lightweight artwork 
    • Removable wall hooks and sticky mount are great
    • Duct tape, screws, and any other major wall damaging devices yield damage fines at move-out
    • Over-the-door hooks and mirrors tragically do not work on campus - our doors are 1 3/4" thick with a closure bracket at the top
  • Favorite Things & Books
    • West Hall rooms have a small bookcase, East has a high open shelf to allow you to keep a handful of items to keep you smiling all year long
  • House plants and fish are a cute way to add life to your room - but think about what you will do with these living creatures over the winter and summer breaks
  • Throw Pillows add clutter, but throw blankets become a favorite on a cold Winter night

Fire Hazards prohibited in Residence Halls by law

  • Open flames like candles & incense
  • Flammable liquids like lighter fluid or solvents
  • Extension cords, mutli-plugs that are not surge protected (has a switch on it)
  • Halogen lamps (LED are encouraged for low electrical usage)
  • Space heaters & heat fans (not permitted, but if your heat is not working we do provide as needed)

Safety Hazards prohibited via the Student Handbook

  • Obvious Safety Hazards
    • Any weapons or firearms
    • Martial arts or fencing equipment
    • Farming equipment
    • Fireworks, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, bombs 
    • Illegal drugs & alcohol
  • Less Obvious Safety Hazards
    • Upholstered furniture that is not labeled reflecting California TB-117 fire safety standards
    • Homemade electrical devices (we require UL listing)
    • Large power tools & 3D printers
    • Hot plates, toasters, and other kitchen appliances can only be used in the community kitchen
    • Refrigerators & mattresses other than those provided are prohibited
    • Sleeping area enclosures (curtains, large room dividers)
  • Pets other than fish in a tank of 10 gallons or less
  • Do not bring everything you own. Leave something to protect your turf at home.
  • If there are clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn in the past two years, leave them there.
  • It does not usually snow in September. Do not bring your heaviest winter boots, coats and sweaters until later in the year. If you are not planning a trip home before the cold weather hits, pack a box before you leave home and ask your family to ship it to you in early November.
  • Living space in a residence hall decreases proportionately with the number of trips you make into Boston. Count on a thirty percent increase in possessions by May and leave room for them.
  • Check your family homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure your belongings (including laptop) are covered while you are away at college. Consider purchasing the personal property insurance described in the National Student Services, Inc., brochure sent to you in mid-May.
  • Its not to early to think about move-out: How will you get all this stuff home in May?  Will you rent storage space?  When possible, Olin offers on-campus storage for summer - but this has not been more than 3 boxes per person in recent years and may go down based on population sizes and available storage space.  100% of students move out in May regardless of Summer plans to allow for our 2 week maintenance period.  

At Olin, you will develop relationships with a variety of tools, both ones that the College provides, and others that you will acquire. If you have a well-loved set of tools, bring them along in August. If you don’t, we provide some guidance for the kinds of tools you might consider below, with the understanding that our recommendations are not meant to serve as the exhaustive or definitive list - rather, it is a starting point to help you build your first (and future) projects at Olin

When you arrive, some classes will let you know that you’ll need to acquire a set of books, others will recommend adding tools to your collection. Many Oliners also get involved with student clubs, and those are spaces where first-years often learn a lot about tools. Just as books, you can also go to the library and loan tools.

Here is a list of tools that previous first-year Oliners have found useful to have around. It is important to note that, just like buying new textbooks versus used ones from various vendors, the price and quality of your tools will vary.

Highly Recommended

  • Safety glasses (Z80 safety rating or higher)
  • Snap knife
  • Hobby (Exacto) knife
  • 6" caliper (imperial and metric indication; digital or dial are fine; an ability to zero the device)
  • 16' tape measure
  • Scissors
  • 6"adjustable wrench (crescent wrench)
  • Flush cutter
  • Combination screwdriver (Philips, slotted)
  • 5" needle nose pliers
  • Needle file set
  • Precision (jewelry) screwdrivers
  • Wire cutter and stripper (10 to 26 AWG, solid and stranded)
  • Digital Multimeter
  • Tool box or bag

