1. It has arts resources like no other.
If you have even a mild interest in the arts, Collins is your dream come true. It boasts an incredible array of arts resources, all free for student use: a ceramics studio, a screen printing studio, a digital photography lab, a textiles studio, a cinema, an audio recording studio…it’s also free to check out digital and film cameras, tripods, and video production equipment! Living at Collins is a great excuse to pick up a new skill or try your hand at an artistic project—student Arts Coordinators are happy to train you to use any of the arts resources, so you’ll be an expert at shooting film or throwing clay in no time.
2. It’s home to its very own student-run coffee shop.
Open from 8pm to midnight every night, the Cheshire Café is like no coffee shop like you’ve ever seen before. Its walls are decked out in Alice in Wonderland murals, string lights, and student-made art, and a weekly specials board offers drinks themed around everything from Elf to Moana to my personal favorite, The Many Faces of Michael Scott. (The Prison Mike, a 50-cent blood orange/mango ginger ale, was to DIE for, you guys.) The Chesh offers board games, coloring pages, and tons of comfy seating, so it’s the perfect place to catch up with friends or get some work done without spending a ridiculous amount of money on coffee.
3. It’s the only dining hall left on campus with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The Collins buffet is something of a legend on IU’s campus. Every weeknight from 5:30-8pm, Collins’ Harry Potter-esque dining hall is packed full of Collins residents and nonresidents alike, taking advantage of the endless hot bar, fully-stocked salad bar, dessert and fruit options, and fresh coffee. It’s like a big family dinner, if your family owned a soft-serve ice cream machine and served 12 different entree options at every meal.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll never go hungry at Collins—the buffet is always full of great (and healthy!) options for meat-eaters and vegans alike. I’m not vegan, but I’m being honest when I say that Collins’ vegan mac n cheese and quiche have CHANGED me.
If buffet isn’t your style or you need something quick to grab in between classes, Collins also offers a C-Store with grab’n’go sandwiches, fruit, and baked goods, a deli line, and its own grill for breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and tater tots.
4. Upperclassmen are given the option to live in on-campus apartments while still being a part of the LLC.
This is one of my favorite things about Collins. If you’re considering moving into an apartment but still want to be a part of the Collins community and take advantage of all the events, clubs, and resources it has to offer, Hillcrest is the perfect option for you. Just a two-minute walk from the main quad, Collins’ very own apartment complex offers single and double apartments, and is home to the Collins cinema, art studios, and (blessedly) central AC. You can apply to live in Hillcrest as soon as your sophomore year, and the apartments are university-sponsored, so you don’t have to go through the pain of hunting for an apartment on your own.
5. You’re required to take an intro class as an incoming freshman.
Q199, affectionately referred to as “Q Class,” is a one-credit-hour, eight-week class that serves as your introduction to all things Collins. It’s taught by Collins upperclassmen, who introduce you to the five principles of Collins: academics, community, diversity, empowerment, and sustainable living. The class also aims to ease your transition to college—it’s a great opportunity to ask all of those burning questions you’ll inevitably have about college life and get advice from someone who’s done it all before.
You cap off your Q Class by completing a project of your own design to contribute to the Collins community—this can be anything you’re interested in, from hosting a workshop to screening a film to creating new artwork to hang up in the Chesh. Every Collins freshman completes a Q project, so the months from October to December are packed with fun events every single week. Some of my personal favorites: Thai Food and Tie Dye, a Day of the Dead celebration, a Beginner’s Yoga class, an info session on responsible animal adoption complete with visiting dogs from a local Bloomington shelter, a Sex Ed Kahoot with free cookies and condoms, and a Collins Art Exchange.
Collins also requires that you take one class from its unique array of seminars during each of your freshman and sophomore years. Selected by Collins residents, the topics of these seminars range from American Dating Cultures to Creating an Artist’s Book to African Feminisms and Cultural Production. They’re open to nonresidents, too, and you’ll often see people from other dorms taking these classes just out of their own interest!
6. It boasts over a dozen student organizations.
Talk to any Collins resident, and they’ll tell you that there’s nothing easier than getting involved in the Collins community. But don’t take my word for it—check out Collins’ impressive array of student organizations for yourself.
7. It provides funding for any projects you can think of.
The Collins Board of Governors, Community Council, and Arts Council all provide funding for student projects and events, so if you want to, say, host a mac n cheese night out in the courtyard and need money to buy five different types of mac n cheese, all you have to do is request funding for your event from one of the councils and they’ll cover the entire cost.
8. It has a rich history of traditions and student-run events.
9. It has a prime location on campus.
It’s a 5-minute walk to Ballantine and Woodburn (two buildings you’ll be frequenting over the course of your college career!), 3 minutes from the Psych building, andonly 2 from the Hutton Honors College and the Student Union. Plus, the WIC is right across the street, which makes convincing yourself to work out about a million times easier. It’s also super close to Franklin Hall, home of the Media School, and is only a 7-minute walk from downtown Bloomington.
10. It has study spots galore.
There's a reason Collins has the highest GPA on campus. From the adorable library on the top floor to the breezy, chatter-filled Coffeehouse to the quiet, secluded lounges in Cravens, Collins offers a plethora of study spots to fit whatever atmosphere you work best in.
I hope this has given you a better picture of what life at Collins is like! If you have any questions about Collins or dorm life in general, leave a comment below!
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