Nice to Have

  • 24" ruler (imperial and metric indication)
  • Glue gun (full size preferred but a mini-glue gun will do)
  • 6" slip-joint pliers
  • 7" locking pliers (vise grip)
  • 6" or 8" flat file (pattern can be single-, double-, or cross-cut; tooth size can be smooth or 2nd cut; a comfortable handle)
  • 6" x 2.5" quick adjustable rachet clamp - at least 2
  • Hex wrench set
  • ESD-safe tweezers set
  • Vacuum tweezers
  • Illuminated Jewler's loupe
  • PCB vise
  • Putty knife
  • Combination square
  • Machinist Ruler

Not Permitted

  • Power tools larger than a cordless screwdriver
  • Blowtorches or any open flame device
  • 3D Printers
  • Farming implements 

You can choose whether to take a wait and see approach, where you get starter tools and invest in higher quality versions of what you use the most later, or you can opt to start with brands that have above-average ratings on Amazon. At Olin, we are brand agnostic, so choose whatever brand that fits your budget and needs. We have curated two Amazon lists to make shopping a little bit easier: a starter tool list that is more basic and budget friendly and another list that has a wider range of tools and price points. ·

Olin Basic Starter Tools (External link to Amazon) 

Olin “Nicer to Have” Tools (External link to Amazon)

Lastly, our hands-on curriculum is always evolving with the input of students. While you’re here, we expect that you’ll help build a system of tools that work for you during your entire undergraduate experience. Again, most of these tools are available for loan at the library. We look forward to helping you build and acquire the mental and physical tools to reach your potential as an engineering student.

Please do not bring a 3D printer with you. We have 25+ printers available 24/7. While we recognize there is a certain level of convenience having your 3D printer in the room with you, we don’t advise putting a printer where you sleep (between the noise, fumes, and potential for fires).

FAQ About Living in the Residence Hall

 Sorry, no. The Residence Hall will be closed for final cleaning and preparation for move-in.

Most rooms have wall-to-wall carpet. West Hall has a few rooms that feature vinyl composite tile, those are 131, 229, 231, 302, 304, 402, and 404. Bathrooms and bedroom entry vestibules have tile flooring.

The bed is extra long twin length and is adjustable in height (though it does not raise high enough to serve as a loft and the beds are not bunkable/stackable). The desk has 3 side drawers, none of which are deep enough to hold hanging file folders. The dresser is on casters and can be located under the bed. The bookcase is on casters and can be located under the bed.

Each room has its own bathroom. The bathrooms have ceramic tile floors and walls. Shower walls are made of fiberglass and a heavy duty vinyl shower curtain is supplied. There are two large towel rods in the bathroom area and two small towel rods in the sink area. There is a mirrored medicine cabinet with several small shelves inside and storage space for cleaning products is available in the large cabinet under the sink. The sink has a countertop for soap dishes or toothbrush holders (supplied by students). The toilets are tankless.

You do! Toilet paper, bathroom cleaning supplies and vacuums are available in two locations on each floor of the Residence Hall. You are responsible for keeping your bedroom and bathroom clean and there will be 2-3 bathroom inspections each year announced approximately a week in advance and conducted by Facilities staff to ensure that your bathroom is clean. Students failing any portion of the inspection will have an opportunity to clean the failed areas of their bathroom and have it re-inspected. Students failing a re-inspection will be billed for any necessary cleaning.

A microfridge is a combination mini-refrigerator/freezer and microwave. One is provided in each student bedroom.

There are three laundry rooms in West Hall. Each one has a washer, dryer, and laundry board. Students pay per load using either coins or their ID cards (card readers debit money from students’ personal Olin Dollars account). Students must supply their own iron; some have found it advantageous to share one iron amongst many students, only irons with utomatic shut off are permitted.

At this time we are unable to offer personal storage on campus   Private storage facilities are available in the Needham area. 

Items that are not clearly labeled and left in storage at the end of the school year will be discarded or donated to charitable organizations.

You should pack at least one nice outfit that you would wear to an interview. The Fall Career Fair is in October and we want you to dress for success. Questions? Email Suzanne Alcott @ suzanne.alcott@olin.edu

Most students find jeans and t-shirts just fine but students who spend a lot of time in the shop recommend a pair of coveralls. If you enjoy (or think you'll enjoy) working with grease and machines such as the drill press and lathe which can create a lot of saw dust or metal shavings, this simple investment will pay off in the long-term for sure.